Of holy cows and total bullshit
Getting to the bottom of all the fog and pious talk that surrounds holy cows and beef in this country
Remember Mohammad Akhlaq, the 50-year-old Muslim man who was lynched by a mob in a village near New Delhi on suspicion that he had consumed beef? It turned out later that the meat was actually mutton. Since then, we've seen many more attacks by cow vigilante groups.
That incident made me wonder, though, if the average Indian lynch mob cannot tell mutton apart from beef, can it tell a cow apart from a bull? While on that, is a bull holy as well or is it just cows? If I passed a family of bovines in the middle of New Link Road, black, white, humped, flat-backed, old, young, calves, bulls — do I worship all of them or can I skip some? I've never seen a picture of a black buffalo being worshipped, only white cows.
Quite a few Indians believe that white means female, and black, male. But as with human beings, it's not skin colour but existence of a penis and testicles that determine maleness, while the presence of udders and a vagina are sure signs that it's female. Some openly wonder if the hump is the sign that it's a bull.
I thought this might be a good time to set the record straight about holy cows — and all the bullshit surrounding it.
Once India had 64 breeds of cows, exquisitely adapted to their local conditions and producing outstanding milk [only 37 remain today, the rest extinct]. What's more, Indian cows naturally produced the so-called A2 milk, regarded as healthier, superior and manufactured and
sold today at premium prices worldwide. The Indian government began crossbreeding the amazing Indian cow with exotic imported western breeds such as the Jersey, the Guernsey and the Holstein — the ones that don't have humps — to increase milk production.
The crossbred semi-foreign cows were unused to tropical heat and also did not produce pure A2 milk. Their introduction pretty much ruined India's dairy industry. Poor people, who cannot afford air-conditioned dairies for these exotic breeds, owned two-thirds of the Indian cattle. The cows are miserable, produce less milk, and finally walk around the streets eating plastic bags.
Eighty per cent of the stray cows in milk-and-ghee-loving Punjab are crossbreeds. The average milk
yield per animal in India is now just 3.2 kgs, compared to a global average of 6.6 kgs.
If you asked who screwed the holy cow, the answer would be the Indian government.
Do Indians truly respect cows? Of course they do, you can see for yourself. Cows in Indian
cities are as respected as any other street animal.
For example, a cow on a Mumbai street will enjoy the same rights as a street dog. It can eat at the same garbage bins, it can drop steaming cow patties where it likes and an entire family can park itself in the middle of the road, and cars can just navigate around them. The reason why Indian shopkeepers still use plastic bags for customers is because they know that eventually some hungry cow will eat it. And they really respect cows.
The cow is a very kind animal. It lets human beings plunder, pillage and loot its body in every way they want. Once a cow gets too old to yield milk, it's allowed to wander loose, grazing on plastic.
Cows in India are prone to the same diseases as cows in countries where they are not holy. These include foot and mouth disease, Mad Cow Disease and others. An average street cow is as healthy as any Indian living on the same pavement.
Cows' lives are treated as more valuable than certain human beings, for example, women. Raping and killing a woman is not as big a deal as killing a cow. Holy cows in India contribute as much to global warming as cows anywhere else.
Ancient Vedic Hindus ate beef and enjoyed it. Modern Hindus also eat beef but they pretend it is lamb and also try to look like they don't like it all that much.
So how come India is ranked as the world's #1 exporter of beef, with over 1,850,000 metric tonnes shipped in 2016, at par with Brazil?
Most Indian beef comes from the water buffalo, which is not a protected animal. Indian law prohibits only the slaughter of cows, oxen and calves. Water buffaloes are another matter entirely. By banning cow beef but allowing water buffalo beef, and not clarifying this point thoroughly, the government creates a deadly grey area. The average lynch mob thinks beef is beef, whether cow or buffalo.
India has 301,100,000 head of cattle, the highest in the world.
As I hope I have shown in this column, this also means that India produces the highest quantity of bullshit in the world.
Here, viewed from there. C Y Gopinath, in Bangkok, throws unique light and shadows on Mumbai, the city that raised him. You can reach him at firstname.lastname@example.org
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The views expressed in this column are the individual's and don't represent those of the paper
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