With the Rashtriya Kamdhenu Aayog having cancelled its “indigenous cow science” examination after widespread criticism about its promotion of fake claims and pseudoscience, the Animal Husbandry Department said the two-year old body had “no mandate” to conduct such an examination. Any future awareness programme would be conducted “on a scientific basis”, the senior official overseeing the RKA told The Hindu .
Under the leadership of its chairman Vallabhbhai Kathiria, the RKA had announced a national “Kamdhenu Gau Vigyan Prachar Prasar Exam” to be held on February 25. Reference materials for the exam made a number of unscientific claims, including that the dung of indigenous cows protected against radioactivity, and that their milk has traces of gold, and that cow slaughter causes earthquakes. The RKA had the backing of the University Grants Commission (UGC), which publicised the examination, causing widespread outrage.
“This gau vigyan (cow science) programme was announced by the then chairman, Mr. Kathiria. And his term was up to February 20 only. Before leaving the office, he postponed it,” said O.P. Chaudhary, joint secretary in the Animal Husbandry Department which oversees the RKA. Mr. Kathiria did not respond to calls or requests for comment on the postponement.
“Until date, the Ministry was not involved. Only Mr. Kathiria was involved and he was conducting the exam. Ministry does not know the exam paper and did not play any role in the reference material for the exam...We will now examine everything on a scientific basis, and then take some decision,” Dr. Chaudhary told The Hindu .
He said that when the RKA was set up in February 2019, it was given a mandate as an advisory body on issues related to the protection, conservation and development of the indigenous cow and its progeny.
“Awareness programme is always part of the role, no issue. But conduction of an exam is something different. AICTE, UGC, all these bodies take [conduct] exams. Taking exam is not the mandate of the RKA. Creation of awareness is certainly the mandate, but it must be on a scientific basis,” he added.
After examining the situation, the Ministry will appoint a new chairperson for the RKA and send fresh information to those who had already registered for the examination, said Dr. Chaudhary.