Personal Liberty vs. The Right to Life

“No person shall be deprived of his life or personal liberty except according to procedure established by law.” The following words sound familiar to the ears but not to any habit or practice. We, the citizens of India, had been granted personal liberty that made us free from unregulated, unasked for intervention in our lives by any third party. On the contrary, 70 years from then, now, we have moved back into the eternities where we still live the situations that have shackled us down and have made us a subject to atrocity by our own countrymen.
It is deeply bemoaning to see food on the plates being monitored and people being punished for not eating the type and choice of food, someone else wants them to eat. What are we supposed to do when exercising our ‘right to personal liberty conflict with our right to life’ (ironically both are enshrined in the same article of the Indian Constitution). The fact that government too has not shown any stringent resentment against the exponential rise in such vigilantism, has left us equally bewildered. With such roles of mute spectator ship, we are bound to believe that either the government supports the agenda, or, it wants to promote it by passive means.
It is very astounding to witness such sudden apotheosis of cow and the increasing numbers of the following vigilantes who claim themselves to the savior of God, holy cow, and love to call themselves as ‘Gau Rakshaks’. Has the enormous love for our religion really blinded us to an extent where we are unable to see through the political tool that the poor animal cow has been turned into, and we, who claim her to be our God are playing so valiant that we are shedding blood to ‘protect our God’?
With 27 states, India has a diversified stance on the quarter of cow slaughter alike most other quarters. With a complete ban on slaughter of cows and calves as well in states like Jammu and Kashmir, Jharkhand, Uttar Pradesh, Haryana, Delhi, Madhya Pradesh, Chandigarh, Chattisgarh, Gujrat, Rajasthan, Maharashtra and Tamil Nadu, we also have states like West Bengal, Assam, Mizoram, Meghalay, Nagaland, Arunachal Pradesh, Sikkim and Tripura which have no restrictions on cow slaughter and yet are a part of India no less in any manner. Notably, beef is even widely consumed in the north eastern parts if India along with states like Kerala.
The two arguments that have been put forth by the cow vigilantes, the ‘Gau Rakshaks’ to justify their agenda of beef ban are:
1) To prohibit cruelty against animals, and
2) To guard the religious sentiments of the Hindus who consider Cow to be holy in their religion.
Unfortunately, none of the argument stand valid or even strong enough to invoke a difficult rebuttal. As far as prohibition of cruelty against animals is concerned, a complete ban on all non vegetarian products and practices which involve sacrificing animals as a part of rituals, could have substantiated and justified the argument, but a ban only on the slaughter of cow and it’s progeny seems to be a very filtered and narrow protection of animals from cruelty.
Secondly, guarding the religious sentiments of a religious group is what we would love to term as ‘the perfect exemplification of non-secularity’. It appears to be imposition of ones religious beliefs and practices on someone else, who otherwise is not ready to follow it.
Following the two arguments proposed, we would now like to elucidate how this decision to ban beef is potentially a step back into the same puddle from where we emerged out to come so far. The effects of beef ban can be categorically divided into 3:
1) Social,
2) Economical, and
3) Constitutional.
To consume the food one wants to, is the most fundamental right of and individual and we as rational fellow citizens should protect this right for ourselves and for others who are being deprived of it. Every individual is entitled to their personal space without an interference that regulates and dictates their actions. However, if the following fails to happen, a negative trend in the society sets in and then follows a series of communal friction in the face of riots and enmity. Riots get dissolved but enmity does not! It lives in the blood and reignites whenever it gets even the minimal form of spark and we are then into an infinite loop of communal supremacy and revenge.
To focus on the much important economic aspect, we need to acknowledge the fact that India is the second largest exporter of beef (including buffalo meat) in the world, and if we were to ban beef in India, what effect would it create on an already volatile economy. The entire chain of leather industry employs approximately 2.5 billion dalits, who can be ridden off their job once we ban the slaughter of cows and it’s progeny. Having considered these, we also need to empathize the havoc that awaits the farmers of our nation, if we were to actually consider beef ban. Considering the already alarming number of suicides being committed by our farmers, this step shall be nothing less than digging a grave for hundreds of them.
Thirdly, the constitutional tangent of the agenda bring to lime light how blatant we are in discriminating people based on their food preferences which has a disadvantageous impact on certain castes and religion and not others.
In the end, we need to know that consumption of beef is a regular and normal food habit that has been politicized and stepped up into some sort of an anti-hindu conspiracy. In the advent of such saddening chapters of our nation, let us flip a few pages back and deliberate what did we really achieve, Independence or Freedom!

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