New Delhi: The Rashtriya Kamdhenu Aayog (RKA) has decided to postpone its controversial ‘cow exam’ which was scheduled for February 25. According to the Indian Express, the decision was taken a day after RKA chairman Vallabhbhai Kathiria left office at the end of his two-year term.
Announcing the postponement, a notice on the RKA website said, “Please note that online Kamdhenu Gau Vigyan Prachar Prasar Exam /Pratiyogita which was scheduled for 25th Feb 2021 including Mock Examination on 21st Feb 2021 has been postponed.” No reason was provided, and no new date for the exam was announced.
Kathiria told the Times of India that the exam was postponed due to “administrative reasons”.
About five lakh students from across the country had reportedly registered for the exam.
While the RKA now seems less enthusiastic about the cow exam, the Aayog under Kathiria had been doing its best to publicise the event and make students and others from across the country register, even using the University Grants Commission (UGC) to put out the message.
In mid-February, as The Wire reported then, the UGC had asked all vice-chancellors to encourage students to write the all-India exam on ‘cow science’. The exam, called the Kamdhenu Gau-Vigyan Prachar-Prasar Examination, was voluntary, requiring prior registration. It was open to students and non-students alike and to be conducted for five categories – primary students (upto Class 8), secondary students (from Class 9 to 12), college and university students, the general public and NRIs.
The Kamdhenu Aayog, which functions under the Ministry of Fisheries, Animal Husbandry and Dairying, had touted this exam as a “mammoth exercise” requiring local government-level mobilisation.
On January 18, 2021, Aayog chairman Vallabhbhai Kathiria wrote to the Minister of State for Education, Sanjay Dhotra, asking for support in giving the examination “wide publicity”.
“I request you to advise the Secretary (Higher Education)/Secretary (SEL) and the concerned officials of UGC, AICTE, Central Universities, IIT, IIM, NITs, CBSE. Kendriya Vidyalayas. NIOH, IGNOU, and other Central Governmental educational institutes to issue necessary instructions for help in the online Kamdhenu Gau-Vigyan Parchar-Prasar Examination and give wide publicity to make the examination a great success,” Kathiria wrote.
Although the exam was ideally meant to draw attention to the value of cows and their byproducts, what had proven most beguiling was the syllabus to this exam, compiled by the Rashtriya Kamdhenu Aayog. The Wire had broken the news on the syllabus making several unsubstantiated claims on Indian cows.
While making a distinction between ‘desi’ cows and what it calls ‘exotic’ cows, the syllabus attempts to illustrate with little reference or reason that in every aspect, from health benefits of cow byproducts to overall demeanour, the former is a superior.
The exam had come in for widespread criticism, but Kathiria had stood by his guns. “”Nothing unscientific about it. We want to project its importance of the Indian breed of the cow. So, we are holding this exam,” he had said. Without his leadership, though, the RKA seems to no longer see the urgency of holding the exam.
A number of universities in West Bengal, including Jadavpur University, had previously rejected the UGC’s direction. The Kerala Sasthra Sahithya Parishad too had demanded that the exam not be held in the state.