Amitava Kumar in The Nation:
I’ll confess to the sin of beef eating in a moment. let me first confess to the sin of not having a true knowledge of science.
In May of this year, Justice Mahesh Chandra Sharma of the Rajasthan High Court suggested that the cow be adopted as the national animal of India. His rationale was that millions of gods and goddesses reside in the cow. And here’s the crucial science bit: According to the judge, the “cow is the only living being which intakes oxygen and emits oxygen.”
I grew up in India during the 1960s and ’70s in a meat-eating Hindu family. Only my mother and my grandparents were vegetarians. The rest of us enjoyed eating—on special occasions—chicken, or fish, or mutton. But I had never eaten beef in India until this summer. And what I ate in restaurants in Mumbai and Delhi, I was repeatedly informed, technically wasn’t beef—it was buffalo meat, or “buff.” It has become too dangerous, in the current political climate, to kill a cow. On the very day I had my first taste of what turned out to be a surprisingly tender buffalo steak in Mumbai, national newspapers carried a report from my hometown of Patna, headlined “Three thrashed in Bihar on suspicion of carrying beef.”
When Prime Minister Narendra Modi led the right-wing Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) to a landslide victory in the national parliamentary elections in 2014, one of the planks of his campaign was a ban on cow slaughter.