Striking a chord with Hindus and culturally sensitizing the topic, Modi Government managed to coil the phenomenon of Pink Revolution. By Pratiksha Kapoor

Politicising things that would make the leaders gain certain more votes than usual, is not a recent development. It has flowered itself as a political move so as to gameetrner further more support. However, it came as a shocker and launched a nationwide debate, when Narendra Modi during his campaign speech talked about Pink Revolution, which has apparently been triggered by the UPA led government. India has been celebrated worldwide, be it for Green Revolution or White Revolution, now the phenomenon of Pink Revolution is under the scrutinizing eyes of many. Pink Revolution is a term used to denote the technological revolutions in the meat and poultry processing sector. India has already seen the ‘green’ and ‘white’ revolutions in its food industry, related to agriculture and milk respectively, now thrust is upon meat and poultry sector. India being a country of huge cattle and poultry populace, possesses high potential in the market.
Meat and poultry processing sector in the country has great potentials for growth. The present meat consumption per capita of around 6 grams per day will improve to 50 grams a day in the next decade or so When such phenomenal increase in meat consumption occurs, the sector will witness a tremendous growth. The Indian poultry industry has been growing at varying rates of between 8-15 per cent annually, and is now worth more than 700 billion dollars. Primarily due to better quality at a competitive price, which exporters from India are quoting, the demand has been increasing for quite some time but exports have suddenly grown in the last four months. India sold meat and meat products worth $3.3 billion during April-November 2014 compared to $2.8 billion in the same period the previous year, registering a 16.74% jump. Buffalo meat constituted about 97% of the total livestock products exported from the country as the export, making India the No. 1 beef exporter.

However, allegations that cow meat is being sold instead of the buffalo one, reasoning the decrease in the cattle population has stirred conversations. There has been certain decline in the population of cattle as noted by the surveys, however citing these allegations is nowhere near to the actual reason showcasing the decline. The country’s total cattle population did fall from 204.58 million to 199.08 million between the 1992 and 2007 Livestock Censuses. A dispassionate analysis would reveal it is the farmer’s rational choices that are leading to increased ‘buffaloisation’, reducing the cow in the process.

Total cattle population did fall from 204.58 million to 199.08 million between the 1992 and 2007

The rearing of cattle helps the farmers within three jurisdictions, for draught, dung which can be used as a manure and milk. However, with latest technological developments and advent of chemical fertilizers, cows have been found to be suited just for the need of milk. With time, the cattle have become nothing more than milk producing animals. This xplains why despite overall cattle numbers falling, the adult females within them, namely cows, have gone up from 64.36 to 72.95 million between 1992 and 2007. But even as milch animals, there is competition to cows from buffaloes, which produce milk with twice the fat content and higher price realisation.

That being the case, the choice before farmers is essentially between meat giving and high content fat milk and cows. Buffaloes have an added advantage of being reasonably good draught animals, especially in the current context where most tillage and field operations are anyway performed by tractor-drawn implements. Such outnumbering of cattle clearly has nothing to do with slaughter houses. The blame, if at all, should go to the farmers who, through their marked preference for buffaloes, have ensured there aren’t enough cows for slaughtering in the first place.

The government has launched a comprehensive scheme for the modernization of abattoirs across the country in order to address quality standards, contamination and deterioration of produce, and the amount of meat wasted. It is unfortunate that the cow has once again taken centre-stage in political discourse, with insinuations that a Centre-promoted ‘pink revolution’ is endangering India’s cattle population.