Cow slaughter may be a great sin for the Hindus in India but ironically, the country stands at the top position among the top beef exporting countries in the world. Political and religious bans have stopped many states from slaughtering cows and bullocks in India. The country considers cows to be sacred. This is one of the reasons why many Indian roads have cows sitting or walking right in the middle of the road with people who are already used to the situation casually driving past the animal. It appears that cows already know they have a special status in the country which accords for their daredevil attitude.
So to talk about beef eating, which is considered sacrilegious by most of the Hindus in the country, the Indian population often misinterprets beef to refer to cows alone, while according to US standards, the meat of buffalo is also termed as beef. India does not officially export cow meat. The country’s beef exports are made of carabeef, which refers to the meat of buffalo only.
According to the US Department of Agriculture, India became the top exporter of beef in 2014 with Brazil in second position. Some of the reasons why India was able to make it to the top of the list of top beef exporting countries are:
- The inferior quality of beef exported by India is cheaper than its competitor, Brazil. Since the meat of the buffalo is tougher, it is sold at a lower price and is used primarily for industrial use, like making sausages and other processed foods.
- The main regions where beef is exported are Asian countries like Vietnam, Malaysia, Thailand, Egypt, and Saudi Arabia. With most of these regions being close to the country, exporting beef to these countries is easy and more economical. This has helped spur the growth of the beef industry in India.
Leading beef exporting companies of the country are owned by people of non-Hindu origin. While Hindu activists have raised questions on the export of beef in the country, the numbers are yet to reduce because the bans are specifically on the slaughter and export of cows and not on the buffalo meat that is sold by the exporters.
Objections Faced by Beef Exporters in India
Cow Meat May Be Exported Illegally as Buffalo Meat
Ashoo Mongia is the President of Rashtriye Goraksha Sena, which is one of the activist groups in the country. Mongia says, “If you ask for Indian cow-flesh in Dubai, you can get it.” The group campaigns against the export of beef, claiming that cow meat is also illegally sold in the country and exported to other countries under the guise of buffalo meat.
On the other hand, established beef exporting companies say that these claims are baseless, explaining that no one would want to risk their business by exporting cow meat in India since it is illegal.
Reduced Milk Production Because of Exporting Female Buffaloes
According to an article of Business Today India, another fear raised by a popular dairy owner in the state of Uttar Pradesh is that the production of milk may reduce if more buffalo were slaughtered. Mohammad Ali Qureshi, who is the President of Bombay Suburban Beef Dealers Association, explains that beef exporting companies hardly buy milk yielding buffaloes because they cost almost twice the price of a buffalo that has stopped yielding milk. So the buffalo slaughtered for export are usually the ones that have stopped giving milk. The buffalo owner who sells their wares to these exporters is able to use the money to invest in milk yielding buffalo, which means that the export of beef may only be helping to increase milk production and not decrease it.
A majority of the exporters are Muslims and most of them suffer on religious grounds. Activists often stop the vehicles and campaign against them, trying to prove that their business is illegal even though the owners have complete legal rights for the business and the slaughter of the animals. The owners have been ignoring the campaigners and doing their best to increase the export of beef to other countries so that they can stay on the list of top beef exporting countries in the world.
While most of India’s Hindu population chooses to ignore the beef exporting statistics of the country, for the activists who do fight the exporters, there may be a thin line between reality and assumptions with buffalo meat easily being mistaken in the country as cow meat.