Animal Rights See how animal rights affect the daily lives of those who live in India

I chose to research the question "Why is India so concerned with animal rights, especially the rights of cows?" I chose this because I was interested in learning what the role of animals were in India's society and how it is still visible as well as how it dictates taboos today.

In India, cows are considered sacred because of their daily uses and presences. "It is the favorite animal of the deity Lord Krishna, and that reverence in turn is likely linked to the animal’s utility. Devender Nayak edits a magazine dedicated to improving awareness of the cow’s significance." Another devout Hindu saud "'Gou mata (mother cow) is the symbol of life, soul of our culture. She is not being given enough importance"' an official at the Bharatiya Govansh Rakshan Samvardhan Parishad (Indian Cattle Protection and Promotion Council).

Not only are cows sacred because they are the favorite animal of Lord Krishna but they also have many uses. "A poor family can sustain themselves with just one family of cows. They can sell the milk, use the dung and the urine, which has many medicinal properties." This said, cows not only can help individual families but the economy in general. Despite the various bands, India alone accounts for nearly 24% of global beef exports and according to the U.S. Department of Agriculture India is the world’s largest exporter of beef. India exported 2.4 million tons of beef last year, compared with 2 million tons by Brazil. India has also ranked first among the world’s milk-producing nations since 1998, according to India’s department of animal husbandry, dairying and fisheries. Milk production in India during the period has gone up from 17 million tons in 1950 to 146.3 million tons till last year, it said.

This said, animal rights have been a pressing issue in India's society recently. From laws, to protests, to acts of violence the legacy of the cow appears in many aspects of those living in India. This legacy is shown through these traits because the decisions made by the parties involved were foreshadowed by the taboo that in India, animals and cows in particular, are sacred and should be treated as such.

Firstly, the laws of India have been foreshadowed by India's love of the sacred animal. Even though India's constitution does not outlaw cow slaughter it urges individual states to do so and it has become a taboo of the country. The encouragement however has worked and many of India's state have in fact outright banned cow slaughter. Adding to this idea, restaurants have picked up the implied laws and taboos of the area. "You won’t find beef in a Burger King anywhere in India, for example, or a McDonald’s. Here, burgers come from sheep, chickens, even vegetables, but not cows. Paradoxically, the animals roam freely on the street — vulnerable to poisonous garbage and to being captured and taken to slaughter at night, though there are efforts to crack down on that illegal practice and to herd cows into shelters."

Secondly, protests have broken out because of people's belief of lack of laws regarding animal rights. The protests took place near Noida and had more than 400 people walk in a 2 km foot march protesting against animal cruelty. There are many organizations such as Helping Hands for Animals, Helping Paws Rescues, Fosterdopt, KAW Kannan, Posh Foundation, Costura, Vishwa Hindu Parishad, Bhartiya Gau Samardhan Aivam Gram Vikas Seva Sansthan, Cow Rescue Helpline, Gau Raksha Hindu dal etc. who were present during the protest and the protest was held "to demand passing of the Animal Welfare Bill in Parliament, a precursor to making animal abuse severely punishable." Yet, this wasn't the not the only concern of the protesters. They were also concerned that animal abusers are often not caught and even if they are caught they aren't punished. "The protesters believe that the punishments of those two have committed crimes of animal cruelty have been unfittingly small." This protest however was not the only one of its kind. It was part of a worldwide movement that was launched simultaneously in forty cities globally against animal abuse.

Lastly, acts of violence portray this legacy. Mohammad Akhlaq was beaten to death and his son was injured by allegedly a Hindu mob. This was because there was a rumor that he slaughtered a cow, an animal considered sacred to Hindus. This incident has sparked many discussions not only because of the visible violence but because the debate of the reasoning of this mob has also been questioned. Some conversations have been built around that fact that this incident was not triggered by the beef issue but that they actually murdered him purely on religious grounds. This act of violence, no matter the reasoning is also one of the alarming examples to many liberals and leaders of the significant Muslim minority.

In conclusion, the legacy of India is evident through many examples of life in India. From implied sections of India's constitution that encourage states to illegals the slaughtering of cows to restaurants in India refusing to serve beef patties, this is shown through the laws and taboos of India. Likewise, protests have become a popular way to bring back the age old thought that cows are sacred and should be treated as such. Finally, acts of violence have spurred and no matter the original intentions of the mobs, it has been proven that killing a cow is considered a sin and will sometimes be treated as one with the punishment of death.

Image Sources:

  • http://worldofradhakrishna.blogspot.com/2015/02/cows-of-shri-krishna.html
  • http://www.loupiote.com/photos/11203516705.shtml
  • http://www.hindugodwallpaper.com/wallpaper-68-1271.html
  • http://www.gettyimages.com/album/sacred-cows-of-india--dD1RIo4dc0G59-qgM8XdAg#hindu-devotee-saluting-to-cow-for-the-get-blessing-of-god-during-the-picture-id179435333
  • http://www.cowism.com/why-is-cow-considered-sacred-in-india.html
  • https://www.worldwatchmonitor.org/2014/08/article_3324753.html/
  • http://combiboilersleeds.com/keywords/sources-2.html
  • http://www.pbs.org/newshour/bb/in-cow-worshipping-india-beef-stirs-up-vigilante-violence/
  • http://www.gettyimages.dk/detail/news-photo/animal-rights-activists-sit-in-cages-during-a-protest-news-photo/167931584#animal-rights-activists-sit-in-cages-during-a-protest-outside-indias-picture-id167931584
  • http://www.goimonitor.com/story/proposed-law-will-protect-animal-rights
  • http://www.everythingiselectric.com/myths-legends/why-sacred-white-cows-hindus.html

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