Ranjona Banerji: Cow is our mother, so is hypocrisy
But we can't be bothered to take care of it or make shelters for it when it grows old. Then, it becomes the mother of food and leather industry
Cow is our mother when I want her to be and cow is also everyone else’s mother when I want her to be. Pic/AFP
Cow is our mother. That is the universal declaration made when the Hindutva rightwing want everyone to follow their holy orders from Nagpur. So if cow is our mother, eating the cow must be banned. Fair enough. Cow is our mother. Matricide is illegal. Punishable by law. It could be a life sentence in Gujarat and it could be death by hanging in Chattisgarh. Cow is our mother. Sacred. No matricide. Not lunch but love.
Cow is our mother but cow (forgive my lack of grammar but the coinage is not mine) is also the mother of calves. But cow is only the mother of baby cows and bulls to the extent that cows can give me milk. Because cow is my mother and I deserve to drink my mother's milk till I die. Baby cows and bulls though need not drink their mother's milk till they die. Or they do, but for me to drink my mother's milk, they must die early.
In a fine but macabre reversal of the usual Indian tendency to female progeny, baby cows are usually allowed to live because they can become my mother in the future. Baby bulls on the other hand are useless except for a couple of uses, mainly one use. So all of them do not need to live that long. Bulls are not our father so the long life of bulls is unnecessary and expensive.
Cow is our mother but if I own milch cows then I can only look after them as long as they provide milk. After that I don't really need them and I can't afford to feed them or I can't be bothered to feed them. Then, cow is the mother of the leather industry and the food industry and anyone else who wants them. Cow is our mother is abandoned.
Cow is our mother but many times, no one wants old, useless, mother cows. Cow is our mother as long as my mother produces milk. So cow is our mother wanders around the roads. Cow is our mother eats garbage. Cow is our mother eats plastic packets. Cow is our mother but I can't be bothered to build enough shelters so our mother can get some rest when she gets old and useless. There is a limit to how much money one can spend on a cow or perhaps even on a mother.
Cow is our mother but there is no need to point fingers at me and my inaction on mother shelters when I can so easily beat you, kill you for eating my mother. This is the best way that I can pay homage to my mother the cow - by being violent and by becoming a murderer. Violence proves that I love and honour cow as my mother.
Cow is our mother and a mother's role is to give to a child. So my mother gives me milk and ghee and butter and curd because that is a mother's job. It is not a child's job to look after the mother when the mother no longer provides these things. After that I can always get another cow as my mother. And that's why some baby bulls are allowed to live.
Cow is our mother in the whole Universe but not in those parts of India where I can win elections without declaring that cow is my mother. Cow is not our mother in places where if I say "don't eat a cow because it is my mother" then I won't get any votes. In those places, people can eat cows. Cow is not their mother. In places where I already have the popular majority, I can easily kill people on the mere hint or rumour that they have hurt my cow-mother.
Cow is our mother when I want her to be and cow is also everyone else's mother when I want her to be. Cow is a useful symbol of my power over you because you cannot dare touch a cow after I declare that cow is my mother. Cow as our mother gives me free licence to break laws, to become a mob and to kill and maim and burn. Cow is our mother when I do all this and who is to stop me and law and order is a state subject.
Hypocrisy is our mother.
Ranjona Banerji is a senior journalist. You can follow her on Twitter @ranjona. Send your feedback to firstname.lastname@example.org