A man driving a scooter on a busy road stops when he sees a stray cow. He mutters a quick prayer, touches her side and then rushes off to where he was heading, leaving her standing amidst the cacophony, oblivious to the reverence she evokes.
You see, we are a nation of hypocrisy which trickles into every single aspect of our daily lives, including the treatment of this sacred animal. On one hand, there is national hyperventilation on the subject of ‘beef ban‘. Why should a state of a democratic nation translate one religion’s staunch principle into an imposition on others in the community? Why is eating of one animal’s meat categorised as a crime and not others? How is it legal to slaughter and export but not consume?
Okay, I seem to have gone off-track. I’m not here to talk about the beef-ban.
I’ve walked past cows rummaging through mounds of garbage, eating plastic and what-not. I’ve seen them with untreated wounds and tumors, walking slowly, with obvious pain, trembling at every step. I’ve heard them cry with pain and hunger. And what have I been able to about it? Nothing.
This isn’t because I’m a mere sympathiser who lacks the initiative to actually translate compassion to action. I have done my share of trying. There was once a distraught cow with a massive lump on her knee that I followed for weeks, to see if I could get a vet to come and check up on the condition. Upon contacting several animal rescue organisations and vets, I was informed that I had to gain consent for treatment by the owner first. In fact, the owners could even file an FIR against me for interfering with their ‘property’ if I went ahead and got her checked up.
When I took the challenge to trace the owner of this particular cow, I managed to meet a shop-owner who knew him. As I explained the scenario to him, he laughed at my seemingly naïve concern and said, “Don’t waste your time. Nobody cares.”
Nobody cares. It’s that simple.
You see, most of the dhoodhwalas don’t really care to provide even the basic necessities for their cows such as food, shelter and medical care. They let them meander about to fend for themselves and only get interested in their well-being once a calf is born and the mother is lactating, so they can aggressively start collecting and selling canisters of milk. Antibiotics are never administered even if needed as it renders a cow’s milk unhealthy for consumption which translates to financial loss.
So where do all the religious sentiments go now? As a nation that has a majority of Hindus who seems to care so much about the abuse and welfare of their nandi (Lord Shiva’s bull), how are we conveniently veiling our eyes to their blatant suffering? It’s time we realise that there are worse ways to suffer besides being sent for slaughter and press for laws that place more responsibility on the ownership and treatment of animals. It’s time we start evolving into a nation which facilitates change through citizens who care, not fuel apathy with bureaucratic indifference.
It’s time we learn to shout for the right reasons.