Cattle in a gaushala in Barsana, June 13, 2017. Photo: Reuters/Cathal McNaughton
Bengaluru: On June 5, Gujarat governor Acharya Devvrat inaugurated a new centre for ‘cow research’ – or ‘gau anusandhan unit’ – at the Gujarat Technological University (GTU), Ahmedabad. The centre is an initiative of the Rashtriya Kamdhenu Aayog, the principal advisory body on this subject at the Ministry of Animal Husbandry, Dairying and Fisheries.
According to Devvrat, the centre will explore the properties of bovine milk, urine and dung and their application in medicine and agriculture. GTU vice-chancellor Navin Sheth also said, according to Indian Express, that the centre’s purpose is to step beyond “emotional talk on cows” and “establish traditional knowledge through scientific research”
To this end, the centre is expected to invite problem statements from researchers at other universities. The GTU has also said it will employ women to make commercial cow dung- and urine-based products.
A professor in the GTU’s graduate school of pharmacy, Sanjay Chauhan, said the centre will study the use of cow urine in medicinal products and as fertilisers, the microbes present in cow milk, the chemical properties of dung and the genetic features of indigenous cow breeds.
The BJP government at the Centre has regularly promoted the use of cow urine and dung as medicine, including through the Ministry of AYUSH. However, neither the recommendations nor the products are evidence-based.
The new ‘gau anusandhan unit’ in GTU is the latest of its initiatives to find a way to legitimise these recommendations. The Centre set up the Rashtriya Kamdhenu Aayog to lead these initiatives. In October 2020, for example, aayog head Vallabhbhai Kathiria unveiled a “chip” apparently made of cow dung that he said could “block cellphone radiation”.
In January 2021, the aayog said it would conduct an exam in February on the subject of cows, that thousands of government members would organise it, and that people who pass it would get a certificate.
However, the exam came under widespread criticism after the aayog made absurd claims in its syllabus. For example, it said Indian cows’ milk has traces of gold, foreign cows lack emotions and people in Bhopal who lived within walls covered in cow dung were unaffected during the gas tragedy.
After the flak, the aayog cancelled the exam, and the animal husbandry department at the ministry said the aayog has “no mandate” to conduct such exercises.