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Cow is a constant cool in Indian politics. But BJP’s mix of faith and science troubling

Since Modi assumed power in 2014 as Prime Minister, the cow has been in the news perhaps as much as he himself.

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If the BJP-led government establishing a Rashtriya Kamdhenu Aayog in 2019 made you think things have gone quite too far with India’s far-Right’s obsession with cows, then 2021 will convince you that the obsession is real.

The Narendra Modi-led government has decided to hold a national exam on “cow science”, because according to Rashtriya Kamdhenu Aayog (RKA) chairman Vallabhbhai Kathiria, “cow is full of science”. This coming from a man full of science, who launched a chip made of cow dung that could apparently reduce radiation from mobile phones. He also claimed that 800 corona patients have been cured by panchgavya, an elixir made of cow dung, cow urine, ghee, milk and curd.

Also read: Cow urine, milk can cure psoriasis, leprosy — Modi govt’s agency in document for exam

India’s political history with cows

Cows have for long held the collective imagination of Indian politics. Whether India was grappling with the Covid-19 pandemic, economic slowdown, or national security crisis on the border, the political value of the cow never really disappeared from public debate last year. Infact, the cow is a constant cool in the Indian imagination, no matter which party or politician is in power — from Morarji Desai to Digvijay Singh to Modi’s illustrious cabinet.

The 1857 rebellion in British-India was partly fuelled by rumours of cow grease being used on cartridges that had to be bitten off by Indian sepoys to be opened (there were also rumors about pork fat used on cartridges that frightened Muslims). And if the recent seizure of the Capitol Hill in the United States was alarming, India had its very own version of storming the neighbourhood of Raisina Hill back in 1966, when a Hindu mob led by ascetics tried to storm the Indian Parliament in an attempt to pressurise Prime Minister Indira Gandhi to criminalise cow slaughter. Not surprisingly, at the forefront of this movement was the Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh and Bharatiya Jana Sangh, which later metamorphosed into the Bharatiya Janata Party.

Also read: Before desi cow exam, Indians should study how to not kill dolphins and elephants for fun

Modi’s India

Even today, the BJP is still completely obsessed with the cow. This is why since Modi assumed power in 2014 as Prime Minister, the cow has been in the news perhaps as much as he himself. At the heart of it, the obsession with cows is almost innocent because it insists on anyone who has ever seen a cow to believe it is special, divine, and much more than what meets the eye.

But what is new today is the obsession with conflating science and faith in the body of the cow. Former Prime Minister Atal Bihari Vajpayee may have added science to the national slogan by saying Jai Jawaan, Jai Kisan, and Jai Vigyan, but when it comes to BJP’s politics, vigyan is limited to inaugurating rocket launches at ISRO.

But politically, the topic of cows has been bloody. Be it slaughtering of cows or slaughtering of men over cows, the politics done in the name of cows is wicked and violent. And the problem is, a large section of Indians, especially in the South, East and North East consume cow for food. Beef is consumed in these places not just by non-Hindus but Hindus too. Beef is legally and freely available in states like Goa, West Bengal, Kerala, Assam, Arunachal Pradesh, Mizoram, Meghalaya, Nagaland, and Tripura. Many of these states are ruled by the BJP.

But that doesn’t deter our government from opening an entire ministry on cows and holding national exams on cow science to “infuse curiosity” among people on the importance of cows. On reading the syllabus of this exam, it’s amply clear that the cow is not being read as an animal, but as a divine creature, which is why in the 54page booklet provided as study material by RKA, you will find the cow only mentioned as ‘gaumata’. So much for upholding science.

In fact, the booklet is more theological in nature with shlokas from the vedas being presented to show the importance of the cow and its benefits in Hindu religious scriptures. It also does have a significant piece of science where it compares jersey cows A1 grade milk to our indigenous ‘desi’ cows A2 grade of milk, which is, according to many science journals, considered better in quality.

But then the RKA booklet makes the comparison between the jersey cow and desi gaumata seem hateful by calling the former “lazy”, “unhygienic” and “unemotional”. In hindsight, when you think of Narendra Modi calling Sonia Gandhi, of all things, a ‘jersey cow’, you see the root of such thinking.

But then the paper goes in the realm of delusion, speaking of how cow slaughter causes earthquakes. And the irony is, they try to explain this phenomena by science! Dr Madan Mohan Bajaj, a renowned physicist, is of the opinion, according to this RKA booklet, that pain waves from slaughtered animals, including cows, cause physical waves or acoustic anisotropy due to Einsteinian Pain Waves (EPW) which eventually lead to stress in earth’s rocks. But this is a hypothesis that’s still not been accepted. In fact, BJP leader Maneka Gandhi too wrote an article on the same claiming that “geologists will laugh” at this theory but it holds weight. But then, humans killed in the name of religion or cows must also be adding to the “acoustic anisotropy”.

The extent of human irrationality is boundless and to add an innocent animal to perpetuate that stupidity is criminal. But cows are centre stage in Indian polity because Indian sentiment cannot be disengaged from religion. And no science can medicate the blindness caused in the name of faith. The world is looking at India in the 21st century for an economic miracle, climate change solutions, and geopolitical balance. The cow must not distract us from our loftier goals.

The author is a political observer and writer. Views are personal. 

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  1. Whehter we worship a cow or kill it. OUR problem. No muslim biatch interferes. Or i halal you in retaliation

  2. Author is a young budding journalist (started career in 2019 with The Print), so her branding is in progress so she can make a foot hold in journalistic space. And make a living. The print is giving her space in opinion column, is fully justified. Her biased journalistic leanings are amply clear from her controversial remarks on triple talaq. Zainab Sikander criticised the triple talaq bill, Making a bizarre argument, she tweeted, “All men in India can abandon their wives merrily, without any fear of punishment, EXCEPT Muslims. Shouldn’t this be an incentive for women of all religions to marry Muslim men? Greater chance of not being abandoned?”. So why waste time and effort to someone not worth paying attention. I’m surprised at The print giving her their journalistic real estate for this kind of biased story, did your editorial board think of this as a scholarly opinion piece. Yuk…..

    SG Sir and his editorial board @ The Ptint. I’m thoroughly disappointed.

  3. As I gather more knowledge facts history on our civilization I am firmly convinced of the veracity of the claims which the pea sized brain has ridiculed.

    Shastra and vedas are the knowledge system while ramayan and mahabharat are our itihaas.

    Colonial past has made us think these as myth but they had translated and used in their research. We are credited by zero but the question should be how can we invent zero without the other numerals which are credited to Arabs. So out math decimal system base 10 system have been credited to arabs. This is the biggest appropriation in the history of mankind, so much so that instead of calling Hindu math it’s called Hindu Arabic math.

    The practices we follow in our daily lives though tied to some kind of worship if we do rigorous research we will find out that our civilization was very advanced and nuanced for us to see all along.

    All these years we have mocked our heritage and civilization as myth but it time to open our mind apply these learnings and knowledge as encompassed in the vedas and shastra.

    As a nugget surya siddhanta correctly describes the earth as sphere along with correct planetary motions down to 3 decimal values so as the Hindu calendar which calculate the no of days to the precision.

    For gods sake even our jyotishis can tell the planetary motion from their jyotish chart. The saade saati they speak about is the 7.5 years is a season on Saturn.

    So yes I am convinced beyond doubts that our ancestors were full of wisdom which we have yet to uncover. By mocking ridiculing or debunking them definitely won’t get us to that advanced and nuanced level.

  4. All religions are a problem for human beings! Instead of treating each other with respect and love those of differing religions treat those of other religions with hatred and disrespect! No religion is better than any other as all are made up fairy tales from the past. If you are a history buff you would learn that almost all religions come from the first civilization! How about we love and respect all human beings regardless of their religion. We would have a much better world!

  5. This lady always sounds like a frustrated Islamic radical. She has a problem with Hindu obsession with cows then what about Muslims obsession with ‘Halal’?

  6. Shekhar Guptha print is nothing but a platform for Islamic Jihadists to spurn poison on Hindus and their beliefs, these Jihadists never utter a word about closer of Liquor shops and cinema theaters in Islamic Kashmir in India from 1990!! Lol

    • I’m not a hatred speecher but when nation has enough grains food well educated then why for the sake of belly why one has to kill those dumb creature.
      Is this philosophy either Jesus or mohammed or any Indian saint told when they told be mercy. The court law every thing must abolished when one day man kills another man for food

  7. Srinivasa Ramanujan, one of the greatest minds of this earth. His theories as per him were dictated by gods to him. Science is integral part of Hindu faith. Science is just part of a faith that we are able to prove, yet.

  8. Jihadist posing as journalist should answer following questions.

    What if HINDUS were in minority in INDIA. Would the secular constitution still be there or would it be a pakistan like situation.

    In Kashmir only muslim majority state in INDIA ethnic cleansing of HINDUS was carried out .

    HINDUS are interested in education and science and prosperity and don’t believe killing infidels will achieve place in HEAVEN.

    • You do not have a brain apparently. The journalist was merely telling the truth! Religion has become the bane of existence in India and most of the world! The cow is a farm animal no more nor no less! The cow is not a god and should not be treated the way it is in India.

  9. Amongst Hindus themselves…there are two schools of thought in respect of cows….one accepts it as holy and divine being….the other holds it as important to the nation/society particularly the rural part of the country….but one fact is undoubted is that it is a useful animal… the author has brought in a sense of ridicule to the entire thinking behind the importance of COW…. that is one thing that is not acceptable….. you may not agree with it…thats ok…. but ridicule is not acceptable…..the ethos of indian/Hindu civilisation is the co-existence of different thoughts, ideas in society…..ridiculing the other was never its ethos….. it emanates from western thinking, more specifically Left-Liberal thinking……

    • No where did the writer ridicule the cow. What the writer ridiculed is the way the cow is being worshiped in India and the ridiculous belief in cow dung and urine as some kind of a cure for anything!

  10. when will authors of a certain religious leaning realize that it is ‘to each their own’. if one person venerates a certain animal and all that it produces, others continue to use items (twigs to brush their teeth, style of moustache, beard) or continue practices such as treatment of women and minorities based on what worthies of their respective religions did millenia ago. if that is not troubling, this shouldn’t be either. author should try poking her covered fingers at people of her own religion. it will bring much needed adrenalin rush into her life. wanted or not!

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