Kindly tourist takes pity on hungry stray cows in India
India is a land of contrast with its beauty and rich history, along with its hardship and poverty. The two exist right beside each other in many instances. Huge fortresses and elaborate homes are often surrounded by dilapidated buildings and empty lots full of rubble and garbage. Expensive cars roll through neighbourhoods where children play in the street without shoes and families are hungry and barely surviving. It is no different in most countries around the world, but this contrast in India is among the most extreme that is found anywhere.
Farming here is also an extreme contrast in conditions, with most famers barely being able to pay for food for their animals. Cows are raised to provide milk, cheese and other dairy products, but religious beliefs prohibit people here from eating them. Farmers must allow the cows to roam free to forage for food because they cannot afford sufficient animal feed. The result is that the cows search for what little grass they can find, along with compost and discarded bread. Often, people in the street take pity on the cows and feed them scraps. The cows return to the farmers each night and he will take the milk for his own family. This is survival, and no other options are available for many farmers.
One of the problems with this situation is tat cows often ingest plastic and other inedible garbage, which blocks their digestive tracts, making them less productive and therefore too expensive to keep. Farmers cannot support a cow that is not producing milk and they cannot slaughter them for food. The only choice they have is to let the cow loose and hope that it manages on its own. And so the problem grows, with more stray cows, and even less food for each one. India currently has more than 5 million of these gentle beasts roaming and foraging for food in the city streets.
This tourist from Canada was surprised to learn of this problem and he found it heart breaking to see the cows trying to eat banana peels on this vacant lot. Knowing that baked goods are actually a decent food for cattle, even in large quantities, he found a bakery stall just down the street from these beautiful animals. He bought a large bag of buns and returned to the lot. The cows seemed to recognize the buns, or perhaps the kindness and they gathered around to get their share. The tourist fed the cows as quickly as he could until they were gone. by this time, he was surrounded by at least seven cows with large horns and empty bellies.
A visit to India is an experience that cannot be described. It is a country that is rich in food, culture, history and wildlife. It is also a place that holds many lessons for those willing to learn them.