Twitter Stock- Modi govt’s short-sighted ban on cattle export has only ended up making Bangladesh, China more prosperous
In 2013-14 India’s leather exports recorded an 18 per cent growth, which fell to 9 per cent a year later. Exports in 2015-16 of mainly footwear to the US, EU countries, Hong Kong and China touched $6 billion, which declined to $5.6 billion a year on. There was a 19 per cent drop in exports during 2016-16, according to trade sources.
Not only are the exports going south, but the country that has walked away with what could have been India’s share is none other than China. Surely this cannot bring much joy to the Indian establishment.
Chinese exports rose by 3 per cent by 2016-17 and have been growing further, according to reports. Thus, the Government of India has ended up making China richer and economically stronger.
Secondly, it is not just China alone that has been helped by policies initiated by Delhi. India has involuntarily helped Bangladesh achieve a remarkable self-sufficiency in shoring up its livestock development sector. Bangladesh media regularly carries glowing accounts of how cattle production has increased by leaps and bounds. For the first time in decades, Bangladesh can meet its annual beef/buffalo meat intake demand on its own. There is no need to import cattle from India any longer.
With the purchasing power of people increasing steadily over the years, Bangladeshis are consuming more home grown milk and milk products, some of which were earlier imported. Some recent reports said that the country’s annual demand for meat was around 11 million metric tonnes. As against this, the number of cows and buffaloes now exceeds 1.15 crore for the first time. The key to this was the rapid establishment of nearly 600,000 livestock farms, provided with all help and facilities.
There are press reports of how marginal farmers, owning only 1 acre of land or less, raising rice, jute or veggies, had purchased young calves which they reared for a few years before selling them at around TK 70,000 each. Such sales are commonplace especially ahead of the annual Eid festivities.
Thus, Bangladesh has considerably strengthened its live stock development programme and acquired self-sufficiency. It is currently considering exports of milk and related items abroad.
In media headlines, Bangladesh papers have tongue-in-cheek thanked India for its decision to ban cattle export, although initially there were bellyaching laments over beef becoming costlier. A spokesman of the Bangladesh Livestock department was recently quoted as saying that India’s ban had come as a major challenge for its neighbour.
One question arises inevitably: how could India’s mighty policymakers, who have promised to the country a $5 trillion economy soon, fail to anticipate the likely long term outcome of their ban-cattle-export decision?
There is no denying that both on humanitarian and economic grounds, it makes much sense to protect wherever necessary India’s own livestock base and strengthen it further. This argument has been heard regularly from the ban backers. Unfortunately the facts on the ground in India do not inspire confidence in their rhetoric.
It is by no means certain that the Indians really care for the cow in a special way. If they did, they would have handled the problem of the continuing abandonment of aging cattle more humanely. When it comes to taking special care of the cow – buffaloes invariably go ignored for some reason – the emotional rhetoric hardly matches any organised initiative to improve the living conditions and diet of the animals.
As soon as the animals stop giving milk, the butchers’ knives are out. Cow owners are in a desperate hurry to get rid of their animals. At worst, they are sold in secret to slaughterhouses where killing old cows is carried on illegally or otherwise. At best, the animals are simply turned loose, on the roads and fields, where they create much havoc until kind hearted do-gooders feed them for some time through sporadic individual or concerned efforts.