The cow and the city: How Maldharis challenge Gujarat’s ideas of urbanisation

Source– The post is based on the article “The cow and the city: How Maldharis challenge Gujarat’s ideas of urbanisation” published in The Indian Express on 23th September 2022.

Syllabus: GS2- Urbanisation

Relevance– Urbanisation

News– The article explains the commonly held assumption about urbanisation in India and contradictions that emerges from such type of assumption.

What is the controversy related to the issue of stray cattle?

In April, the Gujarat assembly passed the Cattle Control (Keeping and Movement) in Urban Areas Bill, which requires cattle owners to obtain licences for their animals and restricts their movement on urban roads.

The Maldharis, who own most of the cattle in urban Gujarat, are opposing the bill. The law has been withdrawn due to their opposition.

What was the rationale behind the introduction of such a bill?

Firstly, for the urban middle class, stray cattle are a longstanding problem that obstructs the smooth flow of traffic. It undermines road safety and tarnishes their desired image of a global city.

Secondly, Indian policymakers have been influenced by western notions of urbanisation. It assumes 2 things:

1) Urbanisation involves a physical break between the city and the village.

2) Urban and the rural are mutually exclusive domains consisting of opposite physical forms. The former is associated with industrialisation and the latter is related to agrarian underdevelopment.

It entails the dilution of community identity and the weakening of caste and community networks.

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