24June2019

Andaman Chronicle

The Daily Diary of the Islands

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Cow Dung Logs: A Lucrative Solution

By Maneka Sanjay Gandhi

Lakhs of people die in India every day. The Muslims bury their dead. The Hindus burn theirs. Conventionally, firewood, electricity or LG gas is used to burn human bodies all over the world. But there is no more ‘waste” wood left to burn. In Delhi they have found a unique solution. The government gardeners pretend they are going to “trim” the existing trees. They lop off most of the large branches (often killing the tree) and sell them to Nigambodh ghat. The profit is given to the whole department – much like the traffic police share their bribes with the entire thana.  In rural India, a death in the village means a tree is cut down, and the most common victims are mango trees. So, wild mangoes are disappearing and with them goes the entire pickle industry. It takes about 600 kilos of wood to burn one body. The cost to the survivor is above Rs 15,000 or more. The act itself of cutting a tree is illegal, but who cares when a parent needs to be cremated.

A separate problem is the cow that has stopped giving milk. The farmer does not want to sell her to the butchers, but he does. Or leaves her on the road to fend for herself. She wanders into the fields and is beaten to death with lathis. Or her legs are cut viciously by the barbed wire that most farmers use illegally. Hundreds of terribly wounded cows come to my hospital in Bareilly every day, their skin stripped off their thighs and their bones exposed.

Gaushalas are few and far between. And most of them are prison cells for this gentle animal, who often starves to death in the gaushala itself. There is no proper management of any gaushala, no doctors, and often the owners show the same disdain towards the milkless cow that her previous owners did.

Here is a business solution to both problems. We need to change our attitude towards the cow. Milk is NOT the most important part of the cow, it is her dung. This dung should be used in the cremation grounds. For Hindus, the cow is sacred and so using cow dung, instead of wood, should not pose a problem.

There is a machine for making cow dung logs. My gaushala in Delhi has bought one two years ago and we sell the logs to Nigambodh Ghat. Even though we are not regular, because we are far too busy with actually saving cows, we earn Rs 60,000 a month. It is a fraction of what Nigambodh needs: they could absorb a hundred times that amount.

Cow dung logs cost less. There was an optical problem till recently, since people did not want to burn their relatives with round Kandas/Uapalas. But now they are being made into long logs by this machine that makes them with minimum manual intervention. While putting fresh cowdung into the machine we also put a little fragrant “havan samagri”.

The cowdung log making machine is very reasonably priced: between Rs 25,000 – Rs 35,000.

A combination of dung and straw ( or any aggro waste – harvested crop residues) is fed into the hopper of the machine. A screw mechanism is provided in the machine which helps in mixing the raw materials thoroughly , compressing them and extruding them out. There are different moulds to make different log sizes. The logs are then put in the sunlight to dry out the moisture, making them hard and sturdy. The machine can be operated on electricity, one horse power motor, or even manually. It is easy to operate, requires little maintenance and no hard labour. Even women can operate it efficiently.

A cylindrical hole in the centre is provided to facilitate easy drying and efficient combustion. The machines available are capable of making one log per minute of 3 in. by 3 in. and 3 feet long. Logs can also be cut into small pieces for use in choolas and havans. The slurry from biogas units can also be used for making logs, by mixing it with straw of any harvest residues.

Almost every village in India has a cremation ground. Every town certainly has two. If someone were to take a contract to supply the logs to them, they could earn lakhs for the gaushala and for themselves. Cows would stop dying of starvation and be treated with more respect.

Cowdung can also solve another very important problem. The trees of India are supposed to be planted by the forest department. They get crores of rupees every year to grow trees and then to plant them. Their success rate – according to their own figures – is 2% !!

One of the reasons (apart from the fact that they never grow plants in their nurseries, and pinch the money!) is because they grow the seedlings in  thick black plastic bags which they buy for Rs 4 each. This is expensive, but, even worse, these plants are usually planted along with the plastic by careless forest labour, resulting in 100% mortality. Maharashtra and Uttar Pradesh supposedly planted 1 crore trees each last year. Less than a few hundred have survived. Think of the waste of your tax money.

Another machine by the same maker exists, to make cow dung flowerpots of different sizes. These can be offered commercially and sold to the forest department for their nurseries, and to private nurseries. The pots give nutrition to the plants, withstand the rain and watering and can be planted in the soil along with their plants. We would, have a dramatic increase in trees and reverse climate change. Every state government should change their policy, so, if you are reading this, please cut it out and send it to the CMs and Forest secretaries. (To tell you the truth , I tried with one state. The CM agreed. I sent the machine. The local forest officers said it didn’t work. It turned out that the plastic sellers pay them a rupee per bag )

The logs and pot making machines can be purchased from:

Dip Technologies, 10-11 Umiya Estate, Near Bharat Party Plot, Rabari Colony, Amrai Wadi, Ahmedabad, Gujarat 380026

Ph: 8048018796. 

To join the animal welfare movement contact This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. , www.peopleforanimalsindia.org

  • Written by Denis Giles
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Cocktail of Drugs in Your Meat

By Maneka Sanjay Gandhi

When cooking chicken, or meat, for one’s family, most people are very careful to wash and cook the flesh properly. Unfortunately, there are some things which any amount of washing, boiling or roasting cannot clean out – and those are drugs.

There is a cocktail of drugs in your meat and all of them are going to go into your body.

These drugs are a mainstay of meat production in many parts of the world, and Indian producers have adopted western practices of food production that keep profit far ahead of animal or human health. In 2018 India produced 4.3 million tonnes of buffalo (carabeef) and cattle (beef) – 1.5% higher than 2017.

Chicken meat increased from 1.9 million tonnes in 2013-14 to 3.46 million tonnes in 2016-17. Goat meat increased from 0.97 million tonnes in  2013-14 to 1.4 million tonnes in 2016-17. Sheep increased to 0.5 million tonnes. This means an estimated 238 crore chickens and 1.2 crore pigs were slaughtered for their meat in 2016-17. A grand total of over 10 million tonnes of meat.

How does a meat producer get so many crore animals to kill, and how does he get them to put on weight in the quickest possible time so that he can get more meat? How does he do this without spending money on feed? The answer is that he pumps drugs into these animals. One of the main drugs is Ractopamine. Ractopamine was approved by the FDA Sixteen years ago (2003).

Ractopamine is a beta agonist drug. Beta-agonists bind themselves to fat and muscle cells in the animals' body, reducing the metabolism of fat while increasing the size of muscle fibres. Consequently, less fat is produced and less fat is stored in the carcass. Muscle fibre size replaces some of the weight normally found from fat, and the total carcass contains a higher percentage of lean muscle. This makes the animal more muscular, reduces fat content and increases the profit per animal, because the same amount of food produces a much bigger animal with more meat on its bones. 

However, as much as 20% of Ractopamine can remain in the meat by the time it reaches our plates.

In fact, the residue in humans can be so high that it could even be detected in a dope test! Internationally acclaimed cyclist Alberto Contador failed a Tour de France anti-doping test in 2010 for levels of Clenbuterol (a drug of the family of Ractopamine) which he had gotten from eating meat.

Ractopamine is used in the USA but has been banned in the EU, China, Russia and 160 other countries for being dangerous to both animals and human consumers. Taiwan has in fact banned American beef imports because of Ractopamine usage. However, the drug is commonly given to animals in India.

In animals Ractopamine is known to cause reproductive dysfunction, hyperactivity, broken limbs, birth defects such as short limbs, missing or fused digits, open eyelids, enlarged hearts, stress, lameness and premature death. How could an animal, that is itself so sick, possibly give good quality meat?

In human medicine, beta-agonists are inhaled directly into lungs of asthma patients to relax muscles that constrict airways; they are routinely used on smooth muscle tissue through direct entry into the cardiopulmonary system, and pregnant women who are in premature labour have beta-agonists injected into their blood to relax the muscle tissue of the uterus, preventing premature births.

But if eaten through food, Ractopamine (Optaflexx) has been linked to increased heart rates, high arterial blood pressure, chromosomal abnormalities, anxiety, intoxication, tremors, headaches, muscle spasms and many more serious effects. This poses a particular risk to children, or people with cardiovascular disease.

Considered even worse than Ractopamine is another alarming beta-agonist drug used in animal production to increase weight – Zilmax or Zilpaterol. Zilpaterol was approved by the FDA in 2006. Cattle and pig feeders use feed additives like Zilmax to increase the rate of weight gain without any additional feed. It can add many pounds of meat to a bull or buffalo. The Encyclopedia of Meat Science (Dikeman and Devine; 2004) reported Optaflexx© increased average daily gain by 15-25% with no additional feed intake. Slightly higher results are shown for Zilmax. An estimated 700 million pigs receive beta-agonist drugs, each producing six additional pounds of pork.

However, this comes with a trade off. Zilmax has been known to cause severe reactions in animals leading to painful hoof loss and, very commonly, death. Since the drug was introduced in 2007 in the US, several hundred cattle have unexpectedly died after being fed Zilmax. In fact, in just two years after Zilmax’s introduction, the number of cattle euthanized at meat production farms rose by 175% from previous years. The makers of Zilmax, Merck and Co., recruited animal welfare specialist, Dr. Temple Grandin, to help review the product in 2013. In an interview with Reuters, Dr. Grandin indicated there have been incidents of stiffness, soreness, and heat stress since the use of beta-agonists began.

Zilmax is considered to be about 125 times more potent and dangerous than Ractopamine, and this is likely the reason why side effects in Ractopamine studies are often overlooked when compared with the destructive power of Zilmax. 60% to 80% of feedlot cattle in the US are fed beta-agonists. America refuses to remove beta agonists from cattle feed : The reason? Stopping their use will result in each animal carcass being about 10-15 pounds less – a total of 0.5 billion pounds of beef, or about 1% to 1.5% of production. More corn will be needed to feed cattle to reach the same weight. This will raise the prices of the rest of the beef.

Another contaminant hiding in meat is Glyphosate. It is the active ingredient in Roundup (made by Monsanto) – one of the most widely used weed killers in India. In India the consumption of glyphosate was 148 million tonnes in 2014-15, the highest for any herbicide.

These crops are fed to animals and you eat the animal’s meat, along with it comes Glyphosate. Studies around the world have shown Glyphosate to cause cancer, genetic mutations and disrupt endocrine functions in human consumers. It is toxic to our DNA even when diluted to concentrations 450-times lower than what is allowed in agricultural use. This is not a drug to be taken lightly. The direct deaths of humans from pesticides have been estimated at 7000 in 2015 and increasing every year. Yet, no one has related the deaths from cancer from eating the same pesticides in meat. Glyphosate use is permitted only for one crop: tea. But it is sold by dealers all over India where no tea is grown. It is used also for cotton which is sold for cattle feed. And the more BT cotton is grown, the more glyphosate is used. A study in the Journal of the American Medical Association (JAMA) found that exposure to glyphosate in the US, where GM crops were introduced in the early 1990s, increased almost five times in a 23-year time span.

Animal meat producers use over 450 animal drugs, drug combinations and feed additives, to promote growth of animals and suppress the negative effects of confined and unhygienic conditions in animal factories. Apart from the ones above, synthetic hormones, such as zeranol, trenbolone acetate and melengestrol acetate, are commonly used. These have been shown to increase the risk of breast cancer and prostate cancer. In India it is also common to feed chickens with arsenic to help them get fatter faster and develop a better colour. This arsenic reaches your plate through chicken meat.

Are you eating meat or a dead body that, during its lifetime, bore little resemblance to the animal it was supposed to be? Do you eat food to be healthy or to get sick?

You need to want safer food for your family. The industry is demand-driven, so if people are unwilling to eat dirty chemical treated meat, producers will be forced to stop these practices. 

To join the animal welfare movement contact This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. , www.peopleforanimalsindia.org

  • Written by Denis Giles
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You Need to Tell Your Children About Them

Maneka Sanjay Gandhi

Other countries celebrate their mythical animals. Garuda belongs to Indian mythology but is the national bird and symbol of Indonesia. The Phoenix or Homa is revered in Iran. Here are some we should know:

Byangoma/Byangomi are the legendary birds of Bengal. They look like hoopoes, are wise, strict and assist whom they consider deserving. They are born blind and need a few drops of blood from a donor to activate their sight. When they tell the future to someone, that person hears voices, a bird song and suddenly has an intuition about something which is to happen.

Gandaberunda is a two headed, long tailed mythological bird who possesses enough, immense, magical strength. The bird is depicted as clutching elephants in its talons and beaks. In the ancient coins of Madurai, it is shown holding a snake in its beak. In the Chennakesava temple there are depictions of a chain of destruction : A deer is eaten by a python who is destroyed by an elephant who is attacked by a lion who is destroyed by Shiva in his incarnation as Sharabha. Sharabha is then destroyed by Narasimha (man-lion) as Gandaberunda

The tale is like this : The demon Hiranyakashipu is killed by Vishnu who comes as Narasimha. But even after he was slain, Narasimha, who had tasted blood, did not change back his form to Vishnu. The gods grew scared of his raging form and they appealed to Shiva. Shiva turned himself into Sharabha – a combination of man, lion, bird – in order to subdue Narasimha. But Narasimha changed into Gandaberunda, with two heads, fearful rows of teeth, black in complexion, and with wide blazing wings, and fought with Shiva-Sharabha for eighteen days, killed him and then died in a massive explosion of energy.

Gandaberunda was first adopted by the Vijayanagara empire in 1510, and as the royal insignia of the Wodeyar rulers of Mysore 500 years ago. Coins from the rule of Achyuta Deva Raya are thought to be the first to use the Gandaberunda on currency. Found in the sculptures and bas- reliefs of many temples in the South of India, it is the official emblem of Karnataka.

The Homa bird, of Vedic times, lives and breeds in the air, lays eggs in the air, and, before the eggs reach the earth, they hatch and the baby bird flies upward to join its mother. They never touch the earth. Persian, Turkish and Sufi  poets praise them as divine birds, and birds of paradise.

In Vedic literature there are references to birds bringing the divine Soma plant from the mountains. S and H have been interchanged in Greek and Persian: Hindus, eg. those living on the banks of the river Sindhu, are called Hindus. Six becomes Hexa in Greek. Perhaps the Soma bird is the mythical Homa bird. In Persian mythology it was believed that if this bird flew over someone’s head, and its shadow fell on him, he would become a mighty king. This belief made Tipu Sultan of Mysore create a golden throne with the Homa bird, in gold and jewels on the canopy .

The mythical Hansa or Swan/Goose represents purity, perfect union with the universe, divine knowledge. The Hansas, also called Aryannas, live in Manasasaras (Mansarovar) in the Himalayas. They don’t like rain, so they come to Earth when it rains in their abode ,and return as soon as rain begins here. They are the children of Dhritarashtri, who is the daughter of Kashyap and Tamra, according to the Valmiki Ramayana. The Hansas were first black and white, but they became pure white as a boon from Varuna the god, who once took their form to hide from Ravana. The gods had assembled for a havan and had to change into various bird forms when Ravana attacked them. The hansa eats pearls and separates milk from water from a mixture of both. The Hansas play an important role in the story of Nala and Damayanti.

In the Hindu epic Mahabharata, Navagunjara is a creature composed of nine different animals/birds. Navagunjara has the head of a rooster, and stands on three feet - those of an elephant, tiger, deer or horse, the fourth limb being a raised human arm carrying a lotus or a wheel. The beast has the neck of a peacock, the back or hump of a bull, the waist of a lion, and the tail of a serpent.

Navagunjara is a common motif in the Odisha Pata-Chitra style of painting. The creature is considered a form of Vishnu. Once, when Arjuna was meditating on a hill, Navagunjara appeared. Arjuna was terrified, as well as mesmerised, by the strange being, and raised his bow to shoot it. But he realised that Navagunjara was a manifestation of Vishnu, and dropped his weapons, bowing before the bird creature.

The Chakora is a legendary immortal partridge/crow pheasant that lives on moonbeams. On the full moon night, the Chakora cries passionately for the moon, shedding tears of unrequited love for the moon in all her glory shining high in the sky. In the Mahabharatam, when Kuchela was on his way to meet Krishna, he saw the Chakora. By the time he returned home after meeting him he was rich! The Chakora  is believed to bring good luck. The association of Chakora and Chandra, the moon god, has inspired a number of love stories in India.

The Chataka is a mythological cuckoo, who is unwilling to drink water found on earth, choosing to drink only fresh pure rain water as it falls from the sky. It has a shrill voice. The Chataka pleads with the clouds to bring in rain so that its thirst can be quenched. A black/yellow/white bird, smaller than the dove, it has a long tail. The long crest on its head is shaped like a bow with an arrow stretched tight on it. References to this bird are made in Kalidasa and Adi Shankaracharya.

The chataka and chakora depend on natural resources — rain water and moonlight, a lesson that nature needs to be preserved without destruction.

These are only very few of our mythological birds, but you need to tell your children about them. 

To join the animal welfare movement contact This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. , www.peopleforanimalsindia.org

  • Written by Denis Giles
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