By Narindra Nath Bhatia 29 January 2019
The Holy Cow in Not Too Holy Land
All my life, I have loved cow milk, curd, lassi, chach, kheer and khoya sweets made out from the milk. I loved my morning breakfast paranthas liberally topped up with curd, malai and butter. I think everyone loves matter paneer and mushroom paneer is my daughter’s most favourite dish at meals. In summer milk shakes make one literally cool. Since I loved cow belt food habits, I never felt the need of calcium supplements to be healthy and fit.
Till 1998, India was a milk deficient nation. With the white revolution and ‘productivity enhancement and strengthening and expansion of village level infrastructure for milk procurement, transportation, providing milk producers with competitive compensation, greater market access, improved genetic potential of bovines, provision of superior bulls, frozen semen and bio-security measures have made our country amongst the largest milk producing countries with world’s largest cattle herd population.
The Holy Cow
Cows are considered sacred in many world religions, most notably Hinduism, Jainism, Buddhism, Sikhism
Lord Krishna and his Yadav followers are known to care for cows. The five products Pancha G
Despite their sacred status, cows are not well looked after in our country. When Bill Gates visited India for the first time and was asked how he felt being in the country. He replied, ‘very strange and shocked seeing suddenly dozen of cows crossing the road as his car sped from the Delhi airport’. Foreigners are often amazed seeing bovines walking neglected around city streets, living on garbage from the gutters. Yet the cow is honoured at least once a year, on Gopastami (गोपाष्टमी).
The Shattering Myth of Holy Cow in Not Too Holy India
The importance of cows declined with the replacement by camels and then tractors for ploughing our fields on one side and buffalos giving better milk yield on the other and the equation could be 90vs10. To make the cows more affordable is to change the breed of cows in India by better milk producing species like the Jersey cows that can withstand and breed in our type of extreme hot and mildly cold environment but only miniscule perfunctory effort has been done on ground. Today cows are unaffordable both in terms of milk production and producing male calves which cannot be put to any use. And that is the reason for us to see so many cows abandoned and foraging garbage due to their unproductively and shrinking of fodder land and landing to slaughter houses or illegally smuggled to Pakistan and Bangladesh as their flesh is cheaper than mutton in many folds.
With times the society has changed and our living must remain dynamic to change. Religious beliefs and practices have undergone changes throughout known history to cater for changing times mostly to the detriment of religious leaders, dogmas and political gains. If cows are no longer useful in their present ‘avtar’ people will discard them but the religion also must cope up with change. Society and religion being interlinked must be dynamic and not averse to change that is good for the society as it is the religion which is for society and not the vice versa.
Hinduism & Hindutva
Hinduism is the world’s oldest religion. Today, with about 1.1 billion followers, Hinduism is the third-largest religion behind Christianity and Islam mostly living in India. It is considered as the moral way of life based on deeds (कर्म), spiritual and (intellectual possession (धर्म), wisdom (ज्ञान) and union with God (परमात्मा) in the after-life.
The term Hindutva (हिन्दुत्व) was coined by Hindu nationalist leader and champion of Hindu causes, Savarkar, in 1923. As an ideology identifying the Hindu culture and values for political gains popularized by the largest Hindu nationalistic conglomerate Sangh Parivar (संघ परिवार) and it’s numerous affiliates encompassing everything that is indigenously Indian, and must exclude any thing that is foreign and imported to India. Interestingly, Hindutva’s thirst for power is changing the face of India. Hindutva elements have lately developed cow vigilantes (गौरक्षक) syndrome that needs to be analyzed and exposed as a threat to Indian democracy and way of life. According to a Reuters report, 63 cow vigilante attacks had occurred in India between 2010-2017; mostly since the Modi government came to power in 2014 and between 2010 and June 2017, killing 28 Indians-24 of them Muslims and injuring 124. Many vigilante groups feel ‘empowered’ by Modi Government to carry out such attacks under the garb of Hindutva. To sum up, I have strong belief in Hinduism and am proud to be Hindu; I am completely against the Hindutva and NOT the Hinduism.
And the Unholy Act of the Holy Cow
Our morning walk group of 5 septuagenarians and 2 octogenarians is aptly called the ‘Sober Seven’ that includes 6 military veterans and Shri Surinder Kumar who is IIT graduate in mechanical engineering and had served for long in Germany and later in India, addressed as Bhai Sahib (भाई साहिब) out of sheer respect and affections being an octogenarian. We all live in Noida in close by sectors while Bhai Sahib resides nearby in the Gardenia high end flats with his wife Mrs Chandra Kumar. We all do morning walks in Sector 30 where I, Brig Puri and Col Mahajan also live. We all discuss everything on the earth from politics to pollution and petrol prices.
On 16 Jan 2019 around 1900 hrs Brig Puri rang me saying that Mrs Kumar has been rushed to Noida Medical Centre (NMC) located in our sector, as she has been mauled by a cow. We both rushed to the hospital located adjacent to our houses. Mrs Kumar was in radiology department as surgeon on duty suggested X ray of her paining back. There we learnt that both Bhai Sahib & his wife had gone for vegetable shopping in the local haat (हाट/market). The vegetable markets in India attract abandoned cows looking for the fodder. One such starving cow rushing for sneaking the vegetables as food brushed along Mrs Chandra Kumar who fell on the ground. Two persons were trying lifting her in agonizing pain as Bhai Sahib had gone ahead looking for keenos- a step brother of oranges! As he returned, he was shocked and found his wife being lifted in anguish. He got her in his car with great difficulty and reached his flat. His neihbour Mrs Tripathi and her son who knew orthopedic surgeon in NMC Hospital brought them there. As Brig Puri learnt about the mishap, he rang me & we both rushed to NMC. Mrs Chandra though in agony was well composed. The X ray had black shadows around and the orthopedic surgeon suggested 3 day’s bed rest and if pain did not subsidize, MRI and follow up action. I must compliment likes of Mrs Trivedi who brought Mrs Chandra to hospital along with her son and Bhai Sahib, the two lady doctors living around providing free medicare, so also the other Gardenia residents who arrange wheel chair and extended helpful hand to Bhai Sahib in family’s trying times while the other members of the family and the relatives are not nearby! We wish Mrs Kumar fastest recovery and Yogi Government to take care of all the roaming holy cows!
Whom do I blame for this mishap, pain & shelling of huge amount of money for the treatment? Modi/Yogi Governments, cow vigilantes who believe India’s laws regarding cow slaughter or selling them are not “adequate” and so they take the law in their own hands and slaughter people suspected of cow slaughter! In Modi Raj if a human being hurts cow, he lands in prison cell BUT if vagabond cow mauls a human being it is God’s act in chalta hai (चलता है) attitude. BUT who bothers when the innocent people like Mrs Chandra get hurt and suffer! My one of the former Commanding Officers lost his life in Gwalior a few years back on being mauled by a stray bull!! And who cares for such innocent sufferers!! Sad to say, not the least, ‘The Hindutva Brigade’!