Ever since 2014 we have seen people advertising to eat beef left, right, and center. Social media has flooded with affluent individuals like Shobha De and intellectually bankrupt JNU ‘intelligentsia’ posting the news online while eating beef. We are happy that they are saving themselves and their future generations from the dreaded kwashiorkor; however, the idea of holding beef fests just to make a point is purely asinine.
Case in point, an overeager bunch of Congress members held a beef fest in Kerala only to be slapped in the face with an FIR and a condemnation from Rahul Gandhi; does not matter if it was late by two days and like all things Congress, repercussions took time.
Cow slaughter has had an interesting history. By the time humans bred the first cow for milking, they had already been herding and drinking the milk of sheep and goats for thousands of years. Sheep and goats were small packages, yielding lesser amounts of milk and meat. Our forebears needed something larger, because the tribe was growing in size. They chanced upon aurochs (Bos primigenius) that were nothing like the mild mannered cows that we see today.
As India progressed towards an agrarian society, they started placing premiums on their cattle. Cows give more milk than sheep or goats and meat generated was enough to feed the entire tribe. It was wiser to keep the cow for milk and butcher the surplus oxen only when there was an occasion where the entire village was to be fed. Contemplate on this graph of water requirement by per kg of food produced.
A back of the envelope calculation tells us that to produce the meat equivalent of one mid-sized cow; it would drain around 21 square kilometres of every ounce of rainwater it received during the year. Then how come some Indians are so fascinated with beef? This fascination is embedded in a dark past.
A known record of mass slaughter of milk producing cows is found in Nizamuddin Ahmed’s Tabakat-i-Akbari where Akbar’s soldiers, during their seige of Bhun killed all 200 cows housed in a temple and drowned this temple in the cows’ blood. Later on during Imperial rule, British established numerous slaughterhouses to produce beef for their consumption and, possibly, to denigrate Hindus.
In Europe serfs used to butcher most of their cattle before winter - if they had any. No farmer in their right mind would slaughter a nice milk producing cow, when they had sheep and goats at their disposal. Large-scale beef-eating - clumsy, inefficient, and massively wasteful - started in the Colonial Empires of Europe. From there it spread to the resource-rich lands of the Americas. If it happens in Europe and the Americas, it is always fashionable for the brown-sahibs back home.
By all means, eat the beef with relish if you so desire it. The ban on beef is not pan-India. However, to eat it, in a water-deficient area, only to offend a certain segment of people, is like demolishing your house in the hopes of killing your neighbor.
Posted On : 30-May-2017