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Banning the Slaughter of Cattle for Beef In Sri Lanka While Importing Beef for Consumption Will Create a New Category of New Rich Persons Thriving on the “Pitarata Harak Mus Vaasanava”(the Fortune of Imported Beef)

By

Lucien Rajakarunanayake

There is a clear duality in the prime minister’s decision on a ban on cattle slaughter. The cattle are slaughtered for the purpose of beef consumption. But the new slaughter ban will support beefeaters with imports of beef from abroad.

This duality may be part of the Lotus Bud or Podujana Peramuna political thinking, such as its desire for dual citizens to be able to contest parliamentary elections.

We are now told that the cattle slaughter ban move is not a government decision, but only of the parliamentary group, and further discussions are necessary. Will these discussions be to stop or slow down the ban, or get the best and most profitable decisions on the import of beef? Just keep guessing.

Sri Lanka is a country with a strong and very long Buddhist tradition, and is so known and accepted the world over. So why confine the campaign to ban the slaughter of cattle to this island only. Why not take it to the rest of the world, where thinking and actions against cruelty to animals is very much part of social thinking and political action?

Can’t we move a United Nations resolution against the slaughter of cattle? Won’t other majority Buddhist countries such as Thailand, Cambodia and Laos, and who knows even Japan, strongly support such a move. Have we forgotten that in 1999 the 193-member UN General Assembly declared an “International Day of the Observance of Vesak” on the initiative by our then Foreign Minister Lakshman Kadirgamar.

There is certainly huge support for the Prime Minister’s proposal and the Podujana Peramuna acceptance of the ban on cattle slaughter. With such wide support why must we make any provisions for the import of beef? Are we to forget that beef produced in foreign countries does not involve the slaughter – with pain or not – of cattle?

Shouldn’t our thinking go back to the arrival of Buddhism to this country? When Arahat Mahinda called on King Devanampiyatissa to stop his move to kill a deer, he was certainly not thinking of saving a single deer, or a whole herd of them. It was against the killing of all animals, in keeping with the Buddha’s teaching.

With its 20th Amendment, the government is certainly facing much criticism, even with its questionable two-thirds majority. Is the idea of a cattle slaughter ban a move to divert this rising protests, even with the parliamentary swearing-in of a convicted murderer?

Among the key proposals of the Double-Treble Rajapaksa government is the huge reduction of imports. The ban on imports will move from turmeric to pepper and every other commodity. In the midst of all this, to develop the local economy, how can we move to a massive import of beef? Is this the new Rajavasala Thinking?

Let’s take a local socio-political thinking of the cattle slaughter ban move. Who are the biggest losers – the local beef traders – the killers and sellers, who are largely Muslim. There are Sinhalese and Tamils too, as well as Christians. But why give such an economic benefit to the Muslim minority, which is not the Sinhala Bala thinking?

But let’s look at the other side of the slaughter-ban thinking. Who will profit most from beef imports? Will it also be largely Muslim importers? Or, will there be other majority ethnic traders who will soon be big, rich business people, on the unrestricted, imported beef consumption? Will there be importers without political and business alignments to the Rajavasala? Will these importers be chosen, as some are, to key State positions in departments, corporations, state services and the diplomatic service? Will family links benefit from a slaughter ban that leads to big imports of beef?

Cattle will be saved from slaughter, and a whole lot of big profit makers will rise from the import and sale of beef. The cattle may like their lives being saved, but will they not have to undergo much more pain and suffering than today? We strongly appreciate the action by several Buddhist monks and other persons who take care of cattle saved from slaughter today. But how far can this go on – with increasingly limited pasture and fodder, as the green is being reduced and owners cannot look after the older cattle?

India is now among the largest exporters of beef, and our imports will certainly be from our neighbour. Is the ban on cattle slaughter thought in terms of a huge increase in our trade with India? Can we try to balance our increased assistance from China and the Silk and Belt Road initiatives, with the massive beef imports from India?

Will a country that did much to spread Buddhism in the world, do much more to import beef from the country where the Buddha was born and preached his Dharma, and is now among the world’s largest cattle killers and beef exporters?

The whole idea of the development of exports from Sri Lanka is another catchword of the Rajavasala Thinking today. What will the cattle slaughter ban do to the leather industry here? We can move to slippers, shoes, bags and other requirements made only from goat and pig skins – that will also have to be slaughtered? But what about our export of cattle-skin based leather? Is the Lotus Bud to see a huge drop in such exports – and is that part of the Podujana or Rajavasala Thinking?

The duality of the cattle slaughter ban thinking will be part of key political propaganda in the coming weeks. The ban supporters will have a very loud cry. But, what about the import of beef for local consumption. Do the Podujana Players of the Lotus Bud have nothing against increased beef consumption? Are they not interested in the medical and health aspects of this? Are we moving to the new “Pitarata Harak Mus Vaasanava” – the Fortune of Imported Beef?

Will Indo-Lanka ties be more strengthened with imported beef from any part of India? A new Rajavasala Vaasanava!

Courtesy:Sunday Island