The Cow In Our Economy :
The Cow and Peace
It is in this respect that I would like you to view the cow and all it stands for Go Seva is a movement for world peace. From the mad rush to exhaust the reservoir resources of nature we want to bring humanity to realize its folly and take the help of the perennial motive power available to man in the form of our friends, the cattle. We should have a whole picture of the kind of world we want. Go Seva should help us to bring it about. I wish and hope that you will have this all round attitude and try to bring it into practice. You would do nothing which goes against ‘the cow’. The mills and all the economy which depends upon ‘reservoir economy’ are an enemy of the cow economy and Go Sevaks will realize that Gandhiji’s cow embraces all his constructive programmes.
January, 1953. "Gram Udyog Patrika".
The Cow Conference, held at Amritsar, in 1946 laid great stress on the place the cow holds in our rural economy. Apart from the programme for the preservation of the cow, as an animal, we have also to consider the steps to be taken to build up the economy symbolised by the cow. We cannot take up isolated items and concentrate on those without consolidating village life on all fronts.
From this broader approach any encouragement given to the cultivation of long staple cotton for mills is tantamount to the destruction of the cow as the seeds of long staple cotton are not available as cattle feed because of the fuzzy short staple cotton being left unlinted on the seed. Owing to this the bullocks are deprived of their oil & protein diet. Our villages are dependent on animals for the satisfactory working of their economy.
The opening of vanaspati ‘Ghee’ mills again cuts across this economy. It deprives people of a wholesome article of diet-vegetable oil and replaces it by indigestible hydrogenated oils and sets up unfair competition with the ‘tellis’.
The building of expensive roads, surfaced with Asphalt, cement etc., while being wholly unnecessary for the village economy, takes away from the cultivator the part-time occupation of transport, and reduces the employment of the bullocks. Such roads encourage draining the villages of their products. They are harmful to the unshod-animals and dislocate the self-sufficient village economy.
It is not necessary to multiply instances. The cow symbolises a way of economic life just as much as the internal combustion engine and the lorry typifies another way of economic life. The choice is before us. We may choose the one or the other but we cannot make a hotchpotch of it. If we decide in favour of the cow we have to take up that economy in all its aspects.
It is imperative that the Provincial Governments, that are now seriously thinking of rural development, should clear the issue and declare for a definite line of action. No haphazard attack on this problem will solve it.
November, 1946. "Gram Udyog Patrika".
There is a good deal of talk today about protecting the cow from the slaughter-house. It is good that people are becoming conscious of the great evil that indiscriminate slaughter of cattle has brought to our country. On the purely shortsighted view, the need for milk in a vegetarian country being important, it gives a premier place to the cow as a feeder of the nation. Apart from that it also provides the bullock which is the motive power with which the farmer produces from the land. The importance of this aspect of the question has been fully realised in conferring divinity on the cow and raising cow-slaughter to the level of a religious question. However, because of fanaticism, the very same zeal on the one side has created cussedness on the other side and we often find conflict between different sections of the population centered around cow slaughter. Therefore it now becomes necessary to ascertain exactly the place of the cow in India and give it a national approach.
With an artisan the tool that he uses becomes almost an object of worship. In fact, in India we have a definite festival ‘Shastra Pooja’ devoted to this ceremony. Man recognises his economic dependence on the means of production. Just as an artisan depends on his tools, similarly the farmer depends on the cow and if we extend the economic sphere, we may say the cow, being the means of producing food, becomes the centre of the economic organisation of man, especially in an agricultural country like India.
Apart from this aspect, when we look upon the cow as the producer of the bullock, the importance of the cow is enhanced. She now represents the centre of our economy. We may call our economic organisation, where the cow contributed towards motive power, transport, food production, etc, as a ‘Cow-centred economy’ in the same manner as England and other European countries were, not long ago, horse centred economies.
During the last century England drifted from being a horse-centred economy into a coal-centred economy and from being a coal-centred economy she is fast moving into an oil-centred economy. These stages are very important to notice as the fate of the world itself depends on the source from which we obtain our power.
In the cow and the horse-centered economies we have unlimited sources as we could breed as many bullocks and horses as we needed and, therefore, there being no restriction on the amount available, it does not arouse anybody’s greed or jealousy; but coal and petrol being limited in their supply and quantity, uses of such sources of power lead to friction amongst nations as the source dries up. It is now well recognised that these global wars are in no small measure due to different nations seeking to get control over oil fields. Hence the coal and oil economies lead to conflict amongst nations. Unlike these two, the cow and horse economies are, comparatively, peaceful economies. Therefore, in a wider sense we may say that when we break through a cow-centered economy we are really causing cow slaughter, i.e. in other words when our actions are inimical to the existence of the cow-centered economy, we are not in the company of the protectors of the cow. For example, when we use coal and oil as our source of motive power we are really banning the cow from our economy. When we are making asphalted roads, which are not in the interests of animal traction, we are also guilty of breaking through the cow-centered organisation. This aspect of the question is much more vital to us than the mere slaughter of the four-legged and two-horned animal.
We wonder how many of our friends who stand up against cow slaughter can show their hands clean of bovine blood from this higher interpretation of cow protection. The ‘Cow’ like Khadi, is symbolic of a way of life. ‘Cow Slaughter,’ therefore, would signify making impossible that way of life. We hope that those who stand for cow protection will realise the extensiveness of the cause which they stand for, and will whole-heartedly support this wider application of the principle.
October, 1947 "Gram Udyog Patrika".