After the battle of cattle, is it the time for Bengal tiger to retire?

With each passing day the ‘battle of cattle’ is taking bizarre turns. A day after Madras High Court announced a stay on the Centre’s ban on sale and purchase of cow at animal markets for slaughter for weeks, Rajasthan High Court recommends that cow should be made the national animal. Justice Mahesh Chandra Sharma in a 145-page order while hearing a petition against Jaipur’s Hingoniya Gaushala stated that, “Keeping in mind Articles 48 and 51A(g) of the Constitution and to provide legal entity for their proper protection and conservation of cow, it is expected from the government that cow is declared a national animal”. He also recommended life imprisonment for those involved in cow slaughtering. Hingoniya Gaushala is a government-run cowshed and last year more than a hundred cows were found dead here.

In an interview to a news channel the soon-to-retire justice elaborated his suggestion on making cow the national animal. And his knowledge of the animal world is bizarre. He says “Peacock ki bhi quality hai, vo bhi mein bata deta hun aapko kyon declare kiya. Jo mor hai ye aajeevan brahm chari hai. Ye kabhi bhi morni ke saath sex nahi karta. Iske jo aansu aate hain, morni usey chug kar garbhvati hoti hai, mor ya morni ko janm deti hai”. Meaning: ‘The peacock is a lifelong celibate. It does not have sex with peahen. The peahen gives birth after it gets impregnated with the tears of the peacock. A peacock or a peahen is then born’. Well, this theory comes from Mahabharata’s popular myth which states that, peahen gets attracted to peacock after watching his dance and when she goes to him he has tears in his eyes which the peahen drinks and becomes pregnant.

Context? He was just trying to elaborate why cow deserves to be the national animal of India. This is not the first time when a public figure has uttered scientifically inaccurate theories with sheer confidence (and that’s altogether a different story!). In a democratic country like India is it correct to judge holiness of animals? According to Mahatma Gandhi, “The greatness of a nation and its moral progress can be judged by the way its animals are treated.” And we have grown-up listening to mythological stories where every second animal is either related to or mount (vahana) of god/goddess.

Amidst all the drama, the not-the-fan-of-national-geographic Sharma is missing something. If ‘cow’ is going to be honoured with ‘India’s National Animal’s position, what will happen to the current ‘inhabitant’ of the position ‘The Bengal Tiger’? Is it the time for the tiger to retire? No! Now we don’t want another ruckus in the country on ‘Who will be our national animal?’

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