Their wonder drink: the politics of promoting urine

  • HT Correspondent, Hindustan Times, New Delhi
  • Updated: May 05, 2015 20:05 IST

Union minister Nitin Gadkari isn't the first political leader to suggest an unusual use for urine: that honour belongs to former prime minister Morarji Desai, who shocked millions round the world by advocating urine therapy as a cure for myriad ills.

Gadkari, a senior leader of the ruling Bharatiya Janata Party, was the

butt of jokes

on social media on Tuesday after he


people to use urine to grow bigger plants.

In 1978, the late Desai caused consternation when he described urine as the "water of life" and spoke about the benefits of drinking urine. Desai, who was 82 at the time, attributed his longevity to drinking urine twice every day.

There are others who have propounded on the benefits of urine, whether from humans or cows.

Promoting cow urine is a priority for the Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh (RSS), the BJP's ideological mentor and Madhya Pradesh-based promoters of medicines produced using cow urine or 'gau-mutra' have been hoping that the BJP government at the Centre will help their business.

The RSS has also been promoting a soft drink made from cow urine, mixed with ingredients such as aloe vera and gooseberry, to fight diseases. "Cow urine offers a cure for around 70 to 80 incurable diseases like diabetes. All are curable by cow urine," said Om Prakash, part of the RSS's cow protection department, said in 2009.

Some people consider cow urine to have medicinal properties and several ayurvedic units produce medicines containing it.

Scientists at some of India's premier labs in Nagpur have also been scientifically studying whether cow urine can cure infections and cancers. The Council of Scientific and Industrial Research (CSIR) has collaborated with the Go Vigyan Anusandhan Kendra, Nagpur, to study cow urine distillate for its antioxidant and bio-enhancing properties, parliament was informed.

The latest research was on 'Panchagavya', the collective name for five cow products and byproducts that include urine, milk, yoghurt, ghee and dung.

Since 2002, India has got four US patents on medicines containing anti-oxidants from cow urine, and one of them is commercially available.

In 2012, the BJP's central cow development cell said in a statement: "The urine of the cow is the abode of the Ganges…Cow dung is a purifier of impurities…The cow and cow dung are lifelines of the nation."

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