By Dr. Mukund Naware
Prior to joining NDDB I worked as Veterinary Officer in Bharatiya Agro Industries Foundation (BAIF) during 1970 / 71.
Shri Manibhai Desai who was Executive Trustee had established this Foundation to undertake cross breeding of Desi cows using frozen semen from Jersey and Holstein breeds. Shri Manibhai Desai was well known as a follower of Mahatma Gandhi and believed in simple living and high thinking. Under his leadership the BAIF had received frozen semen doses and liquid nitrogen containers for field use from donor agencies in Australia, Denmark and USA.
Shri Manibhai Desai was very clear in his perspective about the cross breeding of cows and the benefits it would bring. He had actually raised a herd of pure Gir cows at Uruli Kanchan for over two decades and had earned good reputation. He had received Gopal Ratna award from the Indian Council of Gosamvardhan for producing some champion cows that had given profuse quantities of milk. Still he had opted for cross breeding because milk production had stagnated, averages were not good and cows had late maturity and other breeding problems. So as to overcome these draw backs he had chosen cross breeding as the only option to enhance productivity in next generation.
When he decided to go this way some Panjarpol Sansthas in Maharashtra followed him and also many Cooperative Sugar Factories decided to open Cross Breeding Centres availing the service from BAIF. One such centre was also opened in Goras Bhandar, Wardha to cover the cow herd of Sewagram Ashram and Dattapur Colony along with a thousand of cows in surrounding villages.
Our field activities had just begun and there was good response from most of the Centers. At that time I was posted at Uruli Kanchan to keep contact with field activities and look after the cow herd. One day while I was attending some work I received a message from Shri Manibhai Desai that I should immediately see him in his room which was his office and residence both. When I reached there I found our boss Dr. M.R. Marathe by his side and engaged in some serious discussion.
From their discussion I learnt the news of our activity in Wardha had reached Acharya Vinoba Bhave whose Ashram at Pawnar was quite close to Sewagram. Further, the Acharya had taken serious objection in his Evening Prayer Meetings to Artificial Insemination being done in cows. What he said was published in the then latest issue of Pawnar Ashram Patrika and a copy of that Patrika was received by Shri Manibhai Desai. As a result it had become necessary for him to reply to those objections.
The objection was raised on philosophical grounds. The Acharya had said that now a days new born calves are not allowed to suckle their mothers ( means weaned ) and as a result they didn’t know who their mothers are. This was immoral (अनैतिक). Now he had heard that in the name of science the cows will be inseminated artificially which would result into the calves not knowing who is their father. Acharya said that these immoral acts will result into immoral progeny and when people would consume milk of those cows no wonder they would also behave immorally. He said he was surprised that such an activity is started by persons who called themselves as followers of Gandhian philosophy.
I was listening to their discussion wondering why I was called there. Soon I was told that a letter had to be sent to Acharya Vinoba Bhave on this matter and it would go in my handwriting. I was given blank papers and a ball pen to write since my Marathi handwriting was supposed to be good. Then Shri Manibhai Deasi started giving dictation to me and Dr. Marathe supported him wherever necessary. I went on writing without any mistake and the dictation continued over half an hour. The letter was sent on the same day. This happened over fifty years ago but even today I remember the contents which were more or less on following lines ;
" .... Acharya ji , it is true that I have initiated the
artificial insemination activity for cows and the aim is
to increase their productivity.
At Uruli Kanchan I have realized that it is
absolutely necessary to use the semen of exotic bulls
over Desi cows to incorporate better genes for milk
production and timely conception reducing the dry period.
If this is done on large scale it will increase the
economic importance of cows and farmers will take
care of their cows in a better way than now.
So in my opinion this is the true service that we give to cows.
As regards artificial insemination, what is so
artificial about it ?
In that process the semen collected from a bull is
deposited in the uterus of a cow using a sterilized
In comparison this is much better than the natural
service in which we know that a bull used over
hundreds of cows actually transmits sexual diseases
from one cow to another.
In my opinion when we fully know this fact then
using a bull for natural service would appear
as amounting to atrocity committed on the cow
by us humans.
In the end, over a period of time I feel that the farmers
will decide whether my work has been useful to them or
not since they are the beneficiaries.
I do not feel necessary at this moment to reconsider
my activity and I have decided to go ahead with my mission. ..."
I do not know what happened to that controversy between these two personalities. But we have seen in last half a century that the farmers all over India have adopted cross breeding and artificial insemination in cows in a big way.
Contributed by Dr Mukund Naware NDDB 1972 – 1986. He spent five years in field and was in RO Bangalore, for more than eight years. He was also Manager (Procurement) for F& V Project, Mother Dairy, Delhi during 1985-1986.