Traditional Small Dairies Vs Co-operatives and Industrial Dairy Farms (India)

“See these days a concept like collective dairy, no one will make an effort but if they do, they might get pure MILK. But, no one has the time and will not do it. You must have read it in the newspapers that milk is being sold for Rs.80 a liter.

The tea – sipping culture is fading away. Do you think someone buys milk at Rs.80 and will serve you tea?” says Mr. Param Hans Singh (Agriculturist and Food Activist stationed at Kashi Goshala, Varanasi)

The cow has a long and cherished tradition in Hindu folklore and mythology that dates back to the Vedic period.All cows are descended from the symbolic cow of supreme abundance, the celestial cow, KAMADHENU. Possessing the face of a lovely woman and yielding to her master all the milk that he desired, Kamadhenu today is sculpted and painted throughout India.

In Indian mythology when the forces of Good save a population from destruction, they always save the women, children, and the cows. Lord Krishna, one of the human forms of Vishnu, is associated with cows and is also known as Lord of the Cows.

Rigveda’ refers to cow as ‘Aghnya’- or one which must never be killed. ‘Yajurveda’ states- ‘Go matra Na Vidyate’ – which means that there is no parallel to the cow in this world. .’Atharva Veda’ considers cow as the ‘house of prosperity’- ‘Dhenu Sadanam rayinam’. Thus the entire culture of ancient India was ‘Go-Sanskriti’ or Culture based on cow.

After Independence, with the impact of the western world and growth of cities and towns, the entire socio-cultural and socio-economic patterns of life got revolutionized primarily on the basis of materialistic considerations.

The Gaushala movement is synonymous with the protection of cows and cattle wealth of our country. Being practiced for the last five thousand years or so, its origin can be traced to the Vedic period when social customs and rules laid great emphasis on protection, preservation and development of cows for home, and oxen for agriculture-fields.

The image of the sacred Indian cow is exemplary of idealized relationships between man and animal, and perpetuates the misconception that animals are somehow enjoying or benefiting from their exploitation. In reality, Indian cows just remain property and are increasingly treated as mere resources.

“Where we are right now is the first GoShala (cowshed). This place was setup before the Banaras Hindu University(BHU) by Sri Madan Mohan Malviyaji. This year the 127th Gopal Ashtami Fesival was celebrated here. Malviyaji ensured that there is a GoShala in all the districts of every State in India. I recently visited one near Jaunpur and unfortunately found out that there is a wood cutting-workshop of the local mafia instead of a cowshed. Amul is one of those examples, Dr.Kurian, 90yrs old had a vision that a farmer should supply the milk of his dairy farm to the cooperative factory and this milk should be pasteurized and then sold all across the country in packets. That is all about “pasteurization”


What happens is the small-dairies have been faded away and the cooperatives monopolize the milk industry. Therefore these cooperative brands keep fluctuating the price from Rs.40 to Rs.15. Now, who has the time to and buy fresh dairy milk. They all have jobs to do and convenient stores has made it simpler – says Mr Param Hans Singh. 

When we interviewe Pandit Ji, owner of a 200 year old cottage cheese manufacturing family business in Varanasi, he says “Change has been constant, the natural fodder available during our young days is not available anymore, its treated with fertilizers. Packet Milk and the white stuff inside is not milk. It is stored there for days in cold storage has no properties of milk”

The Operation Flood Programme was undertaken after the National Dairy Development Board had been formed in 1965.

The programme aimed at alleviating the gross shortage of milk supply in the metropolitan cities with the abundance of milk production in the adjoining rural areas.

This led to the formation of various co-operatives and factories, that replaced the traditional small dairy farms and Goshalas. The milk was brought to these factories where it was pasteurized ,treated,skimmed and packaged to increase the shelf value and and be able to transport it to various cities.

Indian dairy cows endure disease, infection, hormonal injections, excessive milk production, immediate separation from offspring, artificial insemination, and multiple pregnancies.

After all, we should not forget the words of the architect of India’s White Revolution, Dr. Verghese Kurian: aim of the Indian dairy movement is to develop the dairy farmer, not the dairy animal.

Robert Clive estimated that the number of cows in Bengal outnumbered the number of men. Similar was the situation in the rest of India. The first slaughterhouse in India was started in 1760, with a capacity to kill 30,000 (Thirty thousand) a day. At least 10 million cows were eliminated in a year’s time.

As part of the Master plan to destabilize India, the British initiated cow slaughter in India. Before they left the country, when the daily news paper Guardian interviewed Mahatma Gandhi on this he said that the day India attained its Independence, all the slaughter houses would be closed.

Indian dairy cows now suffer disease, infection, hormonal injections, excessive milk production, immediate separation from offsprings, artificial insemination, and multiple pregnancies.

Artificial insemination guns are rarely sterilised; syringes and needles are most often used multiple times on different animals without being disinfected.

After India attained independence, there began an extensive use of industrial manure in the name of “Green Revolution”. Farmers administering such chemicals to their crops soon felt their affects and
become unhealthy, fell into depression, and lost their desire to work.

These chemicals enter our body through our mouths, respiratory systems, and skin. This adversely affects the functioning of our internal organs, and eventually (within ten to thirty years), the chemicals act to destroy all systems of the human body.

Mr Param Hans Singh says “During the late 70’s up till early 90’s the government started supplying fertilizers to these farmers, almost free of cost that increased the production drastically, but started having visible ill-effects on their health. Scientists were aware of the side-effects but still never protested to stop the use.

 The fertilizers used in the crops are what one is eating in the form of grains.That is why disease and constipation starts taking birth. It results to people getting sick often and more profit for pharmaceutical industry.”

It becomes difficult to perceive this in the midst of all the prevalent liberalization that gives little consideration to human impact, and the free-profit making schemes catering to an insatiable hunger for materials and wealth.

In this market driven world, even our expectations are being manufactured. These mechanized organizations have conditioned our minds, established a notion of perceived purity, and have blindfolded us.

The “Save your Money” offers that you all see on the supermarket shelves are just another way of saying compromise on the quality and pay less..

It becomes a quest for us to figure out how in our lives where eating and drinking are the most basic of necessities, are we to ensure that our food and milk is pure and free of adulterants. Thus, our research led us to the oldest Gaushala or the community cowshed, set up 127 years ago by the Marwaris near Varanasi. There are about a 100 cows here, producing 300 to 350 liters of milk everyday naturally, grazing and moving freely, and living on organic fodder and crops. It is simply a home for them.

“This place, Kashi Goshala (Kashi cowshed) estate was one of the assets of the royal family of Varanasi, it served as a mango orchard. Varanasi as a city, was limited to the Ghats(riverside) and with the increasing people and pilgrims. The cows were not able to get good care in the narrow lanes of the town.

Therefore Marwari Community of Varanasi approached the King with the concern and the King allotted this land in the service of cows. We practice complete organic farming here. Elements of any chemical or inorganic fertilizers have no meaning in this place. Crops like maize and barley are grown here and those are only served as fodder to the cows. We deliver door-to door to the neighborhood. There is no plant to pasteurize or process the milk further.

All crops here are produced organically, the lentils covering 30%, white beans 30% and maize, which is an energetic crop, covers the rest. Thus the good fodder results in good quality milk. Our milk is tested before and after delivery. And we can give a word for the quality being one of the best in the country.

 The life span of a cow if taken good care is 20 years, I joined this place 17years ago and one of the cows has delivered 17 times since then and all of them are healthy. The mortality rate of young calves is 15-20%, whereas here, it is 0%. This is because, as soon as there is a newborn, it is never separated from its mother cow to have adequate intake of the colostrum that develops the immunity.

 We have here three breeds, as you see, The Red Sindhi is in the deep color, the one in lighter shade is Sahiwal and in the white and grey is the Ganga Teeri. There are some cows here who might not even deliver but still produce milk like the celestial cow Kamadhenu.

Just now these cows have come from an industrial dairy. You can have a look yourself and notice the difference between the farm raised cows and the factory farm cows. Their condition shows what they have been fed earlier and it seems like they have gone through inhumane treatments. They have donated the cows to us but we refused since we only provide shelter for Indian cattle breeds.

 The tradition and values count when we work at such a place, it is deeply rooted in us.I have been to Mumbai, Kolkatta, North-East, and Amul Factory in Gujrat, Pune. The purity of milk here cannot be compared.”- Mr Param Hans Singh speaks it out.

The choice is with us now, or it will merely result in what has already been happening – the ever increasing prices of basic necessities like milk and food. Excessive use of fertilizers and pesticides will lead to infertility of the soil, small farmers will fade away. The food and milk in the markets will be imported and induced with chemicals, and like the quest of the Sysyphus, one will have to keep striving eternally to meet these demands.

Prepared By

Mayank Pahwa, Rajat Nayyar, Bhargava Rani 

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