Cookies, Milk, Ice Cream, Chocolate, Strawberry Milk Shake and Cheese. On the surface dairy sounds healthy, nutritious and pure. We have been made to picture meadows where cows roam free, ruminate and make happy moo sounds!
The Dairy Industry has systematically made us believe the lie that milk comes from happy cows. The reality is different, very different. Most of us don’t know, but the dairy sector is extremely brutal to the cattle. Their main aim is to produce milk and make money, without thinking even a bit about the cattle and what they must be going through.
Humans have a habit of taking care of things only till they can benefit out of it. This is clearly seen in the dairy industry. The cattle is fed and taken care of only till the time they manage to give them milk. Have you ever wondered what happens to them once they are no longer ‘useful’?
There are over 40 million dairy cattle in India, and only a few hundred Gaushalas to cater to the ‘useless’, ‘discarded’ and ‘abandoned’ cows and buffaloes. The “Gaurakshaks”, though claim to protect them, fail to openly react or give a statement on the cruel dairy industry which produces millions of ‘useless’ cows. The Gaurakshaks talk about the importance of cows in Hinduism, but the dairy industry has turned these animals into milk machines, and are no more treated as sacred.
The Gaurakshaks have made cow slaughter a political affair, and even the slightest hint of support of it outrages them. But the job of Gaurakshaks should not be limited to just putting an end to their slaughter. Rakshak, is a protector, and if they cannot protect the cows from the cruelty of the dairy industry, then they lose their right to walk with pride when they save the slaughter of a discarded tortured cow. These Gaurakshaks do not propagate the ban of milk and milk products at any point, because they do not want to point towards the biggest source of economy of rural India.
The Gaurakshaks, though claim to protect the cows, do not do anything when it comes to saving them from the greed of the dairy industry. At every stage, these animals are treated with utter cruelty and their only “Rakshaks” are nowhere to be seen.
Since buffalo slaughter is legal in the country, their future is most definitely towards the horrific death at a slaughterhouse, but is that the only way for them? Are the cows treated any better than the buffalos? People term cow slaughter as cruel, but is milking them to death justified? People consider cows as sacred and treat them as family members. But why are they abandoned or sent for slaughter? Is it not the duty of family to take care of all family members? After the cows are spent, and have been literally milked to death, their importance diminishes for farmers and households. In a country where cows are revered and given so much importance that they might just be named as the ‘National Animal of India’, why are we ignoring the fact that the condition of cattle in India is due to human greed and the cruel dairy industry which has been propagating its agenda of ‘the white gold’ ever since the White Revolution.
No one does anything about the fact that the calves are taken away from their mothers minutes after birth and left to starve. The ones who manage to survive despite lack of proper mother’s love and milk, are exploited for more milk, and the ones who don’t, are slaughtered and sold off. These calves are not even allowed to go around their mother after their birth. Cows are highly familial beings and have strong family bonds, but the dairy industry denies these animals any interaction with their families. In fact, a lot of cows die in grief of being separated from their calves. The calves are denied their birthright and are instead fed commercially produced milk. Cow’s milk in fact reaches every corner of the world, but isn’t given to its rightful owners- the calves.
The cruelty doesn’t end here. Cows are made pregnant repeatedly to keep the milk flowing and are often pregnant and lactating at the same time. Artificial insemination is used as a means to impregnate cattle, which is a very painful and cruel practice. What’s sad is that this is not even the worst part, this practice is not done under the guidance of an expert. Untrained and unqualified staff do the deed and risk the life of these cows. The cows are even injected with Oxytocin, which is an illegal drug that gives labour like pains to the animals. It is used to stimulate and increase the milk production, just to meet the demands of the people. While the female calves are prepared to be exploited again and again, the male calves, on the other hand, are either abandoned or starved to death, since they are of no use to the dairy owners.
The Gaurakshaks do not keep a check, but the living condition of the cattle is extremely unhygienic and with no scope of exercise. There is dung and urine on the floor and not even the slightest hint of fresh air, which leads to multiple diseases, stress and even depression. They are treated like slaves where they never get a chance to get out of their designated spot, and are stuffed at one place. They are always chained and never let free at any time of the day.
Most of the people do not have the slightest hint of the cruelty that goes around in the cattle industry. Campaigns such as #DontGetMilked by Federation of Indian Animal Protection Organisations are being carried out to protect the animal rights and expose the cruelty meted out to dairy animals and the impact factory farming has on the environment.