By Vikas Menghwani:
गाए हमारी माता है, हमको कुछ नहीं आता है!
It may be obvious to many why I am writing about cows. Cows, faith, anti-faith, slaughter, rumours, hatred, violence – and many other nouns can be attached to the ongoing Cow-nama in India. I constantly get reminded of the saying we used as children all the time – Gai humari mata hai, humko kuchh nahi aata hai (trans. Cow is our mother, and we don’t know anything). After recent events, I do not care about the first part of the saying at all, despite the fact that even today my household makes extra rotis everyday earmarked for cows or the memories of that certain Hindu festival when I accompanied my mother and aunts to look for cows outside for our ritualistic offerings – garlands, water, sindoor, food.
What hits me hard is the latter part of the saying, humko kuchh nahi aata hai. I have come to question the peripheries of our beliefs, or wisdom – if I allow myself to be sarcastic. I drive a scooter in my hometown, an aspirational district in northern M.P. The only advice I often give to our guests who want to borrow it in the city is – beware of the cows. Cows are everywhere, on the roads and inroads. Teams of them. Resting, standing, ruminating away their uselessness. I do not hesitate to call them useless. Especially after I got to know that after 5-6 years of being productive, they are of no use to their owners.
I have listened to the cries of cattle-nationalism, the finger pointing at not just the people of other faith, but also nations like America, the mother land of the popular productive jersey breed of cow. Apparently, the beef industry is now looking towards the jersey cow, hoping that a foreign breed will not be considered as holy. But do they think the cow brigade which patrols the streets of outer Delhi looking for cow transporters will understand the breed logic? They may end up thrashing the drivers even more. Gau Raksha Dal or Sena – as they call themselves, have many abhorrent YouTube uploads of their vigilante justice, setting trucks on fire, parading the drivers, thrashing them, and at times, lynching them. I do not know what is worse – the videos themselves or the fact that they have more likes than dislikes.
According to a report by Harish Damodaran, Rural Affairs Editor with The Indian Express, a cow takes about two to three years from the time of birth to reproduce and start producing milk. An average cow can go up to 8 lactation cycles and farmers rarely keep them beyond 5 lactations, after which they want to dispose of the animal. Damodaran makes an eye catching prediction. In the event of a blanket ban on cow as well as bull slaughter – in the long term, a farmer may just stop rearing cows because he will end up having all the male calves from his cow and would not know what to do with them. Also, in the short term, well, I will have to be even more watchful when I drive around in my city or more cows will be crushed under the train I take to travel to Delhi often. Will the cattle-nationalists understand this? Reality is often complicated, as in this case. But the truth is simple – humans are being killed by fellow humans, in the name of the cow. Hum ko kuchh nahi aata hai.
What must the cows be thinking? Do they know they are at the center of what can be called as a travesty of faith? And this travesty has come about through sickening political maneuvers. Scheming politicians and their rifle yielding minions, stoking people’s confusing and half-baked beliefs for gains of political power. Social beliefs are invisible and can be tamed, to produce an extremely visible form of social degradation – collective violence. And the broken law and order system provides an icing on the cake. Needless to say, if the mob feared the cops, Mohammad Akhlaq may have been in jail, but still alive.