Sunday, August 14th, 2022 05:17:04

Halalonomics: The Danger Within

By Nilabh Krishna
Updated: January 12, 2021 2:31 pm

In a welcome move, South Delhi Municipal Corporation has cleared a proposal that makes it mandatory for restaurants and meat shops in its jurisdiction to prominently display whether the meat they are serving is halal or jhatka. For the uninitiated, Halal food is meat and poultry killed in accordance with Quranic guidelines derived from the teachings of Prophet Muhammad, while jhatka is the meat from an animal slaughtered in one go. The East DMC had passed a similar proposal in August 2018.  According to the proposal, notices and challans are issued against violators. This can also include a cash penalty of up to Rs 500, as per media reports

The South DMC’s proposal has been cleared by its standing committee and will now be sent to the House for final approval. The resolution, tabled by Chattarpur councillor Anita Tanwar last month states  “There are 1000s of restaurants in 104 wards of four zones falling under South Delhi Municipal Corporation. Out of these meat is served in about 90 per cent of restaurants but it is not mentioned whether the meat being served by the restaurants is halal or jhatka,” reads the resolution. “Similarly, the meat shops also do not make the distinction… Therefore, this meeting resolves that this direction be given to restaurants and meat shops that writing/mentioning jhatka or halal has been made mandatory.”

To most Hindus, “Halal” is nothing more than a label on the meat they consume. It does not carry any religious or financial implication. And yet, this is one of the most silent, insidious ways to capture the economy of a Hindu-majority country, by a group of people with the vested agenda of pushing their religious beliefs into anything and everything. For thousands of years, India has been a civilisation that has historically been tolerant and inclusive, ‘Independent’ India has been under the grip of a westernised idea of ‘Secularism’. Successive governments have bent over backwards to cater to the whims and fancies of the minority communities to ensure that they vote favorably in the elections. This twisted ‘secularism’ has resulted in much suffering for the Hindu majority of the nation.

Our Constitution has given a person right to demand for products that are in line with his religious beliefs. Muslims have started exercising this right by demanding that every product that they use is compliant with the tenets of Islam i.e. Halal. This has led to the ubiquitous need for the products to be ‘Halal Certified’. So now, the Islamic Economic system (Halalonomics) has crept into our Secular system. Surprisingly, Halal compliance is mandatory even for government run companies like the Indian Railways and Air India. Just because Muslims (who make up 15 per cent of the country’s population) want to consume only Halal meat, their practices are being forced upon the rest 85 per cent. Now the Halal certification is no longer limited to meats, but touches every sphere of our daily lives – from meats to packages foods, from housing projects to hospitals, from medicines to beauty products; even malls are not exempt! Anyone who wishes to export their products to Islamic countries has to be Halal Certified. Standing at a 2 trillion dollar market, this “Halalonomics” surely is in competition with the Indian economy.

The economics of Halal certification

One of the key verses of Qur’an (9:29) talks about the treatment of non-believers, where they should be made to pay a tax called ‘Jizya.’ As per the book, it was also considered as a symbol of their subjugation in front of the supremacy of believers.

According to “in modern times, Muslims in many countries live in the societies where majority of the population is of non-believers (non-Muslims). Hence, their ability to levy ‘Jizya’ is severely curtailed. To deal with this situation and continue collecting tax from non-Muslim population, they started imposing Halal certification schemes. The technical definition of ‘halal’ is ‘anything permissible by Islamic practices.’ In simpler terms, it can be called MRT (Muslim Religious Tax) to be paid by non-Muslims, which is the price of the Halal certification.”

Halal certification bodies are run by Muslims patrons and they regularly contact food producers and make it clear to them that Muslims will not touch their products if it does not have a ‘Certified Halal’ symbol on it. Companies, for the fear of losing the customers or export opportunities, are forced to pay these bills, mostly on an annual basis for the certification. General public, who is mostly unaware of the intricacies, end up bearing the burden of this certification and are forcede into paying this MRT.

Halal certification is nothing but a money making racket which penalizes non-Muslim communities. Even innocuous food items like honey, bottled water or even cat food are made to apply for Halal certification. Apart from the big amount of money involved, it also forces non-Muslim communities to give their tacit consent for the cruellest form of animal slaughter. The prescribed method of obtaining halal meat requires draining all the blood out of the slaughtered animal while it is still alive. This unimaginable pain is inflicted upon the animal by making a deep cut on its throat, windpipe and blood vessels around its neck and letting it bleed until it dies. This meat is obtained in the name of their god ‘Allah’. All of these conditions are unacceptable to many in our country

Against constitution

While the constitution of India allows complete freedom with respect to dietary choices, some factors are still essential to be weighed in while keeping theses dietary choices coherent with other existing laws relating to Animal rights and laws against discrimination. The halal industry by contrast imposes religious restrictions, by mandating involvement of only Muslims in production and processing of products ultimately excluding other communities to reap the benefit of an industry which is, as per many reports, poised to hit 1630 million USD by 2024.

Mahima Kalra, while writing on elaborates on this issue. She says “Article 15 of the Indian Constitution secures the citizens from every sort of discrimination on the grounds of religion, race, caste, sex or place of birth or any of them hence any economic activity which institutionally discriminates on the basis of religion is surely a violation of rights of an individual as prescribed by the Constitution.

Some sections of the SC/ST community of India have traditionally been associated with the profession of butchery and Halal industry has taken away their only source of livelihood from them. It is not just immoral but appears illegal prima-facie.”

She also states that “Section 3(1)(zc) of the SC and ST (Prevention of Atrocities) Act, 1989 categorically mandates against economic boycott of the SC and ST community , it reads “Whoever, not being a member of a Scheduled Caste or a Scheduled Tribe imposes or threatens a social or economic boycott of any person or a family or a group belonging to a Scheduled Caste or a Scheduled Tribe, shall be punishable with imprisonment for a term which shall not be less than six months but which may extend to five years and with fine.” While Section2(1)(bc) defines economic boycott as “a refusal to deal with, work for hire or do business with other person;”

Institutionally keeping communities out of such economic activity is not only discriminatory against non-Muslims but also provides fertile ground for cartelization and ultimately lopsided market structure. While India’s Muslims only amount to around 15 per cent of the country’s population nonetheless Halal meat sold in India is much higher in proportion and is increasing every year, effectively creating conditions for a single community to monopolize a multibillion dollar meat industry solely on the basis of religion.”

Majority of the multinational food chains only use halal meat for their business operations despite there being no compulsion mandated by law in this regard, which ultimately results in exclusion of non Muslim communities from economic opportunities arising due to the same. It is to note that Halal products are not limited to meat but can also include vegetarian food and other household products like skin creams etc. accordingly again creating adverse conditions for exclusion of non-Muslim communities from these economic activities.

This monopolization apart from creating economic disparities also disadvantages other communities in different ways, for one the Sikh community has objection to Halal meat has been due to the belief that the slow death by bleeding the animal is an inhumane way of killing animals to prepare meat. The Sikh tradition recommends the jhatka method instead, where the animal is killed in a single strike. Availability of only halal meat ultimately translates to their disadvantage.

Halal slaughter and other religious slaughtering techniques have also been a under scanner of activists who claim that the technique causes unnecessary pain to animals, while the overall issue of animal slaughter is surely highly debated a common consensus against any torture or mistreatment of animals certainly exists. Many European nations in a bid to balance out the religious compulsions and rights of Animals have mandated that the animals should be stunned before performing the halal slaughter which at the least spares the animal of excruciating pain as blood drains out of its body. Belgium Sweden and Denmark have made pre-cut stunning mandatory while Slovenia has amended its Animal Welfare Act to ban all forms of ritual slaughter.

It is also important to point out here that Section  11(1)(a) of the The Prevention of Cruelty Animals Act,1960 mandates that “Beating, Kicking, Over-riding, Over-driving, Over-loading, Torturing, Causing unnecessary pain or suffering to any animals;” amounts to animal cruelty. While many Islamic scholars have pointed out that pre cut stunning is acceptable, the painful procedure still continues to violate animal rights around the world.

While the debate around religious factors being used as a basis of discrimination is not new, in case of halal meat industry the discrimination against non-Muslims is nearly institutionalized , which is further compounded with restaurant chains only serving halal meat essentially perpetuating this discrimination both on production and consumption grounds. Any industry which filters or discriminates on the basis of religion is not only detrimental to the holistic idea of free markets but can also have massive economic consequences resulting from rapid monopolization of Indian meat industry.

Apart from all this, the significant amount of money flowing into the coffers of Muslim halal certification bodies poses dangerous threat to our democracies and peaceful existence. Have we ever looked at where this money collected out of Halal certification process is used? Though at a superficial level it is said that money goes to charities, a closer look reveals that many of these ‘charities’ are engaging in fueling extremism (violence & terrorism) and do nothing which can be called as charitable work. In many cases, these certification bodies support the local Muslim community through contribution made to build & run mosques and Islamic schools or Madarsas. These institutions are primarily based on a book that teaches a visceral hatred for those who do not believe in its message. Madarsas indoctrinate young children to hate non believers and subjugate them as per the will of Allah.

The halal scam is operating with complete impunity throughout the world. The important question that lies in front of us is, whether we should remain a silent observer & contributor in this scam or come forward to expose the true nature of it. We cannot remain indifferent to it any more. The problem is widespread and has entered our homes/ offices/ public space. We must actively boycott halal certified products and encourage friends and family to do the same.

Consumer is the king in any business; if one raises a concern, it will be definitely heard. Next time when one go out to a restaurant and want to order a non vegetarian meal, ask for non-Halal (or Jhataka) meat and do the same when travelling by air/ train/ ship. When someone go out for shopping, they should look for non Halal products and buy only them. The demand generated will cause these producers and retailers to look for alternative avenues. We should support the people who are fighting against halal menace wholeheartedly as it will provide satisfaction for not being party to this scam and doing your bit for stopping animal cruelty. Remember, our silence on this issue will make us responsible of supporting silent Islamization of the world sponsored by our (non-Muslims) own money.

By Nilabh Krishna

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