Inside The Indian Dairy Industry
Cows have a special status in India. They are a symbol in numerous religions including Hinduism and Buddhism, which many people follow in India. This means the slaughter of cows is a controversial topic in India. Many people avoid killing and eating cows in India. But they still often use cows for producing milk. In fact, India is the largest producer of milk in the world—accounting for 18.5% of world production. Recent statistics show a growth in milk production of over 6% between 2013 and 2014. As many animal advocates know, increasing production at such rates often comes hand in hand with increases in cruel practices. And a new study by the Federation of Indian Animal Protection Organisations (FIAPO) seems to confirm this at a shocking scale.
FIAPO’s investigation stretched across 10 Indian states. And it uncovered a host of abusive practices that should be concerning to anyone. For the study, the researchers picked the states with the highest populations of dairy cattle and the highest levels of milk production. They also included the National Capital Territory of Delhi due to its political significance. The team sought to gather concrete data. They used information from the Department of Animal Husbandry, Dairying & Fisheries and mapped the networks of the industry in each state.
What they found was concerning:
- Over 25% of dairies had no arrangements for shelter and had housing in the form of thatch roof sheds, road-side areas, and so on.
- Over 78% of dairies did not have access to soft ground.
- Over 32% of dairies did not have proper lighting during the night.
- Over 78% of dairies had cows tethered on extremely short ropes at all times.
- 24% of dairies separated calves from their mothers immediately after birth.
- Over 57% of dairies had animals under stress or suffering from injuries or illness.
- Over 64% of dairies had animals with injuries ranging from small bruises to tumours and fractures.
Overall, the study paints a grim picture of the Indian dairy industry. The authors of the study call for “urgent and strict implementation of the existing laws of animal welfare as well as urban governance.” The researchers note that there is also a need for more regulation. This is the case in some areas “where there are significant violations of acceptable conditions for dairy animals as well as growing civic problems.” The study shows that, even in places where animals hold a certain cultural significance, there is the potential for substantial abuse. In light of this, animal protection advocates need to remain vigilant.