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Cow Hypocrisy

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While mainstream Hindu society will vigorously oppose, wherever it can, those who wish to allow cow slaughter (the space seems to be shrinking as time goes by), the proposal by a minister of the Congress government in Karnataka to allow the practice raises some pertinent issues. He has argued that farmers whose cattle no longer produce milk find caring for them a serious economic burden. That is a fact, which is why the illicit cow smuggling to places like Bangladesh has flourished.

Hindu society has become increasingly aware of this situation and the demand has been raised for setting up of ‘gaushalas’ by the government as well as social and religious organisations to accommodate such animals. This has been done at many places but here, too, it has become a racket, with grants and charitable funds being taken even as animals are kept in miserable condition. Traditionally, in the villages, cows, buffalos, etc., were herded in adjoining brush land or forests, so even those that were past their milking days were under no threat of starvation. In the towns, also, cows roamed freely and made a daily round of houses where they were fed. The rich had troughs outside their compounds where animals gathered in the mornings and evenings to be provided fodder. Religious rituals and festivals, which happen throughout the year in India, required the mandatory feeding of cows. As such, they were cared for by all of society. Unfortunately, times and circumstances have changed and in most towns and cities, the effort is to remove ‘stray’ cattle from public spaces. Dairy owners either sell their cattle to the traffickers or abandon them. There are not enough truly functional ‘gaushalas’ to care for them. This poses a serious challenge to Hindu society, which needs more than sentimentality to deal with the situation.

On the other hand, the Karnataka minister probably believes he is being very rational by advocating the slaughter of these animals, but does that imply they will be sold to meat suppliers? He should realise that almost all such cows suffer from numerous diseases like TB, and are also full of antibiotics and other oxytocin like chemicals used by dairy owners to maximise production. In no way can their flesh be fit for consumption. The very people being supplied such meat should be the first to reject it. That it comes cheap should not be considered an advantage.

So, at best, the minister can only be advocating ‘putting down’ the animals as an act of mercy. That obviously is not the case – it is all about seeming ‘secular’ and ‘progressive’ to get the votes. Shameless hypocrisy abounds, all around.