Some of you may be aware of the latest and most ill-advised move by the State Government of Karnataka to "ban Cow Slaughter". A number of social activists have already started a protest against the move, which comes at a time when food prices are skyrocketing and cheap sources of protein are becoming harder to find. Where dal used to cost about 40 rupees it is now close to 90 rupees. Therefore, beef is the preferred source of nutrition for the poorer section of the population; and the move to ban cow slaughter without taking these factors into consideration is nothing but going against the people's Right to Food, especially the poorest of the poor.
It amounts to discrimination on the basis of food habits, as large sections of the population including Dalits, Christians, Minorities, and Tribals consume beef as an important and even the only source of protein.
Further, it is particularly ill-considered and has no economic rationale, and it has many economic ramifications including (a) directly affecting the income and livelihoods of economically vulnerable groups such as Muslims involved in the sale of beef; (b) those involved in processing other by-products such as bones, hide, and tallow; and (c) even affecting the availability of raw material for cobblers who make a living through fabricating and repairing leather-based products.
These activities involve literally millions of poor and marginalised populations who are already outside any social safety net. The immediate and long-term economic and social implications of this move on these populations - and on society at large, not to speak of the government are really too horrible to imagine.
(d) There are another large section of population who will also be adversely economically affected, namely the farming community who usually sell worn-out and aged cattle for slaughter, and get some cash income as a result. This is in addition to being relieved of the burden of feeding and caring for animals which are no longer economically viable, as well as the reality of the ongoing fodder shortage.
A well-attended planning meeting was held on 3rd August 2009 at the Human Resource Centre, Mission Road, Bangalore, at which almost 40 representatives of mass organisations, political parties, and people's movements attended.
At this meeting it was decided that a protest would be held on the 15th of August 2009.
In order to plan and involve more people in this, another planning meeting would be held at 10:30 am on the 8th of August. Venue: Infantry Hall, Infantry Road, Shivjinagar, Bangalore.
Please do plan to be there and participate in the struggle. Please send your solidarity messages as well.
Representatives of the following groups were among those present at the first meeting: Karnataka Janapara VedikeDalit Christian Federation, Minority cell of KPCC, Tippu United Front, HRFDL-K, Garment Workers' Union, DAWNS, Popular Front of India, Karnataka Forum For Dignity.
Cynthia Stephen Independent Researcher and writer Bangalore, India
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