Cow start-ups, Har Ghar Gai, CSR for shelters – Modi govt’s new idea to boost rural economy

July 12, 2019

SHANKER ARNIMESH

 

New Delhi: Cow-centric start-ups are the Narendra Modi government’s brand new idea to revive the rural economy, and the Rashtriya Kamdhenu Aayog, formed just four months ago under the interim budget, is making efforts to make it work.

The government plans to encourage entrepreneurs who are willing to establish new start-ups for marketing of cow-based products and to adopt new technology and expertise, Rashtriya Kamdhenu Aayog’s chairman Vallabh Bhai Kathuria told ThePrint.

The commission also plans to provide cow shelters, or gaushalas, with assistance — either in the form of new technology or finance or credit facility — to rear cows and bring cow-based products to the market, looking to meet the challenge of creating new jobs in the rural economy.

The commission has even drawn up plans to ensure availability of at least one cow in each rural household, said Kathuria.

The Rashtriya Kamdhenu Aayog was allocated Rs 500 crore in the interim budget, with a mandate to ensure primacy of cattle preservation.

Cow-based products

With rural youth migrating to big cities in large numbers in search of jobs, the Modi government now wants to introduce cow rearing as a supplementary factor, beside agriculture, to boost the rural economy, said Kathuria.

For this, the government will not only provide economic assistance to entrepreneurs in the form of credit facility, but also help them in marketing their products and easing their access to the marketplaces.

With rural youth migrating to big cities in large numbers in search of jobs, the Modi government now wants to introduce cow rearing as a supplementary factor, beside agriculture, to boost the rural economy, said Kathuria.

For this, the government will not only provide economic assistance to entrepreneurs in the form of credit facility, but also help them in marketing their products and easing their access to the marketplaces.

According to Kathuria, enough isn’t being done to popularise and expand new techniques like making soaps and mosquito repellent from cow urine and transforming cow dung into organic fertiliser and handmade paper.

Some NGOs are working on marketing of cow-based products on a minuscule level, but the commission now wants to introduce the start-up culture in this domain and strive for large scale marketing and distribution of cow-based products.

Big entrepreneurs can also participate in this plan by setting up bio gas plants operated on cow urine, said Kathuria. The government will extend soft loan facility to co-operatives and self-help groups for this, with a 12-year repayment schedule and low interest rates.

A cow for every home

On the lines of Modi government’s ‘Har Ghar Jal’ scheme to introduce piped drinking water to every household, the commission is working on an ambitious plan called ‘Har Ghar Gai’.

Under the scheme, the commission plans to ensure availability of at least one cow in each rural household and is consulting several experts to explore the possibility as to how much financial assistance the state governments can extend for purchase of cows.

During the assembly elections in five states in 2018, the ruling Bharatiya Janata Party’s Telangana unit had promised in its manifesto to distribute 1 lakh cows. Instead of distributing free cows, the commission is considering to subsidise the farmers for purchasing of cows.

CSR objectives

Sources in the commission said the state governments have been asked to prepare a policy framework for better management of cow shelters.

The upkeep of cow shelters is also being sought to be added to the list of corporate social responsibility (CSR) objectives. This will facilitate the use of CSR funds for construction of new cow shelters and maintenance of existing ones.

Uttar Pradesh Chief Minister Yogi Adityanath has already written a letter to all district magistrates regarding use of CSR for maintenance of cow shelters. The Yogi government has already imposed a 2 per cent cow tax for better conservation and enhancement of cow shelters.

Availability of products

According to the commission’s plans, big temples, state houses, government Ayurveda centres and Khadi counters in all cities will participate in the efforts to sell cow-based products.

For example, a special counter for these products will be opened on a trial basis in Delhi’s Akshardham Temple, Lotus Temple, Hanuman Mandir and at sales counter of all state bhawans. If the demand increases, special counters will also be opened at places like Central Cottage Emporiums and Delhi Haat, among others.

The commission is further planning to launch a mass media campaign to convey the message for conservation of indigenous cows among the masses.

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