New Delhi, June 1: The ongoing social, political and economic turmoil over cow (gau mata) is one of India's most vexed issues, probably next only to the crisis looming large in Jammu and Kashmir.
The current debate over cow revolves around various controversial and equally confusing facts. First, the slaughter of cow for the purpose of meat and other industries, primarily leather.
Since cow is closely associated with the Hindu religion and is considered sacred, there is almost a blanket ban on slaughter of the animal across the country, except for Kerala and most parts of the Northeast India.
Unlike cow, such a large-scale ban on slaughter of other cattle like buffalos and bulls are not pan-India. However, as soon as the ministry of environment recently imposed various restrictions on sale of cattle, including cows, buffaloes and camels, at animal markets across India, experts say such "harsh" rules won't allow sell and thus slaughter of any cattle.
The second battle surrounding the cow is the rise in violence in the name of protection of the "holy" animal carried out by gau rakshaks or cow vigilantes. The third point regarding cow which the nation is passionately debating about (especially our news studios in Delhi) is whether it should be made the national animal or not?
Of late, several well-known personalities, including controversial spiritual leader Gurmeet Ram Rahim had asked Prime Minister Narendra Modi to declare cow as the national animal.
On Wednesday, when a Rajasthan High Court judge, Mahesh Chandra Sharma, on his last day at work, recommended the Centre to make cow the national animal, the topic once again came under spotlight.
However, if we look back, India only once changed its national animal from lion to tiger. Back in 1970s, the then PM Indira Gandhi changed the national animal from lion to tiger on ground that tigers were found all over India and lions were restricted only to Gujarat.
The experts took the decision to give tiger the coveted position of being the national animal as it needed to be protected. Thus, the then government also launched Project Tiger.
Now, do we need to change India's national animal once again to cow to protect the animal population (although latest livestock census shows rise in cow population) or provide better care to the animal or just to pacify the majority?
It's a call the Modi government has to take soon.