No cow slaughtering in Pakistan’s border district, not under compulsion but respect

In this file photo, People carry animals they bought at a cattle market for the upcoming Muslim festival Eid al-Adha in Islamabad, Pakistan, on Aug. 20, 2018. (AP)
Updated 23 August 2018
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No cow slaughtering in Pakistan’s border district, not under compulsion but respect

  • More than 40 percent of Tharparkar districts’ 1.6 million population comprises of Hindus, according to the 2017 census
  • Muslim majority has always taken care of our sentiments so other countries, especially neighboring India, should take a lesson from it, says Hindu trader, Kaldeep Kumar

KARACHI: Tharo Khan, a resident of Islamkot town of Tharparkar, bought a goat for sacrifice on Eidul Adha. This cost him Rs. 18,000 ($146). He could get a share in a cow which would cost him less than Rs. 6,000 ($49) but he opted for goat. The reason is not “affordability” but “respect for the fellow citizens practicing another faith.”

“Sacrifice (slaughtering animal) is a religious obligation which I have to fulfil. However, at the same time I have a social obligation to take care of the sentiments of my Hindu friends, who make up 90 percent of our town,” Khan told Arab News.

While the slaughtering of cows and subsequent lynching of Muslims who are the minority faith in India often makes headlines, in the Pakistani border district of Tharparkar the majority of Muslims opt to not slaughter cows to avoid hurting the feelings of their Hindu fellows.

Tharparkar, situated at the India-Pakistan border, has the lowest Human Development Index of all the districts in Sindh. It has a 1,649,661 population (1.6 million), as per census of 2017. Of these 1.6 million, well over 40 percent are Hindus. 

However, in urban areas, including its headquarter Mithi and Tehsil towns of Diplo, Islamkot, Chachro, Dahli, Nagarparkar and Kaloi, Hindus forms majority of the population. In Islamkot Hindus are more than 90 percent.

“We are faced with drought and have the lowest human development index but we are rich in terms of love, respect and brotherhood,” Kaldeep Kumar, 40, and president of the Islamkot traders’ association, told Arab News.

Kumar on Wednesday visited his Muslim friends to greet them at Eid; he ate sweets and grilled mutton, since his Muslim friends like other Tharis don’t slaughter the cow.

“Hindus of Thar arrange Iftar dinners for the Muslim friends in the fasting month of Ramadan. They (Muslims) attend our religious rituals and festivals,” said Kumar.

“Although not prohibited by law, there is an unannounced ban on the slaughter of cow, which is sacred to Hindus. This ban is however not forced but self-imposed and reflects the centuries-old interfaith harmony,” said Abdul Ghani Bajeer, a local journalist.

“This is not confined to Eid. You can’t find a single of a dozen of meat shops across the district which may be offering cow’s meat to its customers,” Bajeer told Arab News. “In the Muslim weddings, serving food of cow meat is being avoided as many Hindus also attend the wedding ceremonies.”

At Eid, the locals chose to slaughter goats but in some cases if they slaughter a cow, it’s done away from the eyes of Hindu fellow citizens out of respect for their religious feelings. 

Bajeer said that over the past few years, different welfare organizations including Al-Khidmat Foundation, Human Relief Foundation, Darul Uloom Karachi, Al-Mustafa Trust, have started arranging sacrifices for the underprivileged local Muslim communities. “But local volunteers make sure that slaughtering process is being done in closed spaces and the meat doesn’t reach the Hindus,” he said.

Piaro Shawani, the 40-year-old Hindu owner of Café Thar in Mithi, said that Tharparkar is backward in resources but is wealthiest due to its interfaith harmony, brotherhood, respect and love. “In the rainy season, we celebrate the rain related festival together. We also attend each other’s religious festivals,” he said.

Abdul Rehman Otho, the 45-year-old principal of a private school in Diplo town of Thar, said that there is no prohibition on slaughtering cow. “No Hindu can stop us from slaughtering (the cow) but we have inherited this legacy of not hurting the feelings of our fellow Hindus from our forefathers,” Otho told Arab News. “Hindu-Muslim women are even more attached to each other.”

Advocate Faqir Sagir, general secretary of the Mithi Bar Association, said: “This interfaith harmony leads to a tolerant society where the crime rate is low. We have a zero crime ratio.” 

Ghansham Das, the 60-year-old former chairman of Islamkot City union council, said: “If we are not asked by someone about it we even don’t remember about cow slaughtering.”

In our area, people of two different faiths live together but this is a blessing for us not a curse, unlike what we see in many places around the world. “We are not only an example for the rest of our country but for the entire world. We participate in their festivals and they (Muslims) in ours.”

Amar Guriro, who has reported about Thar Desert extensively, said that Thar Desert is a hub of religious coexistence and interfaith harmony. “People of Sindh are emotionally attached to their motherland, language and culture, more than their religion. For Sindhi people, one’s religion or faith is not important but someone who loves their motherland, speaks their language, and practices Sindhi culture is important,” Guriro said.

“The Muslim majority has always taken care of our sentiments so other countries, especially our neighboring India, should take a lesson from it as well,” Kaldeep Kumar said.


India launches world’s biggest health care scheme, dubbed as ‘Modicare’ 

Updated 56 min 19 sec ago
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India launches world’s biggest health care scheme, dubbed as ‘Modicare’ 

  •  “Modicare” plans to provide around $7,000 of medical coverage to half a billion people
  • The program has been launched in 400 districts out of 640 in India

NEW DELHI: Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi launched a mega health care scheme, touted as the world’s biggest public health scheme, on Sunday in the eastern Indian state of Jharkhand. 

The National Health Protection Scheme, popularly known as “Modicare,” plans to provide around $7,000 of medical coverage to 100 million families or 500 million people, accounting for around 41 percent of people who fall below the poverty line.

 “The aim is to provide medical care to the people standing at the very margin of society. It has been a dream to provide health care to the needy and that dream is coming true today,” Modi said in a speech after inaugurating the scheme.

 “This is the first time in the world that a health care program is being launched where an individual will have an insurance cover of 5 lakh rupees ($7,000).”

The program has been launched in 400 districts out of 640 in India.

The intervention is meant to take the burden off the government hospitals and bring the expensive private hospitals within the reach of poor people.

For Ganesh Yadav, a daily wage earner, the “Ayushman Bharat Yojna,” as the program is officially called, is “a good move by the government if it really works.

 “Last year I spent more than 50,000 rupees ($720) in getting a kidney stone removed in a private hospital and I am still struggling to pay back the debt that I incurred. If the Modicare really works then poor people like me will not have to worry about the expenses in health care,” said Yadav, who lives in Noida, a satellite town of Delhi.

But one doctor raises doubts about the success of the program.

“An earlier health scheme also had the provision for insurance cover but the out-of-cost expenses of the poor people could not come down. There is a lack of clarity on this issue in the new scheme as well,” says Dr. Shakil, a cardiologist based in Patna, the capital of the eastern Indian state of Bihar.
 
Talking to Arab News, he asks: “How will you identify the real beneficiaries? Besides, the scheme will not build public health infrastructure but give benefit to the private players, which I think is the real drawback of this policy.
 
“The government is in a hurry to launch the scheme and not many preparations have gone into it before inaugurating it.”

Economist Venkat Narayana questions the budgetary provisions for the scheme. “Under the scheme 60 percent of expenses would be borne by the central government and 40 percent by the state government. But the poorer states cannot afford the huge sums involved in the expenditure,” says Narayana, who also runs NGOs for poor people in Warangal district in the South Indian state of Telangana.

“My experience suggests that such a program does not address the real health care needs of the people living in villages and smaller cities. The money that the government plans to spend on insurance can be spent in expanding and enriching the medical infrastructure across the country.”

But Nirala, a political activist associated with the ruling Bharatiya Janata Party, feels that “this is a visionary intervention in the health care system of the country.

“Modi has tried to address the gap that exists in medical system of the country by bringing private hospitals within the reach of the poor masses,” he told Arab News.

Political analyst Pawan Pratyay, however, feels that Prime Minister Modi "has played a big political gamble in the election year by launching this attractive looking and sounding health care policy.

“The government has been cutting the health budget year after year. By bringing this pro-poor scheme Modi wants to change the pro-rich image that he has acquired over the years and attract the voters from the economically marginalized demography.”