My first novel, My Friend Sancho, is now on the stands across India. It is a contemporary love story set in Mumbai, and was longlisted for the Man Asian Literary Prize 2008. To learn more about the book, click here.
Animal rights activist Maneka Gandhi has come in the way of our soldiers getting trendy and comfortable leather sports shoes. She says thousands of cows will have to be slaughtered to make sneakers for 1.1 million jawans. But the Army believes that Maneka’s objection is a ploy to “derail the process of procurement”.
Some weeks ago, the central government announced the decision to award contracts for eight lakh pairs of high-quality sneakers replacing the no-frills brown canvas PT shoes that jawans use. [...]
Maneka told TOI that defence minister A K Antony had confirmed in writing that the contract was being cancelled. “It is illegal to use cow leather. Army should be the beacon of law in this country. About four lakh cows could be slaughtered to make eight lakh pairs,” she said.
Our soldiers put themselves in harm’s way to look after our country, and I’d really like them to have the best shoes possible. From what I can make out from this article, it seems to be a choice between leather shoes that are “tough and ideal for the difficult terrains soldiers operate in,” and “old brown canvas PT shoes.” Which would you rather have our soldiers wear?
This does not mean that I do not care about cows. I care about cows very deeply. But I also love beef, from which we can draw the conclusion that I care about cows in the abstract and not in the concrete. My compassion is contingent on convenience, but at least I’m open about this hypocrisy.
Anyway, watch this funky video featuring my favourite kind of cows: the animated ones. I like the whole spider effect—imagine tiny SpiderCows crawling all over the walls of your living room. Life would be so exciting then, even for the lactose intolerant.
New diets for cows and sheep could reduce their greenhouse gas emissions, research funded by the Department for environment, food and rural affairs (Defra) shows.
Feeding the animals maize silage, naked oats and higher sugar grasses could reduce the amount of methane they produce, the study by Reading University and the Institute of Biological, Environmental and Rural Sciences showed.
Agriculture accounts for around nine per cent of all British greenhouse gas emissions. Most of this comes from sheep, cows and goats.
I can just about imagine a cow reading this and going, “Naked oats? Mmmm!” and setting off a pleased fart. Also, I would guess that Gujju cows have historically emitted less methane, since they’ve always like sugar in their grass. I wonder if news channel reporters could also be force-fed naked oats and sugar grass.
Yeah, I know this isn’t an astonishingly substantive post, but India Uncut has resumed, so how can I not do a cow post? ;)
Suppose that you are a cow philosopher contemplating the welfare of cows. In the world today there are about 1.3 billion of your compatriots. It would be a fine thing for cows if all cows were well treated and if none were slaughtered for food. Nevertheless, being a clever cow, you understand that it’s the demand for beef that brings cows to life. How do you regard such a trade off?
I predict that any philosophical cow will consider its self-interest first. It might be in the interest of the species for cows to continue to be slaughtered, but it would certainly not be in the interest of this particular cow—so it would be against killing cows. Unless, of course, our philosophical cow is guaranteed immunity from slaughter, which its human overlords might well consider given how few cows tend to be philosophers. In that case our bovine thinker, freed from concerns about its own welfare, might well take the broader view.
Doesn’t this happen with humans as well? I know ‘intellectuals’ who rail against urbanisation and romanticise village life, while themselves living comfortably in cities. I know women who condone the way other women are treated in some cultures by resorting to moral relativism, while themselves enjoying their full human rights. (For instance...) It’s easy to pontificate about matters that don’t immediately concern us—and most pontification is exactly like that. Such it goes.
I can imagine a philosophical cow deep in thought near an unsuspecting farmer. Suddenly, the cow starts jumping up and down, shouting ‘Eureka, Eureka!’
‘What happened?’ says the farmer. ‘Why’re you so excited?’
‘I just formulated the Cowtegorical Imperative,’ says our philosophical cow.
‘That’s impossible,’ says the farmer. ‘You’re just a cow. You can’t do something like that. You can’t!’
‘That’s right,’ says the philosophical cow. ‘I Kant. But you can call me Immanuel.’
This is a bizarre controversy. A couple of days ago, in response to a question about whether he would be travelling economy class, Shashi Tharoor tweeted:
... absolutely, in cattle class out of solidarity with all our holy cows!
It’s always nice to see a minister be light-hearted. Sadly, his party isn’t. He’s been rapped on the knuckles for this act, and the party spokesman, Jayanti Natarajan, said:
We totally condemn it (Tharoor’s comments). The statement is not in sync with our political culture. His remarks are not acceptable given the sensitivity of all Indians.
Certainly the party does not endorse it. It is absolutely insensitive. We find it unacceptable and totally insensitive.
We do not approve of this articulation. Thousands of people travel in economy class.
Firstly, the lady desperately needs a thesaurus. She is being insensitive to her readers/listeners by going on and on about ‘sensivity’ and how ‘insensitive’ it all is. Once was enough, no?
Secondly, her party needs a dictionary. The term ‘cattle class’ has not been coined by Tharoor, but is a commonly used term for economy class. If it is derogatory to anyone, it is to the airlines that give their customers so little space, and not to the customers themselves. So whose sensitivity are we talking about here? Air India and Jet?
I’m a bit bemused, actually, by what the Congress is up to these days. An austerity drive means nothing when the government continues wasting our taxes on the scale it is. And berating someone for using the term ‘cattle class’ is needlessly sanctimonious when, after six decades of mostly Congress governance, we have hundreds of millions of people who cannot afford the basic necessities of life. Hell, most people in this country live cattle-class. And here we have the Congress strutting around and talking the talk.
Oh, and showing rare unity in WTFness, the BJP’s also condemned Tharoor’s tweet. Is there not one political party in this country that understands English and can take a joke?
On another note, Times Now has asked me to appear on their show, “Newshour”, to chat about this topic. It’s supposed to be tonight, and while the show runs from 9pm to 10pm, I’m told this segment starts at 9.30. They said it’s titled “A Tweet Too Far”, and if they imply that Tharoor should not be tweeting, I will defend him with as much gusto as I can manage. We all ask for transparency in government, and here you have a minister who’s actually in direct contact with so many of his countrymen, and everyone’s getting all het up. If I was in the Congress, I’d recognise this as a good thing, and encourage more of my ministers to go online. Anyway, such it goes.
Whenever I see strangers on the road teasing a cow, I say to them, easy there, never mess with a cow. Sometimes they listen, and all is well. Other times, they don’t—and I never see them again. Cows are dangerous creatures.
Indeed, it is a shame that tigers and lions have such macho reputations. If they’re the kings of the jungle, cows are the serial killers. They look benign and perfectly amiable—but sometimes…
Anyway, here’s a report from the US that indicates how dangerous cows can be. Read it for yourself—and shiver.
My favourite murder described there, which shows the increasing sophistication of their techniques, “resulted from inadvertent injection of the antibiotic Micotil 300 (tilmicosin phosphate) from a syringe in the victim’s pocket when he was knocked down by a cow.” The medicine, I propose, now be renamed tilmicowsin phosphate—or Micowtil 300—which, in Hindi, carries added significance.
Graeme Wood, in a feature on Lalu Prasad Yadav’s achievements as India’s railways minister, writes:
When Lalu presented his latest budget to Parliament on February 13, he bragged, “Hathi ko cheetah bana diya” (“I have turned an elephant into a cheetah”). What’s his secret?
“Cow dung,” he says. “I have 350 cows, including bulls. Cow dung—no need of gas.”
A few paragraphs later, Wood quotes a civil servant named Sudhir Kumar as saying, “If there is money lying around, we can smell it.” I wish these quotes had been used out of context, they would have made India seem so delightfully exotic: a land where you apply cow dung on an elephant to turn it into a cheetah, and where natives can smell money. Sadly, Wood sticks to responsible journalism and does nothing of the kind.
Every day, as we go about our mundane tasks, scientists and researchers are engaged in work that increases our understanding of the world in profound ways. Consider the following two studies, for example.
Study One: Cows and Names: In this pathbreaking study, researchers who do not need to get a life, thank you, have discovered that cows with names give more milk than cows without names. The lead researcher has been quoted as saying: “Placing more importance on knowing the individual animals and calling them by name can significantly increase milk production. Just as people respond better to the personal touch, cows also feel happier and more relaxed if given one-to-one attention.”
Study Two: Men and Alcohol: In a revelation that will send the men among you tumbling to the nearest pub, “new research suggests that moderate drinking actually protects against impotence in the long term.” The study finds that “drinkers experienced rates of impotence 25% to 30% below those of teetotallers.” So sweep that glass of fresh-lime soda off the table on your next date, and ask for a beer. “I will take you to heaven,” tell your love, “but first I must drink seven.”
And what is the conclusion from these two studies? Just this: The next time you are dating a cow, have a drink or two; but don’t drink so much that you forget her name.
Speaking of cows, there’s controversy in America about whether President-elect Barack Obama is going to impose a ‘cow tax’ on farmers because of the greenhouse emissions of their bovine inventory. Maybe farmers will now give their cows Digene to try and earn Methane Credits. If you’re a cow, my sympathies are with you.
My fondness for cows is well known, especially in steak form, but even I would never contemplate research of this nature:
Cows can sense Earth’s magnetic field, scientists say. German scientists using satellite images posted online by the Google Earth software programme have observed something that has escaped the notice of farmers, herders and hunters—Cattle grazing or at rest tend to orient their bodies in a north-south direction just like a compass needle, the Los Angeles Times reports.
Studying photographs of 8,510 cattle in 308 herds from around the world, zoologists Sabine Begall and Hynek Burda of the University of Duisburg-Essen and their colleagues found that two out of every three animals in the pictures were oriented in a direction roughly pointing to magnetic north.
The resolution of the images was not sufficient to tell which ends of the cows were pointing north, however, the report said.
They even counted how many cows there were. Just think.
Okay, enough, shut your mouth—that’s not a picture of a cow about to go trekking, but of something even more astonishing—a cow with a plastic tank attached to its back that is intended to capture the methane it farts. The Telegraph reports:
Experts said the slow digestive system of cows makes them a key producer of methane, a potent greenhouse gas that gets far less public attention than carbon dioxide.
In a bid to understand the impact of the wind produced by cows on global warming, scientists collected gas from their stomachs in plastic tanks attached to their backs.
The Argentine researchers discovered methane from cows accounts for more than 30 per cent of the country’s total greenhouse emissions.
Personally, I look at cows not as a contributor to our environmental problems but as an answer to our energy needs. I’m off to get me a steak now. Coming?
Blaming the DMK government for the death of 15 cows at the famous Rameswaram temple, AIADMK supremo Jayalalithaa on Monday said Chief Minister M Karunanidhi should resign owning “moral responsibility” for the incident.
I love Indian politics. Out there in the US, they’re arguing race and gender and politics and economics. And here…
British photographer Alison Jackson, famed for her portraits of celebrity lookalikes in compromising positions, launched an appeal for would-be Gordon Brown impersonators on Monday, after six fruitless years of searching for a stand-in.
Jackson said she had “never had such difficulty finding a lookalike before” and attributed the struggle to the prime minister’s “huge bovine features”.
I know it’s ultimately impossible and probably unnecessary to define what an essay is, but I think the Visible Cow offers an interesting and tangible analogue. What holds an essay together — the cowhide, so to speak — should be nearly invisible. The best kind of structure should be organic, revealing only the very natural way a smart person’s mind works through a topic, making connections and forming conclusions as they occur. And an essay can contain many thoughts and observations (those organs! those bones!) that might not seem to fit together, but in the end lead to a satisfying whole — a cow.
And if you’ll allow me to torture this poor cow — the Visible one and now all the real, live cows on the planet — for one more moment: just as each cow is individual, each of these essays is, too, though they are identifiably part of the same species.
This is part of Orlean’s introcution to The Best American Essays 2005. And I agree with her when she describes a cow as a satisfying whole. There can scarcely be a better occasion to assert that than the 100th cow post on India Uncut.
What better way could there be to spend a dull afternoon? Make a bingo pitch, put a cow on it, and let it progress according to where the cow has a dump. Most exciting way to pass time ever, almost on par with watching paint dry on a cow. Is it not bovine divine?
(Picture by Sebastian Derungs, via Swissmiss, which I reached via email by reader VatsaL.
I’m back in Mumbai after three days in Hyderabad, where I was attending a conference on liberalism organized by Barun Mitra of The Liberty Institute. I met many interesting people there, and some enlightenment happened amid much conversation. One high point: while casually discussing popular slogans that could spread ideas of liberty, Sauvik Chakraverti suggested “Rukawat Hatao!” I thought that rocked, not just because it plays on the frustration of Indians at the many rukawats our government places in front of us, but also because it encompasses “Garibi Hatao.” If you hatao the rukawats, I believe the garibi will also go.
* * *
The conference was at Ramoji Film City, and on the second day we were taken on a tourist trip of the place. The Ramoji Film City essentially houses sets of all kind, most of them built with plaster of Paris. There was the Gateway of India, with the Taj Mahal inside. There was Mumbai’s Central Jail, with a beauty parlour inside. There were plaster-of-Paris imitations of slices of landscape from Switzerland, Hollywood, London, Kolkata and Benaras. There was an empty square about which our guide told us, “You can make this whatever nagar you want. Put a statue of Shastri, it is Shastri Nagar. Put a statue of Gandhi, it is Gandhi Nagar.” There was a railway station, with the trains being moved on tyres, for those were out of sight. There was a “Forward Planning Garden” and a “Family Planning Garden,” and much artificial greenery all around.
Then we got back to the hotel for our conference, and even the real building seemed like plaster-of-Paris to us. My only regret in all this: they didn’t show us a plaster-of-Paris Hilton.
* * *
Yesterday, with the conference over, I hopped over for lunch to my friend Sridala Swami‘s place. Her son charmingly gifted me a couple of drawings of cows, and then gave me a tutorial on how to draw cows. First he drew a cow, part by part, carefully explaining the process. Then I drew a cow. I am a slow learner, and the boy was upset. “All the udders can’t be the same size,” he told me. “And you’ve got the hooves all wrong. Also, why have you drawn a smile? Cows don’t smile.”
“That’s not true,” I said. “I’ve seen cows smile. Cows are always smiling at me.”
He looked at me strangely. “I have never seen a cow smile,” he said, with an air of finality. The subject was closed. He moved on. “Here, let me show you how to draw a buffalo.”
The lad no doubt inherits his artistic temperament from his mother, who is a poet. Sridala gives a reading of some of her poems in Mumbai on September 13, so drop in if you’re interested. (I’ll again be out of town, sadly.) I don’t understand poetry, being deficient in such matters, but here is a nugget from one of her poems that I rather liked:
I want to be like a tree
on which the birds rest
but when they fly away
there is no pain.
* * *
Yesterday evening was memorable, as I met up with friends and bloggers I respect a lot, Nitin Pai, Ravikiran Rao, Gautam Bastian and Naveen Mandava. Nitin was at the conference with me, and is always stimulating company, besides being a great guy. Ravi, Gautam and Naveen are based in Hyderabad, though the first two had once been in Mumbai, before deserting. We spoke much about economics, politics and chicken chettinad, and Nitin and I had a fierce argument on whether India should have sent troops to Iraq. (He argued yes, I vehemently argued no.) We hung at Barista, then hung at CCD, and in between, Nitin picked up a slice of Paradise, for his wife had warned him that he won’t be allowed inside his house if he doesn’t have lots of biriyani with him. Yes, Mr Pai is a hardliner on foreign policy, but when it comes to domestic matters…
We heard that actor Mohit Ahlawat bought himself a herd of cows six years ago. The health-conscious actor was upset about the adulterated milk that was being delivered to his house, and this instigated him to buy the cows.
When we asked him about it, he said, “Why doesn’t the BMC allow one to keep cows? What’s the issue? Where I come from, everyone has cows.”
Indeed. But it must be clarified that Ahlawat loves not cows, but milk. He is quoted as saying:
I have even tasted tiger’s milk. I was in Kenya’s jungle safari when the local men, who were about seven-feet-tall, asked me if I wanted to taste the milk of a tiger. I got pretty excited and they served it to me in a bowl. I cannot describe the taste of the tiger’s milk but it was the most thrilling experience.
I have tasted goat’s milk too. People say that Gandhiji used to drink only goat’s milk.
If I had to live my life all over again, I would opt to be a tiger-milker. Such a challenge that would be.
Looking at a cow one morning last month,
I wondered if the congregation of flies
on the eye of the cow
stared at the eye of the cow
with their compound eyes
and if I had ever seen this many eyes
in this small a space or had a thought
in which the word eye occurred so obsessively.
Read the full poem—I especially like the way it ends, though not the fact that it ends. A poem about cows should go on forever, like the Milky Way.
A farmer was trampled to death under the hoofs of his cow because he was blocking the animal as it was rushing to mate with an ox, the City Evening News in Northeast China’s Jilin Province reported today.
“The cow was too anxious and snappish since this was her first mating,” said the daughter-in-law of the ox owner, adding that cows can easily get out of control when in heat.
I propose a government fund to study the feasibility of cowthanol. Funds won’t be a problem—what do you pay taxes for?
Apropos of using cows in heat as an alternative source of energy there could be other explanations. Perhaps the Chinese cow in question was protesting against the sexual posture described by Vatsyayana in the Kama Sutra as ‘Congress of the Cow’ (not to be confused with the Indian National Congress which is a kind of politicians’ orgy). Chinese cows seeking liberation and rejecting sexist postures are a revelation. Was the cow rushing on to mount the bull to settle a gender issue when it trampled its owner to death?
A valid point, worthy of serious debate. Meanwhile, here’s more on the Congress of the Cow: 1, 2.
Imagine you’re a cow. Every morning, some ignorant cowherd comes to you, grabs your boobs, and milks you. This happens day after day after day, and the only way out is beef. You’re likely to be one pissed cow, but you might also rationalise your situation and say, “Well, at least my milk provides nutrition to the benevolent human race, which has done such wonderful things to the world, like, um, whatever. Why should I object?”
Sounds plausible? Now, keep imagining that you’re that cow, and tell me how you’d feel when you read this report of what your milk was being used for:
After speculations regarding the date for Bollywoods most talked about wedding were finally put to rest, the fans of Aishwarya Rai and Abhishek Bachchan are now wishing that the star couple have a blissful married life.
However, 50-year-old Bhani Bhagat from Varanasi took a bath with scalding milk praying to wish for the couples successful married life.
‘‘This is the Gwal-Bal puja done by my ancestors for appeasing the heavenly powers especially Goddess Durga and Shitla for public prosperity, especially for granting blissful married life to would be and newly married couples,’’ news agency UNI quoted Bhagat as saying after taking the fuming bath amid a swollen crowd of devouts.
Bhagat took bath with scalding milk, ghee and kheer amid the beating of drums as an offering to Goddess Durga in the Saptsagar area in Varanasi.
“They maul my boobs for that?” Yes, they do, imaginary cow. I bet even the dinos weren’t so stupid, and if they’re extinct, don’t we deserve the same? Pah.
Do you not realize that the Time of Eating approaches? Dread Mhulhu walks the earth again, giving forth rancid milk and rewarding chickens for their aeons-long worship of the Great Old Ones by Eating them First. Words cannot describe the horror of Dread Mhulhu.
When the Taliban bans music in the areas where they’re in charge—this one is in Pakistan, not Afghanistan—it’s hardly surprising: we all know what they’re like. But you wouldn’t expect a bunch of people in Haryana to ban DJs, would you? Well, they have. And here’s one reason why:
Due to high volume of music preferred by DJs, people can’t milk buffaloes and cows in the morning as the animals are unable to sleep at night.
And in case you missed it, the Taliban has also effectively banned shaving. It’s good news for Afghan lice, but it adds an urgency to the War on Terror. After all, Gillette needs to expand into new markets.
It reminds me of Tolstoy’s chicken, actually. It would be quite enough to make me a vegetarian if I hadn’t already gone down that path, and returned. Immense self-loathing comes, but I’m reconciled to that.
Widgets are often used to illustrate concepts of economics, but I have long believed that cows bring far more value to the table. (To begin with, widgets can’t moo.) This is beautifully illustrated by a piece by Mark Gilbert in which he presents us “the world of money recast in bovine terms.”
Can anyone tell me where I could purchase a Collateralized Lactating Obligation? Even I want to play…