Haryana minister rewarding boxing champions with desi cows is a sign of our times

India’s bovine fixation peaked, and then some.

 |  3-minute read |   01-12-2017
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The future is now cow.

India’s bovine fixation peaked, and then some, when Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) leader and Haryana minister Om Prakash Dhankar, on November 30, announced that the six medallists from the state — feted at the Boxing Youth World Championships held in Guwahati between November 19 and 26 — would be rewarded with one Indian breed cow each.

While the athletes did the state and the nation proud as they bagged four gold medals and two bronze ones, it was Dhankar, the minister for animal husbandry and dairy in Haryana government and president of the Boxing Haryana Association, who stole the show and the nation’s heart when he announced the state’s reward for the six athletes – Nitu, Jyoti, Sakshi, Shashi, Anupama and Neha Yadav – at a felicitation ceremony in Rohtak.

Dhankar, who is the same mastermind who announced earlier this year that his government would set up “PG hostels” on 50-100 acres of land in major towns in Haryana for cattle in order to aid the people living in these urban areas to rear cows and produce milk, educated the audience about the benefits of cow’s milk.

haryana_120117035438.jpgPhoto: Reuters

“[Unlike buffalo’s milk] cow’s milk contains less fat and is beneficial for boxers… A cow is very active, while a buffalo sleeps most of the time,” Dhankar told The Indian Express, adding, “Haryana main kehte hain, haanga chahiye toh bhains ka doodh, aur khoobsarti aur dimag chahiye, toh gai ka doodh (They say in Haryana that if you want power, drink buffalo milk; and if you want beauty and brains, drink cow’s milk). These boxers have done the country proud at the world level and we want them to excel more.”

Gone are the days when athletes were rewarded with cash, land and government jobs. The gift of cattle tops them all. Of course, Dhankar does have other reasons that go beyond his love for the animal. When asked if all sports achievers from the state would receive cows in future, Dhankar said: “That is up to the sports department. I can give what I have. If somebody has honey, he will give them honey. If somebody has ghee, he will give them ghee. I am the agriculture minister, and I can give the girls cows. I am also the president of the Haryana Boxing Association, and we want all these boxers to win more medals at the world level.”

The real question, however, is what exactly would the athletes do with cattle, should they even want it to begin with. Nitu, the 17-year-old winner of gold in the 48kg category, said: “I have been given various prizes, ranging from religious idols to books, apart from cash prizes. But I have never been gifted a cow, and this is a gift I will cherish. Last year, I read in the newspapers that Rio Olympics bronze medallist Sakshi Malik was given a cow made of silver. But getting a real cow is a treasure for my family. Sometimes when we travel, my mother packs pinnis (sweets), made with store-bought ghee. But we will now have pinnis from homemade ghee.”

Not everyone shared her enthusiasm though. Pushpa Devi, the mother of 18-year-old Shashi Chopra, who won gold in the 57kg category, said: “We used to have a cow about two years ago. We used to keep it at our neighbour’s plot of land, but had to sell it when he told us to vacate the site. We do not have space, or, for that matter, people at home to take care of it.”

Whatever be the case, Dhankar does set an example for the whole nation. Cows are everything.

Also read: Modi waxing eloquent as usual, this time at Madame Tussauds

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