India’s white revolution has always been seen as one of the great success stories, on the face of it, it does look like one also, what with generating huge revenues for the state, income for the poor, subsidies from the developed world, creation of employment, installation of heavy and costly machinery – it projects itself as a win – win situation for all (animals not included).
I was once taken or rather consumed by this charm of a promising business venture especially for the rural livelihoods. I was young, not even out of university and never ever near to a village or livestock. The business ideas from established players and their promise of changing the face of India’s rural poor – to rid people of their abject poverty was too much to resist. I plunged and with me many of my kind also plunged into it and that is when the story unfolds further………………..
I was lucky enough to get out of it as the bubble bursted, it took almost 5 years for that to happen though, but at last it did. However many of my colleagues who preceded and succeeded me in joining this hallucination are still there and I hope, sincerely, that they will realise it as well and jump the wall sometime soon.
Now, let me just briefly discuss about what turns white (milk) into pink (flesh) and why both of these are intricately intertwined with each other – the existence of one leads to the survival of the other – at least in India (it may be true for other parts of the world as well, but this is what my first hand experience is and so it is limited to India).
Keeping a cow at home was a tradition and most, rather almost all the rural households had 1-2 cows and a buffalo depending upon the size of the family, the need and the capacity to serve them as family members. The milk from the cows and buffaloes was used for the family, be it for drinking, making ghee or cottage cheese or other home made items.
This used to be that proportion of milk which was left after the calves (male or female) have suckled their mothers to their hearts content. So this milk which was left over and needed to be drained out was the milk that was used by the humans of the family and whatever remains after that (if at all) was sold either in the neighbourhood or to the local milk man or local village shop – aiding in getting a little extra money for the household that very much included the cows and the buffaloes and their progeny.
That’s history I am discussing and believe me, it was like this till the time the collared brigade entered into the fray and sold this idea of doing business at the behest of their own family members and made them to treat these innocent living beings as a commodity and a vehicle of economic uplifment for themselves.
Initially there were few takers, it was incomprehensible for the community to treat their livestock as a money making machine – not a lure enough, but then we have our ways and we have money – so we lured them more and a little more and just a little more – that is like you throw in a couple of free cows, a little more money for the product you sell, some goodies as well in return and some instant cash to make you feel rich and happy – lo and behold – you are in it, thats the fallacy of human mind, we just tend to fall – all the time – and that is when one of our family members was wilfully killed to make a living as ruthlessly as one can because the family member in question will always remain unheard as her language is neither heard nor understood and her moistened eyes were never looked into.
As we look at it today, milk has become a big industry – from Operation Flood to this day, India has been one of the topmost producers of Milk in the world. Milk is big business and institutional funding into its promotion right at the village level has been phenomenal (those of you interested in figures can kindly refer to the department of animal husbandry, govt. of India site, its http://www.dahd.nic.in).
There are milk cooperatives, producer companies, dairy promotion groups, private dairies, milk collection booths, big corporates – all banking upon that poor cow and her calf, the ability to torture them and the will to kill them for profits.
Coming back to the title of the blog, why is white the new pink or why pink is white and blood – well the very practical theory goes like this – In India we are yet very far from rearing livestock especially cows and buffaloes for production of meat, we are traditionally non meat eating or lacto vegetarians, rural communities especially with no access to modern day processed meat products are primarily lacto vegetarians.
So a majority of the cows and buffaloes that we have are actually meant to produce milk and earn for their owners. However as the law of nature can not be changed, these cows and buffaloes have a limited productive life which is further shortened because we extract the maximum out of them during their peak. We don’t want any losses, so we keep them impregnated, reducing the inter calving period, increasing the no. of milking days and increasing the production of milk by feeding more and more concentrate and additives that help in production of more milk. We use selective semen to inseminate them and play with their genetics to make them customised to our conditions and while doing so the only thing that remains in our conscious mind is that these poor animals are no more than a commodity.
The new born calves, if they are male calves are subjected to extreme cruelty by not letting them feed on the mothers milk, they eventually die of hunger or are sold to the butchers or organised veal exporters. If there is a female calf, she gets ready for this immensely cruel cycle of production with no future. The entire trade is a blot on the face of humanity and lacks compassion.
Every living being goes through the cycle of ageing and cows and buffaloes are no exception. Bought and reared for milk, once they become dry and unproductive or suffer from a disease or infection (which is quite common), they become a liability on the owning family and as such are sold either in innumerable haats (local animal markets) or through agents – in both the cases they end up for slaughter. They are transported to places where the slaughter can take place and during this time they are put through some of the most horrible torture, many of them die enroute and most of them are battered, fractured and wounded not only physically but emotionally.
I have seen many of these cows and buffaloes weeping through their eyes, their faith in humanity tattered and torn, their entire life which they gave to us to feed upon has been trampled upon without the slightest consideration of what they have earned for us.
Look them into their eyes and you will find the entire galaxy of pain and suffering, never ending human greed and apathy towards life in a different form than ours.
Its heart wrenching and portrays the extent to which humans can stoop – remember a glass of your milk or a piece of cheese or a spoonful of curd, or ghee in your plate – all of these are responsible for this incomprehensible cruelty on these innocent beings.
Meat is just an extension of milk – no less than murder and killing, no short of cruelty. Pink is the new white for all practical reasons and references. You can not increase milk production without cruelty. We do not have an old age plan or a plan for unproductive cows and buffaloes. The gaushalas are immensely low in number as compared to the no. of cows and buffaloes that are thrown out of the production cycle each day.
In india, until we curb the white, we wont be able to curtail the pink, in any scenario – the white has to go out of equation because if there is no white, there wont be any pink and similarly more white will lead to more pink. Its a business worth billions of dollars, but businesses rely on customers.
If and I so hope if, we take out the milk and its products out of our diets – the equation will change. This cycle has to end for the benefit of all, it has to end. Remember, white is the present state of pink and if your a party to white you can not wash the pink off your hands!!!
In service of animals
Faizan Vegan Jaleel