Cow protection in India : from secularising to legitimating debates

Gundimeda, Sambaiah and Ashwin, V. S. (2018) Cow protection in India : from secularising to legitimating debates. South Asia Research, 38 (2). pp. 156-176. ISSN 02627280

[img] Text - Published Version
Restricted to Repository staff only

Download (501kB) | Request a copy


Cow protection, a potent tool in the hands of cow vigilantes for atrocities against Muslims and Dalits, has become a heavily politicised issue in contemporary India. Its roots, connecting the themes of caste-Hindu religious sentiment, communalism and economic reasoning, can be traced to the late nineteenth century, though basic problems over the intriguingly complex use of cattle are clearly much older. This article relates contemporary cow protection debates specifically to Arya Samaj arguments against cow slaughter in the late nineteenth century and publication of a special issue of the journal Kalyan, titled Gau Ank, in 1945. The discussion shows how cow protection debates in the Constituent Assembly of India and in subsequent post-independence judicial verdicts were heavily influenced by these two earlier discourses. Analysing two landmark judicial decisions on cow slaughter, the article argues further that recent judicial endorsement of cow protection legitimises Hindu majoritarian sentiments in the law, while depriving millions of Indians, not just Muslims, of fundamental rights to food and livelihood. The conclusion attempts to consider some possible solutions to the current impasse.

Item Type: Article
Authors: Gundimeda, Sambaiah and Ashwin, V. S.
Uncontrolled Keywords: Arya Samaj, beef, BJP, Constitution, cow slaughter, Dalits, Gau Ank, Hindutva, India, judiciary, Muslims, Supreme Court
Subjects: Social sciences > Sociology & anthropology > Social groups
Social sciences > Political Science > The political process
Social sciences > Political Science > The legislative process
Divisions: Azim Premji University > School of Public Policy and Governance
Full Text Status: Restricted
Related URLs:
Publisher URL:

Actions (login required)

View Item View Item