A BLEEDING BUSINESS

More than twenty thousand cattle are smuggled into Bangladesh every day. This is such a huge number that no one could miss it, however large the border. How can one explain it except to say that agents from Bangladesh are in active collusion with politicians and smugglers in India? These are not old, tired animals (though even that cannot be used as an excuse, except by Hitler) but young strong animals that are taken from West Bengal farmers. The same number are cut and fed as beef to the population of Bangladesh every day… 


a-bleeding-businessEarlier, when the Communists were in power, West Bengal’s Government prided itself on its level-headedness. The last Communists in the world, they called themselves, even if they didn’t – and don’t — understand what the word communism means. In my opinion the word has becomes synonymous with inefficiency and a general uncaring-ness of its population. The lowest standards of life, no civic amenities, corruption the same as anywhere else and violence are some of its other traits.
Corruption doesn’t just mean the taking of bribes by the Income Tax Department or by politicians to grant licenses. It also means ignoring those illegalities that take place in front of your eyes and are so large that they are obvious to the rest of the country. I am not talking about the budget that never goes into roads or street lighting but about the smuggling of cattle.
More than twenty thousand cattle are smuggled into Bangladesh every day. This is such a huge number that no one could miss it, however large the border. How can one explain it except to say that agents from Bangladesh are in active collusion with politicians and smugglers in India? These are not old, tired animals (though even that cannot be used as an excuse, except by Hitler) but young strong animals that are taken from West Bengalfarmers. The same number are cut and fed as beef to the population of Bangladesh every day.

Corruption doesn’t just mean the taking of bribes by the Income Tax Department or by politicians to grant licenses. It also means ignoring those illegalities that take place in front of your eyes and are so large that they are obvious to the rest of the country. I am not talking about the budget that never goes into roads or street lighting but about the smuggling of cattle.

This smuggling is destroying the agricultural base of West Bengal. Firstly the turnover in farmers’ cattle has increased. Before a cow/buffalo was slaughtered after it reached 15 years, then it came down to ten. Now it is three years. Barely enough time to have two offspring and then be cut. The farmer, who sells his cow/buffalo out of greed for that one-time payment, usually finds that it is not enough to buy another healthy calf as prices of cows/buffaloes in West Bengal are going up steeply because of the smuggling. How does he manage his field then? Even if he can plough it by borrowing an animal what does he do for fertiliser? There is nothing that can replace free cow dung. He cannot buy chemical fertiliser because it is too expensive. It also, within a few years, destroys the land. How many people come to Kolkata every month because they can no longer plough their fields and have used up their payment?
In return for throwing the agricultural economy out of gear and impoverishing the same farmer for whom the Communists came into being, does theWest Bengal Government earn any money? CERTAINLY NOT. It is smuggling and therefore an illegal activity. Who earns the money; the smuggler, who goes across the border from West Bengal with the cattle? Not only him but the Bangladesh Government which is also making a lot of money!
West Bengal’s Government may ignore the smuggling but Bangladesh recognises that it exists (Obviously, since there are NO cows/buffaloes raised in Bangladesh or used by the farmers because of the paucity of land and fodder, 100 per cent come from India). How do they earn money? The Bangladesh Customs Department has set up border check posts on their side to tax the oxen. According to a report this is the official statement of the Customs officers: ‘They come in thousands every day and the number is always increasing. So we decided to set up check posts, NOT to stop them but to charge levy.’ So the Indian citizen who takes the cattle to the border then pays the Bangladeshi officials a tax before his counterpart, theBangladesh butcher, takes them off him. Wonderful! We lose our cows and our money!
I was in Bangladesh some time ago. My host was telling me about the Bakr Eid celebrations. Every member of the family, even a baby, had a cow/buffalo cut for it. Since there are few refrigeration services in that country and over 5 million cattle are slaughtered, a large amount is thrown away because it rots. Bangladesh traders say that the number of cattle being sent over at that time is huge, 500,000 or more.
It is too much to expect the West Bengal Government to be humane. Their own members of Parliament used to write about the necessity of killing animals (on the specious grounds that plants have life too!) West Bengal is the only State apart from Kerala that officially sanctions the killing of cows, even though it has a very large percentage of protesters. Kolkata has many killing pounds. So, if one cannot use the plea of humanity and gentleness what about the economic angle? Are our farmers to get poorer? Are our fodder lands to go into the fattening of cattle that go clandestinely abroad?

loading...

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *