NOTE OF SHRI DHARAMPAL, CHAIRMAN
(Introductory Note by Acting Chairman, Justice Guman Mal Lodha)
I have received on 24.7.2002 – last, but not of least importance – a Note from Chairman’s DESK at Sevagram. Though many ideas and points are covered more than once earlier, yet coming from Chairman’s Desk, they deserve much more respect and importance. Hence, I am appending them, as such, without editing. This is so, because I believe “No one can be more pious than the Pope himself”. Shri Dharampal is N.C.C.’s “POPE” and his last word would never go in vain, as the famous saying is that “He laughs best –who laughs last”.
2. With the above, I also express my gratefulness to him for approving the report prepared by me, by and large, without getting opportunity to fully read the 1100 pages in four volumes. I take this opportunity to apologise for many unpleasant frank expressions of Commission’s Members, which are critical. While doing so, I have expressed the “Consensus” feelings of about 12 active Members, who have worked with me day and night and shouldered the high responsibility of having public hearings throughout India and analyzing the questionnaires and providing me inputs. The Member Secretary also prepared two Chapters, on inputs of the Sub Committees. But for the active cooperation of all, I could not have succeeded in completing this onerous task in record time of less than one year, even with handicap of not having regular office and infrastructure, with Chairman’s illness keeping him away and under resignation for major part of the year. Even then, “all is well that ends well” and I believe in the saying ‘Better late than never’. Therefore, the Chairman has now, during printing process of the report joined by sending his note as “last word”. Thanks to him and all.
3. I have already expressed my gratefulness to all Conveners, Members (including Member Secretary) and Consultants, for helping me in preparing almost 1100 to 1200 pages Report. May I hope that Chairman’s views would be respected by all and acted upon.
(Justice Guman Mal Lodha)
E-mail from Shri Dharampal
Dear Shri Lodhaji,
Though I have not yet seen the report of the Commission, I think I should say something about how I have perceived the place of the cow in India, and how in my view we could effectively stop all cow slaughter within some 10-20 years. I have therefore written the enclosed supplementary note and would much like to have your views on it, when you come to Sevagram on July 26th. The note is just a draft at present.
With kindest regards,
Justice Sri Guman Mal Lodha
Acting Chairman, NCC
A SUPPLEMENTARY NOTE BY SHRI DHARAMPAL
(Appended to the Report of the National Commission on Cattle)
The molestation, ill treatment and ultimately slaughter of the cow has been a matter of great distress and sorrow to most Indians for the past two centuries, and more. The occasional killing of the cow was now and then done by Islamic invaders, who began to come to India from about 10-11th century AD. By AD 1200, several groups of them plundered and conquered various territories, especially in Northern and Western India, and established Islamic states in which, to begin with, the state encouraged cow slaughter on Islamic feasts and other days of Islamic celebration. Such Islamic domination, with its own rise and decline continued in many regions of India till about AD 1700. But even during these 500 years of the Islamic intrusion many of the Muslim rulers did not encourage cow slaughter in fact several of them prohibited it altogether for short or fairly long periods. A mid 20th century major advocate of the banning of cow slaughter, Lala Hardev Sahai of Haryana has estimated, in his biography, that the largest number of cows killed in any one year of Islamic rule in India would not have numbered more than 20,000 cows. Sri Prabhu Datt Brahmachari around the same time thought similarly. More work needs to be done on such estimates. It seems that the far larger killing of cows on their own festivals by many followers of Islam during the 19th and early 20th century originated through imitation of the British to exercise their right of slaughter especially after 1893. A growing number of the Muslims had also begun to be professional killers of the cow under British patronage, with the building of more and more slaughter houses by the British and managed by the commissariat wings of the three British armies from around 1800 AD.
The incessant daily killing of the cow, from about 1760 onwards, when the British were expanding their control both in the Bengal region and in the larger region around Madras had however been carried on by the British on instructions from the highest level. After over a 100 years of this beginning, Queen Victoria stated to her Viceroy Lansdowne, on 8th December, 1893, “though the Muhammadans cow killing is made the pretext for the agitation, it is, in fact, directed against us, who kill far more cows for our army & c, than the Muhammadans.” The Queen was writing in the context of the Indian anti-kine-killing agitation, then going on in large parts of India for the previous 13-14 years.
Some 24 years later in 1917 Mahatma Gandhi speaking on the cow in Bihar, stated that around 30,000 cows were being slaughtered by the British every day. Gandhiji, perhaps, had obtained this number from the British slaughter authorities.
The primary question, however, is why do Indians consider that the cow must not be killed at all. A variety of answers are given to this question. Firstly, many refer to the ancient tents of India and illustrate the veneration for the cow since those times. Secondly, in recent times emphasis is laid on the great contribution which the cow, and her sons, the bullocks, make to the Indian economy. The bullocks maintain, or rather used to wholly maintain till recently, Indian agriculture by ploughing the land and performing other agricultural operations. Further, they were the major transporters of persons and goods from place to place. The cow provided Indians with milk, calves and, far more importantly, bulls. All of them gave cow-dung and cow-urine, both of which have immense value as manure as well as medicine. The dung is also used as constituent of mud plaster in house building, and in plastering walls, floors, sacred places, etc. It is claimed these days that much more can be obtained from cow-dung and urine with the aid of modern science. There are also claims that the bullocks can be made to run faster and even plough, one hopes without injuring themselves, with specially made tractors.
For about two centuries, one of the products of the cow after it has been slaughtered, and cut into pieces of flesh etc, has been the cow’s hide, which is converted into leather. Curiously for certain Indian writers of the 1940s, the British mainly slaughtered the cow for its hide and not for its flesh to feed themselves. Gandhiji however did not subscribe to this view and knew that the slaughtering by the British from the beginning was for cow flesh.•
Instead of there being improvement in the well-being of the cow and reduction in the cow’s slaughter, as was expected after the departure of the British from India in 1947, the suffering, decline and ill-treatment of the cow are on the increase. A large responsibility for this increase falls on the Animal Husbandry authorities of India and on the post-1950 policies of the Government of India.
Till recently, I had not paid much attention to the objectives and functions of the Animal Husbandry Department under whose auspices this Commission has been set up. I had just assumed that the Animal Husbandry Department must largely be for the welfare and well-being of Indian cattle, buffaloes, and other Indian domestic animals.
It was only some months after joining the National Commission on Cattle that I began to realize that I had been wrong in the above assumption. The idea of Animal Husbandry must have been developed in Britain and the West for increasing the number of domestic animals, for keeping them well and flourishing, and finally in arranging for their slaughter to be consumed as animal food by human beings. That some animals, during certain durations, also provided milk etc, for human consumption, or draught power (as by horses, camels, bullocks, etc. for agriculture or transport, was useful), was not the main function of Western Animal Husbandry. The Animal Husbandry, which we have had for about a century, seems to be basically stamped with this Western view.
If I am right in the above view, then I assume that the care, the well-being, and banning the slaughter of the cow and its progeny are not the primary functions of the present Indian Animal Husbandry set up. If we wanted the Animal Husbandry set-up to fully support the above task, we had first to get its priorities changed from those of helping in the larger production of slaughtered meat and other animal products, to make it take steps to gradually reduce such meat production etc. and then as a first step to start with the care of the cow and its progeny and moving speedily towards a complete banning of cow slaughter. Considering the current role of the Animal Husbandry Department, it was an error on the part of the Government of India to constitute the National Commission on Cattle under the auspices of the Department of Animal Husbandry.
The independence of India, however, seems to have brought up a major propagation of meat eating, this time by committees and officers of the Indian State, and not, as in the 19th century, just by the Christian missionaries. Scores of committees, since around 1947, have worked on how to provide Indians a more animal-rich protein diet, how to modify the breed of cattle, especially of buffaloes, so that they not only give milk, but through sophisticated slaughtering devices also provide succulent animal flesh.
Our contributions as a relatively non-violent people has thus become, not only to make meat available to some more of our already well-fed middle classes - the administrators, the managerial classes, the defence services, the politicians and the rest, but to also export it to other lands. Rumours of course are in plenty. For instance, it is stated by some academics in Calcutta that some 22% of the Hindus there are thought to eat cow flesh, and that, in Kerala, this proportion may be somewhat higher. These, however, could be inflated rumours to discourage those who advocate the banning of cow slaughter.
Mentioning that you or your family could not even think of having any tiny bit of the flesh of the cow, even as medicine, is no longer taken as a serious statement. Such statements have now become quite out of place in the India we have made. Even the desire to really find the truth of the situation has become ever more meaningless. The credit for this transformation, or its being propagated through government blue books, can certainly be taken by the Indian State and those who have headed it for some 50 years, and lakhs and lakhs of others who have served the state in relevant professional capacities. These seem to include practically every Indian who appears to be keen on the westernization of Indian society and economy.
How did we actually arrive at the present state? One may take an early beginning in 1950. Here it may be stated that all the decisions of Government mentioned below need not be the result of some deliberate policy. These could have been random decisions which put together became a jumble and did far more harm to the people of India than any deliberate decisions would have done .
Soon after the adoption of the Indian Constitution, it was left to the 15 or so constituting states to enact their own laws on the welfare of the cow and its progeny and for the banning of their slaughter. Just when the states were in the process of taking decisions on the subject, the Government of India sent a letter dated 20th December 1950 to all state governments. The letter said –
“Hides from slaughtered cattle are much superior to hides from fallen cattle and fetch a higher price. In the absence of slaughter the best type of hide which fetches good price in the export market will no longer be available. A total ban on slaughter is thus detrimental to the export trade and work against the tanning industry in the country”
In 1954, the Government of India (Ministry of Food and Agriculture) appointed an “Expert Committee on the Prevention of Slaughter of Cattle in India”, which gave its report in Jan 1955. In the very middle of the report the committee began to say that, as we do not have enough fodder, we can not maintain more than 40% of our cattle. According to it, 60% of the rest had to be culled from the Indian cattle stock whenever possible.
In the 1970s the Government of India appointed the National Commission on Agriculture. Some of its suggestions regarding buffaloes were:
“The buffalo should be developed not only for enhancement of milk production but also for making it a source of production of quality meat.
“A deliberate and energetic drive should be made to develop for export trade in buffalo meat.
“ Modernization of slaughter houses should be undertaken immediately.
“Massive programmes for improving the reproductive and productive efficiency of cattle and buffaloes should be undertaken. Low producing stock should be progressively eliminated so that the limited feed and fodder resources are available for proper feeding of high producing animals.”
This last passage very clearly advocates the breeding and culling of animals, including cattle, so as to produce more meat.
A last point, much nearer our time, in July 1995, may be noticed here. This was a statement made before the Supreme Court by the Government of India. The statement was:
“It is obvious, that the Central Government as a whole is encouraging scientific and sustainable development of livestock resources and their efficient utilisation which inter-alia includes production of quality meat for export as well as for domestic market. This is being done with a view of increase in the national wealth as well as better return to the farmer.”
Thus our agriculture and cattle and animal rearing have been ruined during the past 50 years; in fact, the beginning of this ruin started around 1760 and spread to the whole of India during the 19th century. We, as a relatively non-violent people, recently seem strangely to have started taking pride that we now slaughter around 2.6 crores cattle and buffaloes annually. Of these the buffaloes may be around 40-45%. The number of animals whose flesh is exported through this vast dedicated state effort maybe around 30% of the whole. It is possible that most of this export is of buffalo meat.
This National Commission was constituted to bring about the well-being of the cow and of the cow’s numerous breeds, to enable better use of the cow’s productive capacities without making its life a drudgery and strain, and to bring about, within a reasonable period, the complete prohibition of the slaughter of the cow in India with the willing support of practically all of India’s people. The recommendations of the Commission, when implemented, should be of value with regard to some of these objectives.
However, the slaughter of cow has lasted so long and in such high proportion of our cattle wealth that the present report along cannot have any great impact on the problem we face. The need is of a well thought out intensive effort, which may have to continue in certain regions of India for some 15-20 years before the occurrence of cow slaughter is completely ended.
The fact that the cow and its progeny also has economic utility for man does not, however, have to be proved. Every part of creation, including human beings, insects, animals, plants, rivers, mountains, all have economic utility. The special regard for the cow in India, she being considered auspicious and a symbol of sanctity are the characteristics, which make Indian desist from ill-treating the cow and being shocked if some one were to kill her. This feeling of auspiciousness and sanctity has prevailed in India from very ancient times and one may assume that the vast majority of the Indian people deep down still retain this feeling. Even when a cow, bull, bullock, etc, dies this auspiciousness and sanctity still apply to the dead body, as such attributes apply to the dead body of a man or woman. We may therefore, assume that before cow slaughter got started in India there was no skinning of the cow, bull, etc, and their dead bodies were invariably buried. Buying of bulls and cows is still the practice in many regions of India.
If India is serious about restoring honour and well-being to the cow and ending cow slaughter altogether, we should, decide to set up, after the present Commission’s report is made, a long-term body, with adequate power, authority, and vision, of four to five persons, say for 5-10 years, who will have a thorough look into the question of how the cow became what it has become today and how she and her progeny can be restored back to her earlier well-being and honoured place in Indian society. This body should initiate various enquiries and studies and establish contact with the villages as well as the traditional cattle keepers in every region of India. It should also go in detail into the past background of how the cow has been treated, say from about AD 1200-1700 and then from AD 1750-1947, and go into the history of cow slaughter during these periods. It should also examine the relationship between cattle and agriculture and the ecological and environmental Indian background, which has been seriously endangered during the past 150-200 years. As it is perhaps now accepted by many, the largest daily continuous slaughter of the cow happened from the beginning of British rule in India till the British left, and then it was taken over under the patronage of the present Indian State. A similar, it not more pronounced, deterioration occurred in our soil, and agricultural practices during the same period.
Once we have looked at and thought about the multiple aspects concerning the present state of the cow, we may then know how to restore to the cow its place of regard and honour. When we start work seriously it may be quite possible that, say in about half of India, the well-being of the cow can be restored in about 5 years, and the slaughter, as well as the transportation of cattle to distant places can be stopped during the same time. Other regions may take longer. But it should not take more than 15 –20 years before the cow and its progeny can again begin to live without molestation and with honour and esteem all over India.
Till the necessary law or constitutional change is brought about to prohibit cow slaughter – as we proposed during 1948-49 at the time of the framing of the constitution – we need to take certain steps from now on to bring about some immediate relief and well-being to the cow. Some of these steps would be:
1. Once the major occurrences, which greatly harm the cow, is the transfer in large numbers of the cow and its progeny from one region to another distant region. The purpose is said to be the slaughter of the cow in the new place. Two of the areas in which such transfers take place on a vast scale are said to be i) Bihar to Bangladesh, and ii) Tamil Nadu to Kerala. There are scores of other such places and regions, especially around the huge newly set-up slaughter houses like those in Maharashtra and Andhra Pradesh, where such transfers and gathering of cattle from all around also take place for large-scale slaughter. Local people for years have tried to stop such movement but with small success. The need is for a body like the BSF or like a Provincial Armed Constabulary, of say some 10,000 persons, a part of which can be moved to wherever it is needed. New persons who are enrolled in such a body should also include such go-sevaks who have already performed such tasks over long periods. Initially, the body may be constituted for five years, and it should have good relations and support of the people of such areas where they are moved to for controlling such illicit traffic in cattle.
2. On the pretext of their being physically disabled, or they being no longer economically useful, a large number of cattle of various ages and conditions are driven to some of the major slaughter houses in various parts of India. This carting of cattle to such slaughter houses must be completely stopped.
3. The breeding of cattle, perhaps even of buffaloes, should be taken out of the hands of the Animal Husbandry institutions, or military farms, etc. Given the present emphasis on the primacy of meat production all these bodies can no longer be reasonably trusted with regard to their views on the kind of cows or bulls to be bred. The Agricultural Commission of the mid 1970s was quite clear that, “the buffalo should be developed not only for enhancement of milk production but also for making it a source of production of quality meat”. If this was the Agricultural Commission’s policy with regard to the breeding of buffaloes, the basic policy with regard to the development of the different breeds of the cow could not have been any different. The whole question of the development of the cow through artificial insemination, cross-breeding and through the various other methods which are more and more employed these days, must all be treated as suspect till every aspect of the breeding policy is explained in details to those who keep cows and look after them, and are asked to decide what to keep and what to reject. A competent expert body, at least half of whose members are actual peasants and herdsmen, needs to look into the various aspects of the development and breeding of the cow today.
Sevagram, July 25, 2002