A little fact-check of Honourable Judge’s cow order in Rajasthan

A look into the 'research work' cited by Justice Mahesh Chandra Sharma in the 139-page order to justify that “no crime is more heinous than cow slaughter.”

Written by Jay Mazoomdaar | New Delhi | Updated: June 4, 2017 12:13 pm
Justice Mahesh Chandra Sharma, Rajasthan High Court judge, cow slaughter and Rajasthan news, cow national animal of India, India's national animal, India news, National news Soul’s voice, Justice Sharma said of his order

WHILE directing the state government to coordinate with the Centre and take steps to declare cow as the national animal, Rajasthan High Court judge Justice Mahesh Chandra Sharma on Wednesday cited several research work to justify that “no crime is more heinous than cow slaughter.”

The Sunday Express tried to look up those references to make sense of the claims made in the 139-page order described by Justice Sharma as his “soul’s voice”.

CLAIM 1 German scientist Rudle Steiner: “Cow uses its horns to acquire cosmic energy.”

Rudle Steiner is perhaps Rudolf Steiner (1861-1925), an Austrian philosopher, architect and esotericist. He is behind the concept of biodynamic agriculture which involved, among other things, horn-manure — a humus mixture prepared by filling the horn of a cow with cow manure and burying it in the ground to decompose during the winter and recovered for use the following spring. Steiner believed these preparations mediated terrestrial and cosmic forces into the soil.

Steiner also believed Christ to be the centre of earthly evolution. “It becomes clear to us through spiritual science that the being whom we call Christ is to be recognised as the center of life on earth, that the Christian religion is the ultimate religion for the earth’s whole future,” he wrote.

CLAIM 2 Cornell University’s Ronald Goreite: “Cow milk boosts memory and the MDGI protein prevents cancer from entering blood cells.”

This is a reference to Ronald C Gorewit who, confirmed his colleagues at the university, left Cornell more than a decade ago.

In 1992, Gorewit had claimed that a protein found in cow’s milk slowed the growth of human breast cancer cells in laboratory tests. “One theory is that there are proteins like MDGI (mammary-derived growth inhibitor) that inhibit the mutations of cancer genes,” he said, adding that no human studies were being done.

It remains inconclusive how MDGI would affect people.

CLAIM 3 Dr Vijay Lakshmi of the Centre for Indian Knowledge System: “Women’s milk is getting poisonous everyday from using chemical fertilisers instead of cow dung.”

Popularly known as ‘spider woman’ for her work on the giant crab spider, Dr K Vijayalakshmi is director (research) at CIKS. Among the books she authored are Biological Methods of Pest Control and Pesticides and You.

While Dr Vijayalakshmi was “travelling in a rural area with very poor connectivity,” her office shared some publications on the use of organic pesticides and manure which included cow excreta and derivatives such as “modified panchagavya” and “amirthakaraisal”.

CLAIM 4 Mumbai’s Dr Kanti Sen Saraf: “Spraying cow dung on urban waste removes all foul smell and converts waste to fertiliser.”

This is probably a reference to veteran industrialist Kantisen Shroff of Excel Crop Care Limited. Shroff is known for his work in rural development that involved utilisation of cow dung in vermi-composting.

The claim, however, has been backed by some studies such as a 2011 paper by Gurpreet Kaur Randhawa and Jagdev Singh Khullar of Government Medical College, Amritsar, published in International Scholarly Research Notices, which claimed that cow dung “when spread over urban and rural waste in solution form (1:10-1:25 solution)… biodegrades the waste in time… naturally into the basic five elements.”

Rest of the references made in the judgment are too vague and the corresponding claims too outlandish. Asked if Indian Council of Agricultural Research (ICAR) was familiar with the experts and their research work listed below, ICAR deputy director general Dr JK Jena said that “response from the institute concerned working on these aspects” would be available in a few days.

“I can’t place any of these Russian, American and British names dropped as half-references. These people may well exist but certainly not in the mainstream academic space,” said Kamal Kishore, a former ICAR scientist and the India coordinator of Rainfed Livestock Network.

A number of other scientists and experts in animal husbandry also dismissed the following references as “deliberately misleading” and the claims as “ridiculously absurd” and “lies peddled as science inspired by ancient knowledge on modern internet” but refused to go on record “in the current atmosphere”.

CLAIM 5 Famous Russian scientist Shirovich: “Houses plastered with cow dung are safe from radio waves. Using 10 gms of cow ghee in yajna generates a tonne of oxygen.”

The reference to Russian scientist Shirovich – or Shirowich, in some cases – with similar claims surfaces in different websites but none elaborates on his identity or research work. (The only ‘famous’ scientist with a similar sounding name is Lawrence Sirovich, an applied mathematician at Rockefeller University.)

If the first claim attributed to Shirovich were true, it would be impossible to watch TV or talk over cell phones in a room plastered with cow dung. Besides, conversion of any 10 gm material to one tonne of anything defies the laws of physics.

CLAIM 6 Agriculture scientists Dr Julius and Dr Book German: “Cow is the only animal that exhales oxygen.”

Neither could be traced. No living being other than plants produce oxygen. Animals, however, exhale the unused part of oxygen as lungs cannot process all the oxygen inhaled from air.

CLAIM 7 Dr King, famous scientist of Madras: “Cow dung can destroy cholera germs.”

Several websites repeat the claim without specifying Dr King’s identity or attributing it to any verifiable study. Adding to the confusion, some websites – such as that of Surabhi Goshalas of Andhra Pradesh – cite Dr King’s work only to attribute the cholera-killing powers to cow milk instead of dung.

CLAIM 8 Britain’s Dr Hamilton: “Cow urine cures heart disease.”

Another unspecific and unverifiable claim found on many websites. Some websites – such as VedicGiftShop.com for “simple effective solutions to health enthusiasts” – credit “Dr Crawford Hamilton from America” for the breakthrough.

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