69 years of Independence and there have been many changes that India has seen. In 1976, the Constitution was amended to include the word "secular" in the Preamble. In 1988, the voting age was reduced from 21 to 18. Free and compulsory education for children became a must from 2010. There is even a third gender now, and who knows India may still legalise same-sex sex.
But there is one crucial change that is just waiting to happen - India's national animal needs to be changed. The Panthera tigris tigris can no longer be the national animal of a peace-loving country like India. The tiger as a national animal in these times is akin to sacrilege. The beast is a carnivore and does not even stop at deer or buffalo...it eats beef.
How can India tolerate such an animal to be the symbol of the country? India needs a rational national animal that reflects its current sentiments, it should portray the attributes of our society and it should symbolise the very ideals that future Indians can look up to.
National animals can be changed as per requirement. It was changed in 1972 when the Asiatic Lion, also known as the Gir Lion, was replaced by the Royal Bengal Tiger as India's national animal.
It needs strength and fortitude to take such drastic measures and those very qualities defined India's Prime Minister Indira Gandhi in 1972. She had just won a decisive military and diplomatic victory over Pakistan, and India needed a more aggressive national animal than the lion. The choice fell on the tiger, for its power and aggression, and for the fact that while lions live in a sort of semi-captivity in one state of India, tigers roamed at least 16.
Now too, India has a strong leader at the helm, a person who has the ability and gumption to chart new routes. Recently, he even invoked Baluchistan from the ramparts of the Red Fort, something that was last done five centuries ago, by the foreign invader Akbar. So, if there is one person who can again change India's national animal, it is him (Narendra Modi not Akbar).
|If there is one person who can again change India's national animal, it is Narendra Modi.|
The question is which animal should it be? Which animal should have the honour of being India's national animal? It is not a difficult question to address because there is only one animal that fits the bill - the cow. It is humble, it gives milk, it is divine, it is vegetarian and when it moos, the milk doesn't curdle. Bharat Mata's chosen animal should be the gau mata.
Apart from all the other drawbacks of the tiger, like being a meat eater and having been chosen by a Gandhi, there is also the question of numbers. After 40-plus years of conservation, there are only a little over 2,000 tigers in India compared to more than 300 million cows, even after a minority population spent centuries eating them, which, numerically speaking, says a lot about the survival of the fittest.
Modi missed the momentous occasion of the Independence Day to declare the cow as the national animal. Apart from Baluchistan, such an announcement would have solved so many major issues. No one would eat beef because you can't eat a national symbol (no one eats a tiger). If a cow died, there would be a state funeral and there would be no threats of not clearing carcasses. In one fell swoop, India's Muslim and Dalit problems would have been neutralised.
The cow deserves more; it is currently the national animal in tiny Nepal where a new Constitution in September 2015 declared the cow to be the national animal of the new republic. But at the time, Ram Bharan Yadav was President. Now with the Maoist Prachanda having become prime minister, there is no saying whether he might make the rhino or some such lowly beast as Nepal's national animal.
Narendra Modi has a mandate to make India great, and India's greatness lies in recognising its ancient values. Modi and India need to raise the cow to its proper place; not only should the cow be India's national animal, there should be a campaign to make it the world animal.
In 2001 Pakistan made the Markhor its national animal - but the Markhor, is just a goat with a fancy name. Narendra Modi has to act fast because it would indeed be a sad day for the nation if Pakistan decided to make the cow its national animal before India.