UP Cows Get Ambulance Services While People Struggle For Basic Healthcare

UP Cows Get Ambulance Services While People Struggle For Basic Healthcare

It’s safe to call 2017 one of the weirdest and yet most alarming years in Indian history; cow love is a part of our judicial systems and it’s taking over our resources.

It’s been a while since the news regarding the fiscal allocation for cow-Aadhaar identification came out. But the Modi government has wasted no time in thrusting forward their obsession with the country’s bovines, in launching exclusive multi-city ambulance services for cows. Called the “Guavansh Chikitsa Mobile Vans Service”, these ambulances are deployed to rescue injured or ailing cows and transport them to cow shelters or veterinary hospitals. And to personify these bovines even further, the service is even provided with a toll-free number for the public to call for any assistance. The services would operate in Allahabad, Gorakhpur, Lucknow, Mathura and Varanasi, in collaboration with the MNREGA Mazdoor Kalyan Sanghathan.

Credits: Amar Ujala

Simultaneously, people across the country are struggling to avail the proper health care services, and the strife increases amongst minorities and communities of lower socioeconomic backgrounds. A video of man in Uttar Pradesh - incidentally the most populated state in the country - carrying dead boy on his shoulders, went viral and ironically around the same time as the news of the cow ambulance services. A similar fate was met by an Assamese migrant worker in Karnataka.

A staggering 80% of certified doctors and a 75% of dispensaries in the country only end up serving a meagre 28% of India’s population, indicating a disturbing imbalance in supply-demand chain for accessible and affordable healthcare. In a country that has prided itself on its diversity in people and culture, the decision to focus more on the conservation of a strong and large populace of bovines, who have done pretty well off for themselves, is unfathomable. While our total expenditure on healthcare for human beings stands at a sad 4.1% of the country’s GDP, industrialists in Jharkand are donating ambulances by the bulk for indisposed cows. And let’s not talk about the dwindling numbers of endangered indigenous species that would benefit best from administrative procedures and policies like these. With ambulances and identification systems for the such species, we might actually stop some from being wiped of the face of the earth.

But the issue extends far beyond the current cow themed resource allocation and healthcare accessibility. In a previous article by The Wire, we see that while policies and treatment on cattle in India and Switzerland are similar, there lies a very important difference in their roots. From cow themed beauty pageants, bovine processions and law provisions on protecting the dignity of cattle, ‘cow love’ in Switzerland have gone beyond what the law requires. However, it doesn’t cover the fact that the Swiss love their veal chops and are gonna make sure their food gets the treatment it needs, further reflecting their stance on animal welfare and the need for a better understanding of where their food comes from and how it’s treated. Here, cow lovers and beef eaters are one and the same.

However, the distinction between the two groups is far more intense in India. Beef-eaters are forced underground and cows are still left to forage for themselves in city dumps. No one can ever tell if these cow protection laws would have an impact on animal welfare, but they do definitely demonstrate the government’s religious prioritizations against the well-being of the people who vote for them.