After being the only state with a minister for cows, Rajasthan is now inculcating love for the bovine among its people.
As the first initiative in this direction, Jhalawar, chief minister’s constituency, has started a scheme in which people can pay ₹15,000 a year to adopt a cow at any of the 28 licensed cow shelters in the district.
Earlier, the state and the cow have hit headlines – be it the large number of cow deaths in Hingonia shelter in Jaipur, the state education minister’s remarks about cow being the only animal that inhales and exhales oxygen or Udaipur university planning to open a centre of excellence for research on cow urine.
Only last week, a cow vigilante group laid siege to a Jaipur hotel over beef rumours. In October last year, such groups attacked Banjara tribals who were transporting bulls. In May, a similar attack was reported from Chittorgarh.
The initiative in Jhalawar was taken last week at a meeting of the district-level committee for prevention of cruelty to animals, which was chaired by the collector. Till Tuesday, 11 people adopted a cow each in the Jhalawar city, which has some 250 stray cows.
“The chief minister in the last collector-SP conference had said that people in the state already do gau-seva (service to cows which implies giving food to them) but gau-prem (love for cows) should also be inculcated in them,” said collector Jitendra Kumar Soni.
The collector said the scheme would solve the problem of stray cows on the roads and save the gaushalas from extra pressure. The cow adopted will be tagged for identification for the ease of the adopter and the gaushala.
The idea behind the initiative is to establish a bond between a person and a cow. “Donating amount to gaushala is one thing, but knowing that your money is ensuring the well-being of a particular cow that you have adopted, is another,” said the collector.
Quarterly reports on the health of the cow will be sent to the adopter and the collector. People might also be inclined to visit their adopted cows with families on festivals such as Govardhan Puja, said Soni.
To incentivise adoption of cows, a gau-prem award will be given each year to the person adopting maximum cows in each block. The gaushala with the maximum adoptees will also be awarded. Every adopter will be given a certificate of appreciation.
“We made a rough calculation that the daily maintenance of a cow requires anything between ₹35-50. Accordingly, we fixed the yearly figure at ₹15,000. And people generally come forward and donate when it comes to cows,” the collector said.
Rajasthan has 2,185 registered gaushalas which tend to 6.68 lakh cows and oxen, according to figures of the state’s gopalan department. The livestock census of Rajasthan (2012) put the state’s cattle (cows and oxen) population at 1.33 crore, of which 1.15 crore are indigenous.
The state government last year launched the Bhamashah Livestock Insurance Scheme, which facilitates cattle raisers across the state to insure their cattle on subsidised premium rates.