Vinit Agarwal, who is the managing director of Delwis Healthcare Pvt Ltd , does not strike one as a typical gau rakshak. But the founder and director of the Ahmedabad-based pharmaceutical company routinely drives for five hours to ensure the successful running of a gau shala, which is home to over 100,000 cows.
But Agarwal is the new face of gau seva (cow protection). The Economic Timesreported that Delwis Healthcare has tripled its spending on the gau shala in the past three years, spending 25 percent of its Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR) expenditure on taking care of cows. "We are interested in any kind of gau seva. Our primary objective is to save the cow from butchers and slaughter houses," Agarwal told ET.
Indian law requires companies with a turnover of more than 10 billion rupees to give two percent of their net profit to charity. ET further reported that there are at least half a dozen companies, including Tata Power, which have made cow welfare part of their CSR, organizing camps. These companies are reportedly carrying out a wide range of activities including the maintenance of gau shalas, providing fodder, organizing medical camps for cows and educating farmers on how to better take care of their bovine animals.
New Delhi-based Alembic Pharmaceuticals Limited, for instance, organizes medical camps for cattle nears its plant in Gujarat. Fullerton India, a company which provides loans and insurance services, presently spends eight percent of its CSR on cattle welfare, organizing camps for cows and buffaloes that also benefit farmers. Rakesh Makkar, executive vice president of Fullerton India, told ET, "The main objective of our cattle welfare initiatives is to enhance livelihood communities by improving cattle productivity."
It was almost three years ago that Union Minister Maneka Gandhi, who has stood up for animal rights for decades, had asked companies to use their CSR expenditure on animal welfare.
"Once a cow stops giving milk, it is immediately sold to butchers. A Hindu sells the cow, a Sikh or Hindu truck driver transports the animals to a slaughter house where a butcher eventually kills them. Alternative use of cow dung has tremendous business potential and it should be explored," she said.
When Prime Minister Narendra Modi addressed the problem of cow vigilantism last year, he sought to make a distinction between cow welfare and vigilantism. "I get so angry at those who are into the Gau-Rakshak business. A Gau-Bhakt (cow devotee) is different, Gau Seva (cow protection) is different," Modi said. "70-80% will be those who indulge in anti-social activities and try to hide their sins by pretending to be Gau Rakshaks. If they are true protectors, they should realise that most cows die because of plastic, not slaughter. They should stop cows from eating plastic."
Also on HuffPost India: