Since 2014, the role of the cow has changed drastically in India. At first, there were beef bans proposed, approved and instituted. And then, leather came under the scanner. In the over 36 months since the General Election that gave the BJP a thumping majority in the Lok Sabha, the party's idealogue — that has made no bones about the idea of the cow as a Hindu symbol — has slowly shifted its focus. In a bid to move away from the conventional dimensions of the cow debate in India, the Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh (RSS) is now making an economic argument for the well-being and preservation of the cow.
The RSS, the powerful think-tank of the ruling BJP-led NDA government, will now be in the business of selling products from the cow as medicinal properties. The RSS is also talking of economics, exhorting people to pick up licences to open stores across India and turn entrepreneurs.
The move is in tune with repeated messages from Prime Minister Narendra Modi and also Finance Minister Arun Jaitley. Both have urged Indians to save milk-producing animals and support industries derived from their waste and turn entrepreneurs rather than looking for jobs in an already-saturated market. So, products flowing out of the website of a RSS-run laboratory located near Mathura will also have "Modi" and "Yogi" kurtas, standard khadi outfits with new tagline.
The so-called medicinal qualities of cow urine has not been scientifically proven, even though the proponents of Ayurveda claim that cow urine contains special therapeutic properties and health benefits. Last year, newspapers quoted scientists at Junagadh Agricultural University, Gujarat, as claiming to have found how traces of gold were found in the urine of the local Gir breed after analysing 400 specimens.
"The medicinal products from the cow are many. We are encouraging an already existing industry to flourish, there is no debate here, there should not be any politics here. It's pure economics," RSS member Vagish Isaar said. He estimates cow attendants can make Rs 1,200 a month from the sale of a cow's liquid waste, which can easily pay for the beast's upkeep.
The products from the pharmaceutical laboratory at the RSS-run Deen Dayal Dham at Farah in Mathura will be branded as Kamdhenu, a divine bovine-goddess of "plenty" who provides her owner whatever he desires.
Isaar shared some numbers. In India, unadulterated cow urine and dung is now a Rs 200-crore market. Once upon a time, these were procured from cow-shelters by the traditional for use, but now, many have started procuring it for a wide range of therapeutic and beauty products. There are face packs, bath scrubbers, mosquito coils and incense sticks which contain cow dung. And there are face creams, cough syrups, body oils, health tonics, weight-loss tonics, and floor disinfectants that contain distilled cow urine.
Issar said RSS volunteers will ask farmers across India to store urine and cowling and hand it over for proper use. "We want to cut out middlemen who have routinely exploited poor farmers and taken the cowling for measly Rs 200 a cart of over 60 quintals. We will give them better price and a share in profits," Isaar told Firstpost.
Officials at Deen Dayal Dham claim that the Kamdhenu brand of products will include a lot of medicinal products. Their list is long.
There are tablets and powders to cure indigestion, Kamdhenu Madhunashak Chur can keep diabetes in check, Kamdhenu Kafsudha can cure lung infection. There are oils for sprains and arthritis, eye drops to check cataract and improve eyesight, toothpaste to check decay in gums, incense sticks both cheap and long lasting and face packs that claim to cure pimples within months and soaps with ingredients to cure rashes.
"Our products have been clinically tested and now proven to be sold in the markets," claimed Manish Gupta of Deen Dayal Dham. Gupta said that the products will be available at all RSS offices and on various shopping websites. There is a high probability that the Haridwar-based Patanjali Group of Baba Ramdev might source some of the raw products from Deen Dayal Dham. Ramdev, authorities claimed, knows Patanjali Ayurveda pays a whopping Rs 300,000 per day to procure raw materials to make his products.
Patanjali's bestseller is urine-based floor-cleaner Gauntly, RSS needs to catch up. The organisation knows cow urine is now the hot commodity in India. The Modi government has spent Rs 5.8 billion on cow shelters and taken measures to stop smuggling of cattle to neighbouring Bangladesh.
Gupta says distilled urine from female cattle — 122 million in numbers — currently fetches at least as much as milk in India. And not even a drop should be wasted. "We are in the process of registering with online shopping websites. Products in which cow urine is being used are for Kamdhenu Ark," Gupta said. Sales are on an all-time high, claimed Gupta. Almost all products sold by the Deen Dayal Dham have seen a near 100 percent jump in sales for the last two years, and now, with the RSS push, there are chances that people from across India will order the product online.
RSS insiders say scientists at the Mathura laboratory are encouraging villagers to make as many as 30-40 remedies at home with cow urine. "The farmers are being encouraged not to spill any of the golden liquid because our foremost ambition is to ensure that it reaches every Indian," said a senior RSS functionary.
Once collected, the pungent-smelling 'booty' is poured into a distiller to remove impurities. The distillate, then, is reduced to powder or sold as a liquid concentrate to various makers of traditional medicines and herbal remedies.
The RSS is confident of its new marketing plan, especially in a majority-Hindu India, where cows are considered sacred. The party knows how cattle — 300 million units and growing — remains an important part of the Indian economy.
The BJP ideologue is carefully not calling the current push for products made from by-products of cows a Hindu agenda, instead, it is calling it simple, pure economics. It is a way for the farmers to grow in India minus the middleman, almost like the famous Farm To Form concept fashioned by the country's richest industrialist some years ago.
Issar said when RSS chief Mohan Bhagwat talked about a nationwide ban on cow slaughter, he was referring to this very economics that farmers were missing in India, where cow slaughter is illegal in 21 of 29 states. "We are trying to create a climate persuasive social and economic campaigns. We are empowering farmers, especially those who would always end up sending cattle to slaughterhouses once they stopped giving milk. Now, we have opened up new ways of earnings from those very cattle."
Critics still blame the RSS for its influence on cow politics and the lack of "good governance" for the ban mania. Many claim the recent appointment of Yogi Adityanath as the chief minister of Uttar Pradesh has given rise to a fresh wave of conservatism.
As of now, the dice is heavily loaded on the side of RSS, which is making the most of it.
Updated Date: Jun 12, 2017 13:08 PM