Cow Science Exam Postponed: What Is The Outrage All About?

The UGC caused an uproar after it urged universities to get students to enrol for the Cow Science exam.

The "Gau Vigyan" (cow science) examination, scheduled to be held on February 25, 2021 has been postponed. The exam is organised by the Rashtriya Kamdhenu Aayog which falls under the Ministry of Fisheries, Animal Husbandry and Dairying.

The University Grants Commission (UGC) caused an uproar among academics and scholars after it urged universities across India to get students to enrol for the exam.

What is the "Cow Exam" about?

The Rashtriya Kamdhenu Aayog is a committee formed by the government for the "conservation, preservation, protection and development of cows and their progenies and for giving directions for the cattle development programmes".

On January 5, 2021, the RKA announced the "Kamdhenu Gau-VigyanPrachar-Prasar Examination", a nation-wide exam which it claimed would "infuse curiosity into all Indians about the cows, and make them aware of the unexplored potential and business opportunities a cow can offer, even after it stops giving milk".

In a press release, it stated that the exam will be held for school and college students as well as for the general public and will be offered in 14 languages including English and Hindi.

The RKA stated that everyone who appears for the exam would be given certificates while meritorious candidates would be given prizes and certificates. However, there is no information as to whether the exam holds any academic value.

According to an NDTV report, over 5 lakh people have registered to take the online exam.

Why the outrage?

Academics and scholars have criticised the UGC for backing the exam. The Kerala Sasthra Sahithya Parishad, an organisation which promotes scientific literacy, has opposed the exam calling it an attempt to "Saffronise" the Indian education system.

In a press release, the KSSP pointed out various spurious and unscientific claims made by the RKA's study guide and called the UGC's endorsement a "highly reprehensible step". The KSSP has called for the UGC to withdraw its letter to universities and cancel the exam.

Professors at West Bengal's Jadavpur University have also slammed the UGC's move with an unofficial Facebook page stating that the exam would not be conducted by the university.

Professor Sanjoy Saha from the Computer Science and Engineering department and a member of the Jadavpur University Executive Conucil told BOOM that there has been no official communication from the university on whether the exam will be held. However, he said that "at the grass-roots level, nobody is even bothered to do anything for this exam".

What does the RKA say?

RKA chairperson Vallabhbhai Kathiria told the Times of India that the exam has been postponed due to "administrative reasons" and has not been cancelled.

Stating that the exam has been postponed after it attracted a lot of interest, Kathiria said, "Instead of conducting the exam on a weekday, we may possibly look at a new date on a weeked so that more people can take the exam."

Kathiria defended holding the exam and claimed that there was nothing "unscientific" about the exam.

What does the syllabus for the exam contain?

Despite what Kathiria says, a cursory reading of the study material which had been released by the RKA contains many highly debatable and unproven claims mixed with a generous helping of shlokas from the Vedas and the Upanishads. The material is also riddled with grammatical errors.

The study material has been taken down from the RKA's website. A copy of the material has been uploaded on Scribd here.

One section in the material is devoted to "differences" between Indian and foreign cows. While it begins with the hotly-debated topic of Al and A2 milk, it descends into making outlandish claims.

It claims that native cow milk contains traces of gold, a claim which has been called out by scientists. It also claims that only milk from Indian cows contain vitamin D. However, studies have shown that milk from cow breeds like Holstein, Jersey, Guernsey, Shorthorn also contain vitamin D.

It then takes a bizarre turn claiming that Indian cows are clever and maintain good hygiene by not sitting in dirty places. Topping it off, the material states that Indian cows always stand up when an unknown person approaches it. In contrast, the RKA states that foreign breeds are unhygienic, lazy and emotionless beings.

Another section extols the "medicinal virtues of cow dung and urine" claiming that "Panchgavya" can cure a host of diseases like leprosy and "blood disorders".

One outlandish section in the study claims that people whose houses were coated with cow dung were not affected by the 1984 Bhopal Gas Leak. "Even today, nuclear power centres in India and Russia use shielding dung (against) radiation," the material reads.

We could not find any scientific or anecdotal proof to support this claim.

Under a section titled "Cow - environment protection and climate change", the material cites a theory which claims that there is a relation between animal slaughter and earthquakes.

It then dives into politics by stating that previous governments worked towards making India the world's largest beef exporter and the feat was achieved in 2012 under the "able leadership of a cow-eating leader". It is unclear who is being referred to as a "cow-eating leader" with the founders of modern Indian "revelling in their graves".

Updated On: 2021-02-22T20:16:01+05:30
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