Why are there so many cows in India?
The reason there are so many cows in India is because they are sacred animals in Hinduism and are 'protected'. Hinduism is the religion which is followed by 80% of the country, so it is clear to see how the number of cows continues to rise. If you have visited India you can't ignore the number of cows; you will find them walking down the street, taking a nap on the motorway or chilling out on the beach.
It is reported that there are more than 6 millions cows roaming the country.
In India, even if cows stop producing milk the farmers are not permitted to slaughter them but often the farmers can't financially afford to continue to feed them, so they turn them loose. Then the hungry cows go on the hunt for food, destroying valuable crops or causing havoc in villages, towns or cities. The cows can block traffic, cause road traffic collision and cause hygiene issues but communities accept and respect their four legged friends.
There are shelters called 'gaushalas', which take in stray and usually malnourish cows, but they even struggle to care for the sheer amount of animals, which still results in a high volume of deaths. Many states have banned the slaughter of cows and so they just reproducing and reproducing. In addition to the shelters there are cow protection groups, one of which "Gau Rakshak Dal Haryana", referred to ancient texts and scholars, stating that the cow is like a mother and should not be slaughtered.
When we stayed with a local family in Kerala (which you can read about here), our host, Jose, had two cows who lived in his garden but also roamed the streets. He told us that they were his pets and the majority of people he knew owned cows. Jose explained how people would risk crashing their car to avoid hurting a cow and they are extremely important animals in their culture.
I found it really interesting learning about how cows are perceived in India. Luckily for me, I like cows so I enjoyed seeing them just roaming around the streets or just chilling on the beach.
I don't know if it is just me but I am quite jealous of that cow right now!
More articles in the India Series:
If you have taken a career break or sabbatical and have a story to tell, drop me an email at email@example.com to be a part of the interview series.