What if cow instead of tiger is declared the national animal of India?

The Parliament Secretariat will have to decide if passing the amendment by a voice vote saying 'the gais have it, the gais have it' will be appropriate.

 |  4-minute read |   01-06-2017
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"Tyger Tyger (will no longer be) burning bright'' in India if Rajasthan High Court's suggestion to the Centre to cancel the big cat's status as India's national animal is followed.

Justice Mahesh Chand Sharma, who retired on Wednesday, felt that the cow should be declared as India's new national animal. The irony of a judge from India's Pink City handing over the pink slip to the tiger was not lost on anyone.

It should be by now clear to the rest of the animal kingdom that the Indian cow's docile appearance is deceptive and that it is politically better connected than the rest.

More so after the BJP's impressive victory in Uttar Pradesh this year, where Yogi Adityanath, who wears his love for cows in his gaushala on his kurta sleeve, became chief minister.

The state is also home to Vrindavan, seen as the mythological kingdom of the cattle class since the cow was Lord Krishna's pet.

The judge's suggestion was also in line with over one lakh representations received by the Union government within the first year of the BJP coming to power in Delhi. Those batting for the cow's elevation pointed out that cattle smuggling into Nepal and Bangladesh from various states of India is rampant and the latest gazette notification on cattle slaughter is seen as the first step in the effort to control it.

Suggestions also came in to set up a cow protection task force on the lines of anti-terrorism squads in state police forces. It will be a huge task given that according to the 2012 livestock census, India is home to 122.9 million cows.

An online poll was also carried out by Haryana health minister Anil Vij on Twitter in October 2015, in which over 80 per cent of respondents felt that the tiger should retire and make way for the cow. Vij also argued that while the tiger can protect itself, the cow needs protection. The learned minister obviously has not heard of poachers in the wild.

"Once cow is made the national animal, there would not be any laws required for its protection,'' he had said then. The law of the land, Vij perhaps feels, will give Z plus category protection to the cow.

cow1_060117125002.jpgPerhaps the law of the land will give Z plus category protection to the cow.

This would mean the National Security Guards rulebook will have to be amended by Parliament as the NSG commandos guarding the cow can no longer be called black cats, as that would be rubbing salt over the cat family's wounds.

The Parliament Secretariat will have to decide if passing the amendment by a voice vote saying "the gais have it, the gais have it'' will be appropriate.

Animal rights activists however feel nothing will change even if this gau mata of all palace coups takes place. "It will make zero difference. This symbolism means nothing. It is not as if tigers have flourished as a result of having the national animal status and even now you have peacocks getting poisoned,'' says NG Jayasimha, managing director of Humane Society International (India).

People for Cattle in India feels that according such an elevated status to the cow will make matters worse. "It will make it communal and the cow will be targeted,'' says G Arun, activist with the People for Cattle in India. "There are states in India where cow slaughter is not banned and to protest this, Kannur kind of instances will happen where cows and calves will be killed. A national ban on cow slaughter is what is needed.''

The fear, however, could be that some state governments like Kerala and Bengal will not accept the cow as the national animal and may instead choose to maintain status quo with the tiger.

The only option then for the Centre will be to take the bull by its horns and declare that animal who defies the gazette notification as anti-national and let it stray across the Line of Control into Pakistan.

A cartoon in the Bangalore Mirror summed up the feeling of insecurity in the animal kingdom. It showed two peacocks watching a crow saying "cow, cow" with concern as they are worried that this is his best chance to become the national bird. Seems like it is appraisal season there as well.

Also read: Make cow the national animal of India

Writer

TS Sudhir TS Sudhir @iamtssudhir

The writer is a journalist.

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