Cow dung capitalism: As babas turn to businesses, businesses turn to cows…

Lhendup Bhutia  of Open Magazine has a fascinating piece (HT: MR blog). It is old for today’s age as it came 10 days ago.

As Joan Robinson quipped  – each and its opposite is likely to be true in India. These golden words remain true all this while:

IN INDIA, SOMETHING strange is occurring. The cow—a symbol both of religious reverence and communal vigilantism— whose value in a modern economy, irrespective of the politics around it, one would assume should decline as increasing numbers adopt urban lifestyles far removed from an agrarian culture, is finding itself the fount of a new form of business. A unique marriage is unfolding here, between ancient belief systems and the market forces of capitalism. Gurujis are turning into businessmen, and businessmen are turning to cows. With demand for alternate systems of healing and therapy on the rise in urban India, the cow is being marketed as a source of infinite well-being. Tradition is now tradition chic. And the cow, a market choice.

Unadulterated cow urine and dung have always been procured from cow-shelters by the traditional for use at home and in temple pujas. What’s recent is the array of therapeutic and beauty products flooding the market that use these as ingredients. There are face packs, bath scrubbers, mosquito coils and incense sticks that contain cow dung. There are creams, cough syrups, body oils, health tonics, weight-loss tonics, and floor disinfectants that contain distilled cow urine. You name it, they have it. And the names of gau mutra or gau arka (cow urine) or cow dung are not hidden away in long lists of fine print on the packages. It is star-lighted right up front as the chief ingredient in bold letters. You can go to a neighbourhood shop and buy it, or drop by a fancy mall and have it bar-code billed before it’s popped into your shopping bag. And, if you so wish, you can even go online and click—or finger tap—yourself a delivery.

The article goes on to discuss how this cow dung business is growing leaps and bounds when most other businesses are struggling…

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