Opinion: How can we discuss new Prevention of Cruelty to Animals Rules without discussing cruelty…

Numerous pieces have been surfacing over the last few days discussing the impacts of the Government’s new Prevention of Cruelty to Animals Rules, notified on May 23.

Harish Damodaran, writing for the Indian Express:

In short, it restricts the scope of “animal markets” only to trading of cattle “bought for agricultural purposes and not for slaughter”.

I’d rephrase this. The scope of “animal markets” covers trading of all animals, with the restriction that cattle trading within the markets should be for agricultural purposes only.

The underlying objective, it seems, is to segregate milch/agricultural purpose bovines from those intended for slaughter.

I’d argue that the underlying objective is the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals. Yes, it also does specify that cattle within the animal markets is limited to agricultural purposes only but making the objective of the entire set of rules on one provision paints a lopsided picture.

This piece also glosses over numerous items that are now prohibited in entirety under Section 14, including: hot/cold branding, nose/ear cutting, drenching fluids forcibly or using steroids for purposes other than veterinary treatment, castration, tying nose bags and the like, for all animals. Do these not constitute cruelty to animals?

And even further, we aren’t even discussing environment impacts of slaughter, and particularly unregulated slaughter houses.

We cannot discuss laws without putting them in the right context, and we cannot rule out the cruelty metted to animals while discussing the Act and its Rules.

Referencing the article above, Swarajya Mag adds:

If traceability and hygiene were the drivers of these rules, why have goats been exempted from this; surely those consuming mutton also have the right to get hygienic meat?

The hygiene, storing, moving and other restrictions on ensuring proper treatment to animals in the animal markets apply to all animals. In fact, the only restriction specific to cattle is regarding sale within in the animal market as mentioned above. The rest of the provisions apply to all animals, there’s no ambiguity here. I have no idea where this conclusion came from.

Further:

The Modi government has a huge employment crisis staring at it in the face; having a few million more people unemployed is only going to hurt it more.

Sure there will be short term impacts to employment with the new Rules, but should the decision to pass a law focused on preventing cruelty to animals be based on employment? That’s like saying ‘child trafficking shouldn’t be illegal, sure a few children suffer, but think about everyone that’s employed in the child trafficking business’! Is that how these decisions should be discussed, let alone made?

What these new rules are certainly going to do is increase inspector raj and petty corruption, given the enormous paperwork involved. Illegal trade will flourish. And that will only lead to a step up in the activities of cow vigilantes, who will target even legal transactions. The new rules may have noble intentions behind them, but they may end up doing more harm than good.

Since we’re speculating now, here’s my postulation: cow vigilantism will only increase if people willing to take the law into their hands feel that the Government is not doing enough via legislation to safeguard cows and start taking matters into their own hands, no?


It would be a grave injustice to discuss the new Prevention of Cruelty to Animals Rules without discussing cruelty to animals. There’s a reason people are going from non-vegetarianism to veganism, even without a direct/religious reason to not eat meat: inhumane treatement of animals in production and slaughter facilities. Veganism has estimatedly grown 3.5x in the UK over the last 10 years. Similar estimates say half of vegetarins in the US are vegan, numbering 16 million.

To only focus on issues with jobs, or new paperwork within the rules and gloss over the prohibition of cruel practices, as well as ensuring decent living and trading conditions within animal markets seems morally wrong to me.

Chirag Desai @Chirag