India is one country that has a sizeable number of people who worship cows. In fact, in India cows have been worshiped since ancient times. They have always enjoyed special status. Article 48 of Indian Constitution makes it obligatory for the State to stop the slaughter of cows and calves. So, it is not as if cows have only religious importance – they are constitutionally supported as well. Among all the animals in India, it seems to be in the best situation in that respect. However, now that the Indian Government – under the leadership of Narendra Modi – has decided to issue unique identification (UID) numbers for cows, the whole affair has taken a new turn altogether. It is a lot similar to the Aadhar Card.
Unique status of India in the world
With this step India is right now perhaps the only country in the world where an animal is being afforded governmental protection in spite of not facing the threat of extinction. As and when the idea materializes, each and every cow and buffalo and its family members will be given tags that contain 12 digit unique identification numbers. This will be done inside their ears. Incidentally, there are 88 million cows and buffaloes in India.
What is being done in different states?
Some states have already started the process of tagging the cows. In Jharkhand, more than 12,000 cows have been tagged with the UIDs. This is being done so that cows cannot be transported illegally any more. It is expected to better their milk yield and also keep a tab on their health. As may be expected, this has already started a debate on cow vigilantism across the country. The national government also informed the Supreme Court on April 24 that it would soon come up with identity tags that cannot be tampered with.
The new tags are expected to show a host of data such as the UID number and details on tails and horns. All this is being done in order to stop the smuggling of cows and other livestock animals to Bangladesh. The Jharkhand State Implement Agency for Cattle and Buffalo (JSIACB), which happens to be a division of the national government, was working on a pilot project where it aimed to tag its cattle with details like ones you see in Aadhar cards. This was being done in eight districts that may be mentioned as below:
How has the government approached the matter?
The Indian Government has already formed a committee being led by the Joint Secretary of the Union Home Ministry in order to execute the project. It has also come up with certain recommendations. The centre has said that each district in India should have shelter homes where at least 500 abandoned animals can be kept. It has also made clear that it is the responsibility of the respective state government to look after the animals. It was reported in January 2017 that the government had earmarked INR 148 crore for the project.
A report states that around 100,000 technicians have been trained and sent to every part of the country in order to execute the project. The tags are made of polyurethane and cannot be tampered with. They can last for many years and cannot be pried open with a wrench. One tag is just 8 grams and as such is expected to cause no issues for the cow or buffalo that has it. As soon as the tag is in place the owners will also be provided animal health cards where all the details of the said cow or buffalo, as well as its owner, will be given.