I like options. I like to know I can binge-watch “Gilmore Girls” if I want to, I can sleep in if I want to and I can eat whatever I want to. I like my options, and I like them no matter which part of the world I live in. But, unfortunately, I will not have these options in Maharashtra, India. The state of Maharashtra has banned the sale and possession of beef.
Under the law, it was already illegal to slaughter cows, which are considered sacred in Hinduism. With this new ban, though, the slaughter of bulls, bullocks and calves has been forbidden as well. This occurs just as India’s president, Pranab Mukherjee, has finally approved of the Maharashtra Animal Preservation Bill of 1976. From the name of the bill, we can then assume that this action has been taken solely in the interest of animals. But what does this mean for meat consumption in general?
If the cow is to be preserved, shouldn’t all animals be treated the same way? After all, if cows are being slaughtered enough for it to become a concern, then what about pigs and chickens? Fish? Lamb? What if this bill is the path toward a complete ban on meat in India?
This leads to another question: what if the ban on beef is an expression of affinity toward Hinduism? The majority of India identifies as Hindu. However, under the 42nd Amendment of the Constitution of India in 1976, India is asserted as a secular nation, which provides for equal treatment of all religions. Banning beef, though, does not keep in mind other religions, such as Islam and Christianity.
Either way, this ban raises questions of free will. A person should be able to eat any kind of food they want to eat, and a person should be able to express and follow any religion they want to follow, if they want to at all. If the sanctity of cows wants to be imposed to a religiously diverse country, the least the government should do — albeit, it would be unwise — is to state Hinduism as the official religion of the country. This, however, would defy its label of the largest “democracy” in the world. Arguably, with this ban on beef, it is already defying it anyway. By stripping people of the menial pleasure of a steak, which now costs five years in jail and a fine of Rs.10,000 ($162), it is stripping citizens of one of the most basic choices of a human: what to put inside one’s own body.
I like my options. I like when people have options. I do not like being imposed with hypocrisy, and I am sure the people of Maharashtra and other parts of India feel the same way. What can I do about this all the way in Boston? Write. What can they do about this living in the crux of it all? Fight. In any way possible.