by Dr. Sahadeva Dasa
India, homeland of the sacred cow has become the world’s leading beef exporter. International community is shocked that a nation in which cow slaughter is officially prohibited and is an utter anathema to the majority of the population, will overtake three icons of cattle ranching (Australia, Brazil and US) and become the world’s leading beef exporter. Present Indian government came to power 10 years ago. After assuming office, their first move was to modernize existing slaughterhouses and grant licenses for establishing new slaughterhouses. A lucrative subsidy ranging from 50-90% was offered to lure entrepreneurs in this area. Contacts were established with slaughterhouse machinery suppliers in Europe and China. The whole government machinery was mobilized to usher in a new era of increased meat consumption and export. It was a significant policy shift in last several centuries. Even the British in their 200 years of rule could not accomplish what the present Indian government has accomplished in just 10 years. This team has fulfilled the dream of India’s founders who can finally rest in peace now. It was their cherished desire to see Indians eat, drink and have sex like Westerners. These founders must be reveling in their graves, having fulfilled their long pending dreams. After independence, it took Indian leaders 65 long years to accomplish this ‘feat’. But this accomplishment has come with a big price tag. Soil of India, deprived of farmyard manure, is in revolt. Scorched with chemicals, topsoil is getting destroyed and land is turning into a desert. Indian agriculture is a fragile system which has withstood the test of time.
India supports approximately 16% of the world’s human population and 20% of the world’s livestock population on merely 2.5% of the world’s geographical area. Meddling in this sensitive area is having disastrous impact on the nation’s food security. Consequently, there is a genocide in progress in India. The food supply of 1.2 billion people is being systematically destroyed. Gradual handing over of food sector to unscrupulous corporations is a bold step in that direction. Soil is the Earth’s fragile skin that anchors all life. Soil is the most important national asset and its conservation deserves the highest national priority. Any civilization is founded on topsoil and soil erosion destroys it. Policy makers are blissfully unaware of this fact and national policies are being made in boardrooms as parliament takes a backseat.
Today, all over the world, more than seven and a half million acres of soil has been degraded. That’s larger than the U.S. and Canada combined. What remains is ailing as a result of compaction, erosion and salination making it near impossible to plant and adding to greenhouse gases and air pollution. Soil degradation is putting the future of the global population is at risk according to a National Geographic article by Charles Mann. Civil unrest in Latin America, Asia and Africa have been attributed to a lack of food and affordable food as a result of poor soil.
Any layman can understand the vital importance of topsoil as a rare and non-renewable resource which sustains all life on the planet. It is considered non-renewable because it takes centuries, if not millenniums to form one centimeter of top soil whereas it can be squandered in a matter of few decades.
We are trying to fool nature, forgetting that nature can not be fooled. Willian Lines warns, “For, although people can be fooled, tricked, and beguiled, nature can not. Material reality resists importuning, finessing, or re-negotiation. Nature’s machinery is invariant, not subject to legislation or cultural conditioning. It can not be compromised.”We need to heed the warning and solutions presented in this book if we are at all serious about turning these trends around and building a safer, sustainable future.