In Bharat, cow is an integral part of rural life since ages and as old as Vedic age. It continued to be so, till India achieved its Independence. Thereafter, the industry-driven, corporate-controlled economy, the shortsightedness of our power-lust political leaders of independent India delinked this integral entity of the rural life economy, from where it belongs. The result was mechanisation of milk production and agriculture. This delinking resulted in diminishing of the cattle wealth of India from 300 million at the time of Independence to less than 200 million presently. The reasons are several in number, the most important being, the selfish narrow vote-bank politics, fearing certain vocal and aggressive sections, to the extent of increasing the number slaughterhouses to 36,000 (thirty-six thousand) from 300 (three hundred) at the time of Independence. In addition in the 11th Five Year Plan the present government allotted rupees 2,500 crore (twenty-five hundred crore rupees) for modernising the slaughterhouses. All this is in the name of progress and secularism.
As a part of the unique massive campaign of this century-the Vishwa Mangal Gou Gram Yatra (VMGGY)-I took up the task of presenting the cow to the college youth in its true perspective based on scientific and authentic reports. To achieve this object I have prepared a power point presentation on “Organic farming, cow-based economy and the environment” and started giving lectures. The lectures were delivered at twenty-eight places including five universities and five voluntary service organisations covering more than five thousand youth. This apart, a copy of the presentation was given each to more than hundred persons, who in turn wish to propagate the theme in their own way.
The solution is in Indian cow
The solution is in Indian cow, that is 185 million strong, even now. It sounds like a fantasy, an imaginary fairy tale, but it is true. The saying the truth is stranger than fiction is very much true in this case. If the biogas from the 1000 million tons of gobar available from the cattle is properly farmed, it can meet all the present energy requirements, met by natural gas and kerosene used for cooking purposes and the petrol for transportation. Arun Firodia, the chairman, Kinetic group and an MIT Boston engineering graduate, wrote an article in The Times of India way back in the year 2004. The name of the article is “Cows are forever”. One can find the article through Google search and the detailed breakup is well explained. He also mentioned that apart from the energy utilisation the gobar slurry of more than 50 million tonnes forms an excellent organic manure, meeting almost all the agricultural needs. It was during NDA regime. Nothing progressed in practice. As far as India is concerned, it is still in theoretical stage. But in California, USA, M/s Bio-Energy Fuels Company is supplying all the methane, produced from 5000 strong dairy farms to M/s Pacific Electric Company, which in turn is producing electricity and supplying it to 2000 houses. It is not a utopia, it is a ground reality and the US government is giving subsidy to this sustainable and renewable source of energy. In Sweden, 70,000 cars are running by methane. The plans on these lines are well drawn and implemented elsewhere but not in India, in spite of its potential and need to strengthen the rural sector and feed the power-hungry villages. In fact, there is a book called Dung is Gold Mine (See iscowp.org). It is interesting to note from this source which says: “The only way to the problems of shortage of food grains, water, fuel, shelter, good health, nutrition, eradication of poverty and unemployment is dung-dung and only dung.” In fact it was well substantiated in this 150-page document.
Organic farming and the cow
The cow and organic farming are inseparable entities in India. Now the whole world is turning to organic foods. There are two million (twenty lakh) organic farmers in US alone. The concept is catching up fast all over the globe, more so in developed countries. India is still far behind, though successful attempts are under way through the efforts of persons like Subhash Palekar from Maharashtra, Dr Vandana Shiva from Uttarakhand etc. It is interesting to note that several lakhs of farmers are getting benefitted through “natural way of farming” proposed by Subhash Palekar. He has shown the way to farm 30 acres of land profitably by using the gobar and urine from just one cow, without any fertilizers or pesticides. Lakhs of farmers are being benefitted. It is a ground reality. It is catching up well through the coordinated efforts from persons like Dr Vibha Gupta, chairperson, Magan Sangrahalaya, Wardha, whom I met recently and had first-hand information about the magnitude of their efforts. Again it is cow and its products. This kind of farming through rearing of cows is spreading like a contagion since seeing is believing. No doubt, it is a silver lining on the black clouds.
Cow-based organic farming and the environment
There is much more between the organic farming and the environment including the ground water levels. The indiscriminate use of chemical fertilizers brought millions of hectares of lands to a desert-like condition. In India, Punjab tops this mad rush for chemical farming and is facing the consequences with the degraded lands left behind, with contaminated underground water, mainly with nitrate, a carcinogenic agent. This is not the case with India only, both the developed and developing countries are in the same situation. There are scientific reports that even in USA the soils with rich carbon content with nearly 20 per cent have come to as low as one per cent, reducing the fertility almost to the minimum. Recently, a report mentioned that a part of America is becoming desert like because of indiscriminate use or chemical fertilizers. The horrifying fact of this kind of agricultural practices is that about 25 million workers in developing countries are poisoned each year by pesticides. In this backdrop, the organic farming is the solution, which reduces global warming. It puts back carbon into the soil enriching the soil fertility, whereas chemical fertilizers releases carbon dioxide into the atmosphere by destroying soil carbon, thus contributing to global warming.
(The writer is former Head of the Department and Director of School of Chemistry and can be contacted at [email protected])