Ma­mata’s Cowshala

Not to be out­done, now the Tri­namool plans to gift free bovines to poor farm­ers

India Today - - STATES - —Romita Datta

In West Ben­gal, Ma­mata Ban­er­jee is all set to com­man­deer the saf­fron monopoly over cows and their pro­tec­tion. Bent on prov­ing that cows can­not be teth­ered to gausha­las of a par­tic­u­lar po­lit­i­cal hue, the chief min­is­ter has de­cided to gift cows to poor farm­ers in her state.

The ob­jec­tive, of­fi­cials as­so­ci­ated with the ini­tia­tive say, is to help small and mar­ginal farm­ing fam­i­lies sup­ple­ment their in­comes by sell­ing milk and us­ing dung to pro­duce eco-friendly fuel and ma­nure for or­ganic farm­ing. “This will not only en­sure bet­ter liv­ing con­di­tions for the cat­tle pop­u­la­tion, but will gen­er­ate al­ter­na­tive em­ploy­ment op­por­tu­ni­ties for farm­ers, es­pe­cially in the un­for­tu­nate event of crop fail­ure,” said an agri­cul­ture depart­ment of­fi­cer.

Farm­ers in North 24 Par­ganas and Hooghly dis­tricts will re­ceive the first batches of the gift cows. And go­ing one

bet­ter than the Na­tional Gokul Mis­sion, where the Cen­tre and state share the cost of the an­i­mals given to farm­ers, Ma­mata’s gov­ern­ment will fully fund the state’s ‘Go­daan’ scheme. That’s not all. A most vo­cal critic of the Modi gov­ern­ment pro­posal to in­tro­duce Aadhaar-like tags for cows, Ma­mata’s gov­ern­ment is now work­ing on as­sign­ing UIDs (unique iden­ti­fi­ca­tion num­bers) to the state’s bovine pop­u­la­tion (this was ap­par­ently de­cided fol­low­ing a cow cen­sus in 2014).

Paschim­banga go sam­pad bikash sangstha, a state body un­der the an­i­mal re­sources de­vel­op­ment depart­ment, has hired 5,174 praanimitras (friends of an­i­mals) to tag the cows. Some 1.38 mil­lion cows have al­ready been as­signed UIDs.

“Our idea is to keep a count of the cows to im­prove bovine breeds and en­hance milk pro­duc­tion,” says an­i­mal re­sources de­vel­op­ment min­is­ter Swa­pan Deb­nath in­sist­ing that the TMC gov­ern­ment’s UID project was com­pletely dif­fer­ent from the Cen­tre’s Aadhaar tag pro­posal.

In fact, the two are al­most iden­ti­cal. Both en­tail doc­u­men­ta­tion of the breed, age, sex, height, hide colour, horn type and lac­ta­tion pro­file of each an­i­mal. Even the praanimitras em­ployed to do the job seem to be mod­elled on the 6,000-odd gau rakshaks en­listed by the RSS’s state cow pro­tec­tion cell.

Ma­mata is clearly in­tent on af­fect­ing cow-love, as if to say that when it comes to pro­tect­ing cows, the TMC is ‘holier’ than the BJP.


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