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The diary of a Jersey cow

LiveMint logoLiveMint 06-07-2017 Priya Ramani

I wish I could go back to Denmark. I can’t take the everyday racism any more. Suddenly, I’ve become a second-class citizen, considered inferior in every way to my indigenous sisters. I know you’ve termed it the post-truth era, but it’s still unbelievable to see how, overnight, you have suddenly blacked out all my great qualities and are focusing all your energies on saving the “endangered” desi cow. During the Lok Sabha question hour, they ask if there are any plans to ban foreign cows. These days people see me and point accusingly: “Look, she’s foreign. She doesn’t have a hump, the mark of a true Indian cow.”

I’m tired of people questioning my allegiance. Maybe it’s time to remind you how important I have been in your life. I never was, and never will be, an inferior breed.

I don’t want to show off but Jersey semen is legendary. This is a family newspaper so you can look up more details if this factoid sparked your interest. Our carbon footprint is lower than most other bovine breeds. Our milk ranks high too. The American Jersey Cattle Association (AJCA) says that compared to the average glass of milk, milk from a Jersey contains 15-20% more protein, 15-18% more calcium and 10-12% more phosphorus, plus high levels of vitamin B12. If your ice cream’s creamy, it is probably made from our milk. Why do you think we cost more than desi cows?

As for that whole evil A1 vs miracle A2 milk protein debate, like the Milk vs No Milk debate, there is no correct scientific answer—only what you and your physiotherapist or yoga instructor believe.

Even if you’ve switched to heritage desi cow milk from your new neighbourhood gaushala, do your research properly. Don’t be fooled by those who tell you that the milk of ALL desi cows contains the A2 protein. Also, buffalo milk, the mainstay of Indian dairy consumers, doesn’t contain A2. Only 12% of India’s milk came from the indigenous cow in 2016-17, according to the annual report of the department of animal husbandry, dairying and fisheries.

PS: The spinach you eat is loaded with lead and the water you drink will probably kill you faster than milk. Of course, Delhiites have bigger problems than their diet. They should just drink whatever they want, who knows how long their black lungs will hold out.

You’ve conveniently forgotten you invited us from Sweden and Germany during Operation Flood in the 1970s to help improve the levels of milk production. I was part of some fancy Indo-Danish initiative. It’s because of the semen and embryos of us impure outsiders that you rank first in milk production in the world. Holstein and I managed to survive the heat of our new home and we adapted to Indian conditions better than any of the other imported breeds.

We’ve been here eating your plastic for nearly half a century now. We’re as hardy as any of our desi brothers and sisters. This is our country now and we deserve better.

I wish I could issue a travel advisory alerting my European brothers to the new rules of New India. Eighty of my brothers, poor unsuspecting fools, are scheduled to arrive here thanks to the National Dairy Development Board’s (NDDB’s) plan to, ahem, “improve the genetic potential of Indian cows”, according to an article I read in The Hindu, my favourite newspaper since I live in Karnataka (after Mint, of course, which has kindly given this out-of-favour animal the space to share her feelings).

I can’t help wondering: If desi cows are so perfect, why do they need improving?

What a fall this has been for an animal of my stature. From my great ancestors who have been prized since the 1700s on the Isle of Jersey in the British Channel Islands to this developing nation where the same folk who probably grew up on my milk now label it poison. There are even ugly WhatsApp videos attacking “jarsy” cows.

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One researcher from Gujarat Ayurveda University recently claimed that we make a hole in the ozone layer but desi cows have nothing to do with global warming. “In India, we prefer our original zero-maintenance desi cow, rather than fat Jersey cows that keep eating and drinking through the day, fall sick more often and have to be pumped full of antibiotics. These cows fart methane gas, so often that the ozone layer has got a hole,” The Times Of India reported, quoting from his research paper. I wonder how much time he wasted comparing the farting habits of various breeds.

One desi cow who’s a friend—yes, we cows live in harmony; at the end of the day no cow likes walking uphill to graze—revealed she’s worried that Indian men are now rushing to protect her every time she steps out into a public space. She’s scared that they’ll cramp her style; soon she won’t be allowed to saunter in the middle of the roads and highways, stopping traffic for a lark. I don’t blame her for worrying, she’s seen their efforts to “protect” Indian women.

News agency Reuters recently reported that the country’s butchers supported the beef ban but that they wanted the government to at least allow them to slaughter foreign-origin cows like me. One minister said no, all cows are equal. I have emailed him the list of propaganda sites that are slandering my name.

I’m okay with the butchers’ demand; it’s been my fate throughout the world.

I don’t have any inflated opinion about my divinity. I’m just here to serve you and ensure your children get enough calcium growing up. I believe that everyone should have the right to a healthy life. That all animals should be treated equal. That everyone should eat what they want, even if that happens to be me.

Priya Ramani shares what’s making her feel angsty/agreeable.

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