The most important question for consideration... was whether cow farming should be in the hands of individuals or done collectively. I myself had no hesitation in saying that she could never be saved by individual farming. Her salvation, and with her that of buffalo, could only be brought about by collective endeavour. It is quite impossible for an individual farmer to look after the welfare of his cattle in his own home in a proper and scientific manner. Amongst other causes lack of collective effort has been a principal cause of the deterioration of the cow and hence of cattle in general.
The world today is moving towards the ideal of collective or co-operative
effort in every department of life. Much in this line has been and is being
accomplished. It has come into our country also, but in such a distorted
form that our poor have not been able to reap its benefits. Pari Passu
with the increase in our population land holdings of the average farmer are
daily decreasing. Moreover what the individual possesses is often
fragmentary. For such farmers to keep cattle in their homes is a suicidal
policy; and yet this is their condition today. Those who give the first
place to economics and pay scant attention to religious, ethical or
humanitarian considerations proclaim from the housetops that the farmer is
being devoured by his cattle due to the cost of their feed which is out of
all proportion to what they yield. They say it is folly not to slaughter
wholesale all useless animals.
What then should be done by humanitarians is the question. The answer
obviously is to find a way whereby we may not only save the lives of our
cattle but also see that they do not become a burden. I am sure that
co-operative effort can help us in a large measure.
The following comparison may be helpful:
1. Under the collective system no farmer can keep cattle in his house as he does
today. They foul the air, and dirty the surroundings. There is neither
intelligence nor humanitarianism in living with animals. Man was not meant
to do so. The space taken up by the cattle today would be spared to the
farmer and his family, if the collective system were adopted.
2. As the number of cattle increases, life becomes impossible for the farmer in his
home. Hence he is obliged to sell the calves and kill the male buffaloes or
else turn them out to starve and die. This inhumanity would be averted, if
the care of cattle were undertaken on a co-operative basis.
3. Collective cattle farming would ensure the supply of veterinary treatment to
animals when they are ill. No ordinary farmer can afford this on his own.
4. Similarly one selected bull can be easily kept for the need of several cows
under the collective system. This is impossible otherwise except for charity.
5. Common grazing ground or land for exercising the animals will be easily available
under the co-operative system, whereas today generally there is nothing of
the kind for individual farmers.
6. The expense on fodder will be comparatively far less under the collective system.
7. The sale of milk at good prices will be greatly facilitated, and there will be
no need or temptation for the farmer to adulterate it as he does as an individual.
8. It is impossible to carry out tests of the fitness of every head of cattle
individually, but this could easily be done for the cattle of a whole
village and would thus make it easier to improve the breed.
9. The foregoing advantages should be sufficient argument in favour of
co-operative farming. The strongest argument in its favour is that the
individualistic system has been the means of making our own conditions as
well as that of our cattle pitiable. We can only save ourselves and them by
making this essential change.
I firmly believe too that we shall not derive the full benefits of
agriculture until we take to co-operative farming. Does it not stand to
reason that it is far better for a hundred families in a village to
cultivate their lands collectively and divide the income there from than to
divide the land anyhow into a hundred portions? And what applied to land
applies equally to cattle.
It is quite another matter that it may be difficult to convert people to
adopt this way of life straightaway. The straight and narrow road is always
hard to traverse. Every step in the programme of cow service is strewn with
thorny problems. But only by surmounting difficulties can we hope to make
the path easier. My purpose for the time being is to show the great
superiority of collective cattle farming over the individual effort. I hold
further that the latter is wrong and the former only is right. In reality
even the individual can only safeguard his independence through
co-operation. In cattle farming the individual effort has led to selfishness
and inhumanity, whereas the collective effort can abate both the evils, if
it does not remove them altogether.