The majority of India’s population resides in rural areas making the uplift of the rural sector extremely important for the development of the nation. To bridge the divide between urban and rural India, rural development has been the focus of various government schemes and policies since Independence. The cow-based rural economy and the use of five key products from cow called Panchgavya — milk, curd, ghee, dung and urine — is a part of daily life in the Subcontinent. The use of Panchgavya in food, medicine, agriculture, etc. is already in practice in various parts of rural India.
Cow milk has a prominent place in the diet of people, from an infant to an elderly person. Worldwide, substantial research has been done highlighting the medicinal significance of A2 milk produced by indigenous cows, which prevents disorders like obesity, arthritis, type 1 diabetes among children, autism, etc. Curd and buttermilk have been found useful in many gastrointestinal disorders and are recommended as a food practice in ayurveda. Similarly, ghee from indigenous cows has been used since time immemorial for its benefits. This makes milk, curd and ghee an integral part of the food system but their properties are yet to be subjected to technical validation.
Due to lifestyle disorders and synthetic food, the health of people is a grave concern nowadays. Globally, scientists are facing the challenge of multiple drug resistance in micro-organisms, presence of antibiotic residues in the food chain, associated allergies, etc. It is been scientifically proven that most of the modern-day systems use antibiotics and steroids, leading to weakening of innate immune-efficiency. A WHO report mentions antibiotics will become almost ineffective over the next two decades. In the light of this, research into sustainable alternatives is being carried out globally. Two US patents on cow urine (No. 6,896,907 and 6,410,059) have been granted for its medicinal properties, particularly as a bioenhancer and as an antibiotic, antifungal and anticancer agent. These milestones highlight the potential role of cow urine in treatment of bacterial infections and cancer, and demonstrate that cow urine can enhance the efficacy and potency of other drugs.
A lot of work has been done on hazardous agro-chemicals being used in agriculture and affecting the food-supply chain. The world is now shifting towards organic agriculture. Improving soil fertility through microflora from Panchgavya products has been practiced for many years. The three strains – Bacillus lentimorbus NBRI0725, B. subtilis NBRI1205, and B. lentimorbus NBRI3009 — isolated from Sahiwal cow milk have the ability to control phytopathogenic fungi and promote plant growth under field conditions, increase tolerance for abiotic stresses and solubilise phosphate under abiotic stress conditions. Research has also found that screening of bacterial strains isolated from milk under in-vitro conditions possesses the ability to suppress various plant pathogenic fungi.
It is traditionally believed that cow dung has antiseptic, anti-radioactive and anti-thermal properties. Only about 40 per cent of the dung from cows is used as fuel in rural areas. The quantity of dung used annually in the existing 2.7 million family type biogas plants is estimated to be 22 tonnes. Traditionally, cow-dung cakes are used for food preparation and while burning these cakes, the temperature never rises beyond a certain point; ensuring overheating does not destroy the nutrients in the food. The use of cow-dung in biogas as a non-fossil fuel is being considered for vehicles and cooking.
The Centre for Rural Development and Technology (CRDT) at IIT-Delhi is a nodal centre for rural development for the last 37 years to take the benefits of scientific research to rural areas. Through a national workshop and subsequent consultations with key national experts, the team at IIT Delhi identified five key topics of research: uniqueness of indigenous cows, Panchgavya in agriculture, medicine and health, food and nutrition and for utilities.
Research proposals were invited from specialised organisations like IITs, ICAR, DBT, ICMR, CSIR, AAYUSH, NDRI, universities and some leading voluntary organisations. A thorough internal and external evaluation of these proposals were made based on technical merit. Of the 54 proposals received initially, the committee narrowed down on 34 proposals with a pan-India presence to scientifically and technologically validate the existing beliefs about Panchgavya.
Apart from IIT, elsewhere too, scientists were conducting preliminary research on the subject. With an IIT now involved, the Panchgavya project is aimed at validating the scientific credentials of these efforts. The central idea is to upgrade the valuable, technically validated knowledge from the sphere of “traditional knowledge” and put them in synchronisation with mainstream scientific discourse.
Above article is a part of article published in The Indian Express. Follow the link below to read the full article: