Following a plethora of criticism over the oddity of hugging cows on Valentine's Day, the Animal Welfare Board of India (AWBI) has now withdrawn its appeal to celebrate February 14 as 'Cow Hug Day'.
“As directed by the Competent Authority and Ministry of Fisheries, Animal Husbandry and Dairying the appeal issued by the Animal Welfare Board of India for the celebration of Cow Hug Day on 14th February 2023 stands withdrawn,” the AWBI order issued on February 10 read.
The appeal issued by the Animal Welfare Board of India for celebration of Cow Hug Day on 14th February 2023 stands withdrawn. pic.twitter.com/5MvEbHPdBZ— ANI (@ANI) February 10, 2023
In an earlier notification on Monday, the AWBI issued an appeal to the public to hug cows on Valentine's Day on February 14. The AWBI in a letter on its website said hugging cows would bring happiness and positivity.
It said, "In view of immense benefit of the cow, hugging the cow will bring emotional richness, hence will increase our individual and collective happiness. Therefore, all the cow lovers may also celebrate February 14 as Cow Hug Day keeping in mind the importance of mother cow and make life happy and full of positive energy."
The AWBI is a statutory body under the Department of Animal Husbandry and Dairying of the Union government. Its main function is to advise legal provisions for animal welfare. However, it has been reported in recent years that AWBI under the Narendra Modi government has had a visible shift towards cow protection — a reflection of the rise of the cow as a political animal.
The Hindu Right has hailed cow protection as synonymous with Indian culture. This finds echoes in the AWBI letter. The letter said "Vedic traditions are almost on the verge of extinction" under the "dazzle of Western civilisation". The Cow Hug Day thus brings together two issues dear to Hindu Rights. One, is the cow. Two, opposition to Valentine's Day which it sees as a Western encroachment of Indian values.