Cattle trade notification controversy

Once again Modi Government finds itself amidst a media storm caused by the so-called “beef ban circular”. No amount of protestations that it is a animal welfare move and not against beef consumption is going to convince our liberal brigades who rush from beef eating contests to TV studio debates without a pause for thought.

Naturally as with all other such controversies, overseas (that is, Western) media will lap it all up & project India (and Hindus) as intolerant and backward. Never mind that horse meat and other such delicacies are banned in several of their states.

Now we are hearing that center has “open mind” on the issue and it is not a prestige issue for the BJP. That begs a question- what was done prior to this notification?

Amending the notification or even cancelling it now will not bring any relief because not only is the damage done, any rollback will be seen as “victory” to the barbarians of Sonia Gandhi’s Congress Party that brutally slaughtered a calf in full public view, including several young children in Kerala.

In most matters, be it Corporate, Legal, Academic or cultural our bureaucrats have developed this “shoot first and ask questions later” culture. Ministers and political parties invariably fall victim to this syndrome.

But then, it does seem (as per this article) the notification was posted in draft form in public domain but then no one took notice.  Interestingly, the original source quoted by the article not only makes no mention of the “beef ban” aspect, it also includes a quote from a NGO representative praising it! We are not clear if the original draft is exactly same as the one notified or if it was amended later without full debate.

But then our babus and their bosses in the government should be smart enough (by now at least) to the inherent controversy potential of this notification? Should they not have given it much wider publicity or done something to float trial balloons? After all we have TV channels ready to trade favors with the party in power to help in such matters?! In fact even a rumor can be planted & floated that beef consumption is likely to be banned triggering a lot of pseudo liberal outrage before “clarification” about the draft issued, saving everyone a lot of face! Babus, learn to be smart!

Simply publishing in a website may be OK for some cases but there is no harm in sending email notifications to trade associations and their members such as Leather exporters etc. Does it cost a lot? After all the importance of this to their business is no secret.

This is also where proactive communication by senior ministers could have helped. If Dr. Harsh Vardhan had given some media interviews about the draft, invited comments (and brickbats) BEFORE it was made final, may be we could have avoided this?

One hopes the BJP government has learned valuable lessons in PR from this episode.