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Depleted groundwater, polluted water bodies, environs affecting 'Gomata' survival

By Sudhansu R Das 

The Allahabad High Court while hearing a bail plea of a man who was charged for offences under the Prevention of Cow Slaughter Act in the UP has said in a 12 page order that cows are an "integral part of culture of India" and should be declared the national animal. A single judge bench of Shekhar Kumar Yadav has reportedly said that a bill should be introduced in Parliament to declare cows the national animal and cow's protection should be included in the fundamental rights of the Hindu community.
The point is whether by declaring cows as national animal and including cow protection in the fundamental rights of the Hindus will protect the bovine community? Whether people are ready to protect cows and tap its economic potential for inclusive growth?
Our saints and seers spoke of  multiple benefits of cows and named it as mother. It is not only Hindus seers who recognized the value of a cow but many Muslim rulers also understood it well. The judge of the Allahabad High Court said, “It is not that only Hindus have understood the importance of cows, Muslim rulers have also considered the cow an important part of India’s culture during their reign. Babur, Humayun and Akbar had banned cow slaughter in their religious festivals. Mysore’s ruler, Hyder Ali had made cow slaughter a cognizable offence.”
Researchers at Lucknow-based Council of Scientific and Industrial Research (CSIR) are said to have “found” that cow urine distillate commonly known as Kamdhenu Ark can help in the treatment of cancer and various other infections. Minister of State for AYUSH, Shripad Yesso Naik believes, "Cow urine distillate was found to possess the property of bio-enhancement of an anti-cancer natural agent 'Taxol' (paclitaxel) which is produced in microscopic amounts by the Yew tree (Taxus spp.).”
Yet, the fact is, India has not made much headway in doing research on cow products and largely depends on the research inputs from the western countries.
Cow milk produces the widest range of delicacies in the world. Many of the delicacies have immense export potential. The famous Rasgolas of eastern India which is popular in domestic and international food bazaars is made from cow milk. Dairy farmers from Puri and Nimapada districts of Orissa supply milk to the pilgrim centre Puri where eatable makers make exotic items like Rasabali, Malpua, Chena tadia, Kheera and Rabidi etc. Every day, 56 types of delicacies including the famous Rasgola are offered to gods and goddesses in Lord Jagannath temple. Most of these delicacies are made from milk only.
Transparent marketing facility, quality check and political will can create huge employment opportunities in the dairy sector. Every Indian region has developed a unique skill to make mouth-watering delicacies from milk. Though a few milk products etc. are marketed by big food processors, many of the local delicacies are not even marketed in the domestic market.
The cow lovers should make available green fodder, water and timely veterinary care for the cows so that the Hindus would not abandon their old cows or sell the cows to the agents of the slaughter houses. There are reported incidents of Goshalas minting money from donations and selling cows to slaughter houses. Many people buy milch animals with a Government subsidy and sell it after consuming the subsidy.
The court said, the laws should come for those also who talk about cow protection by making cowsheds, etc., but have nothing to do with cow protection. Their only aim is to earn money in the name of cow protection.
A cow eats minimum fodder worth Rs 120 to Rs 160 per day. If natural green fodder is not available in the village it becomes difficult for the villagers to maintain cows. Veterinary services are available in 30 per cent of the villages; more than 90 per cent of veterinary graduates want to work for insurance companies, banks, corporate and other public sector offices.
Efforts should be made to attract veterinary doctors to work in villages. The Government should consult veterinary experts, farmers, senior bankers and consumers while planning for dairy development. Ten years back, Sonai Rajan, 47, from Boshi village of Adilabad district had 30 cows. He had sold the cows due to non-availability of green fodder in the village. “I managed for two years by taking my animals 30 km away to a place where fodder was available,” said Rajan.
The Ongole cow breed of East Godavari district of Andhra Pradesh has boosted the animal husbandry sector in Brazil and the US
When groundwater is depleted and the water bodies are either encroached or polluted, Gomata has little hope for survival. Subsidy and loan waivers have made villagers idle, according to Rajan. Hindus organizations should create the right environment in villages so that villagers could earn income from dairy farms. The cow activists should protect village water bodies, greenery, crop diversity, ground water and natural grazing places so that the villages will happily maintain their cows. Milk route should connect villages with small dairy farmers.
Green fodder grows when the water table, lakes, ponds and wells in the villages remain healthy. The soil should have moisture holding capacity. In the last three decades there was wanton destruction of water bodies across the country. Over exploitation of ground water in Punjab has depleted the water table to an alarming level. Now, the Punjab Government spends public money to increase the ground water. Such a kind of a destroy and build approach should be curbed.
Many industries also over exploit and pollute ground and surface water which adversely affects the vibrant animal husbandry sector. In order to address the Gomata problem, the Hindutva brigade should stop the unsustainable use of groundwater. Awareness among people should be created about the biodiversity, water conservation and about the native cow breeds which are drought resistant and need low maintenance cost.
Researchers have found the milk quality of native breeds is better than the imported breeds. The Ongole breed of East Godavari district of Andhra Pradesh has boosted the animal husbandry sector in Brazil and the US. We have lost many of our native breeds due to sheer neglect and ignorance. This is high time to protect and preserve the natural infrastructure for the survival of the Gomaata.

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