Beef export was one of the major contributors in the country’s economy during the UPA government. But after the power shuffle in Delhi in mid-2014, Prime Minister Narendra Modi led the NDA government announced a ban on cattle export. This ban led to job-sacking for lakhs of people associated with the industry. Notably, India itself has a sizable beef-eating population and given it being ruled by the Mughals and Britishers for a good period of time, both having beef in its staple diet, the meat has its deep roots in even Indian history and food culture. Previously, India did not have a problem with the food behaviour of different cultures, races and tribes. Many in India are known to eat dogs, insects and even snakes, but never before were there such a blanket ban on meat or an eating commodity. Beef, no doubt, is available in the Indian market even today but is very limited and mostly located in Muslim-dominated areas. It never did achieve the status of being a commodity able to be sold openly barring some specific states. Revered as a deity, the Hindu people always did have a problem with the slaughtering of Cows. This was only aggravated with the coming of BJP to power which ultimately resulted in a blanket ban on slaughtering and selling of cow meat in many states. Some states who have beef included in their staple choice of meat, were, however, exempted from the same. The state governments were asked to regulate the same in such states. The Union government then went a step further to ban the export of beef from India. Being a country that treats cows as their mother and deity, it would look bad to be one of the largest exporters of beef in the world. This is what the NDA government must have thought. Yes, India was one of the largest exporters of beef in the past. But with the export ban, it seems that the neighbouring countries are having a field day in the market. China and Bangladesh have now taken over the beef market and are trying to fill in the vacuum created by India after it restricted itself from the same. Many observers believe that the NDA government has been underestimating and analysing the consequences of its mega initiatives. The banning of cattle export, especially to Bangladesh, is proving to be a very expensive affair for India. Already reeling under extreme unemployment and economic slowdown, losing the revenue which cattle export brought in, is heavy for the nation. Moreover, why should an eating habit be the reason behind a country’s policy. On a positive note, cattle smuggling cases have been drastically lowered after the ban. Whatever be the reason, perhaps the ban is in the best interest of the nation and that post the Covid cloud the sun awaits for us on the other side.
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