There is a lot of debate recently around the protection of cow. But what all initiatives & schemes are the Central & State governments implementing to protect & promote the Cow & other milch cattle? Here is a review
Cow is revered by millions of Hindus as a sacred animal. However, implementation of cow slaughter laws, alleged lynching of persons on the pretext of cow slaughter have been the talking points around the Cow in the recent years.
The Indian Constitution authorises the States to make laws with respect to preservation, protection, and improvement of stock and prevention of animal diseases, veterinary training and practice, since these items are in the State list. The Directive Principles of State Policy in Article 48 of the Constitution ask the state to take steps for preserving and improving breeds, as well as prohibiting the slaughter of cows, calves, and other milch and draught cattle. Accordingly, many states have enacted legislations related to the slaughter of cows.
It has even been acknowledged in the parliament that there have been reports of cattle rearers abandoning their milch cattle and bulls as stray animals when they stop producing milk. In this story, we look at legislations, schemes and other important state intervention with respect to the cow & other milch cattle.
All states except five have laws regulating the slaughter of cows
As per a response by the central government in the Rajya Sabha in July 2019, all States/UTs except Arunachal Pradesh, Kerala, Meghalaya, Mizoram, Nagaland, and Lakshadweep have their own legislations on slaughter of cows. As the government acknowledged in the parliament, there are reports of cattle rearers abandoning their milch cattle and bulls as stray animals when they stop producing milk. Since slaughter of cow is legally prohibited, the only way out is to have separate schemes and set up facilities to nurture the abandoned bovines. Similar schemes are being implemented in many states.
Many States have schemes to protect stray Cattle
Goa is implementing ‘The Goa Stray Cattle Management Scheme, 2013’, under which financial assistance is given to panchayats, municipalities, Animal Welfare Organisations (AWOs), and Goshalas to look after stray cattle. In May this year, the Himachal Pradesh government gave nod to launch ‘Rehabilitation of Stray Cattle in Himachal Pradesh’ scheme through which individuals and organisations are encouraged to adopt the stray bovines while cow sanctuaries and gau sadans are provided with assistance of Rs. 500 per cow. Rajasthan, the only state to have had a Gopalan ministry or ministry dedicated to cow, a surcharge of 10% on stamp duty was announced which would be utilized for the conservation and propagation of cow and its progeny in 2014. A similar cess is also being levied in Punjab.
Meanwhile, in Uttar Pradesh which has the largest livestock population in the country, the government introduced the Mukhya Mantri Be-sahara Gau-Vansh Sahbhagita Yojana in 2019 under which the government would handover over one lakh bovines in the government run shelters to the farmers or general public who wish to take care of them, and for this, the government would transfer Rs. 30 per animal each day. Additionally, budget allocations have also been made for strengthening gaushalas in the state. The government of Haryana provides feed and fodder, and shelter to the helpless animals using the funds under the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals Act.
Gaushalas and shelter homes being made for abandoned cows and other bovines
The Central Government does not have an explicit scheme for setting up Gaushalas for cattle. The scheme, ‘Provision of Shelter House for looking after animals in distress’ is being implemented through Animal Welfare Board of India, under which NGOs and AWOs are given financial assistance for establishing shelter houses. Between 2016-17 and 2018-19, a total of Rs. 9.4 crore was provided for the same. Sanctions have been given for projects in Uttar Pradesh to establish labs with Embryo Transfer Technology and In- Vitro Fertilization so as to use unproductive animals which have an intact reproductive system as surrogate mothers.
Milk production enhancement and encouragement of indigenous species breeding being pushed
Governments, both at national level as well as the state level, are implementing schemes to improve milk production, encourage breeding of indigenous species, and to utilize the products from cows. The state government of Tamil Nadu distributes milch cows for free. Similarly, the Maharashtra government gives subsidies under the ‘Navinypuarn’ Scheme to purchase milch cattle. Goan government implements the ‘Pashupalan’ scheme to encourage cross breeding of cows and buffaloes to increase milk production. Even Haryana implements a scheme for indigenous cattle development. The Government of Telangana also launched a milch cattle distribution scheme in 2018.
At the national level, the National Programme for Bovine Breeding & Dairy Development (NPBBDD), Rashtriya Gokul Mission, National Kamdhenu Breeding Centre, National Dairy Plan-I, Central Herd Registration Scheme, Central Cattle Breeding Farms, and Central Frozen Semen Production & Training Institute, Bangalore are being implemented to promote and protect indigenous bovines and increasing milk production. Progeny testing and pedigree selection of bulls, artificial insemination, strengthening of bull mother farms, establishment of breeding centres and cow sanctuaries, are the other initiatives.
Research on Panchagavya gritha
Cow dung, cow urine, cow milk and other byproducts of cow’s milk such as ghee, and curd- together known as Panchagavya Ghritha, is widely used in Ayurveda. Questions in parliament on whether such products can be used for treatment of cancer has been raised earlier. In fact, amidst the pandemic there were several outlandish claims such as cow dung would save people from the coronavirus.
Scientific research on ‘Prime-products from indigenous cows for medicine and health’ involving Central Council for Research in Ayurvedic Science (CCRAS) under the Ministry of AYUSH is being promoted by the government under the inter- Ministerial ‘Scientific Utilization through Research Augmentation – Prime Products (Panchagavya) from Indigenous Cow’. Entrepreneurship development and employment generation (EDEG) is a component under the National Livestock Mission under which an effective animal waste management– for the utilization of cow dung and cow urine was introduced in 2018-19. These schemes are being implemented through NABARD.
Eco-friendly Cow products promotion for Diwali
Chhattisgarh government recently launched the ‘Godhan Nyay Yojana’ where the state government would procure cow dung from livestock owners and use it for the producing organic fertilizers, according to the Hindu. Relevant allocation has been made in the state budget. Following the response received for the ‘Gaumaya Ganesha Campaign’ promoting the usage of eco-friendly material to make idols for the Ganesh Festival, the Rashtriya Kamdhenu Aayog, which was constituted by the government for conservation, preservation, protection, and development of cows and their progeny, has launched a campaign, ‘Kamdhenu Deepawali Abhiyan’ to encourage the use of cow dung or the panchgavya products during Diwali for making Diyas, Candles, idols, and other products. The goal is to reach 11 crore families and light 33 crore Diyas made of cow dung.
A question on whether the government has received any proposal to declare cow as a national animal was raised in the Lok Sabha in 2017. However, the Ministry of Home Affairs responded by saying that no such proposal was received.
Featured Image: Initiatives for Cow