Why India’s Top Cow Official Wants Healthy Bulls And Cows Out Of Gaushalas

by Sumati Mehrishi - Sep 27, 2019 04:48 PM +05:30 IST
Why India’s Top Cow Official Wants Healthy Bulls And Cows Out Of GaushalasDr Vallabh Bhai Kathiria is working to deburden the gaushala.
  • India’s top cow official Dr Vallabh Bhai Kathiria believes that giving away healthy cows and bulls to individuals and farmers will help in the sustenance of gaushalas, and make the care and protection of cows a profitable activity.

When gaurakshaks save a cow from going to a slaughterhouse, or rescues them from roads and streets, many times, the rescued animal is sent to a gaushala or a cow shelter. The gaushala takes care of the new entrant.

Gaushalas get support in the form of donations, and it has become easier owing to social networking sites. People's emotional access to the cow and its progeny at gaushalas has become easier. One can sponsor a cow's care and fodder.

The fodder keeps coming in. And this, most believe, is enough. But there is a man from Gujarat who thinks differently.

A former lawmaker, a surgeon by profession, a cow worshipper, and now, India's top cow official, Dr Vallabh Bhai Kathiria is the man triggering changes in gaushalas. The first in the set of changes he is aiming at is the giving away of healthy cows and bulls — by the gaushalas — to individuals and farmers.

Kathiria heads the Rashtriya Kamdhenu Aayog — India's national commission for cows which is working to protect and preserve indigenous breeds of cattle.

He wants to deburden gaushalas in one of the many policy interventions under the aayog. Deburdening of the gaushala, he believes, is one of the measures to protect indigenous cows and bulls.

Kathiria was heading the Gujarat State Gauseva Aayog before he moved over to the national front on Prime Minister Narendra Modi's insistence. His core aim is to make the care and protection of cows a profitable activity.

In Gujarat, he managed to convince gaushalas to give away cows to farmers and individuals. The number of cows and bulls given away was in thousands.

He says, "the move was part of a holistic approach of cow protection. It is a true example of how healthy cows and bulls can be used for the prosperity of the nation. For a token money of a rupee or Rs 500 to the gaushala, the cows were given away to farmers and people in need."

He now wants to plan and implement a similar scenario at a pan-India level after discussions with gaushalas, farmers, herders, industry and researchers.

Kathiria is actively chalking out measures in partnership with more than 30 ministries for using a balanced combination of religious, social, cultural aspects and aspects related to employment, tourism, commerce and soft power.

According to him, individuals and farmers, by adopting of cows and using the milk, gobar (cow dung) and urine derived from them, will directly contribute to the protection of cows, strengthening of economic viability of keeping cattle. This will simultaneously work towards the deburdening of gaushalas and allow them to focus on an important priority — ageing and ailing old bulls and cows.

It Will Work Towards 'Complete Gauraksha'

According to Kathiria, getting healthy cows and bulls out of the shelters, towards homes, is part of the wide process of protecting the animal. It is part of "poorngauraksha" or complete gauraksha.

His aim is to make "gaupalan" so attractive that it transforms the role and duties of cow shelters, as well as farmers and individuals who are adopting the cows. Gaurakshaks will be looped in to play a huge part in the process and will be trained for it.

Kathiria is redefining gauraksha. What is gauraksha according to him?

"It is not just about protecting the cow from going to slaughterhouses. It is about the complete caring and protection of the cow and her progeny from birth to death, in addition to saving her from the slaughterhouse. It is also protecting the indigenous cows," he says.

According to him, when the healthy bulls and cows are sent to farmers, the animal is saved from abuse, and more importantly, becomes part of the rural economy.

Pointed policies, resulting awareness programmes and training will be introduced to help people who adopt bulls and cows to ensure that the animals are not left on the streets. "People will then explore the real meaning of kamdhenu, and its role in their lives."

The emotional ownership of the healthy cow or bull backed by a solid understanding of fodder needs and economic viability model in keeping the animal will have a direct and immediate impact: it will save the animal from ending up in slaughterhouses.

Kathiria wants to strengthen the role of gaushalas in gauraksha by convincing them to let go of the healthy cows and bulls for the society and its prosperity.

Ailing And Ageing Cows And Bulls Need To Be At Gaushala

Ailing cows and bulls stay back at the gaushala so they do not end up on streets or slaughterhouses. The gaushala must focus on taking care of them. Their protection is the most vital in the chain of events in cow protection and the understanding of gauraksha in all sections of the society.

Cows that are found on streets in poor condition and are not fit to be milked, go the gaushala. When these cows improve in health and if they are ready to be adopted, the gaushala can take a call. The calves find care and will have the mother's support and warmth in any scenario.

Alongside this process, when the cows and bulls that were healthy when they were adopted by farmers and individuals begin to show signs of ageing or disease, or both, their destination, ideally, would be finding their way to the gaushala. The cycle of protection will play a strong role in planning their complete journey — from birth to death — under protection and care.

Deburdening The Gaushala Will Make It Function Better

Better functioning of gaushala means better cow protection chain. Kathiria has travelled to gaushalas in different parts of the country. His view: cow shelters are overburdened. Many don't have sufficient means and space. Many others are keeping cows beyond capacity and means and space.

Yet, many gaushalas find sustenance difficult because they do not use the milk, gobar and urine derived from the cows, for selling or meeting their sustenance needs out of reverence for the animal.

Gaushalas are the shoulders and skeleton of cow protection. People's participation and support of charities for the gaushalas are on the rise — through word of mouth and social networking, but it is still not enough sometimes.

Mere 'sevabhaav' — the intention to serve — is not enough, Kathiria observes. A good backup to gaushalas will be given. He is working towards the district level monitoring of gaushalas.

Making gaushalas economically viable will secure cows. A change in perspective is required, according to Kathiria. "I understand people's emotions towards keeping cows and not using their milk, gobar and urine for selling, but it is impractical. The money that comes from selling these will help the gaushalas achieve self sustenance," he adds.

Kathiria wants to reshape the working of cow shelters. The first step, naturally, is to reduce their burden. There are gaushalas that house more than 200 and even 20,000 (and more) cows (and progeny) without milking the cows. He does not support the practice.

According to him, the prime reason for the cow shelters being burdened or overburdened is the growing sensitivity towards its protection. Part of which is reflected in not using their milk, gobar and urine for selling or for making products. So, he wants the economic viability factor to sprawl systematically, with action, data and accounts in place.

He believes that gaushalas should be professionally run. They must absorb research based aspects in day to day functioning for better cow preservation and in focussed implementation of know how on feeding the animal and care.

This will ensure the shaping of ideal gaushalas where people can continue the dharma-backed upkeep and care of cows with better understanding of a cow's life cycle. Gaushalas that display a good functioning will be selected and funded under the programmes and schemes.

Here is Kathiria's short list for improving gaushalas: The presence of a trust, accounts, sufficient land, funds. They should be open to the thought of becoming self sufficient. Then, non-resident Indians (NRIs) contributing donations and funds must demand that gaushalas are run professionally and that the funds they donate are used for specific purposes. For example, for developing a bio-fuel facility, for gaushala-based tourism, etc, and not for fodder alone.

Empowering Villages And Agriculture Empowers Cattle Protection

The propagation and use of panchagavya gaudugdh (milk), gaughrit (ghee), gaumootra (cow urine), gaumeh (cow dung), gaudhaghi (curd/dahi), are at the core of Kathiria's plans to make cow welfare go mainstream. It goes mainstream when cows come out of gaushalas and go to individuals and farmers — those who need the cows and bulls for panchagavya.

It goes mainstream to prepare ground for a cow-based economy and the protection, propagation and preservation of indigenous breeds.

When farmers adopt the cattle from gaushala, they benefit by selling milk, urine and gobar and for selling these for panchagavya. The farmers use the income generated out of selling these for doubling their income. The milk derived also feeds the farmer's family. The healthy bulls, he strongly believes must be involved in action on ground.

"Farmers need bulls for ploughing purposes and many of them still have to depend on the animal, in addition to modern machinery," Kathiria adds.

The value of bulls in this area is underused and underrated, according to him.

Next: temple-run gaushalas or gaushalas run by dharmic trusts will be helped in better functioning by distributing the work of dharma-backed care of the animal.

According to Kathira, temples and trusts should give the healthy cows and bulls to farmers, temple sevaks and individuals in need. "At temples, barring some for the temple's use — they must be given to the sevaks, the families of sevaks, and families and to people who need them and can afford to keep them. The milk can nourish the children in these families," he adds.

The aayog's policy-making will look into the laying of measures where farmers, individuals and sevaks can further strengthen the economic viability chain by using the panchagavya and channelising it towards making and selling of panchagavya-based products, towards cooperatives and industry. This will be done if they have a surplus of milk and gobar.

Bullish On Bull Protection

Healthy cows are adopted by the farmers and people in different sections of the society for panchagavya, which includes A2 milk — which is known for its nutritional value, and is specific to indigenous cow breeds. On the other side are bulls.

Kathiria plans to use bulls for contributing towards the yield of gobar that farmers and individuals can sell to the agri-based industries, for bio-fuel and fertiliser industry (three areas where Kathiria is focussing on for pointed policy-making). Bulls will be used for flexing muscle to help the farmer, in the agricultural sector, and for strengthening the economic model built around cattle wealth, to begin with.

As Kathiria is targeting more than 30 ministries for collaboration towards absorbing healthy cows and bulls, bulls will also be absorbed in programmes that stem from policies and guidelines from the aayog targeting these ministries — including the Ministry of Micro, Small and Medium Enterprises (MSME), External Affairs ministry, Commerce Ministry and Civil Aviation Miinistry.

Kathiria wants to build a system where the gaushala steps in for the ageing and/or ailing bulls — for their care and protection.

Sumati Mehrishi is Senior Editor, Swarajya. She tweets at @sumati_mehrishi 

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