India ‘cow science’ exam put off amid ‘controversy over syllabus’

Thursday’s exam postponed indefinitely after allegations of fake claims and pseudoscience.

Officials said the first-ever exam of its kind was aimed at generating interest in cows, considered sacred by India's Hindu majority [Harish Tyagi/EPA]

A nationwide examination on “cow science” in India has been postponed indefinitely after widespread criticism over the propagation of unscientific claims about the animal, which is considered sacred by the country’s Hindu majority.

The Rashtriya Kamdhenu Aayog (RKA) or National Cow Commission, set up by the ruling Hindu nationalist government, was to organise the online exam on Thursday.

The syllabus for the exam sparked controversy, with media reporting that it contained unscientific claims such as that cow milk has traces of gold in it and earthquakes occur due to cow slaughter.

“The government’s animal husbandry department, under which the commission functions, shelved the exam because of the controversy and furore over the syllabus,” an official at the commission said, requesting anonymity.

“The exam was the brainchild of RKA Chairman Vallabhbhai Kathiria whose term ended on February 20. The department will supervise the commission till a new chairman is appointed,” he added.

The Hindu newspaper reported that the department had disowned the exam which promoted fake claims and pseudoscience.

The commission had “no mandate” to conduct such an examination and any future awareness programme would be conducted on a “scientific basis,” the report said, citing department officials.

The exam, aimed at promoting and protecting the cow, was open for children and adults as well as non-resident Indians, and was to be held in 12 regional languages besides Hindi and English, officials said.

Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s Bharatiya Janata Party, which came to power in 2014, named protection of cows a priority to shore up Hindu support among its electoral base.

The government launched programmes to research the uses of cow milk, dung and urine which, according to ancient Indian Ayurveda medicine, have healing properties.

Source: DPA