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Friday, Sep 20, 2019

Cow does not represent regressive past, says PM

Modi, who began his visit to Mathura with gau puja, used the occasion to push the theme of “waste to wealth,” said Centre was trying to maintain a balance between nature and economic development.

india Updated: Sep 12, 2019 00:04 IST
HT Correspondents and Agencies
HT Correspondents and Agencies
Mathura
Prime Minister Narendra Modi feeds a cow as he visits the animal health fair “Pashu Vigyan Evam Arogya Mela” in Mathura.
Prime Minister Narendra Modi feeds a cow as he visits the animal health fair “Pashu Vigyan Evam Arogya Mela” in Mathura. (PIB)
         

Prime Minister Narendra Modi launched a nationwide cattle vaccination campaign on Wednesday in the holy town of Mathura, invoking mythological references to stress the need for balancing economic imperatives and the environment, and took a swipe at critics who, he said, believed that the gau (cow) represented a regressive past, drawing a swift riposte from the Opposition.

“Cattle wealth has always played a pivotal role in the rural economy, yet there are those who believe that the words ‘om’ and ‘gau’ would take the nation back to the 16th-17th century. People with such a mindset have damaged the country a lot,” Modi said after launching the Rs.12,652-crore National Animal Disease Control Programme.

The campaign is aimed at vaccinating cattle to eradicate the foot and mouth disease (FMD) and brucellosis, a bacterial infection, among livestock. Over 500 million livestock, including cattle, buffalo, sheep, goats and pigs, will be vaccinated against FMD. Thirty-six million female bovine calves will be vaccinated yearly in the fight against brucellosis.The programme has two components – to control the diseases by 2025 and eradicate them by 2030.

The campaign is linked to the National Democratic Alliance (NDA) government’s pledge to double farmers’ incomes by 2022. It was one of a raft of initiatives Modi launched on Wednesday which included the National Artificial Insemination Programme, ‘Swachhta Hee Seva’ {sanitation is service} to phase out single-use plastic, and the Startup Grand Challenge aimed at encouraging young entrepreneurs.

“Sights that made me very sad,” Modi wrote on a Twitter post. “At the Pashu Arogya Mela {animal health fair} in Mathura, saw cows being operated and heaps of plastic being removed from their bodies.This is deplorable and should inspire us to work towards reduced and careful plastic usage.”

Modi, who began his visit to Mathura with gau puja (cow worship) and used the occasion to push the theme of “waste to wealth,” said his government was trying to maintain a balance between nature and economic development.

Greeting the audience in Mathura, which is supposed to be the abode of Krishna, with the local salutation of “Radhey Radhey”, the prime minister said: “The Brajbhoomi has always been inspiring the entire world and humanity. Today the entire world is searching for a role model for conservation of global environment.

“But India has a source of inspiration like Lord Krishna, who cannot be imagined without his love for the environment.” The prime minister launched the ‘Swachhta Hi Seva’ programme with focus on reducing the use of single-use plastic, saying “imbibing cleanliness in our lives will be the best tribute to Mahatma Gandhi”.

In connection with his remarks on how the words ‘om’ and ‘gau’ trigger alarm among some sections in India, Modi cited the example of Rwanda, which he said had a unique programme under which the government gives cows to villages with the condition that the first female calf born to the cow is given to those who do not have one.

“It is unfortunate that in our country the moment the word ‘om’ falls on the ears of some people, they get alarmed (“baal khadhe ho jaate hain’’),” he said.

“They also get alarmed by the word ‘cow’. They feel as if that the country has gone back to the 16-17th century. This type of knowledge has only been used by people hell-bent on damaging the country and they have left no stone unturned to do so,” Modi said, without naming anyone.

The Opposition hit out at the prime minister, with the Congress saying he was attempting to shift the focus away from declining economic growth. Others referred to attacks on suspected cattle smugglers and cattle traders by so-called cow vigilantes.

“I find him today speaking not on the economy but on cow and om. Somebody else speaks on how the Congress is doing. Is that the answer to the economy which I am raising, that is exactly divert, digress -- two Ds,” Congress spokesperson Abhishek Singhvi said.

Nationalist Congress Party MP Majeed Memon said Modi, being the prime minister of a secular country, should not refer to religious matters too often. “He is not a dharm guru... the PM must make it very clear that ‘I as the head of the government would not tolerate anybody, in the name of religion, in the name of om or cow, taking law in their hands’,” Memon said.

First Published: Sep 12, 2019 00:04 IST