Sunday, April 14, 2024
HomeReportsControversy to a conspiracy by PETA for India’s dairy industry (AMUL): A perspective

Controversy to a conspiracy by PETA for India’s dairy industry (AMUL): A perspective

Also Read

agarwalvj
agarwalvj
Born in village Kotah (Saharanpur), Vijendra Agarwal, left India in 1973 after Ph.D. (Physics) from IIT Roorkee but always remained connected with his roots. A researcher in Italy, Japan, and France, he came to the US in 1978. He served as faculty and academic administrator (Assistant Vice President, Associate Vice Chancellor, and Dean of the College of Science and Engineering) in several universities, and an Executive Fellow in the White House S&T Policy during Clinton administration. Following his voluntary retirement in 2014, he and his wife co-founded a US-based NGO, Vidya Gyan, to serve rural India toward education, health, and empowerment of girls and overall development. An Indian at heart, his passion for writing has no boundaries. This includes policy, politics and people, and social/cultural activities promoting community engagement. Currently, he is the Brand Ambassador for Times of India and frequently blogs on Linkedin on various topics.

Call what you may but the controversies/conspiracies in India are on the rise in recent years what used to be the money scandals in yesteryears prior to 2014. Political parties like Congress and AAP and pro-Islam and/or anti-Hindu groups are continuously seeking to create civic unrest. One example is the protracted Shahin Bagh protests and violence in Delhi followed by anti-CAA resolutions in various cities in the U.S. since 2019. Another example is the continued farmer’s agitation including insurgency on India’s Red Fort in January 2021 aided by the Khalistan movement in the West. More recently, the tool kit, allegedly created by the Congress party, the social media corporate houses challenging India’s laws, and the U.S.-based NGO, PETA (People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals) raising voice against the dairy industry are part of a larger sinister agenda. In common language- “chor chor mausere bhai” implies that many are collaborating in the conspiracy to create political instability in India to subvert the development agenda of the current Modi government.

Our focus is on what motivated PETA for writing an unsolicited letter to Amul (the farmer-owned coop), the largest dairy industry, asking to start producing non-dairy milk. There is nothing wrong if Indian people desire, need, and can afford it. Amul and the dairy industry, in general, is aware of its pros and cons. One important factor is the cost of non-dairy milk, nearly 2-3 times more than dairy milk even in the United States. Thus, it is unaffordable for many unless medically necessary for lactose intolerance or individual choice for health reasons. India is still a developing country with a two-thirds population in rural areas some of whom can barely afford dairy milk let alone non-dairy milk.

Indisputably, the livelihood of millions of small farmers in rural India has been rooted in dairy farming for centuries. I know it because I was born in a village and see it today more than 70 years later. Many families, particularly women, have a couple of cows or buffalos to earn their livelihood by selling milk. My own family almost always had a cow which is never be sold even after she stopped producing milk. The “sacred” cow is like a “mother” because her milk nourished the family and the male calves were used in farming. I have lived a healthy life on dairy milk for nearly seventy years and so are millions of others in India and elsewhere.

PETA touched on a very controversial topic of cow slaughter in India because of her traditional status as an endeared and respected living being to some sects of Hinduism, Sikhism, Jainism, Buddhism, and Zoroastrianism. PETA’s letter suggesting the dairy sector as the primary supplier of cattle to the beef industry, most cows and buffalos raised in a factory environment, and artificial insemination by inserting the arm into the animal’s rectum may bear some truth but highly undesirable and uncalled for. PETA’s generalities like male calves who are of no value to the dairy business cast out to starve and sold to be killed for flesh and skin, the cows used as milk machines and then abandoned/slaughtered, and the cow shelters (gaushalas) being severely crowded, and often poorly run are not entirely true. PETA really had no business to touch the raw nerves of so many who endear and respect cattle across India. It is a very sensitive topic in many States who are heavily investing their political capital and financial resources in protecting cows from being slaughtered.

PETA was founded for ensuring the ethical treatment of animals and there is not much evidence of that in India. On the contrary, a majority of Indians believe in the sanctity of all life- human as well as animal since King Ashoka’s time (ca. 269 BCE to 232 BCE) when he prohibited slaughtering animals for sacrifice. Let me be clear that I am neither raising the issue of one’s dietary preference, vegetarian or non-vegetarian nor arguing for or against the beef industry. For complete transparency, I am a vegetarian and not a vegan (who doesn’t consume traditional dairy products like cow milk, cheese, desserts, etc.).

PETA is a successful large organization with about $59 million worth of assets in 2019 with a checkered history of overreach and radicalism by many accounts. It earmarked about 3 of 59 million as grants/assistance to foreign organizations and/or individuals including more than 1,2 M to PETA India. PETA founder, Ingrid Newkirk, born in England, moved to India at the age of 7, volunteered with her mother in Mother Teressa’s Missionary of Charities. There, she must have had firsthand exposure to fewer animal rights issues and a fair amount of cow milk products’ consumption in common households. She must also know that cow slaughter is largely banned in India and continues to be a matter of judiciary discourse and review.

A passionate animal rights activist, Newkirk, cannot be ignorant about the widespread vegetarianism (including dairy) across India. Yet, her association with a missionary organization may have led to an anti-India stance such as the conversion of Hindus by other religions which is under scrutiny in today’s India. Also, the laws about foreign funds used for conversion and unlawful purposes are strictly being enforced than ever before. PETA may not appreciate transparency and accountability. It may not be surprising that the PETA founder is influential in private and government circles. Thus, capable of and interested in starting a new controversy/conspiracy in India even during the most challenging times of the second wave of COVID-19.

Let us connect the dots. First, about the trade negotiations for more exports of dairy and farm products from the U.S. which has been a thorny issue with the Modi government. India has been reluctant to open the dairy market to protect the livelihood of tens of millions, mostly small and marginal landless farmers, who are engaged in dairy milk production. The timing of PETA’s letter to Amul on June 3 and the US Trade Representative announcing on June 2 the plan for the 25 percent increase in the tariffs on 26 items from India. Is this merely a coincidence or planned politics behind the scene? The headlines like “Biden reinvigorates tariff war against India with retaliation against digital tax,” are a consequence of ongoing trade talks. Thus, PETA’s proposal that Amul should include non-dairy milk in their business portfolio may not be just a friendly gesture as it appears.

It is an attempt to pressurize India for the increased import of almonds and soybean from the US. Nothing can be too far-reaching for PETA in its quest for increased funding for activism. The US is the biggest producer of almonds and India the largest importer. Any increase in the demand for almonds will overflow the pocket of Beverly Hills billionaire Stewart Resnick who owns thousands of acres of almonds, a water-guzzling crop causing immense environmental damage not talked about by PETA. Do the PETA founder and almond king have a mutually beneficial alliance for killing India’s dairy industry in slow death? If so, how unfortunate in making millions of landless women unemployed and robbing the nutrition (dairy milk) away from the millions?

The story of soybean, another candidate for plant-based milk, is no different because the US is the second-largest producer after Brazil. The US is always seeking a new market for soybean to protect the farmers in case its export to China comes under threat. How ironic that the US wants to protect its own farmers at the cost of but does the livelihood of millions of small dairy farmers in India. Why PETA is writing Amul? First, Amul’s Managing Director Sodhi has been a vocal critic of the foreign trade encroaching the dairy industry of India. Is PETA indirectly asking for Sodhi’s silence for no headlines such as, “India’s dairy farmers have become a big hurdle for trade deals with US, EU.” One must note that diplomacy and politics involve behind the scene linkages which are not reported. I won’t be surprised that the strong lobby of almond, soybean, and PETA, for example, offer significant campaign funds to the politicians and thus influence the trade negotiations. The local politics in the agriculture and dairy farming dominated States in the US is influencing the trade and other policies globally.

Is PETA trying to add fuel to the fire by inciting the small dairy farmers by threatening their livelihood to join the ongoing farmer’s protests? The individual right to choose what one should eat is being infringed by PETA who has no right or reason to promote one type of milk against the other. PETA can fund authentic and objective research about the pros and cons. But taking the side of plant-based milk is unethical and beyond its charter of ethical treatment, or lack thereof, of animals. Clearly, PETA may have gotten greedy for support from vested interests to kill the dairy industry in the U.S. and elsewhere in the name of “veganism” as a healthier choice. I for one would never give up dairy products and neither should anyone else unless medically advised or desired as a personal choice.

The best-unsolicited advice to PETA for their unsolicited letter to Amul is to quietly stay away from such controversies and refrain from playing with emotions and threaten the livelihood of millions in India. Let India’s dairy industry like Amul or independent entrepreneur(s) choose to enter the plant-based milk market when they believe it is profitable, affordable, and appropriate. Any association of ethical treatment of animals, PETA’s stated purpose, with dairy/non-dairy farming, is far-fetched at best.

If PETA still has the propensity to touch the raw nerves of many and cause a major conspiracy in India, it must first ask the US and other industrialized countries to completely shut down the large-scale production facilities of all poultry, meat, and dairy products. There is considerable evidence of massive unethical and cruel treatment of animals at all stages in corporate America. How fair it is for PETA to disrupt the lives of small dairy farmers and hurt people’s sentiments/religious beliefs for sacred cows while doing little in the US and across the EU? Let PETA adopt the slogan, “People for Ethical Treatment of ALL.” To include human as well as animal, a cue from Ashoka times.

  Support Us  

OpIndia is not rich like the mainstream media. Even a small contribution by you will help us keep running. Consider making a voluntary payment.

Trending now

agarwalvj
agarwalvj
Born in village Kotah (Saharanpur), Vijendra Agarwal, left India in 1973 after Ph.D. (Physics) from IIT Roorkee but always remained connected with his roots. A researcher in Italy, Japan, and France, he came to the US in 1978. He served as faculty and academic administrator (Assistant Vice President, Associate Vice Chancellor, and Dean of the College of Science and Engineering) in several universities, and an Executive Fellow in the White House S&T Policy during Clinton administration. Following his voluntary retirement in 2014, he and his wife co-founded a US-based NGO, Vidya Gyan, to serve rural India toward education, health, and empowerment of girls and overall development. An Indian at heart, his passion for writing has no boundaries. This includes policy, politics and people, and social/cultural activities promoting community engagement. Currently, he is the Brand Ambassador for Times of India and frequently blogs on Linkedin on various topics.
- Advertisement -

Latest News

Recently Popular