The celebrity of the year 2017 is undoubtedly the holy cow. Right from the time that the new government took charge of the centre our news, cow premis came to the rescue of the holy cow. They are a bunch of contradictions. They can go to war for peace, they can hate and kill for love. They think cows are the most sentient beings, good. It is right. But they are overtly selective. They think that Cows are the “only” sentient beings other than the breed of “upper caste”, “vegetarian”, “Hindu” humans. They think it is best to destroy those who don’t comply. BJP MLA, Gyan Singh threatened, “If you smuggle or kill cows, you will be killed.”
However, this does not emerge from any kind of deep-seated love for animals. In fact, it is the inverse. It’s a pity that the “piety” of the government and the ruling party is restricted to religious fundamentalism and obsessive fanaticism with just the slaughter of just one animal – the cow. Somehow though, the animal love is not only specific to this species but also only against meat. The same religious fanaticism also provokes people to drink milk. “The lord drank milk and butter, and so shall we”. These people are still fixated on the romanticised version of milk production – cows in a cowshed, taken to graze, milk being extracted after the calves have their share. Though I am against drinking the milk of another animal on principle, I am willing to look at this from people’s perspective, where a cow is sick in the village and their grandparents give the cow a name and look after her, her kids and her husband till their death.Well, that’s quite utopian and way away from the reality.
We are completely oblivious to what really happens in the commercial milk industry. In a press release, Union Minister of Agriculture and Farmers’ Welfare, Radha Mohan Singh stated that the milk production has increased by 18.81 %. Now, where does all these milk come from? How many cows do we see grazing around to give us that kind of milk production?
I went through a video report called Deadly Dairy. I would not want to fill this article with trigger warnings, but urge you to visit the link with an understanding that this is not for a faint heart. It is gruesome and painful to watch if we have even an ounce of kindness.
Gau Mata is not free to roam and graze in commercial dairy firms. She is tied up all day.
The holy cow and its cousin, the buffalo, are tied up all day, for months, for years. They have no moving space. So the image of ‘God’ roaming about is a myth. Cows are just tied to a small leash.
The bull is sexually excited by simulation techniques so that it gets easy to masturbate and remove the semen to then artificially impregnate the cow. As this article in The Hindu puts it, “Artificial insemination involves extracting semen from selected bulls and forcibly placing it in restrained cows. This technology is popular because it is efficient, allows for selective breeding of high-yielding animals and reduces the need for males.”
We need veganism, not vigilantism, to protect native Indian breeds.
There has been a spurt of festivals to celebrate the Indian breed of cows and buffaloes. Innumerable pieces have been written in favour of Jallikattu as much has been written against it. There is one justification that is way too superficial and selective – that we are focused on festivals like these to save Indian breeds of cows from extinction. This report in The Mint reads “Over the next two years, India will need to produce 100 million doses of high-quality, disease-free semen annually, up from 90 million now, according to the government. Holstein Friesian bulls imported from Germany are also set to start producing semen soon.” So the kids of the progeny between a German bull and an Indian cow will be Indo-German and not Indian.
This Make In India report reads, “The Indian leather industry enjoys a predominant place in the Indian economy and has been a major contributor to export earnings. India has an abundance of raw materials with access to 20% of world’s cattle and buffalo and 11% of the world’s goat and sheep population. Globally, India is the 2nd largest producer of Footwear and 2nd largest exporter of Leather Garments.” There is also an advertisement in a leading newspaper about an approved grant of ₹2600 crores by the government of India to boost the leather industry.
It’s natural that the number of animals that are going to be slaughtered has to increase to meet this demand for leather. Several reports by several animal welfare groups and think pieces suggest that unproductive cows are starved and so are male calves. Obviously, when they starve and die, they would die a “natural” death. Here’s a piece from Poorva Joshipura that makes a case for “India’s High Beef Exports Are Linked To Its Milk Consumption”.
So, all you cow lovers who are overtly moralistic about the slaughter of cows, I want to ask you – why is your empathy selective? Does a buffalo feel less pain than a cow? And if you love the cow so much and consider her a mother – why don’t you let her feed her milk to her child? So, Shri Gyan Dev Ahuja, one can’t speak about killing for cow-love when you are drinking a glass of milk. The act is not just moronic, it is oxymoronic. You get the drift?