The Hindu nationalist government of India postponed plans for a national student exam on cows that critics said used specious claims and substituted religion for science, undermining the secularism enshrined in India's Constitution.
Do India’s cows have special powers? Government curriculum is ridiculed.Feb. 22, 2021 at 7:30 pm Updated Feb. 22, 2021 at 7:39 pm
A shepherd watches over his family’s cows on the outskirts of a village in Maharashtra State, India, Sept. 4, 2018. The Hindu nationalist government... (Bryan Denton/The New York Times
The New York Times
NEW DELHI — Indian students were hitting the books hard in preparation for a big test on cows, reading that India’s cows have more emotions than foreign ones, and that their humps have special powers.
But facing widespread ridicule, this past weekend the government abruptly postponed the first exam based on a new curriculum, pushed by Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s Hindu nationalist government.
Students at public universities and public schools had been asked to bone up on material that scientists and others dismissed as baseless, accusing the government of promoting religious pseudoscience about cows, which Hinduism considers sacred, to unwitting students.
Critics said the curriculum, devised by the National Cow Commission set up by Modi’s government, was an especially bold move by his ruling party to push its ideology and undercut the secularism that is enshrined in India’s Constitution but seems to be increasingly imperiled with each passing day.
“This is very weird, this exam,” said Komal Srivastava, an official for the India Knowledge and Science Society, a nonprofit educational group. “They can say anything about cows: that radiation is reduced by its dung, which is unscientific. If we want to teach kids about cows, it has to be scientific knowledge and not mythology.”