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Human Welfare Before That Of Cows

Human Welfare Before That Of Cows

In response to the decision of the Raman Singh government of Chhattisgarh to begin an ambulance service for cows, the Hindustan Times wrote an editorial on August 2 under the caption, ‘Human welfare must be put before that of cows’. The editorial had pointed out that Chhattisgarh was ranked the lowest of all the states in India in Human Development Index (HDI) according to the Planning Commission’s Human Development Report of 2011. In fact the HDI of Chhattisgarh (0.358) is lower than that of countries such as South Sudan, Central African Republic and Burkina Faso, the countries that have the lowest human development index. Chhattisgarh has an Infant Mortality Rate (IMR) of 54 per 1000 live births whereas the national average is 39. Similarly the percentage of women with 10 or more years of schooling is an abysmal 29%. The editorial concluded with an appeal to the Raman Singh government to focus on the lives of the poorest humans of the state before investing much needed state resources in the setting up of ambulance service for cows.

United Nations Development Programme publishes every year Human Development Report (HDR) to measure the status of the nations in terms of human development. Economic growth need not automatically lead to the development of the people of a country. The governments should adopt policies in such a way that all sections of the people will be able to benefit from the economic growth. Therefore human development indicators are evolved based on health (Life expectancy at birth time) education (average years of schooling per person) and standard of living (gross national income, per unit of population). Accordingly the economists have evolved Human Development Indicators (HDI) to measure human development in a country as well as to compare the nations of the world in terms of human development. Thus the HDI is a summary measure of average achievement in key dimensions of human development: a long and healthy life, being knowledgeable and have a decent standard of living.

In spite of India being the fastest growing economy in the world, it slipped down one place from 130 to 131 among the 188 countries ranked in terms of human development according to the 2016 Human Development Report released by the United Nations Development Programme on March 22, 2017. It is ranked third among the SAARC countries, behind Sri Lanka and Maldives. The BJP governments both at the centre and the states, instead of focusing on the development of  people of India, are diverting the resources of the country to flimsy issues like beef ban, rewriting history, changing the names of the institutions and railway stations, providing Z security to god men and god women etc.

It is a fact that the North Indian states, where the cow vigilantism is hyper active, have the lowest human development indicators according to planning commission Human Development Report 2011: 1) Rajasthan (0.434), 2) Uttar Pradesh (0.380), 3) Jharkhand (0.376), 4) Madhya Pradesh (0.375), 5) Bihar (0.367) and 6) Chhattisgarh (0.358). On the other hand the South Indian states, where the issue of cow is not allowed to be whipped up, have comparatively high HDI. Kerala has the highest HDI (790). The six states have the lowest HDI ranking starting from 17 to 23.

A number of cases of human beings carrying dead body of their near and dear ones in the absence of ambulance have been reported from the cow belt during the last two years. It seems the governments of these states have money to spend on cows, but not on human beings. On August 5, a Jharkhand resident, Karan Singh was forced carry his son’s body after he was denied an ambulance service in Gumla. Newspapers had published the photo of him, carrying the body on his shoulder, followed by his weeping wife. In the same state, on July 10, a tribal Lakshman Oraon and his wife Sita Devi carried the dead body of his younger brother Rajendra Oraon from Sadar hospital in Chatra district of Jharkhand. When the family contacted the concerned staff and insisted on being provided an ambulance, they were allegedly asked to pay Rs 4,000. Unable to shell out the amount, Lakshman decided to carry the body.

Another incident of apathy towards the poor has come to the fore in Banda in Uttar Pradesh where a corpse was carried to the hospital for postmortem through the town in an open rickshaw as an ambulance was denied to the bereaved family. This incident took place on 9th July. A man in Madhya Pradesh’s Tikamgarh district was forced to carry the dead body of his son on a bike on 30th July, as hospital authorities ‘denied’ him a hearse. Bhimrao a resident of Umat in Seoni district of Madhya Pradesh was forced to carry his mother's dead body on his motorbike on 31st August 2016 after an ambulance driver refused to take the corpse to their residence.

All these incidents of inhumanity and insensitivity took place in the BJP ruled states. Neither RSS nor BJP protested against these serious lapses on the part of the government officers. On the other hand the cow vigilantes of Una in Gjuarat flogged a group of dalits for skinning a dead cow. For them a dead cow is more respectable than the dead body of a human being. At the same time the cow vigilantes promoted by RSS-BJP combine want the dalits to carry the dead cows. They are not willing to touch the carcass of a cow that they consider as ‘mother’.  

It has been one of the strategies of RSS-BJP to make use of cow to polarize people by igniting the religious sentiments of the Hindus. Even after securing a comfortable majority in the Parliament and capturing power in most of the states of India, the BJP continues to use cow as a political mobilization strategy in view of the parliament election in 2019. It is also being used to hide the failures of the central and state governments. Attention of the people is diverted from the crucial issues like unemployment, abysmally poor quality of education in the government schools, poor quality of health care in the government run hospitals, rampant corruption at the lower levels etc.  Contrary to the tall claims of the Prime Minister as well as the Finance Minister, the economy is facing an economic slowdown. The promise of creating two crore jobs every year remains a distant dream with the lowest-ever job creation in a decade. Agrarian distress has aggravated, forcing more than 36,000 farmers to resort to suicide. The government informed the Supreme Court on May 2, 2017 that over 12000 farmers committed suicide every year since 2013. The beef ban in the BJP ruled states have added to the woes of the farmers as they are not able to sell their old animals. The Kashmir situation has significantly worsened. The government has totally failed to explain to the nation how far the three objectives of demonetization of thousand and five hundred rupee notes could be achieved.  

There are enough indications to show that the cow vigilantes have the overt and covert support of the BJP and the BJP led governments. Most of the attacks by the cow vigilantes have taken place in the BJP ruled states. Till Nitish Kumar walked out of the mahagatbandhan and formed government in alliance with BJP in Bihar there was no single incident of attack in the name of cow. Three men were beaten by local residents in Bhojpur in Bihar on August 3 on suspicion that they were transporting prohibited meat in a truck. The mob also blocked Ara-Buxar stretch of the National Highway 84, disrupting vehicular traffic for more than three hours, alleging beef was being smuggled to neighbouring West Bengal.

Abraham Lincoln has said, “You can fool all the people some of the time, and some of the people all the time, but you cannot fool all the people all the time”.  BJP should realize that after some time the cow strategy may boomerang. People can be hoodwinked for some time, but not for ever. People of India elected BJP and Narendra Modi not for implementing the agenda of RSS but for fulfilling the promise made by Modi: Sabka vikas sabka saath. If the aspirations of the people are not met, the Machiavellian tactics of the duo, Modi and Amit Shah may not work. The enlightened citizens of India have to raise their voice against the rampant misuse of religion by RSS-BJP combine for political purpose and convert India into a theocratic state. What the constitution of India has envisaged is the welfare of all citizens of India and not lynching innocent people under the pretext of cow protection.

(Published on 14th August 2017, Volume XXIX, Issue 33)