Banning spree

UP's drive against slaughterhouses will hurt jobs and revenue in one of India's poorest states

The drive against slaughterhouses could impact three critical industries in the state: meat packaging, livestock and leather.

The closure of Uttar Pradesh’s slaughterhouses could leave a couple of million people jobless in the state, affect its allied industries and choke small but important revenue streams for its poor farmers, especially in drought-prone areas, according to an IndiaSpend analysis of available data on India’s meat, leather and livestock industries.

Half of Uttar Pradesh’s licensed slaughterhouses and scores of illegal ones have been closed after an order from new Chief Minister Yogi Adityanath against those that do not follow the law.

The drive against slaughterhouses could impact three critical industries in Uttar Pradesh: meat packaging, livestock and leather. With some of India’s worst development indicators, stagnant agriculture and industry, as IndiaSpend reported in March, India’s most populous state is also one of its poorest with the second-highest unemployment rate – after Jharkhand – among India’s eighth most socioeconomically backward states.

With a population of 200 million people, equivalent to the population of Brasil, Uttar Pradesh’s economy is the size of the tiny middle-eastern country of Qatar, which has 2.4 million people, the same as the town of Bijnore in the state.

In 2015-’16, more people per 1,000 were unemployed in Uttar Pradesh (58), compared to the Indian average (37), and youth unemployment was especially high, with 148 for every 1,000 people between the ages of 18 and 29 years in the state unemployed, compared to the Indian average of 102, according to 2015-16 labour ministry data.

Meat-packing and leather industries make up the major share of India’s export earnings, with UP contributing significantly. Uttar Pradesh accounted for nearly 43% of buffalo-meat exports in 2015-16, the highest among all Indian states, according to data published by the Agriculture and Processed Food Export Development Authority or APEDA. Leather ranks eighth among India’s top export earners, with about 46% of what is produced being exported, according to the Council for Leather Exports. A third of these exports go from Kanpur in UP, a city where the leather industry, as IndiaSpend reported in February is already in crisis.

The Bharatiya Janata Party’s election manifesto for the Uttar Pradesh assembly election had promised to shut all illegal slaughterhouses in the state. But “over-enthusiastic” officials – who appeared to be acting indiscriminately, shutting down even abattoirs with licenses – are now being reined in by the government, according to some media reports.

IndiaSpend research shows that the slaughterhouse ecology is complex and supports diverse, rural and urban economic and social systems not just in Uttar Pradesh but nationwide. Here is a look at the three industries that will be most affected by the campaign.

1. Meat industry

Illegal slaughterhouses being targeted by the UP government dominate the meat market in India: 4,000 are registered and more than 25,000 are not, among units that cater to the domestic market, according to this APEDA report. Even in the export market, registered and unregistered slaughterhouses both produce meat, APEDA acknowledges in this report. Uttar Pradesh accounts for 43% of India’s buffalo-meat exports.

It is also the largest producer of meat in India, according to the Agriculture Statistics Report, 2015. In 2014-;15, it contributed 21% of the meat produced in India. Of the 75 slaughterhouses registered with the APEDA for meat export, as many as 49 are in Uttar Pradesh. This means the state is likely to have a large number of slaughterhouses, many illegal.

Source: Agricultural Statistics At A Glance 2015
Source: Agricultural Statistics At A Glance 2015

Buffalo meat is a major export from India, going to more than 40 countries. In the 2015-’16, UP recorded the highest buffalo meat export, followed by Maharashtra. In 2015-’16, India exported 13.14 lakh metric tonnes buffalo meat of worth Rs 26,685.42 crore.

Source: Compiled from APEDA Agri Exchange data
Source: Compiled from APEDA Agri Exchange data

There is no reliable estimate of people employed in Uttar Pradesh’s slaughterhouses and meat shops, but it is likely to be in tens of thousands. Around 6.7 million Indians are employed in the country’s food-processing industry, which includes slaughterhouses and meat processing units, according to the Agriculture Statistics, 2015.

The issue of illegal abattoirs in the state is not new. The erstwhile Samajwadi Party government had also issued a government order in June 2014 to probe their operations. In May 2015, the National Green Tribunal ordered the state government to act against illegal slaughterhouses to curb the pollution caused by them. The BJP government’s move goes a step further, banning not only illegal slaughtering but also licensed mechanical operations, which are mostly legal and focussed on exports.

Previous governments, acknowledging the advantage of mechanised slaughter technology over traditional methods in increasing and improving output for the export market, had offered financial assistance for upgrades.

2. Livestock dependence

Meat production is entirely dependent on livestock, a sector that contributed nearly 4.11% to India’s GDP at current prices in 2012-’13. It also contributes nearly 25.6% of output, by value, at current prices in the agriculture, fishing and forestry sectors, according to the Livestock Census Report, 2012.

Source: Agricultural Statistics at a glance 2015 (in million)
Source: Agricultural Statistics at a glance 2015 (in million)

As the table above shows, India houses a significant percentage of the world’s livestock. A comparison of the last two livestock censuses reveals a 3.33% decrease in livestock in 2012 compared to 2007. But Uttar Pradesh along with Gujarat and Assam, registered growth (14%), indicating the economy’s dependence on livestock and allied businesses.

Livestock are an important economic resource, especially in rural areas. Cattle, buffalo, goat and sheep are maintained by agricultural families, mostly those with small land holdings, and by landless labourers who use them primarily for milk and also meat. Cattle are also loaned for agriculture and transportation. Poor families sell stray cattle to butchers. In drought-affected areas, such as parts of Maharashtra, Karnataka, Madhya Pradesh and UP, cattle are often sold to tide over economic crises.

3. Leather as an employer

In 2014-’15, India leather exports were valued at $6.4 billion (Rs 39,097 crore) and in 2015-’16, at $5.8 billion (Rs 38,396 crore), according to Council for Leather Exports data.

Source: Council for Leather Exports
Source: Council for Leather Exports

The Indian leather industry provides formal and informal employment to 2.5 million people, mostly from disadvantaged communities: A third of leather workers are women and a fourth are scheduled castes and tribes, according to this 2009 study by the Labour Bureau of India. Leather workers who are not from traditional tanning communities or are not Muslims come from poor agricultural families, according to a study by the Centre for Education and Communication, an advocacy.

This article first appeared on IndiaSpend, a data-driven and public-interest journalism non-profit.

We welcome your comments at letters@scroll.in.
Sponsored Content BY 

The perpetual millennial quest for self-expression just got another boost

Making adulting in the new millennium easier, one step at a time.

Having come of age in the Age of the Internet, millennials had a rocky start to self-expression. Indeed, the internet allowed us to personalise things in unprecedented fashion and we really rose to the occasion. The learning curve to a straightforward firstname.surname@___mail.com email address was a long one, routed through cringeworthy e-mail ids like coolgal1234@hotmail.com. You know you had one - making a personalised e-mail id was a rite of passage for millennials after all.

Declaring yourself to be cool, a star, a princess or a hunk boy was a given (for how else would the world know?!). Those with eclectic tastes (read: juvenile groupies) would flaunt their artistic preferences with an elitist flair. You could take for granted that bitbybeatlemania@hotmail.com and hpfan@yahoo.com would listen to Bollywood music or read Archie comics only in private. The emo kids, meanwhile, had to learn the hard way that employers probably don’t trust candidates with e-mail ids such as depressingdystopian@gmail.com.

Created using Imgflip
Created using Imgflip

And with chat rooms, early millennials had found a way to communicate, with...interesting results. The oldest crop of millennials (30+ year olds) learnt to deal with the realities of adolescent life hunched behind anonymous accounts, spewing their teenage hormone-laden angst, passion and idealism to other anonymous accounts. Skater_chick could hide her ineptitude for skating behind a convincing username and a skateboard-peddling red-haired avatar, and you could declare your fantasies of world domination, armed with the assurance that no one would take you seriously.

With the rise of blogging, millennial individualism found a way to express itself to millions of people across the world. The verbosity of ‘intellectual’ millennials even shone through in their blog URLs and names. GirlWhoTravels could now opine on her adventures on the road to those who actually cared about such things. The blogger behind scentofpetunia.blogspot.com could choose to totally ignore petunias and no one would question why. It’s a tradition still being staunchly upheld on Tumblr. You’re not really a Tumblr(er?) if you haven’t been inspired to test your creative limits while crafting your blog URL. Fantasy literature and anime fandoms to pop-culture fanatics and pizza lovers- it’s where people of all leanings go to let their alter ego thrive.

Created using Imgflip
Created using Imgflip

Then of course social media became the new front of self-expression on the Internet. Back when social media was too much of a millennial thing for anyone to meddle with, avatars and usernames were a window into your personality and fantasies. Suddenly, it was cool to post emo quotes of Meredith Grey on Facebook and update the world on the picturesque breakfast you had (or not). Twitter upped the pressure by limiting expression to 140 characters (now 280-have you heard?) and the brevity translated to the Twitter handles as well. The trend of sarcasm-and-wit-laden handles is still alive well and has only gotten more sophisticated with time. The blogging platform Medium makes the best of Twitter intellect in longform. It’s here that even businesses have cool account names!

Self-expression on the Internet and the millennials’ love for the personalised and customised has indeed seen an interesting trajectory. Most millennial adolescents of yore though are now grownups, navigating an adulting crisis of mammoth proportions. How to wake up in time for classes, how to keep the boss happy, how to keep from going broke every month, how to deal with the new F-word – Finances! Don’t judge, finances can be stressful at the beginning of a career. Forget investments, loans and debts, even matters of simple money transactions are riddled with scary terms like beneficiaries, NEFT, IMPS, RTGS and more. Then there’s the quadruple checking to make sure you input the correct card, IFSC or account number. If this wasn’t stressful enough, there’s the long wait while the cheque is cleared or the fund transfer is credited. Doesn’t it make you wish there was a simpler way to deal with it all? If life could just be like…

Created using Imgflip
Created using Imgflip

Lo and behold, millennial prayers have been heard! Airtel Payments Bank, India’s first, has now integrated UPI on its digital platform, making banking over the phone easier than ever. Airtel Payments Bank UPI, or Unified Payment Interface, allows you to transfer funds and shop and pay bills instantly to anyone any time without the hassles of inputting any bank details – all through a unique Virtual Payment Address. In true millennial fashion, you can even create your own personalised UPI ID or Virtual Payment Address (VPA) with your name or number- like rhea@airtel or 9990011122@airtel. It’s the smartest, easiest and coolest way to pay, frankly, because you’re going to be the first person to actually make instant, costless payments, rather than claiming to do that and making people wait for hours.

To make life even simpler, with the My Airtel app, you can make digital payments both online and offline (using the Scan and Pay feature that uses a UPI QR code). Imagine, no more running to the ATM at the last minute when you accidentally opt for COD or don’t have exact change to pay for a cab or coffee! Opening an account takes less than three minutes and remembering your VPA requires you to literally remember your own name. Get started with a more customised banking experience here.

This article was produced by the Scroll marketing team on behalf of Airtel Payments Bank and not by the Scroll editorial team.