Ok so it’s not the official handle of the Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh (RSS), but a Twitter handle that is the ‘independent initiative by RSS swayamsevaks’ created a bit of a furore by seeking action against online retailer Myntra for selling shoes made of cow leather.
Here’s what they tweeted on Wednesday:
Govt should take action against @myntra for selling cow leather shoe and hurting religious sentiments of Hindus. pic.twitter.com/24z6lg5XHk— RSS (@RSS_Org) November 11, 2015
Myntra had tried responding to them saying:
@RSS_Org We appreciate your sentiments. We feel sorry if the sale of any particular item does not meet your approval. However, (1/3)— Myntra (@myntra) November 11, 2015
@RSS_Org the product in question is an imported product and/or made from imported leather. the sale of leather products is not illegal (2/3)— Myntra (@myntra) November 11, 2015
@RSS_Org in India. Please be assured that we function within legally permissible norms. (3/3)— Myntra (@myntra) November 11, 2015
But it was of no use.
Having made the front page of a newspaper on Friday, the supporters of @RSS_Org were not to be deterred. They followed the tweet on Wednesday with a tweet on Friday clarifying that they weren’t the official handle for the organisation that is considered the ideological mentor of the BJP.
Then came a bunch of tweets with #BanCowLeatherShoes in which they spoke of Mahatma Gandhi, the need to protect cows and other matters.
Here’s one of their more artistic tweets:
#BanCowLeatherShoes pic.twitter.com/hrB5jWbtCs— RSS (@RSS_Org) November 13, 2015
But the sudden opposition to leather products is a little puzzling, The leather industry in India made over $7.5 billion in 2011-12 thanks to exports and supplies nearly 10 percent of the world’s leather. And this is all through the legal slaughter of livestock. The government of India is even seeking additional investments in the industry through the Make In India initiative.
Shoes made of cow and bull leather, by small and big manufacturers, are available in shops ranging from stalls to mega-stores across India. Also in some states like Kerala and Goa, it still isn’t even illegal to slaughter cows, so the leather could be obtained through completely legal means. Bull slaughter, while recently outlawed in states like Maharashtra and Haryana, remain legal in some other states.
Representational Image | Source: AliExpress
Even government agency Khadi Gramudyog Vikas Samiti, which seeks to promote village industries, uses cow and bull hide for leather products. While the government agency claims that the leather they use comes only from dead cows, animal groups like People for Animals, headed by Minister Maneka Gandhi, claim that cows are routinely poisoned to obtain their leather.
But the protest from the RSS-affiliated handles raises the question that if the group is so strongly opposed to the use of leather, why only save the cow and bull and not other animals that undergo the same level of cruelty for their hides?
Nonetheless, if this protest grows on Twitter, don’t be entirely surprised if shoe companies start stating which animal the hide for your leather shoes came from just to be on the safe side.
Feature image source: PTI