From the Viewsroom

A moo move here

M. Ramesh | Updated on: Jun 04, 2019
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The trio in the animal husbandry ministry must tread carefully

One thing that makes even a BJP-sympathiser — like this writer — wrinkle his nose and purse his lips is the vision of stick-wielding mobs roaming menacingly looking for people harming cows. There is something morally repugnant about milking an animal dry and then cutting it up for its meat, but the preferred method of opposing it is moral suasion rather than swishing staves. The responsibility of seeing that it does not happen lies with the incumbent government. Which is why an aspect of the new cabinet of ministers is a cause for unease.

There is a political message in the carve-out of a new ministry to oversee animal husbandry and dairying — the Modi government intends to take protecting cows seriously. The new ministry has a cabinet minister and two junior ministers. The profiles of these three are just a bit disconcerting.

The cabinet minister, Giriraj Singh, the MP from Begusarai, who has just earned his spurs by defeating Kanhaiya Kumar of JNU fame by four lakh votes, is also remembered for something else — his call for Hindus to increase their tribe. Maybe there is wisdom in a community making bedroom investments for future demographic dividends, but such a call cannot come from a mature politician. The two ministers of state in the new ministry are Sanjeev Balyan and Pratap Sarangi. Balyan, who got better of his RLD rival Ajit Singh by just 6,500 votes, is the man who famously called out for bringing to ‘justice’ the others who ate Mohammad Akhlaq’s cow. Sarangi, reputed to be an austere do-gooder, has his name mixed with Bajrang Dal, an outfit not known for reasonable conduct.

There is much the three can do in animal husbandry and dairying as India — already the world No.1 in milk production — cruises towards the target of 254 million tonnes by 2022, from around 180 mt now, and cattle has a key role in doubling farmers’ income. But if the three set themselves upon beefing up protection for the cows, it would be a wasted opportunity.

Published on June 04, 2019

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