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Updated: May 4, 2013 18:54 IST

What’s behind that glass of milk?

ANUSHA NARAIN
Comment (62)   ·   print   ·   T  T  
Illustration: Deepak Harichandan
Illustration: Deepak Harichandan

The author throws light on some grim details about the cow in India, the world’s largest producer of milk.

You know that child who throws a terrible tantrum over a glass of milk. How he kicks and screams and refuses to touch the stuff? Haven’t you wondered what the fuss is all about? After all, it’s just a glass of milk.

It turns out the child may just have the right idea. The business of producing milk — indeed, the multi-crore rupee cattle industry it’s a part of — is sustained by a process of relentless cruelty towards animals, from birth till death, with little letup. Cruelty compounded by poorly defined, poorly implemented methods and gross violations.

In 1998, India, hitherto a milk-deficient nation, surpassed the U.S. as the highest milk-producing nation, a position it holds till date. According to the Department of Animal Husbandry, Dairying and Fisheries, the government has invested Rs. 2242 crore to help meet a national demand of 150 million tonnes of milk by 2016-17. Millions of cattle will be produced (mainly through artificial insemination) for this purpose.

This will be done through “productivity enhancement, strengthening and expanding village-level infrastructure for milk procurement and providing producers with greater access to markets. The strategy involves improving genetic potential of bovines, producing required number of quality bulls, and superior quality frozen semen and adopting adequate bio-security measures etc.” Today India is home to the world’s largest cattle herd, with 324 million head.

The government is positioning this as a food security measure for the future. From the point of view of the animals, though, unthinkable cruelty lies ahead.

That image of tender care and worship that we are raised with, the image that is propagated in films and integrated with our cultural values — that’s a myth. In reality, the life of a cow in India is a horror show.

The first three stages of life — birth, maturity and motherhood — happen with inhuman haste. The female calf is born. She reaches puberty somewhere between 15 months and three years of age, depending on the breed, and is then impregnated, increasingly through artificial insemination.

Arpan Sharma, external relations in-charge at the Federation of Indian Animal Protection Organisations, builds partnerships for better protection of animals by bringing together various stakeholders such as industry, government and regulators. He says, “Due to poor equipment and a lack of proper training, artificially inseminated cows sometimes become infertile and develop infections with few to care for them.”

Soon, the calf is born. While the cow is seen as a metaphor for motherhood, she is rarely given a chance to experience its joys for very long. Calves are separated from their mothers soon after they are born so that they don’t drink up all the milk. Just what does this do to these docile creatures?

The American physician Dr. Michael Klaper, the author of books such as Vegan Nutrition: Pure and Simple and Pregnancy, Children, and the Vegan Diet, provides an insight. “On the second day after birth, my uncle took the calf from the mother and placed him in the veal pen in the barn — only 10 yards away, in plain view of the mother. The mother cow could see her infant, smell him, hear him, but could not touch him, comfort him, or nurse him. The heartrending bellows that she poured forth — minute after minute, hour after hour, for five long days — were excruciating to listen to. They are the most poignant and painful auditory memories I carry in my brain,” he said in a 2010 interview with the Northwest Veg, a non-profit organisation based in Portland, Oregon.

Eileen Weintraub of Help Animals India and Vishakha Society for Protection and Care of Animals, Vishakhapatnam, takes this fact to its logical extreme. She states firmly, “With 1.2 billion people and 400 million vegetarians, anyone who does not have a vegan diet contributes to the suffering of cows.”

***

I once asked my mother, “If we take milk from cows, then what does the calf drink?” She said the milk a cow produces is more than the calf requires, and humans use what’s left over.

Apparently not. “The quantity of milk a calf gets varies. By and large, unless the calf is what is called “replacement stock,” it will get only the bare minimum necessary for survival. Often it will not even get that,” says Sharma.

To increase yield, the cows are also injected with Oxytocin, a hormone banned in India under the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals Act and section 12 of Food and Drug Adulteration Prevention Act, 1960. “Studies around the world show that cows injected with Oxytocin have a greater incidence of abortions, mastitis and lower conception rates, and their calves suffer higher than normal infant mortality and delayed puberty,” says Erika Abrams, founder of Animal Aid Unlimited, an animal rescue organisation based in Udaipur.

And what happens to unwanted male calves? This is where we wade into the red zone of this bloody business. “Milk cows need to produce a calf every year and half those calves are male. While a fraction of these are used to pull ploughs, others are butchered. Their skin is used for leather, and their meat for local consumption and export,” says Abrams. Calf leather comes from male calves of which India has a huge number.

The ones that live don’t fare much better. With traditional backyard agriculture slowly giving way to ‘intensive dairy farming’, hundreds of cows are confined for long periods within cramped, dark and acrid quarters. “More times than not even where there is a lot of space they are tied with a two-foot rope and in most cases all they can do is sit down and stand up even if they are in the open,” says Nandita Shah, Director at Sharan, Sanctuary for Health and Reconnection to Animals and Nature, Pondicherry. “At some places in Mumbai, calves are tied outside till they die of starvation; so technically they have not been killed.”

Divya Narain, an animal rescue volunteer from Bhopal, says, “At the State-run animal shelter in Bhopal, we often get recumbent little male calves, which have been dumped on the streets to die.” In other words, male calves, more or less, suffer an early death.

And what about cows? Cows and buffaloes can be productive until about the age of 14 years. But in the existing set up, in which cows are kept pregnant for almost 300 days a year, most of them dry up by the age of five or six. And after spending most of her life being milked, enduring hormone injections and the trauma of separation, the cow is sent off to the slaughterhouse.

Twenty-eight Indian states have cow-slaughter protection legislations in place. Unproductive cows, therefore, are routinely trafficked to slaughterhouses in the states where laws are less stringent or non-existent — Arunachal Pradesh, Meghalaya, Mizoram, Nagaland, Tripura, Lakshadweep, and especially Kerala. A large number of cattle is trafficked to Kerala, under inhuman conditions, from the neighbouring states as it is a major consumer of beef and does not have any regulation pertaining to cow slaughter. Apuroopa Podhardha, the legal adviser of People for Cattle in India (PFCI), a Chennai-based animal rescue group, says, “Thirty animals are crammed into a truck meant for six. In some instances, the legs of calves are tied and they are dumped in one on top of the other. Furthermore, no provision for food or water is made”. Cattle are also trafficked to West Bengal, from where they are taken to Bangladesh.

PFCI has conducted three cow-rescue operations in Chennai. Podhardha’s colleague Arun Prasanna G. says, “The latest delicacy in demand in the Middle Eastern markets is veal (the meat of a calf no older than three months). Flesh of unborn calves is known to bear medicinal value hence pregnant cattle are slaughtered.”

Prasanna says, “In many slaughterhouses, the act of slaughtering involves smashing the head of a cow with a sledgehammer, which renders it unconscious; then skinning it; and or hanging it upside down so that all the blood can be drained from the slit jugular vein, then skinning it live.” In a recent raid in an illegal slaughterhouse in Chennai recently, there were 20 cattle. “We could only rescue six of them. The police insisted we file a complaint first, which gave the cattle owners time to hide the remaining cows.” The slaughterhouse owners received an anticipatory bail.

***

According to the Ministry of Food Processing Industries, India has 3,600 slaughterhouses, nine modern abattoirs and 171 meat-processing units licensed under the meat products order. These do not include the numerous and ever-growing number of illegal and unregulated slaughterhouses, estimated to be more than 30,000. According to the U.S Department of Agriculture’s report on Livestock and Poultry: World Markets and Trade, India became the biggest beef exporter in the world in 2012(till October) with 16,80,000 tonnes of beef and veal exports, followed by Brazil with 13,94,000 metric tonnes and Australia with 13,80,000 metric tonnes of exports. In 2013, India’s beef exports are forecast 29 per cent higher to a record 2.16 million tonnes, accounting for nearly a quarter of world trade.

“The government gives subsidies to slaughterhouses because beef exports are a gold mine,” says Prasanna. A US beef export federation study states India exported $1.24 billion worth of meat in the first half of 2012. According to Tamil Nadu Veterinary and Animals Sciences authorities 1.4 million tonnes of cattle were legally slaughtered in 2012 nationwide.

“One dead animal is worth approximately Rs. 30,000. Tissues from a cattle’s heart are used to rebuild livers. Horns and hoofs are used to make buttons, skin is used for leather, flesh for meat, tail is used for fertility treatment, bones are used for whitening sugar, and producing gelatin,” says Prasanna.

In states such as Madhya Pradesh, where cow slaughter is illegal, trafficking is rife, and the dry cattle that are not transported are let loose on the streets, where they live the last days of their lives foraging in dustbins, eating plastic-infested garbage and drinking polluted water from open drains.

The government runs several goshalas, shelters for old cattle, across the country, but these are too few and are not governed by serious norms. Suma R. Nayak, an advocate and a trustee of the Animal Care Trust, Mangalore, says, “Goshalas have started to operate along the lines of dairy farms; only accepting healthy, productive cows.”

For all this, milk may not even be as rich in calcium as we have been led to believe. Amy Lanou, Ph.D., Nutrition Director for the Physicians Committee for Responsible Medicine in Washington, D.C., says, “The countries with the highest rates of osteoporosis are the ones where people drink the most milk and have the most calcium in their diets. The connection between calcium consumption and bone health is actually very weak, and the connection between dairy consumption and bone health is almost non-existent.”

Also, the growing numbers of cattle casts a heavy shadow on the environment. Bovines produce methane when they pass gas. It is estimated that a bovine produces, depending on the breed, anywhere between 100 litres to 500 litres of methane a day. This is equivalent to the per-day carbon dioxide emissions of a car. India’s huge bovine population makes methane a dangerous pollutant.

There is also the ecological problem. Producing fodder for 324 million cows puts immense strain on scarce land and water resources.

The Humane Society of India’s report states: Animal agriculture occupies 30 per cent of the earth’s total land area. Approximately 33 per cent of total arable land is used to produce feed crops, in addition to vast areas of forested land that is clear-cut to graze or grow feed for farmed animals.

What, then, is the alternative? Narain, who is also a major in Ecology from the University of Oxford, suggests a plant-based diet.

“The government is using taxpayer money to subsidise dairy products (and indirectly the leather and beef industries). What it should be doing is to promote the production of protein-rich plant-based foods such as legumes, soybeans, pulses, fruits and nuts using the land and water resources that are otherwise used to produce cattle feed. That, and only that, will work if we are to put food on the plates of our starving children.”

Why the human beings consider that they are the one born to live in this
world and all other animals are just born to serve them as their food
and their other needs?

from:  T.Sathyamurthi
Posted on: May 6, 2013 at 23:05 IST

this cruelty towards these helpless animals should immediately brought
to end.

from:  shabad
Posted on: May 6, 2013 at 21:52 IST

Is the author making a case for ethical treatment of animals or for
veganism? The jury is still out on whether cow's milk is good for you
or not. Personally I lean towards it not being good for humans. I
have been intrigued on how we settled on cow's milk to begin with! Why
not dog's milk?! Anyway, I think one can make a case along the same
lines against non-veg diet. Our scriptures didn't prescribe it, and
the unethical treatment of animals is even more rampant in the meat
industry than in dairy. Let's be real - it is not possible to change
the whole world into being vegetarian or vegan now. But one can at
least make the case for moderation in meat consumption, ethical
treatment of animals and organic farming. It's not the ideal solution,
but at least an agreeable compromise...a bare minimum in my mind

from:  ajay sridharan
Posted on: May 6, 2013 at 20:49 IST

Stop this cruelism with animals. Each & every organism on earth has right to live and please do not violate these laws of universe. Atleast believe and be scared of the saying "As we sow, so shall we reap." When we hurt someone, that will come back in return with interest. So Beware.
All those who are against this cruelty should take first step towards saving animals by inhibitting the use of leather in various forms, nailpaints, various food items containing animals meat, etc. We should daily invest atleast a rupee for saving this animals and gradually collecting fund and investing that in a genuine 'Goshala'. This is the responsibility of all of us to save our planet. First we all should follow ourselves then spread this amongst all. Do not commit such blunders that our next generations curse us for insenious, ruthless and inhuman acts and they are destined to be without milk.
Wake up everyone before its too late and we don't get even that glass of milk. Wake up, Grow up!!!

from:  Shilpa
Posted on: May 6, 2013 at 16:44 IST

When no care has been shown on human beings in India, who are cares about animals?!

from:  Raj
Posted on: May 6, 2013 at 08:26 IST

To those making hasty conclusions, lets think a moment. If you are not going to drink milk, are you going to stop eating chocolates or cakes or other milk derived products? What about paneer or pizza which has cheese? Also, will stop consuming milk solve the problem of butchering animals for meat?

from:  p datta
Posted on: May 6, 2013 at 06:34 IST

Difficult to believe this is happening where the cow is revered. Come to think of it, when we can brutalise five
year olds, why is this surprising?! Shameful and disgusting how we have forsaken our values and morals in
our attempt to 'modernise' ourselves by blindly following the garbage from the west. The sooner we realise our
uniqueness and return to our values, the better! Peace to all.

from:  Zafar K
Posted on: May 6, 2013 at 05:48 IST

Hinduism is so much bound up with cows, it is surprising to learn, a country and it's majority
who revers the cow and yet allow them to be illtreated!? The article clearly exposes the
cruelty, the people need to take action to stop those malpractices against the cattle.
Commercial benefits are not the only criteria in a human life! After all that is why we are
humans!

from:  Saratchandran
Posted on: May 6, 2013 at 04:04 IST

A plant based diet / the vegan way is indeed what this ancient culture prescribed as a righteous way to live. But that is difficult to influence in a multicultural setup we are in. Humanity is putting everything else in crisis for its own survival and differing values.

Until everyone is a vegan, we can only ask the Government of the day to bring any practical redressals, perhaps to begin with the right act would be to bring regulation, monitoring and executing the diary business from cattle rearing to milk production to business using cattle products into a uniform setup across all states, with the intention of 'cattle treatment in a humane way' as one important factor of doing diary / bovine products industry in this country.

The country does have its civility for all beings in the ancient culture and a blend of western means and this ancient civility should be practiced as a matter of order in the current day's society and it can be done in a variety of innovative ways.

from:  Nandhavel
Posted on: May 6, 2013 at 03:49 IST

The alternative is not consuming genetically modified soybeans mass produced by Mon Santo, whose lobbying efforts I can see through, in this article.

The solution is simple - buy milk from your local milkman - even in cities, there is always a milk man for a particular neighbourhood, who raises and milks the cow with love and care.

The reason why milk is 'not effective' in the US is because of the extreme processing done to remove fat - pasteurization, homogenization, adding chocolate/caramel flavours etc- by the time it ends up in a bottle, it is a completely different product than when it left the cow.

The biggest advantage to drinking good fresh milk - all the micronutrients and the good bacteria - you will never get those in stale GMO/processed soybeans

Soybeans also contain phytoestrogens that can cause various hormonal problems in men and women and is also probably carcinogenic.

I am highly skeptical of such 'new world' diet suggestions

from:  Ajay
Posted on: May 6, 2013 at 01:46 IST

nicely compiled information......but what is the solution? should all of
us turn vegan? Then what would happen to farmers in dairy and to all the
cows? There are always two sides to each story .....so think about that
too ......problems are interconnected and so does the solutions.....It is
a systems problem and its components are interconnected...... just food
for thought.............

from:  neelam
Posted on: May 6, 2013 at 00:45 IST

There is superb presentation in at Georgia Tech, California, by Gary
Yourofsky, an ardent US animal activist. This is an amazing Youtube
Video, which any animal lover worth his salt, should watch. He rips
apart the notion of animal protein deemed indispensible for human
health. The case of rising Oesteoporosis in the US, which is the
world's top consumer of dairy products, is proof that animal products
are not at all necessary for human consumption, but also a catalyst in
clogging arteries,bone calcium depletion,kidney malfunction and what
not . I turned Vegan after watching that presentation. A plant based
diet is the basis of all human life- a case in point is the health and
longevity of the brahmin community.

from:  DEVIDAS UNNY
Posted on: May 6, 2013 at 00:07 IST

WE ARE THE BIGGEST BEEF EXPORTER IN THE WORLD !!!!. WHERE IS VISHAV HINDU PARISHAD, SHIV SENA, RAM SENA, BAJRANG DAL AND all those political parties who boast to save and say "Gau mata (cow as mother)" for their political propaganda and vote bank politics. Thank you for this eye opening articles.

from:  Ravi Kumar
Posted on: May 5, 2013 at 23:40 IST

This is generalization of the entire dairy farmers without talking about
alternatives. The alternative is to promote organic dairy farming and
organic milk. We own a dairy farm and have been dairy farming for a very
long time. We use bull to mate animals. We do not sell animals to
slaughter houses - only to other farmers even if it fetches lower price.
Male heifers are sold for breeding purposes. But I do agree many new
comers to dairy farming are treating this purely as a business without
due respect to live animals.

from:  Subbu Reddy
Posted on: May 5, 2013 at 23:15 IST

It's not only cows. Humans have reached all limits drawn by nature. We think highly
of cows, that's why it pains a lot more but isn't it equally wrong when we kill a
hen/pig or dog for their meat. Don't they experience the same pain?

Some might argue that it's the law of nature and bring out "survival of the fittest"
theory but what they forget is that a lion or tiger doesn't have an option or, more
importantly, a human brain to realize the pain caused. Moreover, they do it for
survival in the wild and we do it for sheer pleasure.

from:  Siddharth Pandit
Posted on: May 5, 2013 at 22:40 IST

The cow is holy, we say. We are not a nation of two faced emotionally
bankrupt people, we say.

from:  Nakul Nitin Gote
Posted on: May 5, 2013 at 22:40 IST

This is pathetic.. We drink the milk of a cow. She should be given
respect equivalent to our mothers.
But I disagree with the proposed solution - The article is very biased
promoting the author's vegan view. Cow milk is an integrated part of
our cultural existence, which cannot be fulfilled if we reject them
completely. Besides she is a domesticated animal, who then shall take
care of them?
We have one world, and we share it with all other creatures(plants,
animals..). The only way to lead a sustainable life is that of
interdependence. Humans render service unto the animals(take care by
cleaning them, providing food, protection etc) and animals respond to
this love(cows give milk, bulls get to use their strength on the
fields) and both live and die a happy life.
I know this appears to be a very goodie-goodie solution, impractical
in the "modern" world. But mind you Anusha and other readers, I will
make it happen. The world is gonna look very different soon....There
is a storm coming.

from:  Prasad
Posted on: May 5, 2013 at 22:03 IST

Okay, that makes a wonderful article on why we should avoid milk. But
let us face some reality. Humans need milk, even if not from the
nutrition point. So, Is there an alternative, that is economical? Soya
milk is too costly, compared to cow's milk.

from:  Balaji S
Posted on: May 5, 2013 at 21:51 IST

An excellent article and heartfelt effort! There are so many satisfying nut milk substitutes to healthful and delicious cooking i.e. almond milk, rice milk, hemp milk, soy milk. You can make all yourself. Alas Krishna days are long over.. wish it was not so , within our lifetimes we have seen the human population double and now it will triple. This article bring a drop of sanity into the ocean of vast suffering for India's beloved cows.

from:  Eileen Weintraub
Posted on: May 5, 2013 at 21:28 IST

Can't believe something so hideous was hidden to us for decades. All that persistence of our mothers to make us drink more and more milk. At the cost of this cruelty!!

Growing up in the cities, I never got to visit an actual cow being milked. However, recently I visited a village where the buffaloes were being milked. I started some discussion with the owner about the cost of buffaloes and the business. Out of curiosity, I asked him what they'd do if the calf was male. I mean it'd impregnate the females for sure but apart from that, it was useless. He told me they'd sell it in Pashu Mela for real cheap price. But after reading the article, I know where they actually sold the male calves!!

I don't think I can ever touch that damn glass of milk in the same way ever again. This article will always haunt me.

from:  Shivam Sharma
Posted on: May 5, 2013 at 20:29 IST

Cow is the symbol of spirituality. Its protection is as important as a
humam life or sometimes even a greater value should be attached to it.
The way the cow is treated is simply horrible. Every product it gives
has an immense value. There are a few who are really striving hard to
protect them by giving its uses like urine, cow dung's practical
medicinal value. stop slaughter houses and create awareness in the
minds of public the danger that it falls on human society by the ill
treatment to cows.

from:  H.B.Lakshminarayana
Posted on: May 5, 2013 at 20:15 IST

This is the reason why I have drastically cut down my milk products consumption, with the goal of completely eliminating ALL milk products from my life. Milk is a product of immense cruelty. Until they go vegan, vegetarians have no locus standi to criticize meat eaters for their apathy and connivance to cruelty. Wonder how our religious leaders are going to justify "Paal abhishekam" etc to idols.

from:  Hareesh
Posted on: May 5, 2013 at 19:47 IST

Nutritionally, we only need to look at what the cows eat, or at least are supposed to
eat - greens! We can get our calcium, iron and other nutrients directly from leafy
greens rather than making the cows chew them for us. This will be better for our
health and the cows can be free. As the author points out, it will be economically
and ecologically better for the country as well and help ensure that everyone gets
better food. Especially nursing mothers, who need to eat well and stay strong so that
they can give children the milk they really need - mother's milk, and thereby
introduce their kids to a wide variety of foods rather than using milk from another
animal.

Even those who aren't vegan can benefit from reducing dairy (especially unfermented
dairy) in the diet.

from:  LS Aravinda
Posted on: May 5, 2013 at 19:38 IST

Good article. But, it is the influence of crass commercial business interest gifted by the western thinkers. Even couple of decades back, we used to have cows at home. Almost in 90% of the villages, cows would be taken to bulls for natural reproductive process during the breeding season. Artificial insemination is a stupid gift from so called scientifically advanced minds. And the milking was done with hands, not by machines. Calves shall always be there with the mom. It will be first allowed to drink the milk and then the milkman shall milk it. There was even an enlightened self-interest in this. The cow is believed to ooze more milk if the calf takes it share first. Then we invented our own indigenous and innovative fake calf dumped with haystacks. And we praise its a civilized and modern society. Yuck !!!

from:  Rancho
Posted on: May 5, 2013 at 19:31 IST

To be fair to India, Please write articles about how cows are kept, treated in other countries including the so called developed countries. The way Milk is exptracted from cows in some of these countries is more cruel than what the author is talking about, leave alone the state of new born calf and how calfs are kept away from their mothers. On top of this, please write about non hindus burchering cows for food and the cruelty it brings. Persons who called themsevels as animal saviors have to confess whether they are eating meat. It is hyprocricy for those who eat meat but canvas for anilmal protections, what a paradox. The article says one dead animal is priced at Rs.30,000. Who is the majority in leather industry, it is muslimes. Please preach them about protecting cows.

from:  bala
Posted on: May 5, 2013 at 19:29 IST

Such a well written article that shatters the myths the inhumane dairy
industry creates: the treatment of cattle in India, the perceived
health benefits of cattle milk, the food security the dairy industry
provides. Well done, Anusha Narain, thank you so much, and thank you,
The Hindu, for publishing this.
I join the millions of vegans, the starving children, and the cattle
in thanking you, Anusha and The Hindu. Raising awareness about these
issues (cruelty, gross inefficiency of land/water resources, health
issues, outrageous waste of food which can be fed to our starving
children instead) is the first and the most important step to tackle
these, and you have done a great job!

from:  Arun R
Posted on: May 5, 2013 at 18:55 IST

This story is both confronting and eye-opening. Now, I am in two minds
about drinking my next cup of milk/cofee/tea. It seems we need to be
careful in future whenever a new form of revolution is promoted. First,
Green Revolution was shown to be the major cause for declining soil
fertility. Now White Revolution is starting to show its hitherto unseen
ramifications.

Thanks Anusha Narain, for the article.

from:  Rengarajan
Posted on: May 5, 2013 at 18:09 IST

This is fact well know brought in to print.
Most of hindu society is considered humane.. but not anymore. Blame is on us of course.
Thank you Editor.

from:  raj
Posted on: May 5, 2013 at 16:56 IST

Veganism is the need of the hour. If gradually people reduces the milk and dairy
consumption and swtich to alternatives, it will reduce the crazy demand of dairy and
cruelty towards cows and cattles.

from:  gaurav jain
Posted on: May 5, 2013 at 16:07 IST

no words to express the inhuman activities of so called human beings on animals... Which god to pray to get forgiveness for all these ????

from:  NIZAM
Posted on: May 5, 2013 at 15:51 IST

Why only make a case for the cows. Have you checked the poultry and pig farms and
recently the emu farm projects that went haywire due to cruelty to the livestock? In
India humans are so cruel to humans so why will they care for animals. The meat of
frustrated livestock leads to frustration in individuals. Only if we eat living animal
and bird species that were free and happy during their lifetime do we really feel
happy when ingesting their meat. Exponential population growths are the root cause
of all these abuses and the race the make a quick buck by distressing other life
forms. India sure needs a spiritual awakening. To think that the Beatles had come
here for enlightenment at one time in history and now even the priests and spiritual
leaders have jumped on the money bandwagon. Truly a sad state of affairs. Best is to
keep one's own chickens. Cows are often treated tenderly by their owners. The plight
of chickens and birds is horrendous

from:  angela alvares
Posted on: May 5, 2013 at 15:27 IST

sad and very disturning article...going to switch to Sow milk

from:  Dr.Arachelvi
Posted on: May 5, 2013 at 15:16 IST

This is excellent journalism. Full Marks to Anusha Narain and The
Hindu. The Dairy industry (atrocity) portrays itself as a benign,
placid industry, gentle cows in the meadows, milkmaids all in a row,
and happy calves prancing in the field. Nothing can be further from
the truth. It is a ghastly, vile, cruel and ignoble scam. Isn't it
paradoxical, that India, the land that gave us "Ahimsa" is now guilty
of perpetrating this giant Ponzi scheme of cruelty? Milk is the new
asbestos. It has no place in civilised society.The dairy industry in
India has turned the gentle and sacred cow into a scavenging god.
Please watch the Indian film "The Plastic Cow". It should be on the
syllabus of every school in the country. India is now following the
West in "inducing" births of calves for so-called "management
purposes", and killing the calves "unviable" for veal by smashing
their heads or jumping on their ribs to kill them. Anyone who
supports this squalid trade has no right to be called an Indian.

from:  Philip Wollen
Posted on: May 5, 2013 at 14:48 IST

One of the most amazing essays I have ever read on animal protection. It
is a must read for all those who are concerned about the plight of our
cows and other bovines during the time of rapid urbanization and
material opulence.

from:  Vineet Abhishek
Posted on: May 5, 2013 at 14:31 IST

White revolution ? Operation Flood ? More like, Operation Blood. Every goal for self-sustained development should jibe with a humane approach, However, the govt grants have always been exploited by the common masses, more often than not, the implementing authorities ensure that the motive is achieved even if it is at the price of achieving it through unethical means. True achievement of a self-sustained developement is one of slow and a gradual process, and anything done in haste could prove detrimental to all us. If only our motives are tempered by pragmatism and transformation from a need based society to greed based is curtailed can we attain an utopian structure of economy and a harmonious civilized community ingrained with the sense of unity.

from:  vikram Iyer
Posted on: May 5, 2013 at 14:29 IST

An amazing article.. hats off Anushua.. had always wanted an article
about this to be published in the newspaper.

it would be very helpful if u could keep such articles being published
so that people realize about it.. especially in India, where people
fake the most.

it freaks me out wen i see such conditions in India, where inside
slaughterhouses there are god's photos, where people worship an idol
of a cow and drink milk and consume it's flesh. every second thousands
of animals are mercilessly being killed.. and awareness can happen
only through media

from:  Sagar
Posted on: May 5, 2013 at 13:44 IST

We should have a strictly implemented law requiring humane treatment of cows and
all farm animals. This should then be verified by organizations, and there should be
whistle blower protections for those who come forward with complaints.

from:  Arvind
Posted on: May 5, 2013 at 13:06 IST

This is utterly shocking !! All of us consumers are to be blamed and
people should be made aware of such grim realities. I am very happy that
such an article featured in a prominent daily.
But this won't stop till we have an alternative. Apart from public
awareness, WHAT can be a good substitute to milk is what I want to ask
the Author ?
We should find the answer fast and urgently.

from:  Vivek
Posted on: May 5, 2013 at 13:03 IST

Such an informative article. Thank you.

from:  Satish Kandukuri
Posted on: May 5, 2013 at 12:45 IST

It is time to bring legislation and strict implementation to close all the slaughterhouses in this Hindu state where we are influenced by the
moral values of Lord Rama , Krishna and Buddha . The highest authorities of lawmakers- kindly awake and arise and implement the ban.Do not see the
economic values on unmoral deeds/things

from:  anand
Posted on: May 5, 2013 at 11:49 IST

This was an extremely disappointing article. It was a veiled or rather
an open promotion on veganism. The cruelty towards cattle has no
relation to one being vegan/vegetarian/non-vegetarian.

In my opinion the cattle in India are better off compared to their
brethren in developed countries, where they lead a machine like life -
given hormone injections, living in enclosures etc. Anyway that does
not justify the treatment of cattle in our country. But the fact is
this article goes tangential to the issue at hand

The article without looking at the issue objectively borders on being
jingoistic. Totally unrelated and unverified claims like calcium
consumption and osteoporosis actually serves to weaken the objective
of the article

Disappointed, to say in one word!!

from:  PRAVEEN V
Posted on: May 5, 2013 at 11:18 IST

That's a very good article - well researched and to the point. Thanks for publishing. I
hope many people read this and learn.

from:  Michael
Posted on: May 5, 2013 at 11:14 IST

Excellent Article! The myth of the "importance" of (cow's) milk in our diets, particularly in that of children's, has been busted. I always thought that we were exaggerating the "goodness" of milk. Let us eat to live and use plant products that were meant for us and leave the poor animals to live their lives in this planet, which is as home to them as it is to us.

from:  Dinakaran
Posted on: May 5, 2013 at 10:52 IST

I did know about the barbaric acts over the cattles but to such severe extent was unknown to me. As per the facts i had gathered in the year 2008 i knew that the new born male calfs were exported to america but it was even carried out in india is a shock .

from:  alka singh
Posted on: May 5, 2013 at 10:27 IST

Thank you Anusha Narain for writing this. I hope many people get to read this and learn about the grim details. The cruelty behind the dairy industry is equally or worse than slaughter houses.

from:  Priya
Posted on: May 5, 2013 at 10:22 IST

The author has done an excellent job in not only highlighting our barbaric treatment of cows
but also the dangers to our health caused by consuming modern day milk and milk
products. Milk consumption is also known to cause heart disease, several digestive
diseases, skin problems, and allergies. It is also likely that beef from such cows causes
many more health hazards than even milk. The sad fact is that consumers today have no
idea of the harmful chemicals that come with milk. And our government is too busy
subsidising the dairy industry with tax payer funds with little concern for the welfare of the
citizens.

from:  Viswanath
Posted on: May 5, 2013 at 10:09 IST

that's horrifying!! Poor cows :(

from:  Mohit
Posted on: May 5, 2013 at 10:03 IST

While treating any animal in inhuman way is immoral, why we always tend to
give exceptional treatment to cows alone?
The article presents one side of story while it ignores other side where 80%
farmers are small and marginal and having even one cow is great support to
livelihood. If a dead bovine can fetch 30,000, being a marginal farmer, I will not
hesitate to sell it and buy a new cattle.
The talks of holiness of cow and religiosity are convenient weapons of upper
castes and well offs along with hinduist politicians.
What we perhaps need to look at is ensuring modern slaughter houses, food
processing and empowering poor farmers.
And if we have to talk about humane treatment to animals, it shouldn't stop at
cows; one should include poultry and other animals too. Stop wrapping ur
sensitivity to only one animal.

from:  mahesh
Posted on: May 5, 2013 at 09:53 IST

Excellent article, Anusha Narain. I too was one of those children who
made a big fuss about "drinking" milk and remember draining most of my
servings in the sink when nobody was looking! When caught and scolded
for "wasting food", surprisingly I never managed to feel guilty. I
stopped taking milk as soon as I left my home for studies which was at
the age of 16. Four decades later, I am a strong person, with no
complaints of any manifestation of calcium deficiency. Since the last
few years I abstain from milk and milk products not because I don't
like the taste but because I have found out about the cruelty to the
cows, bulls, and the calves in the milk producing business. At a
spiritual level, I believe that no food that comes from cruelty to
another sentient beings can *ever* be good for us humans. Please keep
educating, this article made my day!

from:  Amrita
Posted on: May 5, 2013 at 09:47 IST

Does the government have time for subjects like this?

from:  K.Sridharan
Posted on: May 5, 2013 at 08:49 IST

This is a good topic to discuss. But I am surprised about the author picking up just on just Indians and just about milk making. Hope there is no aversion to Indians.
I like author’s idea of promoting plant food. I would think being non vegetarian to be a much bigger ethical issue than producing milk.
Why is producing milk in India a problem, does it mean all these do not apply to other countries.
Is the author OK with rest of the non vegetarian population in India and elsewhere slaughtering animals? Are they not confined? Why wouldn’t we rally for all humans to become vegetarian first and then a vegan vegetarian?
It is the west who are largely non-vegetarian and have been promoting milk for vegetarian calling this as the only vegetarian food with complete protein and also major source of calcium for vegetarian.
All lives are part of food chain and we live heavily depending on each other one way or the other.
Plants too have life. How can cutting of vegetables / fruits / green leaves be justified? If we go in such details we would have to abandon living and abort our race.
On the other hand rational thinking would show that this is part of nature since that is the way eco system is made of.
If we really want to live independent of any other lives then we would have to produce our own foods like plants do, but unfortunately we are not blessed with photo synthesis and our research is no were near in synthesising food in factory of lab.
I like author’s idea of suggesting government should spend resources in promoting complementary protein food stuff. I am keen on knowing how to get one gram of calcium needed based on RDA. Even the dietary guideline by Indian government lists milk as a critical nutrient more than 3 times a day.

from:  kmohan
Posted on: May 5, 2013 at 08:41 IST

In Maharashtra almost 80% of the milk is adulterated! In rural areas
even infants are given tea and not milk.

from:  umesh bhagwat
Posted on: May 5, 2013 at 06:55 IST

Heart-rending.
I still believe a healthy cow, well cared for, produces more milk than its calf needs, so milking
by itself is not evil.
I read that Gujarat has done better in taking care of cows, by better managed veterinary care
and healthier animal husbandry practices. Is it not true?

from:  Rsachi
Posted on: May 5, 2013 at 06:05 IST

It is really unfortunate that we cannot treat our cows properly. Modern experiments prove that cows not only provide milk through out their life, they are wonderful companions to humans as well. In modern days, where mental depression is so prevelant, cows supposedly causes a lot of relaxation and fullfilment to the human mind.

They provide natural fertilizers in form of dung; They provide necessary protein in form of milk. It is pathetic that they have to undergo such a painful life. When we dont care for animals (especially cows), gradually, our land will lose its fertility. A scientific excavation shows that the saudi arabia once was very fertile and now is a desert with lots of animal skeletons burried a few thousand years ago.

Humans must not merely live for business. No one can take money with them after death, after all.

from:  Sundara Pasupathi
Posted on: May 5, 2013 at 04:30 IST

Very touching write-up.

Narration of calves being separated from their mother is heart
wrenching.

Where have we come to ? What is the way out of this mess to save cow
and other animals ?

from:  Sankar
Posted on: May 5, 2013 at 03:47 IST

The lethargic and insensitive government must do something. Mother feeds
a child for a year but cow and other animals do this for their whole
life and when they become old we send them to butcher house. This is not
humanity. They do feel pain like us.

from:  Ravinder Kumar
Posted on: May 5, 2013 at 00:53 IST

A brilliant work, and unveiling of a fact in front of millions of consumers of milk and milk products throughout this country. The author really face criticism from various quarters because people blindly or otherwise treat milk and milk products as divine, having blind believes like milk as elixir. Cattle products are one of major industrial raw material especially in confectionery, ayurvedic products. Today, apart from what the author pointed out here, how many among the consumers believe that the milk they take in morning to night in the form of tea, coffee and other food items are milched from the udder of a living cow. One can imagine the adulteration in diary products and its extensive practices during festival seasons. I have witnessed since long ago and still witnessing the feeding of cooked roti and rice to cows by Hindu household members almost every day. They consider the cow as Gomata, but they rarely think about the real survival of that poor animal.

from:  Appade Rajeevan
Posted on: May 4, 2013 at 23:47 IST

The author's concern seems to be misplaced. There is a scientific question regarding cruelty
meted out to the animals when they are alive and even when they are being slaughtered, no
one can justify this especially in a country which claims to worship animals. On the other
hand she seems to be veering towards the dangerous moral question of cow slaughter, the
hindutva types like to beat everyone with this stick. I cannot understand the basic premise of
banning cow slaughter, last heard cows are not in the endangered list, so what is the legal
basis of this in a secular country? Why cannot this protection be extended to other animals
and birds and make this land a country of pure vegans? Cow slaughter should be allowed in
a humane way in all states, this industry should be promoted rather than being stigmatized
on flimsy religios grounds.

from:  Arvind
Posted on: May 4, 2013 at 23:39 IST

Can't believe something so hideous was hidden to us for decades. All that persistence of our mothers to make us drink more and more milk. At the cost of this cruelty!!

Growing up in the cities, I never got to visit an actual cow being milked. However, recently I visited a village where the buffaloes were being milked. I started some discussion with the owner about the cost of buffaloes and how the business. Out of curiosity, I asked him what they'd do if the calf was male. I mean it'd impregnate the females for sure but apart from that, it was useless. He told me they'd sell it in Pashu Mela for real cheap price. But after reading the article, I know where they actually sold the male calves!!

I don't think I can ever touch that damn glass of milk in the same way ever again. This article will always haunt me whenever I do so.

from:  Shivam Sharma
Posted on: May 4, 2013 at 22:56 IST

Great article. .Extremely informative, yet do not know how to digest so
many facts!!

from:  tulika
Posted on: May 4, 2013 at 21:44 IST

Try making kheer with dalda, it doesn't taste nice. What was the point of the story?

from:  arindom
Posted on: May 4, 2013 at 21:37 IST

I am quite disturbed to note this most inhuman treatment to the most
revered life species in India: ie Cow! I think the only to prevent such
practices are to encourage proper compliance, regular checks, clearances
for licenses based on the actual conditions, and above all if required
outright rejection of the products that are derived from this bovine
soul.

from:  Srinivas
Posted on: May 4, 2013 at 20:45 IST
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