A day after reports of 5 lakh persons registered for a new 'Cow Science' examination promoted by the University Grants Commission, the Rashtriya Kamdhenu Aayog (RKA) on Sunday deferred the examination. Initially slated to be held on Thursday, the 'Gau Vigyan' (Cow science) examination devised by RKA has been postponed just hours ahead of the mock test. The UGC has since been slammed by many including scientists and scholars for promoting superstitions and myths in the name of science.
What is the cow science examination?
The cow science course has been designed by the Rashtriya Kamdhenu Aayog which was set up in 2019 under the Central Animal Husbandry ministry to promote cow welfare and research. The examination was announced on January 5 by the RKA chairman Vallabhai Kathiria and registrations began on January 15. The one-hour online examination which will be conducted across 13 languages aims to revive interest and knowledge about 51 indigenous cow breeds and methods of husbandry. RKA has provided the study material for the examination and it is available on their websites. Following the announcement of the exam, the University Grants Commission reportedly wrote to over 900 colleges and universities, urging them to promote the cow science examination among students. On Sunday, NDTV reported that over 5 lakh persons had applied for the national-level examination.
Science or superstition?
While many have appreciated the initiative for making an attempt to revive interest in indigenous cow breeds, critics have slammed RKA, a central government body, for peddling unscientific facts and superstitions. For instance, the study material mentions that those who put cowdung on the walls of their homes remained unaffected by the Bhopal Gas Tragedy. It also mentions that geographical locations where cows were slaughtered became more prone to earthquakes.
Who is outraging against the exam?
The claims have since been disputed and several universities such as Jadavpur University in West Bengal have refused to conduct the exam. "Though about 5 lakh students across many prestigious universities are sitting for this exam, the Jadavpur Fraternity would appeal to other colleges and UGC to rethink the unscientific direction this examination will give to the education system of the country," the Kolkata-based varsity in West Bengal wrote on their Facebook page. It also accused the RKA of peddling "particular unscientific philosophy" to younger generations. Other scientists and organizations such as the KeralaShastra Sahitya Parishad have also accused the exam as an “an attempt to spread superstition about the cow and saffronize the higher-education sector”. The Parishad has been calling for a cancellation of the examination.
When will the cow science exam be held?
While the examinations were initially scheduled to be held on February 25, the Times of India reported on Monday that the RKA has postponed the examination. While the postponement came a day after outrage against the upcoming examination, RKA spokesperson has maintained that the postponement has been caused due to an administrative concern and had nothing to do with the criticism against it. Chairman Vallabhai Kathiria told TOI that a new date will be announced in the upcoming week due to the massive interest of students in the course.