Cow as a National Animal

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    • Recently, the Allahabad High Court said that the cow should be declared the national animal and that gau raksha (cow protection) should be included as a fundamental right of the Hindus. 

    Courts stand

    • Religious and cultural significance: The court made the comments, along with a string of other observations, noting the religious and cultural significance of cows and the need for cow protection.
      • The court denied bail to Javed, a person from Sambhal, who has been in jail since March on charges of allegedly stealing a cow and slaughtering it with his associates.
    • Do not forget our culture: The court said history was full of instances that “whenever we forgot our culture, foreigners attacked us and enslaved us and if we are not warned, we should not forget the unbridled attack on and capture of Afghanistan by Taliban”.
    • Scientific reason: The Court stated that scientists believe the cow is the only animal that inhales and exhales oxygen and invoked mythology at several points.
    • Backbone of Farming: The court stressed that the cow was the “basis of our culture” and had occupied an important place in the Puranas, the Shastras, the Ramayana and the Mahabharata, even as it pointed to the economic value of cows as the “backbone” of farming and other uses in daily life.
    • Law on cow slaughter: Justice Yadav also opined that Parliament should bring in a law to take tough action against those accused of cow slaughter. He described cows as a symbol of Hindu faith and culture, and claimed that even the majority of Muslims in the country were in favour of a nationwide ban on cow slaughter.

    Pros of Making Cow A National Animal

    • Protection from Slaughter: Declaring Cow as National Animal will give cow more legal and strict law backup which will prevent its slaughtering .
    • It will attract more support from the Government in form of funding , policies and programmes which will result in reformation of the cows.
    • More R&D will be done in this field which will finally bring advantage to the society itself.
    • By-products of cows such as milk hold nutritional importance and help in stemming the nutritional gap. Thus a legal protection will further enhance milk production.
    • Uses: Pharmaceutical products from cow urine and cow dung. Cow dung is used as organic manure which helps in overcoming the negatives of chemical fertilizers.
    • 70% of India’s people depend on agriculture out of which 98% on cattle based agriculture, by expanding cow based industry cow will have a definite stature in the Indian economy.
    • Help to check illegal trade of cows in domestic markets and neighbouring countries.

    Why should cows not be made a national animal?

    • Cows are already given legal backup in form of DPSP 48, 51. Real issue is whether a state is eager to implement them or not . Merely adding more laws is not going to change the situation.
    • It will become infeasible for already poor farmers of India to keep infertile cows as they need to buy fodder as well. So keeping old cows over a period of time is not beneficial for the farmers. After all farmers need to carry such expenditure, not the government.
    • It may be of considerable economic loss to industries having their raw material source from the animal market. Example: Meat and allied industries will be severely impacted since they derive their source from the animal market.
    • This is not beneficial for the Cow itself as a breed. Farmers feeding cows uneconomically will turn to other milching animals which is not good for already declining cows numbers(against buffaloes).
    • It will hit the labour intensive and export oriented leather Industry of India which is not good for Indian Exports.
    • It may result in the problem of rogue animals as owners with no economic interest are likely to free their animals on roads. And Government Gaushals are not so large in numbers and Size that they can handle such large numbers. It will worsen cows in Gaushala also as good caretaking will not be possible for such a large number.
    • Giving due importance to cattle irrespective of other animals could be considered as a religious move and an attempt to hurt the secular fabric of our constitution .

    Initiatives on Cow

    • SUTRA PIC (Scientific Utilisation Through Research Augmentation-Prime Products from Indigenous Cows):
      • Government unveils plan for research on ‘indigenous’ cows in Feb 2020.
      • Funding: To be funded by multiple institutions, 
      • Led by: The initiative, SUTRA PIC, is led by the Department of Science and Technology.
      • Partners: It has the Department of Biotechnology, the Council of Scientific and Industrial Research, the Ministry for AYUSH (Ayurveda, Unani, Siddha, Homoeopathy) among others and the Indian Council of Medical Research as partners.
      • Five themes:
        • Uniqueness of Indigenous Cows, 
        • Prime-products from Indigenous Cows for Medicine and Health, 
        • Prime-products from Indigenous Cows for Agricultural Applications, 
        • Prime-products from Indigenous Cows for Food and Nutrition, 
        • Prime-products from indigenous cows-based utility items.
      • Aim: 
        • To perform scientific research on complete characterisation of milk and milk products derived from Indian indigenous cows; 
        • scientific research on nutritional and therapeutic properties of curd and ghee prepared from indigenous breeds of cows by traditional methods; 
        • development of standards for traditionally processed dairy products of Indian-origin cow
    • Research on Panchagavya (‘Scientific Validation and Research on Panchagavya (SVAROP):
      • In 2017, SEED constituted a National Steering Committee (NSC) for ‘Scientific Validation and Research on Panchagavya (SVAROP)’.
      • Panchagavya is an Ayurvedic panacea and is a mixture of five (pancha) products of the cow (gavya) — milk, curd, ghee, dung and urine
      • Its proponents believe it can cure, or treat a wide range of ailments.
      • Objective: The stated objective was to develop products as well as improve the genetic quality of indigenous cattle breeds.
    • Statistics: 
      • A 2019 article in the Journal of Animal Research said India had: 
        • 190.9 million cattle and 
        • 43 registered native cattle breeds. 
      • The exotic / crossbred population has increased by 20.18% during the period of the last census while the population of indigenous cattle has decreased by 8.94% during the same duration. 
      • The reasons for depletion of native breeds include:
        •  cross-breeding with exotic breeds, 
        • economically less viable, 
        • losing utility, 
        • reduction in herd size and 
        • the large-scale mechanisation of agricultural operation

     

    Conclusion

    • Giving National Animal Status does not guarantee a better situation for cows in the country but it may worsen their situation. 
    • Instead of taking such steps it is the need of hour to create a National policy (as states are unable to take steps) for cows that will be beneficial for both animal and owner.

    Source: TH