Growing beef trade hits India’s sacred cow – Arezou Rezvani, Benjamin Gottlieb & Elise Hennigan

Ashoo MongiaNew Delhi – When 33-year-old Ashoo Mongia visits the supermarket it’s rarely for stocking up his fridge for the week. As head of a cow protection enforcement team, he regularly scours Delhi grocery stores and outdoor markets for food products containing cow beef.

For the last 15 years, Mongia and his team of 120 Delhi-based volunteers have thrown themselves in a battle that pits India’s billon-dollar meat industry and growing underground beef trade against Hindu traditionalists keen on preserving the holy status of cows.

“The cow is our mother, it’s our duty to protect her,” said Mongia, who monitors and raids hundreds of stores, butcher shops and slaughterhouses suspected of carrying, selling or slaughtering India’s blessed bovines. “We do this because we believe in what the cow represents in our country, our culture and in the Hindu religion.”

The Indian CowThis year, India will displace the United States as the world’s third largest beef exporter, behind Brazil and Australia. In just the first half of 2012, India exported $1.24 billion worth of meat, and a 30 percent growth in revenue from 2010 exports is projected by the end of the year, according to a U.S. Beef Export Federation study.

While the bulk of Indian exports is buffalo meat bound for Middle East and Southeast Asian markets, the growing middle class in Arab countries has sparked a new craving for cow beef. The rise in demand could make India the world’s king beef exporter by 2013, according to USDA estimates.

But as India continues its struggle for economic and political dominance in South Asia, there is concern that Hindu-mandated bans on beef could hamper the industry’s future growth, particularly in states like Kerala and West Bengal where the practice is legal.

Relied on by generations of Indians for tilling fields, dairy products and dung fuel, the cow is regarded by Hindus as gau mata, or maternal figure, and has had a long-standing central role in India’s religious rituals. Those religious attitudes, however, are viewed by some Indian business leaders as a major hindrance to commerce.

Dr. S.K. Ranjhan of Hind Agro Industries LimitedIndia cuts rates in growth bid

“Cow beef could be a very lucrative business in India,” said Dr. S.K. Ranjhan, the director of Hind Agro Industries Limited, who believes that religious attitudes may stand to change once the extent of business opportunities are realized. “I think five-to-ten years from now, people won’t be so scandalized by the sale of cow beef.”

U.S. missing out on India’s boom?

The majority of India’s 24 states outlaw the slaughter of cows except under extenuating circumstances: to stifle contagious diseases, prevent pain and suffering, medical research, etc. And several states — including Delhi and Rajasthan, among others — ban the sale and slaughter of cows altogether.

 Nadeem QureshiThe strict laws against cow slaughter in the majority of India’s provinces have forced the lucrative cow beef trade underground. An estimated 1.5 million cows, valued at up to $500 million, are smuggled out of India annually, which some analysts say provide more than 50% of beef consumed in neighbouring Bangladesh.

“When you consider just how much money is made from underground cow smuggling, it becomes clear that not only is there a huge amount at stake, but a huge demand that butchers and slaughterhouses are catering to,” said Dr. Zarin Ahmad, a fellow at the Centre de Sciences Humaines in New Delhi, who has extensively studied the work and trade among India’s butcher communities.

Working with Mongia’s enforcement team is Parmanand Mittal, a cow-advocacy lawyer who works from a home-office on the outskirts of Delhi. Throughout the day, Mittal fields a stream of phone calls — tipsters who have caught wind of illegal slaughterhouses and owners of gau shalas, or cow sanctuaries, concerned with unexpected expenses associated with new rescues.

Cows are smuggled from West Bengal to Bangladesh for slaughter.In Mittal’s office hangs a painting of Lord Krishna — one of the most revered divinities in Hinduism— with his arm resting affectionately on a white calf. While Mongia’s crew breaks up the slaughterhouses, Mittal builds a legal case for prosecution. His backlog of casework extensive, Mittal says.

While there might be money to be made from adding cow beef to current exports, India would incur costs elsewhere, Mittal says.

“Cows have long been the source of fuel, manure and fertilizer, among other things. These animals are revered because they’ve played a large role in the welfare and livelihood of all Indians,” Mittal said. “Take away the cow and the repercussions will be huge.” – CNN, 19 April 2012

Blue Cross India reports on tortured cow – DW

Abused cowApril 19, 2012 at 13:00 hrs: Dr. Nandita informed me that one Mr. Boopalan informed her that a cows legs were broken by the neighbours. After seeking permission from Dr. Chinny and informing Mr. Sathya I went to Sembulipuram Village, Gangadevan Kuppam Chuyyer, Kanchipuram Dist.

Mrs. Shanthi Baskeran owner of the cow informed me that on 16th, April 2012 the cow grazed into the paddy fields of Mr. Anandan of Gangadevan Kuppam village. Mr. Anandan and his friends Mr. Parusraman and Mr. Kuruppan broke the front legs of the cow and tied the legs behind the horns of the cow. The cow was left there till the owner went searching for it.

Abused cowThe owner Mrs. Shanthi pleaded with Mr. Anandan to release the cow but he refused. Later in the evening the cow was released but it couldn’t walk. The local vet treated the cow and declared that the legs of the cow were broken.

I assisted Mrs. Shanthi Baskeran to lodge a police complaint in the G-7 Chunambedu Police Station under PCA Act 1960 and section 429 of IPC. The police did not seem to be very interested in the case. Police Station Telephone Number is 27545627 SI Selvanathan.

The cow was in a dying condition. Hence I brought it to the shelter. – Blue Cross of India volunteer, Madras, 20 April 2012

Post Script: We are informed that the cow died that evening. – Editor

Madurai News Report: Suckling calves for slaughter.

Madurai area: Suckling male calves tied and waiting for transport to Kerala for slaughter. They are left in the sun without water until the transport trucks arrive. This kind of inhumane treatment of animals would not be tolerated in Europe or the US, and the procuring agents and transporters would all go to jail. – Editor

8 Responses

  1. […] Growing beef trade hits India’s sacred cow – Arezou Rezvani, Benjamin Gottlieb & Elise Henn… […]


  2. Thank you Swamiji I was expecting something of this sort.


  3. Sir, Do not expect it from the BJP. In fact, do not get shocked if you find some BJP people are directly or indirectly involved in the beef trade. What happened to the national commission on cattle under the chairmanship of shri Gumanmal Lodha which submitted its report in 2002. Why Dharampal resigned the Chairmanship of the commission? The BJP is for all its rantings on nationalism is the B party of the Congress or even worse than the Congress. Had it not been the case today Quttrochi even Sonia would have been behind the bars. Because it was Arun Jaitley of the BJP as law minister who weakened the case against the duo.


  4. Yoginder Sikand recanted and apologised for the article “Why I gave up ‘Social Activism'” on your link. Here is the link to his recantation:


  5. Though the article linked here is unrelated to the subject under discussion. Yet, I feel it is the relentless pressure of such atheistic leftist jholawalas that beef is considered to be a product with immense import potential. Now, I leave it to you, Swamiji either to publish it or delete it.


  6. BJP should declare very explicitly in its manifesto that it would impose a strict all Indian ban on cow slaughter if voted to power.


  7. There can be no second opinion on this that if India is to be saved then cows are to be saved. Cow slaughter in India was unthinkable before the conquest of Islam. Killing of cows is a religious duty for the pious followers of Islam which exhorts in no uncertain terms its followers to destroy with impunity every such article that the Kafirs hold in the highest esteem. However, killing of cows had not been as massive and organised as it was during the Christian British rule of India. Beef was a delicacy for the beef-eaters Christian Europeans. Hence, slaughter houses were set up where great number cows were killed on a daily basis. The least that was expected of the government of independent India was the enactment of law that would stop the killing of cows. Because, for the Hindus cows are not only the key to India’s economy prosperity but are articles that symbolise deep spiritual significance. But, with that christianised, westernised and out and out anti-Hindu Nehru on the helm of affairs and a Gandhi who for all his exhibitions of love for Hindu values was a Muslim sympathiser, it was impossible to enact such law. The promotion of tractors, chemical fertilisers, hybrid and GM seeds and other such things have virtually destroyed the highly scientific and environmentally viable Hindu way of farming and agriculture in India. Besides such farming style, the introduction of foreign breed cows have severely damaged the usefulness of deshi cows and have made them seriously vulnerable to slaughter. If something serious is not done to save and preserve deshi cows on war footing then it is only a matter of time when there will be no deshi cows left in India. And such a scenario will no doubt bring disaster to India and Hindus.


  8. 0. Dharampal and T.M. Mukundan, The British Origin of Cow-Slaughter in India: with some British Documents on the Anti-Kine-Killing movement 1880-1894, Society for Integrated Development of Himalayas, Mussoorie 2002.

    The best book on an account of cow slaughter in India.


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