SACRED COW OR CHEAP LEATHER?

There are an estimated 30,000 cattle living within the city limits of New Delhi, India. The owners of these animals have carried on the traditional form of cattle keeping found in rural India, which involves allowing them to roam free during the day and only returning home for milking. Around 99% of these are left to wander the city in search of their own food.Accidents, diseases and the deliberate abuse of the cattle is a daily challenge faced by these animals. In addition to this, there have, in the last few years, been some high-profile incidents of people being injured and even killed by cows protecting their calves or bulls protecting their mate. This, coupled with the fast-growing human population causing an increase in competition for the limited road and pavement space, has all led to the conclusion that these animals should be removed from the city once and for all.

A High Court order passed down to the Municipal Corporation of Delhi (MCD) three years ago decreed that all cattle found wandering loose in the city should be lifted and deposited in five Goshalas (cow shelters) situated around the capital.

On the face of things this sounds ideal – saving the cattle from a hard life on the streets, while removing the problem of cattle/human conflict in the process.

However, there has been a huge flaw in this plan– the Goshalas themselves are poorly managed, under-funded and, in some cases, utterly corrupt in their behaviour towards the cattle deposited with them.