Going forward

The third session of the Parliament rejected the proposal to lift the ban on the slaughter of animals and sale of meat during the first and fourth months of our calendar. Some, like Freewill who wrote “…I think it is a stupid move”, are confounded by the Parliament’s decision. But others are happy. Ifyouwilliwill (no prize for guessing the intent behind this nickname) wrote, “I feeeeeeeeeel great. Good decision by the MP’s.” Both comments were posted in “Parliament rejects LG Bill”.

The proposal to amend the Livestock Act, which would have lifted the meat ban, was debated in both houses of the Parliament. And, MPs presented a range of arguments both for and against the proposed amendment. While the National Assembly passed the proposal, the National Council did not. So, the proposal was discussed in a joint sitting. And in the end, the proposed amendment was rejected.

We’ve heard the arguments: from religion and health to the black market and a survey conducted by the National Council. And since our lawmakers have reached a decision, there’s little point in continuing the debate. Not now, at least. Not till a new bill is introduced – if one is introduced in the future – to lift the current prohibition on the slaughter of animals and the sale of meat during auspicious days and the two auspicious months.

We should, however, look  ahead. And, move forward. The ban is intended to benefit our people, and all sentient beings. So now, we should discuss how to optimize these benefits. Here are a few random thoughts:

First, we can strengthen Bhutan’s image abroad – our county’s trademark, if you will – as a good and compassionate society based on Buddhist values and absorbed in the pursuit of gross national happiness.

Second, we can promote Bhutan as a religious destination, more meaningfully, for tourists. This could be particularly helpful in expanding the tourist “season” since the first and fourth months of our calendar are on the two ends of the spring tourist season.

Third, we can reduce our dependence on imports, especially if imported meats are substituted by locally grown vegetables.

Fourth, and most importantly, we can promote the consumption of more vegetables in our society. We eat too few greens, and, when we do, we overcook them. So, we can use the ban to encourage eating habits that are more suited to today’s lifestyle.

The ban, however, is not a new. Instead, it is a continuation of a ban that was already in place. So, these opportunities are also not new. But, if these opportunities are valid, they, and others like them, may be worth exploring.

One final note: I voted against the proposal to amend the Livestock Act. My decision was not driven by personal preference (I am a meat eater), religion or ideology. Instead, I was influenced by the strong views of the many people who advised me in Thimphu and in my constituency.


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  1. Chandra Bdr. says

    It’d have been good to ban the slaughter…as we everyone knows that Bhutan is a Buddhist Country. And wherever,we go out of Bhutan, say, India(especially South and other western places), they are shocked to hear that Buddhist people eating meat.So, just for 2months in a year,we can survive without meat.isn’t it.

  2. To Freewill (who commented in the “Parliament rejects LG Bill”) ,

    Are you saying that eating meat with good heart is Okay as long as there is someone killing animals with good heart?

    Are you saying that killing animals with good heart is Okay as long as there is someone non-vegetarian with good heart? Who in the world would kill animal for meat with good heart?

    If you are given choice to be a Butcher or a non-vegetarian, which one would you choose and why?

  3. whatever it is, the bill has been passed, so no point raising our opinion…..but i just wish, the proposal to lift the sale of tobacco(already passed by NC) will follow the same suit….i mean NA will object and ultimately, it won’t pass in the joint sitting!

    my wish!

    • samdrups: if you feel strongly about an issue you must discuss it with your representative in Parliament. While all MPs, in a broad sense, represent you, at least four of them are very relevant…the NA MP from your constituency, the NC MP from your dzongkhag, the ruling party leader, and the opposition party leader.

  4. What kind of country are we?
    I am an atheist. My mom hates the fact, there may be people who will judge me for it, dislkie me, berate me, call me names. But despite all that, if i choose to be an atheist, say that I do not beeive in God, will our country presecute me?
    Now i am no political expert, and i dont know many things about the laws in our country. But I know the answer to this question. And the answer to the question is, no. Our country will not presecute me for being an atheist, or saying publicly that i am an atheist. This is what our constitution says. We are the kind of country that does not enforce religious beleifs on anyone. There are countries that do, and forget the debate about whether they are right in doing so or not. We have decided that we are not.
    Say I am a poultry farmer. I want to run a big farm. In the two crucial months, i feel thatmy business is blocked. I want to continue my business in these two months, either because i am not a buddhist, and i do not beleive that slaughtering is not any worse in these two months than in any other time of the year. Or, I am willing to face the consequences of my actions. I lack certain religious beleifs, but the problem is that there is a law that will penalise me for it. Even though we are, by constition, not the kind of country that does so.
    By having this law, you are taking away my right to choice.
    What about the people who believe. AM i doing them any disservice? I will not force the to eat meat. My sins are my own. We are responsible for our own karma. You cant be punished for my sins.
    So, in the end, I am to blame for whatever I do. Knowing the consequences, I have the right to choose.
    Our lams are there to tell us what our religion says. it is the choice of the people whether to follow what they say, or choose to make money. sure, some people may think it is a wrong choice. immoral. But should our country penalise us for our beleifs?
    I can go on. The NC did a survey, which say that the buchers/meat sellers have no problem with the ban. I talked to them too, i didnt find anyone who didnt have a problem. The point is that even if one person feels that the law is affecting him, we have a problem. This is not a matter of majority, because even if it is a small number of people that are affected by the ban, it affects them in a way that it takes away their rights. but the majority whho want the ban in place, are not losing any of their rights when the ban is lifted. They are still free not to eat meat, sell meat, slaughter.
    Dear OL, You say that you opinion is driven by the opinions of the people. I am going to annoy you by quoting your own quote here. When I asked you about the CDG, what about the fact that you can use the money to benefit the people of your constituency? And you said that if that were justification for doing something that you beleive to be wrong, you could steal and use the money to help people in your constituency. I got your point. I did. And i think it applies here, too. No matter what the justification, benefits, what is wrong is wrong. even if the parliament passed it. That is what i beleive.

    PS- I hope i do not offend you, i respect most of your views. But to promote our county by making it out to be a ‘religious haven’, by virtue of an enforced law, not personal choice, defeats the purpose, and is hypocritical. we eat meat. But according to the law, we are not allowed to sell/ slaughter in two months. so we are forced not to eat meat. the existence of the law kills the fact that there could be some who do it on their own free will. A law forces our activity, and then we say we have a religious conscience. It is just wrong.

  5. Dear Hon’ble OL,

    I am scared about the kind of deliberations that’s going to happen on similar topics in future. Yes, this one was a mix of religious and ideological reasoning that won the race. We are going to face a lot more deliberations where ideology and evidence are going to come up face-to-face. Its going to be acute given the largely value-based society that we live in.

    How do you balance evidence based reasoning with the ideological pressure that will be gushing towards you both from interest groups and vote bank perspectives?

    By the way, i salute those MoA guys who attempted a public good even if it meant some personal compromises. Please keep up the research.

    My best regards and please accept my humble appreciation for the contributions you are making to the political system of my great country.

  6. OL, please clarify, I am a bit confused here, does it mean that for a bill to become law it needs to be passed by both the NA and the NC in a joint sitting. I always assumed that the NA passes the bill and it is then sent to the NC for review and after discussing it they send it back to the NA either unchanged or with some changes which the NA is not bound to accept. It is then forwarded to His majesty for his assent after which it becomes law.

    As for the ban itself, it really does not make any sense, just makes things tougher on families when they have guests in the house.

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