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Bovine brouhaha: Why Cow Exam had to be moo-ved?

Sources tell Moneycontrol that the government wants additional time to gauge public interest and also make some tweaks in the syllabus. There are some views that the syllabus is unscientific in nature, said an official.

February 23, 2021 / 04:14 PM IST

The National Cow Science Exam 2021, slated to be held on February 25, has been postponed. The Rashtriya Kamdhenu Aayog (RKA), a government body set up to protect cows under the animal husbandry ministry, said in a notification that the exam has been postponed. No alternate date has been announced.

A government official, however, clarified that the exam has not been cancelled and that alternate days will be announced in the next few weeks.

While RKA officials said that the exam has been postponed due to administrative reasons, sources told Moneycontrol that the government wants additional time to gauge public interest and also make tweaks in the syllabus.

“Not all universities are convinced about the exam, and there are some views that the syllabus is unscientific in nature. We are studying these views,” said a government official.

Another official claimed that close to 500,000 people, including school students, senior citizens, homemakers, teachers and college students have registered for the Cow Exam 2021. Moneycontrol could not independently verify this claim.

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Regulatory body University Grants Commission (UGC), which was to conduct this exam, had even asked universities to nudge its students to apply for it. Those writing the exam were to be awarded certificates and toppers were entitled to some prizes.

Slated to be held for the first time in Hindi, English and 12 regional languages, this exam was aimed at improving information dissemination and awareness about the indigenous cows of India.

What was the exam and syllabus?

Announced in January 2021, the Kamdhenu Gau Vigyan Prachar Prasar Exam was to be a one-hour online examination, with 100 multi-choice questions. This was to be an annual exam, with no fee.

There are four categories -- primary level (up to 8th standard), secondary level (class 9-12), college level (after 12th+) and the fourth category for the general public.

Following the announcement of the exam, RKA had uploaded the syllabus. There was a difference of opinion between RKA and the educational institutions over the inclusion of unproven links between consumption of beef and prevalence of natural calamities like earthquakes.

The head of academics at a Kolkata-based university told Moneycontrol that while the indigenous cow must be promoted, there is no room for unscientific arguments in an exam that uses the word ‘science’.

“If you read the syllabus from RKA, it says that Indian cow milk could help fight obesity, asthma, joint pain and even mental illnesses. On the other hand, it says that that the Jersey cow milk could lead to diabetes and heart disease. On what basis have they deduced this and how can this be made part of the exam syllabus?” he added.

Why is it postponed?

While UGC had asked universities to ensure that students appear for the exam, sources said that several educational institutions had expressed concerns about the course content and validity.

Concerns were expressed around claims of gold traces in cow milk and cow dung. The syllabus content also stated that ‘whenever any unknown person comes near the Indian cow, she will immediately stand, whereas no such emotion is displayed by the jersey cow’.

The government bodies are said to be working on tweaking the course content to make it more scientific. Research-led content will be made part of the syllabus.
M Saraswathy is a business journalist with 10 years of reporting experience. Based in Mumbai, she covers consumer durables, insurance, education and human resources beat for Moneycontrol.
first published: Feb 23, 2021 03:21 pm

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