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When Constituent Assembly Discussed Cow

The current row over cow and its protection should not have recurred since this was discussed at length in the Constituent Assembly

Policy Pulse
Publish Date: Nov 30 2015 3:59PM | Updated Date: Nov 30 2015 4:08PM

The current row over cow and its protection should not have recurred since this was discussed at length in the Constituent Assembly before incorporating the need for protecting cow in the directive principles of the Constitution and the Supreme Court has twice ruled on this. Given the enormity the issue has gained, Pulse Research Bureau brings you excerpts from the Constituent Assembly’s debates over the issue. We reproduce here the speech given by Pandit Thakur Dass Bhargava before the Assembly on November 24, 1948 while moving an amendment. Dr HC Mookherjee, the Assembly Vice-President, was in chair

Pandit Thakur Dass Bhargava (East Punjab: General):*[Mr. President, the words of the amendment No. 72 which I am moving in place of amendment No. 1002, are as follows: -
"That for amendment No. 1002 of the lists of amendments to 38-A the following be substituted: -
'38-A. The State shall endeavour to organise agriculture and animal husbandry on modern and scientific lines and shall in particular take steps for preserving and improving the breeds of cattle and prohibit the slaughter of cow and other useful cattle, specially milch and draught cattle and their young stock'."
At the very outset I would like to submit that this amendment..........]*
Shri S. Nagappa(Madras: General): Sir, on a point of order, my honourable Friend, who can speak freely in English, is deliberately talking in urdu or Hindustani which a large number of South Indians cannot follow.
Mr. Vice-President: The honourable Member is perfectly entitled to speak in any language he likes but I would request him to speak in English though he is not bound to speak in English. 
Pandit Thakur DassBhargava: I wanted to speak in Hindi which is my own language about the cow and I would request you not to order me to speak in English. As the subject is a very important one, I would like to express myself in the way in which I can express myself with greater ease and facility. I would therefore request you kindly to allow me to speak in Hindi. 
Mr. Vice-President, with regard to this amendment I would like to submit before the House that in fact this amendment like the other amendment, about which Dr. Ambedkar has stated, is his manufacture. Substantially there is no difference between the two amendments. In a way this is an agreed amendment. While moving this amendment, I have no hesitation in stating that for people like me and those that do not agree with the point of view of Dr. Ambedkar and others, this entails, in a way, a sort of sacrifice. Seth Govind Das had sent one such amendment to be included in the Fundamental Rights and other members also had sent similar amendments. To my mind it would have been much better if this could have been incorporated in the Fundamental Rights, but some of my Assembly friends differed and it is the desire of Dr. Ambedkar that this matter, instead of being included in Fundamental Rights should be incorporated in the Directive Principles. As a matter of fact, it is the agreed opinion of the Assembly that this problem should be solved in such a manner that the objective is gained without using any sort of coercion. I have purposely adopted this course, as to my mind, the amendment fulfils our object and is midway between the Directive Principles and the Fundamental Rights.
I do not want that due to its inclusion in the Fundamental Rights, non-Hindus should complain that they have been forced to accept a certain thing against their will. So far as the practical question is concerned, in my opinion, there will be absolutely no difference if the spirit of the amendment is worked out faithfully, wheresoever this amendment is placed. With regard to Article 38 which the House has just passed, I would like to state that Article 38 is like a body without a soul. If you fail to pass Article 38-A which is the proposed amendment, then Article 38 will be meaningless. How can you improve your health and food position, if you do not produce full quota of cereals and milk?
This amendment is divided into three parts. Firstly, the agriculture should be improved on scientific and modern lines. Secondly, the cattle breed should be improved; and thirdly, the cow and other cattle should be protected from slaughter. To grow more food and to improve agriculture and the cattle breed are all inter-dependent and are two sides of the same coin. Today, we have to hang our head in shame, when we find that we have to import cereals from outside. I think our country is importing 46 million tons of cereals from outside. If we calculate the average of the last twelve years, namely, from 1935 to 1947, then it would be found that this country has produced 45 million tons of cereals every year. Therefore, it is certain that we are not only self-sufficient but can also export cereals from our country. If we utilize water properly, construct dams, and have proper change in the courses of rivers, use machines and tractors, make use of cropping and manuring, then surely the production will increase considerably. Besides all these, the best way of increasing the production is to improve the health of human beings and breed of cattle, whose milk and manure and labour are most essential for growing food. Thus the whole agricultural and food problem of this country is nothing but the problem of the improvement of cow and her breed. And therefore I would like to explain to you by quoting some figures, how far cattle-wealth has progressed and what is the position today.
In 1940, there were 11,56,00,960 oxen in India and in1945 only 11,19,00,000 were left. That is to say, during these five years, there was a decrease of 37 lacs in the number of oxen. Similarly the number of buffaloes in 1940, was 3,28,91,300 and in 1945, this figure was reduced to 3,25,44,400. According to these figures, during these five years, their number was reduced by four lacs. Thus during these five years there was decrease of 41 lacs in the sum total of both the above figures taken together.
Besides this, if we see the figures of the slaughtered cattle in India we find that in 1944, 60,91,828 oxen were slaughtered, while in 1945 sixty five lacs were slaughtered i.e., four lakhs more. In the same year 7,27: 189 buffaloes were slaughtered. I do not want to take much of your time. If you wish to see latest figures then I have got them upto 1945. You can see them. I have got figures for Bombay and Madras. A look at these figures will show that there has been no decrease in their slaughter, rather it is on the increase. Therefore, I want to submit before you that the slaughter of cattle should be banned here Ours is an agricultural country and the cow is `Kam- Dhenu' to us - fulfiller of all our wants. From both points of view, of agriculture and food, protection of the cow becomes necessary. Our ancient sages and Rishis, realising her importance, regarded her as very sacred. Here, Lord Krishna was born, who served cows so devotedly that to this day, in affection he is known as "Makhan Chor". I would not relate to you the story of Dalip, how that Raja staked his own life for his cow. But I would like to tell you that even during the Muslim rule, Babar, Humayun, Akbar, Jahangir and even in the reign of Aurangzeb, cow slaughter was not practised in India; not because Muslims regarded it to be bad but because, from the economic point of view, it was unprofitable.
Similarly in every country, in China, cow-slaughter is a crime. it is banned in Afghanistan as well. A year ago, a similar law was passed in Burma, before that, under a certain law cattle only above fourteen years of age could be slaughtered. But eventually, the Burma Government realised that this partial ban on slaughter was not effective. On the pretext of useless cattle many useful cattle are slaughtered. I have read in newspapers that the Pakistan Government has decided to stop the export of cattle from Western Pakistan, and they too have enforced a partial ban on slaughter of animals. In the present conditions in our country, cow-breeding is necessary, not for milk supply alone, but also for the purposes of draught and transport. It is no wonder that people worship cow in this land. But I do not appeal to you in the name of religion; I ask you to consider it in the light of economic requirements of the country. In this connection I would like to tell you the opinion of the greatest leader of our country - the Father of the Nation - on the subject. You know the ideas of revered Mahatmaji on this topic. He never wanted to put any compulsion on Muslims or non-Hindus. He said, "I hold that the question of cow-slaughter is of great moment - in certain respects of even greater moment - than that of Swaraj. Cow-slaughter and manslaughter are, in my opinion, two sides of the same coin."
Leaving it aside, I want to draw your attention to the speech of our President, Dr. Rajendra Prasad. After this the Government of India, appointed a committee - an expert representative committee-to find out whether for the benefit of the country the number of cattle can be increased, and whether their slaughter can be stopped. The Committee has unanimously decided in its favour. Seth Govind Das was also a member of the committee. The committee unanimously decided that cattle slaughter should be banned. Great minds were associated with the said committee. They examined the question from the economic view-point; they gave thought to the unproductive and unserviceable cattle also. After viewing the problem from all angles they came to the unanimous decision that slaughter of cattle should be stopped. That resolution relates not to cows alone. Slaughtering of buffaloes, which yield 50 per cent of our milk supply, and of the goats which yield three percent of our milk supply, and also bring a profit of several crores, is as sinful as that of cows. In my district of Hariana, a goat yields 3 to 4 seers of milk. Perhaps a cow does not yield that much in other areas. Therefore I submit that we should consider it from an economic point of view. I also want to state that many of the cattle, which are generally regarded as useless, are not really so. Experts have made an estimate of that, and they came to the conclusion that the cattle which are regarded as useless are not really so, because we are in great need of manure. A cow, whether it be a milch-cow or not, is a moving manure factory and so, as far as cow is concerned, there can be no question of its being useless or useful. It can never be useless. In the case of cow there can be no dispute on the point.]*(Hearing the bell being rung.) Am I to stop?
Mr. Vice President: Yes, I am asking you to stop.
Pandit Thakur Dass Bhargava: Could you give me two minutes more?
Mr. Vice-President: You have already had 25 minutes.
Pandit Thakur Dass Bhargava:*[As the Vice-President has ordered me to finish off, I shall not go into the details; otherwise I can prove by figures that the value of the refuse and urine of a cow is greater than the cost of her maintenance. In the end, I would wind up by saying that there might be people, who regard the question of banning cow-slaughter as unimportant, but I would like to remind them that the average age in our country is 23 years, and that many children die under one year of age! The real cause of all this is shortage of milk and deficiency in diet. Its remedy lies in improving the breed of the cow, and by stopping its slaughter. I attach very great importance to this amendment, so much so that if on one side of the scale you were to put this amendment and on the other all these 315 clauses of the draft, I would prefer the former. If this is accepted, the whole country would be, in a way, electrified. Therefore, I request you to accept this amendment unanimously with acclamation.  (To be continued)