Thursday, December 14, 2017

Ayodhyā Summit

Born in a Hindu family, I have heard reference to Bhagwāna Rāma & Ayodhyā since I was a child and as far back as my memory goes. Ours is a family, no different from many other Hindu families, where Valmiki Rāmāyana & Bhagwat Geetā would get handed down generations, till the books were in tatters. But I have also heard of Ayodhyā in the context of Ram Janmabhoomi Mandir issue. In 1992, I was still in my tenth standard. My father being a Naval Officer, we, obviously, never indulged in Kar Sewa or any such activity, but since the question was closer to faith, everyone took keen interest in what was going on.

To us, if Bhagwāna Rama was an “uttama purusha”, Ayodhyā represented Rāma Rājya.

I am not exactly a practicing Hindu anymore. That is to say, that I do not follow vaidika tradition anymore. I began practicing Vipassanā meditation and, therefore, away from any “ism”, I follow the instructions imparted by Bhagwāna Buddha. I consider it growing up, somebody else could consider it drifting away.

I now prefer to look at people from the point of view of mind & matter, rather than their identity-based denominations and from that perspective, I understand the importance of Symbols and concept of Symbolism in stoking the faith in a person to become a better human being than what he or she is currently. Entire spiritual pursuit is aimed at becoming a better person. That is the very difference between a Criminal and a Saint.

A temple is not an end in itself. Not for me. But it is certainly a stage when a person turns around in the ‘direction’ of becoming a better person. And then at some stage the person takes other baby steps in this pursuit that include moral behavior, or learning to concentrate the mind away from the worldly desires. But temple, that physical structure, we call the “house of God”, the “devālaya”, is the starting point.

The stories of these saintly beings of the past, are not meant to be memorized and debated amongst each other for minor nitty-gritties. They are meant to ‘inspire’ us. They are meant to teach us. Give us a sense of direction of what we should become. It is meant to develop faith. Faith, not in the person, not in the story, or a book, but in the Law of Nature, the Law of Karma. It is the Karma & its Parināma that make us turn towards good karmas and refrain from bad karmas. And when we see it apply, without any prejudice, to beings like Rāma or Krishna, we begin to develop a faith that we must indulge in good karmas and good parināmas will follow us automatically. That’s the meaningful object of faith. And this is what has the power to make this a beautiful, harmonious and peaceful world.

And if this is what a Rāma Janmabhoomi Mandir can achieve, create a strong faith in the people to indulge in good karmas, instead of bad karmas, like terrorism which has plagued this world for the last 1500years, then I must tell you sirs, it is worth every bead of sweat that will go into construction of a majestic Rāma Janmabhoomi Mandir.

It is 70years since Independence and 25years since the grounds of Rāma Janmabhoomi site was cleared out in an emotionally violent protest and a Rāma Lallā Temple was hurriedly constructed at the spot. It is 7years since the Allahabad High Court Verdict, yet this month when the Supreme Court took up the matter, all we got was arguments to keep the matter unresolved and an order to postpone the matter till February 8, 2018. We hope judiciary understands the gentle sentiments of the masses with regards to the Temple, and takes a meaningful decision at the earliest. In the end, we can only wait for the judgment of the courts to begin construction of the Grand Temple.

Ayodhyā, in the meanwhile, has become a neglected city. The city that could be the centerpiece of Good Governance inspiration, from its days of the Rāma Rājya, remains forgotten, dusted, ancient, ruinous. Why not revive it?

How about a token visit to this city to express very gently the living desire amongst the masses to see a Rāma Janmabhoomi Mandir getting constructed some day? How about spending two days in Ayodhyā, taking in the essence of our collective heritage, contemplating over creation of a thriving ecosystem, that is indeed driven to work along side the Government, and otherwise, towards creation of Rāma Rājya. Is winning political battles enough, or do we need to take social and professional steps that are going to be essential in creation of Rāma Rajya?


This is what we wish to achieve through your Ayodhyā Summit.

Thursday, November 9, 2017

Demonetisation – Impact on Businesses

Cash based business in India has been big. Usually it is referred to as Parallel Economy, but then, still, it is an Economy. It still generates livelihood for poor people. I guess the only little difference is they do not pay taxes, and, therefore, it is important to bring it in the formal economy.

Many different segments have enjoyed cash-based business. From the vegetable, milk, fruit vendors to barbers, grocery shops to Gold, Diamond & Real Estate, all have dealt in Cash. It’s a very wide segment. Not all of it goes untaxed but a considerable portion does. If you go by the assumption Bibek Debroy, Vice Chairman of Niti Aayog and Chairman of Economic Advisory Committee of PMO, made during Demonetisation, Govt expected around Rs.2.5 Lakh Crore to be untaxed Cash Business.

When Demonetisation was announced, these were first businesses to get directly affected. Customers were short of cash or had no cash, and vendors neither had Card Machines or IMPS/UPI facility.

Bigger businesses dealing in cash, like Gold, Diamond or Real Estate were flushed with demonetized currency, by people who wanted to get rid of their unaccounted wealth. In Gold and Diamond, inventory moved, and transactions could be tracked if there’s will in the department. In real estate, it was a matter of immovable asset. Nothing moved, except may be a piece of paper that listed down Unit Number, Area and Address. This was a business of faith. These players in turn moved the money to their own creditors, thereby strengthening their overall books.

Irrespective, an eye on the near future saw a gloom. Businessmen knew it that Cash is not going to be available either as revenue or as loan for a long time to come. Obviously, people began talking. Add to that the NPA issue, GST teething problems and, later, the decrease in GDP growth rate.

This has led to a widescale complaining about strain on businesses.

Shameful Time Magazine cover
Highlighting the days of Policy Paralysis
Has Demonetisation really done this to businesses?

Answer is, Yes and No.

Firstly, if people rewind their memories, there were legacy issues from Congress days itself. After the fall of Banks in America & recession in European Economies, India too had difficulties and between 2012-14, we had decline in Manufacturing, Foreign Exchange reserves were low, Inflation had reached a peak, Fiscal Deficit was high, Current Account Deficit was high, a general atmosphere in the country was not very conducive for business or economic growth. Manmohan Singh sarkaar was accused of Policy Paralysis by YashwantSingh ji in his famous Apology to Kapil Sibal, when he was still a key BJP MP and spoke on Economic Issues in Lok Sabha.


So, Demonetisation alone was not responsible for the woes that certain business classes suffered.

Demonetisation did play some role…

Now, the rising NPA Levels, Tax Evasion and Corruption in general necessitated action from Modi Sarkaar. How that action should have been timed and synchronized is a separate debate, but action was taken.

For Tax Evaders, Govt had made the intent clear from the very day after Govt assumed office when it made the SIT on Blackmoney as per Supreme Court order, later passed Blackmoney Act, then issued the IDS 2016.

Let us be clear then, if so many chances to come clean are ignored by the Cash-based businesses, then Govt also had no option but to come up with a scheme that was punishing in nature. Demonetisation was meant to hurt these businesses, not to make life comfortable for them. Even during Demonetisation, Modi Sarkaar issued IDS-2, where coming clean was the last option given to the Assessees. The deal couldn’t have better than this. Many of us on twitter were demanding this, and Govt responded.

But here, one cannot ‘accuse’ Demonetisation of hurting cash-businesses coz that was the very nature of that exercise. Its aim was to penalize those who continue the unaccounted ways of conducting businesses.

But yet, we must recognize difficulties…

Of course, here again, no amount of CSSO or RBI data can explain the position of businessmen, these are Human Stories, of crushed dreams. Of people who rose from an employee to owning their own little show and then went back to becoming employees due to multiple onslaught.

Two areas where Govt could have been careful

1.   Class War comments – That Rich people are thieves, they have taken away poor man’s money, is very dangerous idea to float in a country like ours. Last thing we want is a class war and Right Wing pushing Left Wing Agenda.
2.   Provision of Adequate Institutional Credit to Unorganised Sector – Many businesses are ineligible for adequate institutional credit cover under current prudential banking norms, due to the nature of business, risk profile etc. hence forced to take loan from cash/unorganisd market at much higher interest. Demonetisation dried that source of capital while Banks still cannot issue loans that covers their requirements adequately.

Having said that, the remonetisation exercise have been fast. The currency in Cirulation has already reached Rs.16.347 Lakh Crore. That’s about March-April 2016 levels. So after March 2018, cash availability per se may not be an issue. Govt can utilize this time for formulating a policy for financial inclusion of unorganized sector.

But Modi Govt did everything to protect the poorer category

While to the richer Cash Business category Govt gave schemes after schemes in which they could come clean, Govt ensured that poorer participants in Parallel Economy are not hurt. At least they did everything in their powers. Here are two important steps that bolster this point.

Jan Dhan Yojana
1.   Jan Dhan Yojana – Bank accounts were opened for all these poorer participants of Cash Economy. At the time of Demonetisation, this ensured that they could deposit their own cash and exchange, and ofcourse the rich tax evaders used their accounts to deposit cash, which is effectively theirs now.
2.   MUDRA – Govt launched MUDRA in 2015, thereby giving poor participants of Cash Economy like vendors & shopkeepers or other self-employed category a chance to access institutional credit cover. Again, even though Govt has a massive data on MUDRA, I would like to assess the full positive impact of this scheme after another year or so.

MUDRA



Conclusion

Demonetisation is a penal scheme. It had to have a punishing effect on businesses. Many of these businesses were already in difficulties since at least 2012. So, Demonetisation alone cannot be blamed. Govt gave ample opportunities to businessmen, they shd have utilized opportunities instead of continuing to evade. As for poorer category of Cash Economy, Govt created necessary mechanism for them to overcome this onslaught. Not only that, this category might come out lot stronger.

Amongst the business categories facing difficulties, some will perish and then reinvent themselves in new business categories, or new entrants will fill the empty space. As far as the big picture view is concerned, there may not be any void. New breed with a more organized approach is bound to rise again here.


And as far as the Formal Sector is concerned, they remained largely unaffected from Demonetisation whatsoever.

Wednesday, November 8, 2017

Demonetisation - What did we gain?

Prime Minister Narendra Modi announces
Demonetisation on Nov 8, 2016 at 8pm
On 8th November 2016 when Prime Minister Narendra Modi announced Demonetisation, some of us followed it up with long telephone calls, running upto midnight, calling this a bold move and a masterstroke from Narendra Modi. Not for a second was there a doubt about this. We thought it was a fantastic move which was very much needed in this country. And this was the very first reaction.

The Tweet from @PMOIndia at 4:21 PM
on November 8, 2016
Curiosity was building up since evening when a photograph of Prime Minister with Army and Navy Chiefs, Vice Chief of Air Staff & National Security Advisor, was released by the PMO's twitter handle. This was followed by a sudden meeting with the President of India and then with the Cabinet. Then came announcement of PM's address to the nation. We all anticipated something big is going to come up. But none thought of Demonetisation.

Over the next few days, as execution of Demonetisation came into action, I began to reflect on the gap in massive implication of this policy and totally lackadaisical nature of its execution. I thought Prime Minister was just making a public comment that this impending exercise was not known to anyone and that in reality all Banking Systems, Vigilance bodies etc would be ready to get the program rolling. But unfortunately, Prime Minister was speaking the truth. There were indeed only a handful of people who were in the know of this pending move.

But the great thing about Modi Sarkaar has been its ability to work in a dynamic response-based environment. As feedback comes the Govt makes changes to its stance and thereby manages to calibrate the effect of any weaknesses in the original move.

A great effect of Demonetisation for me, personally, was that I started to look into RBI Data again, after a gap of 18years. As an Economics Graduate, and a very active one at that I used to run through RBI Bulletins and Occasional Papers on various aspects, in those days effect of Deregulation of Indian Economy was the key interest.

I have watched Demonetisation quite closely. Not only did I spend time crunching RBI’s own data, I also maintained contact with Govt Employees, CAs, Businesspersons from MSME segment and other professionals whose industries are given to large-scale cash-based corruption. And as we complete one year of Demonetisation and as everyone will bring their own piece of review, I thought it would be good if I too used the occasion to express my opinion on the subject. I have planned to do a series of blogs to review this massive exercise.

Lets go straight to the benefit of demonetisation. This is what everyone is more eager to know. We’ll discuss other issues later.

Biggest gain of Demonetisation

Demonetisation was a festival.
A celebration of victory of White over Black.
Forget data. Forget the data on achievement of 5 goals given by Modi Sarkaar for Demonetisation. People can always argue against the data based on their bias. The biggest gain of Demonetisation cannot be measured in numbers.

Many people are bruised by demonetisation, some may be fatally injured as well. But yet BJP is winning elections, people are backing Govt. and the data cannot tell you why this is so. Look beyond data.

The biggest gain of Demonetisation is mindset change. The fear of long arm of law. The difficulty a willing leadership can put defaulters into. The length that the Govt can go to. Today no tax evader, no corrupt babu is certain about the extent to which the Govt will go to punish the offenders. People may still be indulging in these offences, but the restlessness has increased and then number of people who have the heart to tolerate such restless are lower. Today, if Prime Minister's address to the nation is announced, people begin to worry what new anti-corruption measure are going to get announced. Tells you a lot about mindset change.

People respect the Govt., because they believe Govt. has done what it was always supposed to do. Give a hard time to those who indulge in Economic Offences. You’ll be surprised to know that even the offenders respect it. Many indulged in it because that is what the environment prevailing prior to Demonetisation demanded of them. But now there is a promise of transparency, accountability, level playing field for all the players in the business.

Narendra Modi has, in a single stroke, exhibited what a Prime Minister’s power is. Prime Minister never needed new Laws. Prime Minister only needed a Spine.

People are in difficulty, they will complain about it, but that is only to force the course correction on execution by inviting the attention of the Govt. Even the mother needs the child to tell her that he is hungry.

And let me tell you one thing, this is now a personal relationship between Narendra Modi and the people. It is THIS man in the chair of Prime Minister who has shown the Spine. And hence, it is THIS man that people will go the extra mile for. Any lesser mortal will fail to elicit similar response.

India’s Reputation for Clean Business Internationally

The world respects India a lot more today and Govt of India even more. Many Govts worldwide have considered Demonetisation but none have guts. Nobody thought their citizens will cooperate and everyone worried about elections. We should remember that Venezuela declared Demonetisation in the same period as India and the backlash was so heavy that they had retract the policy.

In India, not only did the public cooperate, but BJP went on the win UP Assembly Election. It is symbolic of the level of faith Prime Minister Narendra Modi enjoys in Indian Democracy. Leaders world over know the net worth of their popularity in their country’s democracy and, therefore, understand the position of strength from which Narendra Modi leads India internationally. Moreover, to international businessmen, the intent of the Govt has become clear. They know that this Govt means business. The gain from this, is going to be tremendous. Diplomatically, National Security wise, and International Businesswise, expect a major jump over the coming few years.

After BJP wins 2019 General Elections, the position of Narendra Modi will be bolstered so strongly, that I expect Donald Trump or Vladimir Putin or Xi Jinping to show tremendous respect to Indian Prime Minister and change the game on the negotiating tables worldwide.

Other Gains

Digital Transactions
Digital Transactions in the form of IMPS transactions has received a very solid push from Demonetisation. It created the correct atmosphere for its launch and delivered the objective flawlessly.

IMPS stood at Rs.32,500cr for the month of November 2016. It has reached Rs.75,000cr for the month of October 2017. That is a whopping 130% jump in monthly transactions alone. For the year 2016-17, IMPS data stood at Rs.4.11 Lakh Crore. For the year 2017-18, it already stands at Rs. 4.47 Lakh Crore upto Oct 31, 2017 and I estimate it should clock another Rs.3.5 Lakh Crore, at least, in the remaining 5 months of 2017-18. That will be a huge 94% jump year on year.

 Tax Base

Notwithstanding Govt claims on current increase in Tax Base, the mere Bank Deposits made at the time of Demonetisation are bound to increase the Tax Base of India. That number may be minuscule but the Tax Base in India has been so minuscule for years that this will have significant effect in Tax Collection in near future. Also, the fear factor, that the Govt is strict, is going to ensure not only higher compliance from existing base, but submission of complete tax evaders to the Taxation system and therefore cause an increase in Tax Base. But yet, in terms of data at least, I don’t want to rely on any numbers at this stage. Common sense and Govt action clearly indicate this push.

Having said that, Govt has to do lot more to increase tax base. But we leave that discussion for the Policy Pundits.

Conclusion

Demonetisation was surely not an exercise for the heck of it. A massive exercise can have massive failures too. But it can have massive gains as well. Numbers give a fleeting image of things. They are not going to tell you much. Read people’s mind, their attitude and the change in behavior.


In the next piece, we shall discuss Impact on Businesses.

Sunday, October 16, 2016

Constituent Assembly on Cow Slaughter

A healthy Gir Cow, raised in Brazil
It is a raging debate, refusing to go down silently. But this was not the attitude even during the Rule of Islamic Dynasties. The constitution of India expects the Cow, the calves and all other Livestock be protected from Slaughter. It doesn’t force the decision on the State, but sets this expectation on the Govts of the Future, based on the necessity, situations and public opinion. In short, it is a Directive Principle of State Policy and it is duty of successive Govts to create condition conducive for the implementation of these Constitutional Provisions.

Article 48


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, and prohibiting the slaughter, of
cows and calves and other milch and draught cattle.


But it is interesting to learn how this constitutional provision was created. What arguments were placed in favour and against it.

The Article’s journey through the Constituent Assembly


This article never existed in the 1st Draft of Constitution of India as presented by the Constitutional Adviser, Sir B N Rau, on October 30th 1947. It didn’t exist in 2nd Draft of Constitution of India, as published by Drafting Committee chaired by Dr. B R Ambedkar, on February 21, 1948.

Thereafter, sometime between Feb 21, 1948 & March 22, 1948, when the Drafting Committee was inviting objections & suggestions to the draft Constitution, Pandit Thakur Dass Bhargava & Seth Govind Das suggested introduction of a new Article 38-A, into the draft Constitution.

Pandit Thakur Dass Bhargava’s proposed amendment read –

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 stocks.

Seth Govind Das’s proposed amendment read –

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. The word ‘Cow’ includes bulls, bullocks,
young stock of genus cow.

The proposed amendment to the Draft Constitution, by way of addition of a new Article was taken up for discussion in the Drafting Committee’s meeting to deliberate on objections and suggestions received till then, on March 24, 1947.

The meeting was chaired by Dr. B R Ambedkar, and attended by members, Maulavi Saiyid Muhammad Saadullah and Shri N Madhava Rao. In addition, Constitutional Adviser Sir B N Rau and his team were present too.

It was decided that this Article involved a question of Policy, and accordingly, it was left to the decision of the Constituent Assembly.

Fundamental Right Vs. Directive Principle


The movers of the amendment originally sought to propose this Article under the Part dealing with Fundamental Rights, under Right to Life. But upon Dr. Ambedkar’s suggestion, the same was proposed under Directive Principle of State Policy.

Debate in Constituent Assembly


The Article was taken up for debate on 24th November 1948. Nine members participated in the speech, apart from Dr. Ambedkar himself. Two were the original proposers of the amendment; three had sought amendments to these amendments and four others.

  1. Pandit Thakur Dass Bhargava
  2. Seth Govind Das
  3. Prof. Shibban Lal Saksena
  4. Shri. Ram Sahai
  5. Chaudhari Ranbir Singh
  6. Dr. Raghu Vira
  7. Shri. R V Dhulekar
  8. Mr. Z H Lari
  9. Syed Muhammad Saiadulla


Following are the key points made by each speaker:

Pandit Thakur Dass Bhargava

1.     Pandit Thakur Dass Bhargava: At the outset, he declared that Dr. B R Ambedkar had drafted the amendment, just like he had drafted amendment to Article 38 (Article 47 in final Constitution), which was about nutrition & health and prohibition on alcohol, intoxicants & drugs. He expressed his desire to include this amendment under Fundamental Rights, but cited Dr. Ambedkar’s suggestion to include this under Directive Principles of State Policy. He explained further that his amendment is sought in three parts:

a.     The agriculture shd be improved along scientific and modern lines
b.     Cattle breed should be improved
c.      Cow & other cattle should be protected from slaughter

He held slaughter of the Cow and other cattle as the key impediment for improvement of Cow Breeds. He highlighted the fact that Cow Slaughter was a recent phenomena in the Indian Subcontinent, that came along with the occupation by British. Historically, neither the native Hindu populations, nor the invaders like Babur, Humayun, Akbar or even Aurangzeb permitted Cow Slaughter. He highlighted that this was owing to the Economic Consideration. He also gave examples of other countries like China, Afghanistan, Burma and even Pakistan where Cow Slaughter was banned then, from an Economic Point of view.

Cow’s importance from nutritional, draught & transportation point of view was exhorted upon. The economic benefit in maintaining even older cattle was supported as the economic value of their produce (of Dung & Urine) was found to be profitable, thereby questioning the very term “useless cattle”


2.     Seth Govind Das: He insisted on complete ban on Cow Slaughter of any kind, irrespective of distinctions like useful and useless cattle He wanted the word Cow to represent Cows, Bulls,
Bullocks and Calves.
 He explained that their Amendment was not being taken under Fundamental

Rights as it dealt only with a Human’s rights and not that of an Animal.

His support for Ban on Cow Slaughter was primarily from Religious & Cultural point of view and secondarily on Economics therein. He disregarded those who denounced religion, especially communists who declared, “religion is the opium of the people”. He said in no uncertain terms, “Swaraj will have no meaning for our people in the absence of the Culture.”

From name of the country, to National Language, to National Script, to National Anthem to Cow Slaughter; he clubbed all these as Cultural questions facing our country.

He highlighted economic and nutritional issue as well, and pointed out that at the time, when milk supply per capita was 56 ounces in New Zealand, 40 in Denmark, 63 in Finland, 61 in Sweden, 49 in Switzerland etc, India’s was only 7 ounces per capita. It was a huge reason behind high Infant Mortality during that time.

He emphasized that instead of prevention of cow slaughter, India must go for complete blanket ban. He gave example of Burma, where Cows above certain age were permitted for slaughter and due to difficulty in ascertaining age, the Law was unable to fulfill its purpose.

In the end he quoted Babur’s comment to Humayun, “Refrain from cow slaughter to win the hearts of the people of Hindustan.”

3.     Prof. Shibban Lal Saksena: He had moved an amendment to the amendment of Pandit Bhargava and Seth Govind Das, but refrained from moving it in the house. However, he chose to place his thoughts on the subject. Like the previous speakers, he too balanced the subject between Religion and Economics. In fact, he improved on the subject by saying that the it is the Economics of Cow which had given it the Religious nature. He asserted that just because something has a religious nature, it doesn’t mean it is bad. Mahatma Gandhi’s favorable views on Ban on Cow Slaughter were quoted as well. An interesting statistic was presented on National Income, at the time, possibly of Rural Section. Out of Rs.22crores per annum, Rs.11cr was derived from the cattle. Such was the dependence and therefore necessity to protect Cows from slaughter. Another interesting statistic he presented was on per capita cattle population, which was 50 cattles per 100 persons in India, when Denmark had 74, USA 71, Canada 80 & New Zealand 150 cattles per 100 persons.

He pointed out that India had a large population of small holding cultivators, and yet, at the time we had mere 16 Bullocks per 100acres.

4.     Shri. Ram Sahai: He refrained from moving his amendment, which was sought under Part III (Fundamental Rights), and decided to go with Pandit Bhargava’s amendment.

5.     Chaudhuri Ranbir Singh: Refrained from moving his amendment. He wanted to participate in the general debate on Pandit Bhargava’s amendment, but was not given time due to unknown reasons.

6.     Dr. Raghu Vira: His primary contention was along religious/cultural lines. He wanted the ban on Cow Slaughter along the ancient Hindu Tradition of sin of Brahma Hatya & Gau Hatya.

7.     Shri. R V Dhulekar: After quoting some lofty religious/cultural ideals, Shri. Dhulekar criticized the Drafting Committee for not considering the Ban on Cow Slaughter under Fundamental Rights, thereby, changing the course of arguments from next speaker.

8.     Mr. Z H Lari: He was the first Muslim to speak on this subject. He was ready to support the amendment if it was clearly stated that ban on cow slaughter was for Religious reasons and that there was no ambiguity left through a clear-cut Ban. In his opinion, the mid-way, the ambiguity on whether there was a Ban or mere prohibition, led to difficulties, where Muslims presuming there is no ban would perform their sacrifices, but would be arrested later. A crucial point he agreed upon was that Islam doesn’t necessarily say that Muslims must sacrifice a Cow.

9.     Syed Muhammad Saiadulla: He agreed to supporting the Ban on Cow Slaughter on Religious grounds. He cited the Holy Quran, saying: La ikraba fid Din, meaning, there ought to be no compulsion in the name of religion.

However, he refused to support the amendment on Economic grounds, citing Cow’s Meat as a cheaper source of meat for Muslims, who he claimed were a poorer bunch. He questioned some of the statistics on Cow Slaughter Pandit Bhargava had shared, as it related to War Period, but Pandit Bhargava corrected that Cow Slaughter was banned during the War.

Following this he began to ridicule the Hindus for themselves selling their Old Cows to Muslims, who gladly took them to slaughter-houses. He went to the extent of saying that there was only 1 Muslim butcher in Shillong and 70 from the Hill tribes. He claimed he himself didn’t eat Cow’s Meat, but in the end opposed the Amendment.

Finally, when the Amendments were put to votes, Seth Govind Das’ amendment was negative, Pandit Thakur Dass Bhargava’s amendment was accepted, as well as addition of Article 38-A was accepted to the Draft Constitution.

An interesting case of Firman against Cow Slaughter in Afghanistan

In 1922, the Ulema as well as King Amanullah Khan of Afghanistan issued Firmans banning slaughter of the Cows. Much like Babur had issued instruction to Humayun through his Wasiyatnama, where he exhorted him to avoid slaughtering cows in order that he gain a place in the heart of the natives as it would being him nearer to the people.
Firmans of the Ulema & King Amanullah in July 1922 banning cow slaughter.
Public Discourse today

The idea behind sharing the Constituent Assembly debates is to help the current generation, us, understand how we must be placing these issues in public domain. We cannot establish these policies based on our emotion. We cannot expect the Prime Minister of India to simply formulate policies because there is a populist voice behind a certain demand. 

We have to decipher our relationship with the Cows. Where do cows stand today in our Society? Have our agricultural targets gone up or gone down? Is the tractor based agricultural practice with volatile oil prices a sustainable way of farming? Is our requirement for nutrition matching?  Is the per capita milk supply in India the best in the world? Have we actually started utilising the aged Cows/Buffaloes into an Economic use, thereby not making them useful for humans again?

And for the muslims, La ikraba fid Din.