The beef against beef in multi-cultural India

April 17, 2012

A ‘beef-eating festival’ in most parts of Hindu-majority India was always going to be considered provocative.

Clashes and a stabbing sparked tension at Hyderabad’s Osmania University when a group of students demanded the inclusion of beef in the hostel menu.

Most Hindus consider the cow sacred and number of states like Gujarat, Madhya Pradesh and Chhatisgarh ban cow slaughter, with Gujarat going as far as outlawing even the transportation of cattle without a special permit.

But many lower-caste Hindu ‘dalits’ and people from some parts of southern India and the North-East consider it an integral part of their diet, on par with other meat like chicken and pork.

Proponents of the ban justify it by saying it shows respect for the religious sentiments of the country’s majority community, while those opposed to it say the law is anti-secular.

Even in economic terms, beef is cheaper than other meat products and more affordable for the poor, and industries churning out beef products like leather shoes, belts, etc. are also major employment generators.

So the question is — should a democratic country like India put a blanket ban on a particular type of meat? Some would say the religious connotations and the extreme reactions it evokes justify it.

It’s ironic that India is the world’s second largest producer of leather garments, including cowhide.


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The cow in India has remained holy. It is a fact that beef eating was mentioned in Rig Veda, the oldest pre Hinduism Vedic literature. The cow slowly became a sort of currency in India, Gau Dhan as it was called. As Vedic religion changed to Hinduism and the ancient civilization became more mature if not corrupt, Hindus, the upper caste Hindus started venerating the cows and beef eating almost vanished from the upper strata of caste hierarchy. The depressed castes with their familial trade associated with labor continued to eat beef in India.

Asking for beef in community center is like an Oriental student asking for real hot Dog in American community center. It’s just plain politics where beef is being used by Dalit students to show their resurgence.

Posted by abhi1498 | Report as abusive

@David I would like to know your views regarding “Pork” and do you think if both “Pork” and “beef” are added to menu at Osmania it would really make our democracy strong ??? isn’t this addition not too much especially if it hurts sentiments of majority people in this country ?? is Democracy only meant for MINORITY community.. doesn’t Democracy means what majority of citizen want ?? If handful of people want pork and majority opposes it what is “UNDEMOCRATIC” about it ?

Posted by RahulSrivastava | Report as abusive

The proponents of beef festival first start doing it in their houses. Instead of provocating majority students in the university. The university is not a place to build your body but mind. Mind it!

Posted by hanmireddy123 | Report as abusive

Democracy doesn´t means dictatorship of majority. Democracy means respect belief, personal ideas, religion of minority. If you don´t want eat beef I respect that but you cannot prohibit somebody who wants. This is democracy.
If eating beef provoke somebody means that person have problem. In India exist theocracy not democracy. This sad case show how religion still have big influence to Indian society. Please grow up!!!

Posted by pokapipe | Report as abusive

Is the Holy Cow the same as the Golden Calf in the OT where we find it as a idol of Baal worship? Just saying…

Posted by glovergirl | Report as abusive

Is like many things in many religion. If you will invite new religion of holy brick or holy toothbrush you can worship these things. There are many religion with many rituals, ceremonies and many stranges things. And every religion claim that it is only one right and true religion.

Posted by pokapipe | Report as abusive

Do not bring that ‘sippai kalagam’ kind of a freedom struggle hurting incident again in the silent society. As simple as possible.

Posted by Anniyan | Report as abusive