By Manoj Kumar
Patna: Holy cow! If you always thought cows were about milk and milk products only, think again. The domestic animal is shaping the lives of poor students in parts of Bihar. How?
Well, as innovative thinking goes, this one takes the cake. An engineering institute in the state is accepting cows as admission fee from students who cannot afford to pay in cash. All they have to do is to deposit just five cows. The move, the authorities say, will help the poor talented children from the rural areas fulfill their dream. However, the offer comes with a rider. The cows must be from the homes of the students. Since the farming class breeds cattle at home for agricultural and business purposes, this should not be a problem, the authorities add.
The institute, Vidyadaan Institute of Technology and Management, located in western Bihar’s Buxur district and affiliated to Aryabhatta Knowledge University, a state-run university recognised by the University Grants Commission, also allows students the facility to deposit cows in installments. Five milch cows and calves are what they have to pay for a four-year bachelor of technology course in the institute. This is the first such offer in Bihar.
According to the authorities, a large number of poor students from the farming class have been quitting higher studies midway due to financial crunch. This scheme will help students finish their courses without a hitch. "Farmers lack cash but have cows at homes. So, we thought they will have not problem in parting with a few cows for the sake of their children's career," the institute’s chairman Surya Kumar Singh, a former scientist with Defence Research and Development Organisation (DRDO) told the Firstpost over phone, adding the money to be generated by way of selling milk from these cows will be adjusted against the institute’s expenses on the student.
He said of the total 240 seats in the institute, 20 have been reserved for students from such families. Five students have already taken admission this year under the cow-for-studies scheme. As per the rule, the students have to deposit two cows and calves in the first year, another two cows and calves in the second year but only one cow and calf in the third year.
According to Singh’s calculations, one cow, on an average, gives 2,400 litres of milk in a year -- at least 10 litres of milk twice a day for eight months. Doubling this for a pair of cows, 4,800 litres of milk per year could fetch Rs 96,000 at a price of Rs 20 per litre -- well below the market rate of Rs 30 per litre.
"So even if Rs 36,000 is spent on the upkeep of the bovine, we will have Rs 60,000 remaining with us which can be adjusted against the total four-year engineering course fee of Rs 3 lakh," explained Singh, adding the bovines won’t be returned to the owners.
For the proper upkeep of bovines to be received as admission fees and run the dairy, the institute has even constituted a farmers’ club. The prime responsibilities of the farmers’ club are to ensure proper upkeep of the cattle, supply milk in the local market and collect cash.
The offer has left the local farmers and their children ecstatic. "I never thought of getting admission into an engineering college since my parents are too poor to arrange for the hefty admission fee but thanks to this offer, my dream has come true," said Shankar G Singh, son of a local farmer.