Monday, February 10, 2014

Newspaper article

Today’s article comes from the weekend’s “Indian Economic Times” and talks about setting up a Ministry for Cows.


.......not sure what to say about that !!


Despite four agencies on bovine welfare, Rajasthan to set up cow ministry soon


By ET Bureau | 8 Feb, 2014, 04.14AM IST
By Akshay Deshmane

Rajasthan’s animal husbandry department’s officials are hard at work to set up India’s first ministry for cows.

JAIPUR: Indian officials know bovines are a serious business. Ask those policemen "sent to police lines", whatever that means, for being derelict in protecting Uttar Pradesh minister Azam Khan's buffaloes.

Thankfully, the animals have been rescued, presumably putting an end to rampant cattle rustling in the Wild East. But we need to actually look further west to see a politician putting her money where her mouth is. Vasundhara Raje pledged a ministry for cows during her recent election campaign and having swept to power, guess what, she's sticking to her word.

Religious leaders close to the political leaders
of Rajasthan asked for a cow ministry and that's exactly what they'll get — and that too in the rapid span of two months, a pace that's noticeably faster than that of the average bovine.

Rajasthan's animal husbandry department's officials are hard at work to set up India's first ministry for cows. The ministry will help establish "a world university on cow science" for carrying out research into agriculture and other subjects that centre around the animal, which Hindus regard as holy. It will also thrash out a policy for the protection, conservation and improvement of indigenous breeds besides stemming the trafficking of the animal.

Chief Minister Raje's recent decision to include the cow ministry in her much-touted 60-day governance plan has forced officials to get going with the programme. But being a pioneer isn't easy. In several detailed but off-the-record conversations with ET, the officials didn't seem to be as wildly enthusiastic as they should have been. Confusion and irritation seemed to be the prevailing emotions.

Issues of jurisdiction

Some of them are of the opinion that there's already too much cow-related administration going on. That's just nitpicking, the government might argue, pointing out that there are only four state agencies under the animal husbandry department engaged in the welfare of cows and other bovines. These include the Cow Conservation Directorate, Gau Seva Commission, Animal Husbandry Directorate and Rajasthan Livestock Development Board (RLDB).

Each has specific responsibilities that include development and research of cow breeds and fodder; monitoring the 1,304 cow sheds in state; calf protection and urine and dung management; and rescuing stray cattle. "The cow conservation directorate was added only recently, around the time of the assembly elections, adding further to the already elaborate bureaucracy of livestock conservation in a state which has India's largest number of cattle," a senior animal husbandry department official pointed out.

The existence of several departments to conserve and protect cows and other bovines has made the process of setting up an entirely new ministry complicated "due to issues of jurisdiction," he said. Oh, turf battles. Something cows and politicians would understand. The official elaborated on this. The new ministry will have to resolve "jurisdictional issues with other departments such as forest, revenue and Panchayati Raj because of the implication of the activities the cow ministry is expected to undertake," he said.

There's also some legal fine print that could kill the state's admirable initiative. "Legally, states cannot set up ministries. They can only propose and set up a department. So it is likely that, eventually, the state will settle for the option of setting up a department." But all that means is duplication of work, said one former official. "It's good if they want to protect cows and start a ministry for that," said Dhirendra Bhandari, former director of the state's animal husbandry department and chairman of Rajasthan Gaushala Seva Sangh.

"But there are existing institutions doing the job just fine, not creating any pressing need for a cow ministry. During the (Ashok) Gehlot government's reign, Rs 140 crore was allocated for the Animal Husbandry Directorate by the state government and Rs 32 crore disbursed by the Gau Seva
Commission during this financial year for protection and overseeing functioning of cow shelters and cattle."

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