Beef over beef

CSR, exports and cattle politics

Business & Politics

June 15, 2017

/ By / Kolkata

Cows are increasingly traded across the Indian borders illegally

Cows are increasingly traded across the Indian borders illegally

The Centre imposed beef ban has failed to deter beef exports from legal slaughterhouses while making its way into the CSR policies of major Indian corporate firms.

India has been at the forefront of beef exports and accounted for 20 pc of all the beef exported in the world as of 2016.

However, the Union Ministry of Environment, Forests and Climate Change (MoEFCC) issued new rules under the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals Act, which bans sale of cattle for slaughter in open markets across the country. A gazette notification, titled Prevention of Cruelty to Animals (Regulation of Livestock Markets) Rules, 2017 by the union ministry, states that no one can bring cattle to an animal market unless he or she has furnished a written declaration that the cattle will not be sold for the purpose of slaughter. It is however left to the individual states to take a call on eating habits.

 

A plea was filed against this citing that the Supreme Court order instigated by the Centre indirectly hints at ‘beef ban’ violating the basic rights of citizens. Several fear that the move will have a negative impact on cattle traders and farmers as well as providing impetus to cow vigilantism.

The Supreme Court (SC) announced that there will not be a revision of the cattle trade laws against the petition challenging the cattle trade rules and the Madras high court put the order on temporary hold two weeks ago.

“There is no beef ban in the country today, in view of the interim order by the Madras high court, the central government is of the view that the rules are stayed across the country,” said additional solicitor general P Narsimha.

Beef exports today

The PTI reported the Union Cabinet Minister of Food Processing, Harsimrat Kaur Badal stating that there is no dip in beef exports from legal abattoirs. “The crackdown on illegal slaughterhouses in UP is in line with the SC order to curb environment pollution and protect people’s health. India is the largest exporter of buffalo meat and the country shipped nearly USD 4 billion worth meat in 2016-17. To say that in the last two months, exports have come down it is incorrect.”

The CSR route

Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR) has always been a conveniently integral part of corporate giants. Raking in on the ‘beef ban’, a number of firms have been reported as spending benevolent portions of CSR spend on gaushala maintenance (cow upkeep).

Vinit Agrawal, managing director of Delwis Healthcare stated, “We are interested in any kind of gau seva. Our primary objective is to save the cows from butchers and slaughter houses.” Agrawal’s company has declared gaushala maintenance as part of the pharmaceutical company’s corporate social mandate. The company devotedly maintains a cow shelter, which is home to 122,000 cows. According to reports, Delwis spends 25 pc of its total CSR expenditure on gaushala maintenance. The figure shot up from 10 pc, three years ago.

Delwis finds company in Tata Power, Fullerton India Credit and Alembic Pharmaceuticals among significant others.

Rakesh Makkar, EVP & head, business and marketing, Fullerton India said, “Pashu Vikas Day is a part of our ‘Livelihood Advancement Programme’ within our CSR mandate and caters to a wide audience, benefitting over thousands of households. After a successful program in the first year, Pashu Vikas Day entered its second year with a stronger commitment towards the overall development of rural India. Originally the camps were organized at 115 locations and post receiving an overwhelming response from the villages, we decided to increase it to 190 locations this year. We plan on expanding our service every year, further strengthening our commitment to cattle care and rural development.”

“The company standalone spent (on CSR was) INR 291 million as against the required INR 282.9 million as per the CSR Act, its subsidiaries and joint ventures spent about INR  180 million,” Tata Power stated in an earlier report. A senior official from Tata Power commented, “From the CSR expenditure, a significant amount is contributed towards gaushala maintenance as part of our rural upliftment policies.”

Chicken prices rise

Surprisingly (or not), a hike has been observed on chicken prices which have shot up in recent times to above INR 180 per kg (retail rates) in major cities  citing an overwhelming increase in demand because of beef ban and Ramadan.  Prices started rising gradually from March.

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