India’s first gaushala manual for protecting cows, according to Union minister and animal rights by Maneka Gandhi.
Concerned over the poor upkeep of gaushalas (cow shelters) across India and the high mortality rate of the animals kept there, Gandhi has – in her individual capacity and not that of a minister – penned the country’s first-of-its-kind manual that lays down the standard operating procedures for running such shelters.
In the foreword to her gaushala manual, Gandhi says: “A gaushala may have a mandir (temple) in it venerating the cow, but it rarely has a sick bay in which the animal is treated.”
India had around 122 million cows according to the 19th Livestock Census conducted in 2014. It isn’t clear how many of them find their way to gaushalas which also house bulls, oxen, and buffaloes.
According to a 2014 reply in Parliament, there are about 3,030 gaushalas in the country, of which 1,325 are run by various animal husbandry departments of the states.
Grants made to gaushalas are covered under the grassland development category of the National Bovine Mission, a scheme predating the Modi government.
Maneka Gandhi says she will send the manual to gaushalas across the country. She also plans to request government departments such as the one in charge of animal husbandry and agencies such as the Animal Welfare Board of India to adopt the manual.
One of the chapters gives tips on making gaushalas financially viable by using cow dung to produce gobar gas and compost.
The manual recommends that gaushalas also approach companies for a portion of their Corporate Social Responsibility funds to finance the creation of modern sheds, biogas plants and solar units.
And since the cow is considered holy, even organizing religious discourses on the importance of cows, “gaukathas” by “seers and saints” could help raise funds for gaushalas, according to the manual.>