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10 Jan, 2019 17:46

Out to pasture? Delhi minister suggests elderly people & cows live together

Out to pasture? Delhi minister suggests elderly people & cows live together

A minister in Delhi, India, plans to let cows and elderly people coexist in a shared space where they can both enjoy their golden years together.

The “experimental” idea would see an old-age home built where a cattle shelter is currently being modernized in Delhi’s Ghummanhera, where “cows and senior citizens will co-exist, taking care of each other,” Delhi’s development minister Gopal Rai said on Wednesday, the Hindustan Times reports.

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Although cows are considered sacred in India, they can be abandoned when they get older and no longer produce milk, leaving them to wander city streets. 

“When a cow dries up, people leave her and she ends up in a gaushala (cow shelter). Similarly, humans too are abandoned and sent to old-age homes, even by rich families. So, we have decided that the unit in Ghummanhera will be a joint gaushala and old-age home,” Rai said.

Rai explained the plans to open “the most advanced cow shelter” in an area that would also be a home for humans, “where the elderly will be in the company of cows.”

“An 18-acre plot will be allocated for this,” he added, as cited by the Siasat Daily.

A number of other Indian states have also recently created new policies around bovines, with Madhya Pradesh announcing the creation of a cow ministry last autumn.

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A 2012 livestock census found there were more than 12,000 stray cows in Delhi, and five million across the country. Every month, about 600 cattle are rounded up in Delhi and sent to five shelters.

The unusual idea of combining a cow shelter and a home for older people has drawn criticism, with some believing the set up is a way to exploit the elderly residents to care for the cattle, thus saving the cost of hiring more staff.

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