| An artist gives final touches to a tableau of the animal husbandry department ahead of Republic Day celebrations in Bhopal on Friday. (PTI)
Bhopal, Jan. 24: Under Uma Bharti’s rule, it’s advantage cows in the land of the tiger.
The new chief minister, who believes the quadruped is the remedy to all problems, chaired a high-powered meeting today that unanimously agreed to implement her vision of Madhya Pradesh as a cow state.
The proposals adopted today provide for a gaushala (cowshed) for every cluster of 10-12 villages. The state has approximately 52,000 villages.
These gaushalas would stand on government aid though a task force has promised to make the project “self-reliant” in three months. The task force has made several recommendations, like deploying thousands of daily wagers as gau sevaks (caretakers). The agro-based products from the gaushalas would be exempted from taxes.
Soon after taking over, Uma had announced that about 28,000 daily wagers sacked by the Digvijay Singh regime would be brought back.
Uma said these gaushalas would be established on the banks of rivers and would help promote heritage tourism. The chief minister said her source of inspiration was Holland — known for its milk and milk-products — where dairies were invariably located near waterbodies. “The cows are so well-fed and looked after there that they often sing,” said a beaming Uma.
Her associates said India is no stranger to a “cow-based economy”. The cow is the foundation of one of the greatest economies in the world, said the policy paper of the new regime pointing out that almost all basic necessities of life can be met by cattle.
In the rural areas of Madhya Pradesh, for instance, the bullock pulls the plough, manures the land with its dung and feeds on the leftover stalks of cereal crops. Without them, Madhya Pradesh would need lakhs of tractors — in place of only the thousands it has — to bring all its acres of arable land under mechanised farming.
Moreover, the problem of farming does not solve itself by employing tractors. Fewer bullocks mean less manure and a need for tonnes of fertilisers. This demand can be met by increasing the bovine population, which in 1997 stood at around one crore sixty-seven lakh. Uma has already ordered a fresh headcount.
Turning to food, the protagonists of a cow-based economy said the government spends huge amounts of money on insecticides, pesticides and even air-conditioned godowns to preserve foodgrain. Still, the results are often far below expectation.
They pointed out that the cheapest and most secure method of food preservation is to mix equal quantities of the ash of cow-dung cakes and foodgrain and store it in containers. Cow dung ash is germicidal and absorbs moisture.
Thus, if there are enough cows and rationing and controls are removed, people can store foodgrain for almost two years by themselves, solving the food preservation problem.
The serious implementation of a cow-based economy would reflect on housing and employment too. The choice of a house depends on several considerations like finance and climate. Therefore, a practical way would be to provide cowdung reinforced mud-dwellings that are more suited to the climate, necessities and, most important, the finances of the people.
While cement structures demand costly repairs in about five years, the only maintenance the dung-mud dwellings need is a fresh coating of the mixture. Yet, such structures built two to three hundred years ago stand today.
Similarly, the severe power crisis in the state can be easily overcome if biogas plants are given a fresh impetus. There are over 1,200 villages in the state that do not have electricity and given their consumption pattern, biogas plants can meet their needs.