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Funny Essay On Cow By Ias

Magazine

'He is the same like God'

SHASHI THAROOR

`Once the paragon of authority and power, the IAS officer is now portrayed as a semi-illiterate person who can't write a sensible English paragraph but still gets sent off to rule over the masses.'

THE other day I received by e-mail one of those Internet jokes that constantly do the rounds, particularly among expatriate Indians, whose appetite for desi humour, usually self-deprecating, knows no bounds. It purported to be an essay written by a Bihari candidate at the Union Public Service Commission (UPSC) examinations for the Indian Administrative Service. The sender quoted what was allegedly the candidate's essay on the subject of "the Indian cow", which, for the benefit of those fortunate enough not to be assailed daily by the Internet, I reproduce below almost in full:

"He is the cow. The cow is a successful animal. Also he is four footed. And because he is female, he give milks, but will do so when he is got child. He is same like-God, sacred to Hindus and useful to man. But he has got four legs together. Two are forward and two are afterwards. His whole body can be utilised for use. More so the milk. Milk comes from 4 taps attached to his basement. Horses do not have any such attachment. What can it do? Various ghee, butter, cream, curd, why and the condensed milk and so forth. Also he is useful to cobbler, watermans and mankind generally."

"His motion is slow only because he is of lazy species. Also his other motion (gobar) is much useful to trees, plants as well as for making flat cakes like Pizza, in hand, and drying in the sun. Cow is the only animal that extricates his feeding after eating.... His only attacking and defending organ is the horns, specially so when he is got child. This is done by knowing his head whereby he causes the weapons to be paralleled to the ground of the earth and instantly proceed with great velocity forwards."

"He has got tails also, situated in the backyard, but not like similar animals. It has hairs on the other end of the other side. This is done to frighten away the flies which alight on his body whereupon he gives hit with it....''

It goes on for a few sentences more in similar vein, and then the e-mailer added the following footnote: "We are reliably informed that the candidate passed the exam and is now an IAS officer somewhere in Bihar.''

Now let's put aside the obvious implausibilities of this story — the unlikelihood of an IAS exam paper being posted on the Web, the even greater unlikelihood that the IAS would ask its examinees to write an essay on the cow — and consider the sneering that lies behind it. The anonymous candidate is, of course, supposed to be from Bihar, which over the last couple of decades has become a sort of national symbol for corruption, venality and incompetence in Indian governance, at least amongst the urban Anglophone classes. (This phenomenon has, of course, accelerated since the ascent of unprincipled rusticity to high office in that State, as embodied in the person of Shri Laloo Prasad Yadav.) Worse still, the e-mail claims the howler-laden essay actually got its author into the IAS. This is startling, because it suggests that the stock of that institution, once considered the home of the best and the brightest in our society, has fallen lower than any of us could have imagined, at least in the eyes of our nouveau-riche computer-owning yuppies and their NRI friends. In the old days, the IAS officer was the paragon of authority and power, the prospective bridegroom who commanded the highest price on the marriage market. Today, as multinationals and dot-coms (and better still, multinational dot-coms) reward their executives with riches and perks a mere sarkari babu can only dream of, the once-august IAS man can even be portrayed as a semi-illiterate dehati who can't write a sensible English paragraph but still gets sent off to rule over the masses, at least in Bihar.

Of course I may be making far too much of a silly Internet joke, but I wonder what its wide circulation (I have received it from at least three different people) does reveal about the way our society is changing. I once wrote elsewhere about the insidious divisions being promoted between "India" and "Bharat" — between a slice of our country that is seen as cosmopolitan, liberal, Anglophone, technologically-savvy and secular, and the undifferentiated rest that is thought of as traditional, casteist, superstition-ridden, backward and vernacular. It worries me that, in this era of greater communication, complete interdependence and the levelling influence of mass television, the gulf of empathy between the "Indians" and the Bharatvasis seems to be widening rather than shrinking. There is probably room here for more serious sociological enquiry than I am capable of. I hope it is undertaken by someone in Bihar.

But I don't want to leave the subject of classroom howlers before making the defensively feeble observation that Biharis, or for that matter Indians, are not their only perpetrators. Prof. Anders Henriksson, an American professor of history (at the not particularly well-known Shepherd College in West Virginia) has compiled a volume he has titled Non Campus Mentis, a collection of egregious errors taken word for word from term papers and exams conducted at American and Canadian colleges. His chronicle runs from such prehistorical periods as "the Stoned Age" to the more contemporary dramas of "the Berlin Mall". In his account, Julius Caesar is assassinated on "the Yikes of March" and bursts out while dying, "Me too, Brutus!"

In the student essays the good professor has trawled, there are knowing references to "Judyism" as a "monolithic" religion (whose adherents, in a contemporary computer-age error, worship the god "Yahoo"). Columbus' benefactors, Ferdinand and Isbaella, conquer not Grenada but "Granola" — the name of an American breakfast cereal. Martin Luther King Jr. (the student even left out the surname "King", confusing the Black American Nobel winner with the 15th Century German Protestant reformer) makes a historic "If I Had a Hammer" speech (the title of a pop song — King had, in reality, famously declared, "I Have a Dream"). Hitler is depicted as terrorising his enemies with his feared "Gespacho", a conflation of the Spanish soup, or gazpacho, with the dreaded Gestapo. Kennedy resolves the "Canadian Missile Crisis", not the Cuban. And so on.

Ignorance, in other words, knows no boundaries. Not even national ones. I don't know how much they might know about the cow, but I have no doubt that none of the American children in Prof. Hendriksson's book would have got into the IAS.

Shashi Tharoor is the author of the new novel Riot. Visit him at www.shashitharoor.com

Magazine

Remember that essay a UPSC student wrote on a cow and the way it made us laugh? Well, looks like the Rajasthan government is in no mood to let anyone take the humble cow any less seriously or mock it. Cows have been treated as holy animals in India since centuries and it is treated as a mother by Hindus. Hindus give utmost respect to the cow and man even worship the animal. Eating beef is banned in most Indian states and even if a cow is passed on the streets, Hindus often touch it in reverence or bow before it in respect. However, with modern times and western influences, the younger generation does not always believe such gestures and treats cow just like any other animal.

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The Rajasthan government, which is the only state government to have a special ministry dedicated to cows under the Vasundhara Raje regime is all set to inspire youngsters and drive home the point, “Gaay Hamari Mata Hai” which is the Hindi saying for, The cow is our mother. The government has now included a chapter on the Cow in the government school’s Hindi textbooks for Class V where the students will be taught how the cow is equivalent to their mother and therefore, must be respected. The benefits and uses of the cow will be detailed in the chapter in the form of a letter. The letter will be written from a cow to students and will be in the first person. It will not be too long or details and will stick to the points.

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Some of the points mentioned in the letter are:

My sons and daughters,

I give every individual strength, intelligence, long life, health, happiness and prosperity. Those who feel (my importance) consider me as their mother and I love them like my offspring. I produce the elixir of life in the form of milk, butter and ghee. My urine and excreta produces medicines, fertilisers and pesticides. My offspring, bullock, helps you in agriculture. I also purify environment by breathing.

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Though this is just a gist, the students can learn how the cow, as an animal helps human beings in multiple ways. The chapter does not have just the letter but also has multiple pictures of Indian Gods along with a big picture of the Indian cow. However, for now, the chapter has not been made compulsory in the exams though the chapter will be read in class. This means it is officially not a part of the exam portion and students need not study it in detail. While talking to The Times of India on this new move, the Gopalan Ministry (name of the cow ministry in Rajasthan) Otaram Dewasi said, “This is a positive move towards creating awareness on the benefits of the cow…”

Well, if only this letter had been given to that poor UPSC student!

P.S: Here’s the letter the UPSC student wrote, which arguably teaches a lot more than the letter from the cow!

Published Date: May 10, 2016 2:06 PM IST

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