The VHP has promised that it will struggle to get cow slaughter banned in Goa. The organisation says that it is capable of imposing a total ban on cow slaughter, with another organisation, Bajrang Dal. How can an organisation claim to be able to impose a ban? Is it a constitutional organisation? Does it have the power to tell people what to do and what not to do? This is highly disturbing.
Whether you acknowledge the existence of cow vigilantism or not, is another matter, but there is certainly an increased aggression towards “protecting” the cow. Again, whether you justify them or not, there have been attacks on people because they were suspected of either selling cows for slaughter or slaughtering them themselves.
Of course animals shouldn’t be slaughtered for food and as our society evolves more and more people will realise that there is no need to consume meat. But this will happen slowly. Even my father considers vegetarianism stupid. Although he no longer uses this argument but he used to say that if we don’t eat animals the animals will eat us.
My 11-year-old daughter is very adamant about not allowing anybody to eat meat in the family and perhaps since he always wants to be in her good books he doesn’t oppose much when we visit our parents and my daughter doesn’t allow meat to be cooked there.
There must be millions of cows on Indian roads in a totally neglected state. You can find them by the roadsides or simply roaming around. People chase them away. Sometimes they are hit so hard that they get wounded. Sometimes the get hit by vehicles and nobody bothers. What I’m trying to say is, we’re not as sensitive towards cows as we are made out to be.
I would also like to add here that many among these cows are actually not stray cows — they are released by their owners because cows are considered good at finding their way back home. So they roam around throughout the day eating garbage and whatever they can find and in the evening when they go home, their owner’s milk them and then sell that milk. So it is practically free milk for them. But one wonders what sort of milk that might be.
Of course there are organisations who serve cows with great dedication and religiosity. But then there are many organisations that take care of animals in general. I have personally seen Friendicose members dedicatedly taking care of sick, destitute and injured animals within whatever means they have got. In smaller towns you may see people coming out of their houses and feeding cows chapatis, but given the sense of holiness attached to the animal, the condition is not as good as it should be.
Organisations like VHP never make loud calls to save the cow in the streets. A confrontational posturing like a call to ban cow slaughter is more glamorous and controversial rather than simply saying that we should save destitute and stray cattle and even if we cannot put them in cow shelters, then at least create enough awareness among people to treat cows on the roads kindly and with care. Mobile clinics should be set up so that if someone sees an injured or sick cow he or she can call up a helpline and then appropriate help can be given to that cow.
Unfortunately most of the political parties go for shorter routes. If we are sensitised towards cows automatically we won’t like to kill them for food.
So instead of calling for bans organisations like VHP, Bajrang Dal and to a larger scale even the RSS, should carry out awareness campaigns educating people about the usefulness of keeping the cow alive rather than eating it. Pamphlets should be distributed that tell people why Hindus consider cows holy. Various local bodies should be formed that take care of stray cows by providing them food and water and ensuring their safety. Small skits about the importance of saving the cow can be prepared during Hindu festivals and kids and youngsters can perform these skits.
Only when these steps are taken we will have the moral right to call for the ban on cow slaughter, otherwise, it all seems hogwash.