It is largely our ability to empathise with others, that’s considered the greatest virtue of mankind. After all, that’s what makes us humane. However, as we have progressed more and more towards “civilisation”, it is our humanity that has slowly bid us farewell.
This is not a debate on Socialism vs Capitalism, but merely a comment, hopefully a sharp one at that, on how easily and comfortably we practice cruelty and then call it “business”. Animal cruelty is one thing that tops the list of human hypocrisy. On one hand, most of us strictly take a jibe at animal sacrificing, killing etc, on the other, we justify animal cruelty in the name of “survival”.
According to 2017 statistics, India is the world leader in milk production – a title it has proudly donned for the last 15 years. However, like other things, we excel in hypocrisy here as well. Our gau “mata’, who we preach outside in the streets, suffers not so secretively every day in the milk industry. Here’s a peeping in:
India’s dairy production
In 2016, the dairy industry of the country was worth INR 5,000 billion. We have been the world’s largest milk producer since the year 1997, leaving behind countries like the United States, China etc. Our agricultural minister, Radha Mohan Singh, revealed in a 2017 press conference that milk production had witnessed a growth of 19% in 2016-17, as compared to 2013-14.
Undoubtedly, India is the global giant in the dairy industry. It exports substantial amount of dairy products every fiscal year. Not just that, the demand for these products are also constantly increasing within the domestic boundaries. With such tremendous pressure on the industry, it is sadly of no surprise that animals are often treated in brutal ways to maximise the profits, as well as, to keep up with the demand.
How are the animals treated?
In November 2017, a country-wide study undertaken by a Pune animal protection group released its findings, and they were haunting to say the least. Most of the dairy producing units were found to be working in violation of Prevention of Cruelties to Animals (PCA) Act, 1960, Slaughterhouse Rules, 2002 etc.
Like humans, cows and buffaloes also produce milk for the nourishment of their offsprings. Hence, to maximise the amount of milk produced, they are regularly impregnated, many a times subjected to artificial insemination- that too by inexperienced people at work. Dozens of cows and buffaloes are kept in unhygienic tabelas. Naturally, many fall prey to severe health issues. But even then, proper medical facilities are not provided.
The calves are separated from their mother at a very young age, with the male calves facing an even more grim reality than the females. Most of them are sent off to the veal industry- some when they are barely a month-old. The female off-springs, on the other hand, are made to go through the same cycle that their mothers go through. The result of all these things combined is that, while in a natural, good environment, cattle may experience a life of 20 years, here, the life-span gets reduced to as short as four years. Once all the possible benefits have been obtained from the female cattle, even they are sent off to slaughterhouses in most cases.
Today, our nation stands both united and divided on several fronts- one them being religion. Cases of mob lynching for alleged beef eating have become dangerously common in the past few years. And, why? For one thing, cows are placed on a very high pedestal in the Hindu religion, often lovingly referred to as mata, meaning mother. And yet, the barbaric treatment of cows and buffaloes goes largely ignored, even when it is happening right under our noses!
India is among the world’s chief exporters of both beef and milk. However, while the former is frowned upon, the latter is boasted off with pride. Strange, when both the industries are often very closely linked. Consuming beef is considered to be a cardinal sin, but the very same people consume dairy products every day, unaware or ignoring the suffering that the animals go through.
“Either all lives are important, or none is.” It makes us no great saints if we condemn animal cruelty in one form, and then directly or indirectly support it in another. Subtle crimes are crimes, nonetheless.
What can we do to help?
The first step, is of course, to stop denying the brutal reality that stands in front of us, face to face. Supporting animal rights on one hand, and then ignoring the sheer brutality of the milk industry, leaves us at a terrible hypocritical place to be. Organisations like PETA suggest that the best way to solve, or at least, address the problem is to boycott any organisation that engages in the brutal treatment of these animals. A fall in demand is said to hopefully decrease the functioning of these units.
Turning our face away from the truth will not change it, but will only make us lose whatever hold we still have over our humanity.
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