India’s ruling BJP had set up a National Commission for Cattle – Rashtriya Kamdhenu Ayog – with over $68 million in funding in 2019 for the conservation, protection and development of cows and their progeny. Cows have always been part of the BJP’s core political agenda due to the Hindu tradition of venerating cattle.
India’s federal government plans to ignite 330 million oil lamps, or Diyas, made of cow-dung on the occasion of India’s biggest festival of lights — Diwali — this year to counter Chinese products.
It is like lighting one cow-dung-made lamp for each of the 330 million cattle worshipped in Hinduism. Usually, a large number people light earthen lamps on the auspicious occasion of Diwali, as a gesture to celebrate the homecoming of Lord Rama following his 14-year exile as mentioned in the Ramayana, one of the two major Sanskrit epics of ancient India.
The country’s National Commission for Cattle hopes to also generate business for thousands of cow-based entrepreneurs and farmers with the endeavour.
The Commission said that it would provide environmentally-friendly alternatives to Chinese-made artificial lamps and give a leg up to Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s campaign Make in India.
Various segments of stakeholders like farmers, manufacturers, entrepreneurs, Gaushalas (cow shelters) and other concerned people are being involved on a large scale to make the campaign of Kamdhenu (Cow) Deepawali a grand success, an official statement from the Commission said on Monday.
The Commission has started promoting products made of cow dung and panchagavya, a mixture made from cow-dung, urine, milk, curd, and clarified butter, ahead of the festival season. These products include oil lamps, candles, incense sticks, wall hangings, paper weight, puja material, and idols of Hindu Gods, among others.
The blueprint developed by the National Commission for Cattle include increasing the income of farmers through the sale of milk, clarified butter, etc. as well as products made of cow-dung and urine like shampoo, floor cleaner and soap.
Presently there are about 50 products made of cow-dung available on the market, ranging from pots to key rings.
Cow protection has a prominent place in the ruling Bharatiya Janata Party’s (BJP) political rhetoric. Since Narendra Modi became Prime Minister in 2014, he has been accusing the earlier Congress government of promoting a “pink revolution” of cattle slaughter and meat exports.
India’s Hindu majority, who have an emotional attachment to cows, consider beef consumption to be sacrilege.
The livestock economy sustains nearly 73 million rural Indian households. The Modi government believes a cow-centric economy could help trigger self-reliance in India, or at least contribute to the goal.