Cow-politics in India: A study on recent developments
‘Cow’ is a politically important animal in India. In other words, the cow is a ‘political animal’ of India. There has been a long history of socio-political tensions in India over the question of ‘cow protection.’ The two main parties of this conflict are the people of the Hindu and Muslim communities. For Hindus, it is a religious duty to ‘protect cows,’ while for Muslims, it is a religious freedom to ‘sacrifice cow and eat beef.’ Especially, after the independence this religious conflict has become one of the political conflicts in India. Various issues like cow vigilantism, mob-lynching, beef politics can be brought together in the field of ‘cow-politics.’ The new character of ‘cow-politics’ is much more diverse and different than the pre-independence cow protection movement. These recent developments in ‘cow-politics’ have been discussed here. Especially after the establishment of the BJP-led NDA Government of India in 2014, there has been a rise in the number of cow protection groups and incidents of cow vigilantism. Different concepts like ‘Food Fascism,’ ‘Cow Terrorism’ have emerged. The first part of the discussion gives a brief overview of the history of the cow protection movement in India and its development in the post-independence period. The next section discusses the recent significant rise of cow protection groups and their violent activities. The recent initiatives taken at various administrative levels to protect cows have also been highlighted. In the last part of the discussion, the role of social media in ‘cow-politics’ and its growing connections with students, youth and labour class people has been analyzed.