India is described as a country of extremes. It is a land of indescribable beauty and wonder that can be found right next to extreme poverty and hardship. Cities are full of beautiful buildings and monuments, but the struggle of those who are barely surviving is obvious in front of them.
Stray cows in India are part of a complex set of circumstances. Law and religious beliefs prevent the use of cows for food, yet the production of milk is widespread and necessary to feed the masses.
Farming is especially challenging in this world and those who own cows are largely subsistence farmers who are producing only enough to feed their families and possibly make a few dollars monthly above that. They cannot afford to keep an animal that is not producing for them. They also cannot afford to buy food and they rely on the cows being able to graze on undeveloped lots. The cows are allowed to wander throughout the day and they can be found all throughout the cities. Sadly, some of these cows eat out of dumpsters, and they ingest plastic and other garbage as they do so.
While these conditions are not suitable for these gentle beasts, by any standards, the farmers are struggling to survive and they simply have no other choice. But when the cows become ill due to poor nutrition or obstructions in their digestive systems, they stop producing milk. The farmers cannot afford to keep them and the cows are set loose in the street. The cities in India are home to more than 5 million cows and this number is growing rapidly. The stray cows can be found wandering the streets and even standing in fast moving traffic.
The people of India are very respectful and compassionate when it comes to these poor souls and they frequently stop to share food such as bread or lentils. This very generous rickshaw driver has brought these cows some bread. He is tentative about approaching them and he seems nervous as he puts the bread down. The cows gratefully eat the food and the driver returns quickly to his scooter to get back to work.
In a city of many millions of people, it is heart warming to see someone stop and take the time to help an unfortunate animal.