MS Golwalkar, the RSS chief between 1940 and 1973, was the brain behind the cow protection movement in the 1960s. The government set up a committee to consider the demand of a nationwide ban on cow slaughter. The committee lasted twelve years. In that period, Golwalkar became friends with one of the committee members, Verghese Kurien, known as the 'Milkman of India'.
Kurien opposed the ban on cow slaughter for economic reasons. "It was important for us in the dairy business to keep weeding out the unhealthy cows so that available resources could be utilized for healthy and productive cattle. I was prepared to go as far as to allow that no useful cow should be killed," Kurien wrote in his autobiography.
Kurien revealed Golwalkar's real reason for the cow protection movement:
One day after one of our meetings when he had argued passionately for banning cow slaughter, he came to me and asked, 'Kurien, shall I tell you why I'm making an issue of this cow slaughter business?'
I said to him, 'Yes, please explain to me because otherwise you are a very intelligent man. Why are you doing this?'
'I started a petition to ban cow slaughter actually to embarrass the government,' he began explaining to me in private. 'I decided to collect a million signatures for this to submit to the Rashtrapati. In connection with this work I travelled across the country to see how the campaign was progressing. My travels once took me to a village in UP. There I saw in one house, a woman, who having fed and sent off her husband to work and her two children to school, took this petition and went from house to house to collect signatures in that blazing summer sun. I wondered to myself why this woman should take such pains. She was not crazy to be doing this. This is when I realized that the woman was actually doing it for her cow, which was her bread and butter, and I realized how much potential the cow has.
'Look at what our country has become. What is good is foreign: what is bad is Indian. Who is a good Indian? It's the fellow who wears a suit and a tie and puts on a hat. Who is a bad Indian? The fellow who wears a dhoti. If this nation does not take pride in what it is and merely imitates other nations, how can it amount to anything? Then I saw that the cow has potential to unify the country -- she symbolizes the culture of Bharat. So I tell you what, Kurien, you agree with me to ban cow slaughter on this committee and I promise you, five years from that date, I will have united the country.
'What I'm trying to tell you is that I'm not a fool, I'm not a fanatic. I'm just cold-blooded about this. I want to use the cow to bring out our Indianness, So please cooperate with me on this.'
We know that Golwalkar's idea of Indianness was Hindutva. He claimed that cow slaughter was introduced into India by Muslim invaders, and that using the Hindu practice of cow worship by making cow slaughter an issue was a politically useful way of furthering Hindutva.
It is ironical that Golwalkar's idea of uniting Hindus has become a wedge between upper caste Hindus and Dalits in Gujarat. Kurien has been proved right. Gau raksha committees do talk of caring for old cows, but what to do when the cow is dead? Dalits who skin the dead animal are now at the behest of Golwalkar's "cold-blooded" idea of uniting Hindus.
Golwalkar was a Brahmin, as were two of the accused in the Una incident. Other accused in include one Kshatriya and OBCs. Incidentally.
Golwalkar was a great influence on prime minister Narendra Modi.