Images of India : Beef Ban – Is our survival more important, or cattle’s…

cattleA ban on the sale of cattle for slaughter is threatening to push millions of farmers into penury, deepening distress in the countryside and fanning resentment against the policies of the ruling BJP. A ban on the slaughter of cows, considered sacred by Hindus, has historically been banned in most states but was not vigorously imposed. Over the past year, states governed by the BJP, have broadened the ban to include other types of cattle, like bulls and bullocks, and Hindu vigilantes have stepped up attacks on traders to enforce the prohibition. The impact of the beef ban has been significant. Prices of cattle have fallen across the country. India’s meat exports fell 13% in the April-December period and rival beef supplier Brazil is gaining from India’s loss. It has also left millions of farmers, already reeling from bad harvests due to back-to-back droughts and unseasonal rains, struggling to sell animals they can no longer feed or water. Traditionally, farmers have sold cattle in a drought year and bought new ones when their earnings rise after monsoon showers. That cycle has been broken and could leave farmers with little money to buy seeds or fertiliser ahead of the next sowing season, starting in June. Many farmers are simply abandoning their cattle. Farmer suicides have nearly doubled in the drought-hit areas. Rural distress is considered by some as a contributing factor to the BJP’s loss in the Bihar election last year.