Just a few days back one of the cows at our Prerna Kendra delivered a male calf. My colleague called me to inform about the birth of it. Everyone there was waiting for the cow to deliver and as usual each one was expecting a female calf. My colleague was sad to inform me about the birth of male calf. Human being are very ‘matlabi’ or selfish as in the so called civilised world, they celebrate the birth of the boy but in the animal kingdom particularly of those whose milk we use without their permission, actually, we feel highly disturbed of a male calf.
In the olden days it was not an issue as most of the male calf would be used as an Ox for ploughing but now with mechanisation male calf are unwanted as farmers are not in a position to take care of them. With fast disappearing meadows and high cost of fodder, it is impossible for farmers to keep male calf without its usage. So most of the time the farmers leave those male calf and it become nuisance particularly for the crop as they damage it.
With the cattle markets coming to virtually stand still, farmers will have to suffer more unless government come out clearly as what is its idea. We are hearing that the government want Adhar Card for cows. I don’t know who has been giving such fantastic ideas to government. Cows are definitely not endangered species and if sale and purchase of cows are risky then this is a conspiracy against farmers to leave this occupation voluntarily and then allow the likes of M/s Ambanis and Adanis to take over. The problem with them is that they want to occupy every small thing which were part of the unorganised sector or informal sector work.
If a farmer want to sale old cow or buffaloes to buy new one, it has become impossible now.
After lots of thoughts, three years ago, I thought of starting a diary and purchased several cows and a buffalo. The number has now grown to 15 in three years though we are still not able to have enough milk to survive. As part of our initiative to empower the most marginalised communities like Mushahars, Kalandars, we started these animals of share basis as per the normal practice in the village. Which means after the cow or buffalo’s deliver their babies or when they are about it, the villager find out the possible price of the cattle which is then divided equally between the owner and the person who took care of it. That way, a Mushahar family could earn between 20,000 to 30,000 for taking care of one cow or buffalo which they could use for their personal work. Most of them time, people use the money for the marriages of their children.
The cow which delivered the male calf was with a Mushahar family. It was waiting for the day. We asked them to find out and decide. I am shocked to inform you that the price of the cow which is now giving milk and delivered its first calf, was priced for Rs 20,000/- which means they will only get Rs 10,000/-. It is disturbing that so many families depending on these cattles are facing the brunt of the idiocies of the politics in the name of cows. We decided that we will try to help out the family through our own ways and will not go by market logic at the moment.
A few months back, we had lost a cow. We fed it for nearly one month when her condition was bad. Villagers use to come, worship her. When she died, we buried her with all our best effort. It need nearly one quintal of salt during the process.
Rearing cattles are difficult but they were part of empowering processes to the communities. Government should promote it but at the same point of time if there is no market for them, the farmers will commit suicide as it is very difficult to maintain them.
The fodder cost is too high while the milk in the village is still Rs 25/- per liter.
There are big gaushalas of Babas and mutths. They get huge donation in the name of cows. The devotees send them fodder but if the government want to help farmers, promote cooperatives, it must not only allow sale and purchase of them but provide subsidies in fodder as well as buy the product. The government must further decide as what should be done with the male calf. Should the people leave them as is happening these days. If not then what is the option ? We must understand where is the space for keeping these animals if their sale purchase is not allowed. Where should the farmer send their bulls and oxen or old cows. May be the government can think of old age homes for these animals as it will be beyond the strength of people to feed them in these times of heavy inflation when everything has to be procured from the market.