Magazine article New Internationalist

India's Holy Cash Cow

Magazine article New Internationalist

India's Holy Cash Cow

Article excerpt

It is said that the cow is the mother of all civilization. Of all the images of India, few are more enduring or endearing than that of the cow, revered by Hindus for its life-giving milk, roaming free in the city streets. But this postcard picture belies a darker truth. India is the world's largest exporter of leather. And whilst the killing of cows is banned in all but two states, in the world of the illegal leather trade, animal rights abuses are rife as the country cashes in on its most sacred symbol to meet the Western desire for leather.

'According to many local council laws, slaughterhouses need to be licensed,' says Nilesh Bhanage, head of the Plants and Animals Welfare Society. 'But many of the slaughterhouses don't have licences.' Despite stringent laws in place to protect the rights of animals, illegal slaughterhouses remain unmonitored and unregulated. A source from one of India's leading exporters of leather handbags to Britain, who asked to remain anonymous, revealed that illegal leather is commonly used. 'It is often cheaper that way. It is not a transparent industry. There is a lot that goes on behind the scenes to cut costs and make ends meet. Animal rights are greatly compromised.' One leading leather technologist has estimated that as much as 75 per cent of all Indian leather could come from illegal sources.

The slaughter of cattle is permitted only in West Bengal and Kerala and it is illegal to transport cows for slaughter across state borders. Neither state boasts a significant cow population, yet hundreds of thousands of cows are brought there from all over Indiato be killed. 'Traders bribe officials to look the other way as they pack the cows into vehicles in such high numbers that their bones break, they suffocate and many die en route to slaughter,' explains Poorva Joshipura, director of People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals (PETA) 'Europe. …

Search by... Author
Show... All Results Primary Sources Peer-reviewed

Oops!

An unknown error has occurred. Please click the button below to reload the page. If the problem persists, please try again in a little while.