A naive and simple quadruple, the cow, exercises considerable influence in Indian politics, especially in BJP. Since primordial times its economic worth and religious significance have been acknowledged. That the predominance utility alone has assigned the cow the religious nuance in Hindu religion is very hard to believe.
This is because in India since ancient times a variety of birds, animals, and even reptiles are revered. They have also been associated with different deities indicating thereby a deep understanding of the inter-dependence of different species in the ecological system. The cow has been traditionally considered as ‘mother’.
Along with that, its slaughter has been discouraged. An effort to indicate any specific time or period as the beginning of the traditional cow worship in India would practically lie in the realms of speculation.
The holiness which is attached to the cow cannot be assigned to its economic worth alone. As a matter of fact, when it comes to faith, logic takes a break.
The cow has served as the ‘political symbol’ since the majority of Hindus have always considered an attack on cows as an attack on their religion, culture and political influence. The Muslim invaders in India who were determined to crush the prevailing Indian culture chose cow-slaughter as a means to humiliate the Hindu rulers and the common Hindu masses.
In turn, cow protection became a symbol of Hindu chauvinism. This cultural and religious enmity confounded with political rivalry continued throughout the medieval era in India. The Mughal period was no exception to this.
Nowadays, the upcoming party, BJP, has a special attachment to cows. If they could, they would even ban the eating of beef from hotels and restaurants all over India.
If the BJP-led government establishing a Rashtriya Kamdhenu Aayog in 2019 made one think that things have gone quite too far with India’s far-Right’s obsession with cows, then 2021 will convince him or her 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 came 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.
In fact, 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.
India stormed the neighborhood of Raisina Hill back in 1966. This happened when a Hindu mob led by ascetics tried to storm the Indian Parliament in an attempt to pressurize Prime Minister Indira Gandhi to criminalize cow slaughter. Not surprisingly, at the forefront of this movement were the Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh and Bharatiya Jana Sangha. It later metamorphosed into the Bharatiya Janata Party.
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. This is because it insists on anyone who has ever seen a cow to believe that it is special, divine, and much more than what meets the eye.
Here are some of the remarks made by BJP politicians about cows.
Shivraj Singh Chouhan said, “If we want, we can strengthen our own economy and make the country financially capable through cows, their dung, and urine. MP’s crematoriums have been using gaukasth (logs made of cow dung) to reduce the use of wood.” He added that veterinary doctors and experts should engage in result-oriented work on how cow rearing could become a profitable business for small farmers and livestock owners. He also tweeted, “Cows, their dung and urine can help strengthen the economy of the state and the country if a proper system is put in place.”
Another BJP MP, Sadhvi Pragya said that consumption of desi gai gau mutra ark (concentration of cow urine of indigenous cows) can cure lungs infection. She said that she had no fear of being affected by coronavirus because she consumes gau mutra daily.
The extent of human irrationality is boundless and to add an innocent animal to perpetuate that stupidity is criminal. But cows are center stage in Indian polity because Indian sentiment cannot be disengaged from religion.