As you can guess, dear reader, the past week or so has been an extraordinary period in the life of your favourite columnist. I am overwhelmed and humbled by the love and affection showered on me by millions of loyal readers like you. I am touched that so many of you took the trouble to send me congratulatory messages – thank you.
To be honest, I did not expect the government to act so promptly on the suggestion I’d made in my previous column that India should introduce 33% reservation for cows in Parliament. I am as thrilled as you are that they’ve taken it seriously, and as a first step in that direction, decided to issue UID numbers to all proud Indians who chose to be reborn as a cow.
My Ola driver, Monu Nigam (not related to the singer who shaved his head), who has top-level connections in the Home Ministry, tells me that the government is working round-the-clock to provide every cow in India — regardless of age, breed, or sexual orientation — an UID number by June 2018 so that all of them can vote in the 2019 elections.
If everything goes according to plan, bovine candidates would be able to contest the elections in 2024, by which time India would have in place the requisite legislation reserving 33% seats for cows in all democratic institutions from the Parliament downward.
Something like Aadhaar
Right now, however, the government is grappling with a tricky issue: what to call the UID for cows? Monu says that for the time being, they are calling it “Aadhaar-like” (instead of Aadhaar) because some right-wing cows took exception to their UID number being referred to by the same name as “the despicable surveillance operation unleashed on humans”.
I confess I’m with the cows on this. There are sound reasons why the cow UID should not be referred to as Aadhaar. First of all, unlike humans, cows are not required to share their hoof prints or get their irises scanned, which I think is a fair move by the government aimed at protecting the dignity and privacy of the cow.
Second, cows don’t need to authenticate their identity with their UID number in order to access their midday meals. This, too, is a fair decision, as it would be both petty and cruel to starve a cow just because it doesn’t have an UID number.
Given these critical differences from the Aadhaar, the UID for cows deserves its own name. My milkman Thodappam Kher (not related to any bald celebrity) says the Home Ministry may end up calling it ‘Cowdhaar’. Not a bad choice, though I would have simply gone with ‘Moo’, which is easier to pronounce for cows.
Equal rights for all
Apparently, the Centre has told the Supreme Court that the ‘Cowdhaar’ number would have key biographic details of the cow such as age, breed, sex, lactation, height, colour, horn type, tail switch, and special marks. Also, a tag with the ‘Cowdhaar’ number would be affixed to the ear lobe of the cattle.
Now, I am not saying this because I am a human being or anything, but I strongly believe the government should extend the same privileges to humans also. At present, the only biographical details of humans that are captured in Aadhaar are date of birth, name, sex, and address. It is high time humans also had their breed, lactation, colour, height, tail switch, and special marks recorded in the Aadhaar database. Also, every human with an Aadhaar number must get an ear tag. Are humans in any way inferior to cows that we only get a colourless plastic card while they get a yellow polyurethane tag in the ear of their choice?
The government has cited cattle smuggling as the rationale for the ‘Cowdhaar’ ear tag. But everyone knows that human smuggling, or trafficking as it is popularly known, is a bigger menace. If we put an Aadhaar tag in the ear lobe of every Indian, the government would be able to track the location and mobility of all citizens in real time.
This would make it much easier to catch terrorists, kill Maoists, and trap Vijay Mallya, who, incidentally, self-trafficked himself out of India. Thodappam tells me that the multibillionaire, whose belly closely resembles that of a cow, possesses a unique tail switch that can swat away any investigating flies from India. If only the CBI could part him from his diamond ear stud, we could easily fund Aadhar ear tags for everyone.