Importance of Indian cow with relevance to health

Importance of Indian cow with relevance to health

The Indian 'moo' grows fainter

By C Shivakumar - CHENNAI

26th March 2013 08:38 AM

  • The importance of the Indian cow is relevant in the health context.

The importance of the Indian cow is relevant in the health context.

The Indian cow has played one of the key roles in the growth of agrarian economy since ages and with the decline in this breed of cow population due to shrinking  grasslands, rising urbanisation and ignorance of government, which opts for international breed, a section of activists are trying to create awareness on the need to preserve the animal.

As international breeds are generally preferred to native breeds, activists of Shree Pathmeda Godham Mahatheerth stress the importance of the Indian cow, quoting the the book 'Devil in the Milk: illness, health and politics A1 and A2 Milk by Keith Woodard.

S S Rajpurohit, one of the activists, says: "This is the first internationally published book to examine the link between a protein in the milk we drink and a range of serious illnesses, including heart disease, Type 1 diabetes, autism, and schizophrenia."

These health problems are linked to a tiny protein fragment that is formed when one digests A1 beta-casein, a milk protein produced by many cows in the United States and northern European countries. Milk that contains A1 beta-casein is commonly known as A1 milk; milk that does not is called A2. All milk was once A2, until a genetic mutation occurred some thousands of years ago in some European cattle. Interestingly, the milk from Indian cow is A2 milk and the Indian governments are ignorant of the fact, Rajpurohit says.

"In India, we are trying to import the cows from Europe and other Western nations that produce A1 milk while ignoring our Indian breed of cows thus putting to risk the health of our citizens," he says.

Interestingly, in India, there is hardly any study done on the kind of milk being produced by the cows and how much they are nutritious. Activists feel that the rise in Type 1 diabetes could also be attributed to the rise in consumption of A1 milk.

Interestingly, the decline in Indian breed of cow is also attributed to the decline in number of Indian bulls who end up in slaughter house as the farmers feel they won't generate money.

Another reason is that with the growing industrialisation, governments are ignorant of the importance of grasslands. "Once it is converted to concrete jungle, the poor farmer sells his cow as he can't afford the fodder. He migrates to the cities resulting in slums," said Rajpurohit.

The need of the hour is not farm subsidies or free distribution of cattle.  Instead, the  government has to draw out a plan identifying grasslands and green belt and chalk out a strategy to preserve it.


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