A meaty issue

By Nagaland Post | Publish Date: 7/16/2020 1:25:13 PM IST

Much has been made of the recent ban announced by the government of Nagaland on July 3 on commercial import and trading of dogs including dog markets and sale of dog meat, both cooked and uncooked. Dog meat is considered a traditional delicacy not only in Nagaland but also among many tribes across India. Some even believe that dog meat has health benefits. The ban was preceded by outrage especially from the animal rights lobbyists who raised Cain about the cruelty involved. The sight of man’s best friend being helplessly hauled in trucks for transportation and later put on leash in wet markets to be sold, was probably not a very pleasant sight. Ultimately the voices of animal lovers prevailed even though the majority didn’t see much logic in it, since there is more barbarity involved in the slaughter of other animal species sold in the markets. Dog meat is a popular menu in many other south east Asian countries. Consumption of dog meat is not restricted to Nagaland, Manipur, Arunachal Pradesh or Mizoram. These days, dog meat is consumed even by many people from communities where the meat was beyond the menu. From a man’s best friend to a man’s best meal, the issue has unfairly attracted unwanted attention on Nagas. The state cabinet’s ban on dog meat is like a knee-jerk reaction to the uproar among animal rights lobbyists. Nagas in general, are proud of their food culture as much as they are about social tradition etc. However, there is also a growing number of Nagas who either do not eat or who have given up eating dog mean for whatever reasons. The objective of the ban on dog meat may be to prevent cruelty to animals but the national outrage was limited only to the dogs, irrespective of the fact that all live animals sold in open markets across India suffer similar conditions. There are also some communities in India who consume and relish snakes, rats, bats even worms etc. Even among the ‘civilised’ westerners, eating of various animal species is no longer rare. The ban may also be compared with the manner in which alcohol was criminalised in 1989 but which has not stopped people from drinking alcohol and neither has it promoted social and domestic harmony. Instead, this has led to a thriving black market in the sale and distribution of alcohol. Such bans only compartmentalize the general public into those who support and those who oppose such bans. Ban on sale and consumption of protected species or drugs may have a ground but the dichotomy of ban on consumptions, is that it becomes an offence in some states while it is not in states where such bans don’t exist. There is need to develop effective strategies to deal with various social issues. Seen in the light of the failure of prohibition, it would not be incorrect to assume that those who consume the banned meat will give it up though they will have to pay a higher price to whet the craving of their palates. From a behaviour change perspective, the most significant consequence of such bans is that they absolve the individual of the responsibility of taking accountability of the indulgence and instead hands over that responsibility to law enforcement agencies.

Launched on December 3,1990. Nagaland Post is the first and highest circulated newspaper of Nagaland state. Nagaland Post is also the first newspaper in Nagaland to be published in multi-colour.

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