Why an Indian Hindu Group Wants a Ministry of Cows – India Real Time – WSJ

Cows have long held a sacred place in India’s society, revered as holy by the country’s predominantly Hindu population. If one group gets its way they might soon have a government department devoted to their interests too.

The cow-protection unit of the right-wing Hindu group Vishva Hindu Parishad (World Hindu Council) is urging Prime Minister Narendra Modi to form a dedicated ministry for the preservation and protection of cows.

“Gou mata (mother cow) is the symbol of life, soul of our culture. She is not being given enough importance,” an official at the Bharatiya Govansh Rakshan Samvardhan Parishad (Indian Cattle Protection and Promotion Council), who didn’t wish to be named, said.

He said the “whole idea is to save the cows from getting killed.” Rearing cows will also increase milk production in the country, he added.

Slaughter of bovines has long been a fraught issue in India, but a renewed push to protect the animals came after a Hindu mob killed a Muslim man in the town of Dadri, 31 miles from New Delhi last September over rumors that he butchered a cow. The murder unleashed a wave of violence and sparked a debate over religious intolerance in the country.

There is no central law on cattle slaughter in India, though various states have introduced their own rules since Mr. Modi took power. A number of states have also tightened restrictions on the consumption of beef.

Minority groups, including around 170 million Muslims, have expressed concern over the clampdown.

The official from the Indian Cattle Protection and Promotion Council said members of his organization plan to meet ministers and members of Mr. Modi’s ruling Bharatiya Janata Party to ask them to take up the issue of a separate cow ministry in the upcoming monsoon session of Parliament, which begins in July.

“Our goal is to restore cows of bharatiya (Hindu) breed back to the country’s economy,” he added.Despite the various bans, India is the world’s largest exporter of beef, according to the U.S. Department of Agriculture. India exported 2.4 million tons of beef last year, compared with 2 million tons by Brazil. India alone accounts for nearly 24% of global beef exports.

India has also ranked first among the world’s milk-producing nations since 1998, according to India’s department of animal husbandry, dairying and fisheries. Milk production in India during the period has gone up from 17 million tons in 1950 to 146.3 million tons till last year, it said.

Source: Why an Indian Hindu Group Wants a Ministry of Cows – India Real Time – WSJ

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