Three years to the day since the Narendra Modi government was sworn in, news emerged that the government had banned the sale of cattle for slaughter in animal markets across the country. The move is only the latest appearance of the cow, and other cattle animals, in the headlines. The political climate under Modi has meant harsh cow slaughter laws and violence by gau rakshak (cow protection) gangs that chase down and assault Muslims who they suspect of trying to harm cows.

All this has meant an unprecedented focus on bovines in India. To explain the hysteria sweeping through India, has written on the history of cow protection and tried to explain how upper caste taboos on beef have driven gau raksha politics. We have also pointed out the futility of beef bans, using data to show that cow slaughter laws actually decrease cattle numbers. There is also hypocrisy: even as meat is banned, other cow products such as leather and bone china remain thriving industries. Here’s the full list:

  1. Cow protection groups attack not only Muslims but also Dalits as was last seen in Gujarat in July, 2016. Prone to vigilante violence, they need to be banned immediately. Yet, instead of doing that, all that the Gujarat adminstration has done is passa stringent cow slaughter law that punished cow killing with life in prison.
  2. In this interview, Dalit intellectual Kancha Ilaiah argues that the beef ban is an attempt to impose upper-caste culture on other Hindus.
  3. Any watcher of Pakistan will be struck by how similar India’s cow protection laws are to the Islamic country’s blasphemy edicts.
  4. Modi spoke up against cow protection gangs last in August, 2016. What political calculations promptedthat intervention?
  5. Killings in the name of the cow have peakedin the past few years but India has a long history of cow slaughter laws.
  6. “These gau rakshaks are worse than the thugs of the ravines”: a disillusioned member of a cow protection gang speaks out agains the hypocrisy of gau raksha.
  7. The state of Haryana is actually thinking of awarding cow protection gangs with official identity cards, thus legitimising their violence.
  8. A Kannada movie “Tabbaliyu Neenade Magane” made four decades back had asked important questions about cow worship and slaughter.
  9. Beef bans help politicians manipulate Hindu sentiments around cow slaughter. Laws purportedly aimed at cow protection are actually used to instigate violence and gather votes.
  10. Cow protection gangs haven’t limited themselves to stray lynchings: The first Parliament attack took place in 1966 – and was carried out by gau rakshaks.
  11. Read what Vinayak Savarkar, founder of Hindutva, wrote: Care for cows, do not worship them.
  12. Cow protection laws ironically lead to a drop in cow populations. By banning the sale of cows for their meat, this makes buffalos more economically attractive to dairy farmers. In fact, Maharashtra’s farmers are already having trouble selling their livestock.
  13. Indian politicians only outrage against beef as part of their cow protection campaigns? But cricket balls, shoes and tablas contain cow parts too. Should India ban them too?
  14. The meat might be taboo in North India but beef has always been an integral part of Kerala’s cuisine.
  15. It’s easy to see why the Right wanted DN Jha’s book on India’s beef-eating history to be banned.
  16. The politics of cow protection have a long history in India – but has acquired a new urgency in the country today.
  17. India is a majority meat-eating country. Vegetarianism in India, thus, has more to do with caste hierarchy than love for animals.
  18. India’s current beef hysteria owes a bit to Prime Minister Narendra Modi himself, who has based his politics on gau raksha sentiments.
  19. Here is what Ambedkar wrote on why Brahmins started worshipping the cow and gave up eating beef.