Monday, December 24, 2012

Fancy owning a Gir cow?

Shishir Arya, TNN Dec 23, 2012, 06.27AM IST
NAGPUR: Hold it by the jaw and you can control it easily, explains Satish Doshi, a suave businessman, showing his rustic skills with a young bull. Iron and steel trader Doshi, who studied engineering, shares a passion with a few others from his fraternity of owning a Gir. For them it is as much as flaunting a sports car or a Harley Davidson, and a matter of ethnic pride as well.
For many it may not fit into their urban lifestyle, but for this group it is a fad indeed. "It's not just a cow, it's a Gir," they say.
Gir is a breed of cows originating from the Junagadh district of Gujarat, which also has the Gir forest - the last abode of the Asiatic lion. This is one of the best bovine breeds of the country known for its magnificent looks and distinct features like round-shaped head and red coloured coat as well as endurance. A good cow costs anywhere between Rs 50,00 to over Rs 1.5 lakh.
In the 1960s, the breed was exported to Brazil from where it spread to Mexico and around 20 other countries. In Brazil, Gir is synonymous to the cow but in India there are concerns that the pure breed might get extinct. This is what prompted the group, which can be styled as the Gir Cow Club, take up its breeding in Nagpur.
Going beyond the charitable cow-shelters which many businessmen sponsor, this group has been working on developing the Gir breed with each member personally allotting time for the cows' upkeep. "We are fascinated by the Gir breed," says Doshi, patting a bull which has sired many offsprings.
It all started with steel trader Atul Mashru who heard about the cow in a religious sermon seven years ago and sought out a breeder in Jamka village of Junagadh. He returned with the first batch of five cows and a bull and began roping in his friends.
As members increased, so did the activities. Phone calls over business affairs are liberally peppered with bits of trivia about their bovine possession. The discussion gets serious when the group gets together.
Mashru and his friends are rather fussy over the breed. You can see similar cows with the Gujarati herdsmen who have migrated to Vidarbha. "It's not Gir but a variation of the breed," said Mashru. "The head and the shape of horns of those animals are slightly different from the pure Gir," he adds.
Currently there are nine businessmen who own Girs cows and keep them at their factories or godowns, some even at their homes. "We are expecting a few more to be added to our club," says Mashru.
As members increased, so did the activities. Manoj Asawa, who had brought his cow for mating at Doshi's premises, says, "We had cows earlier, but now it is just a Gir." Gir owners love to flaunt their depth of knowledge and speak like expert veterinarians.
"We meet often to discuss Gir matters. We are choosy about new members. If an animal has to be given away due to paucity of space, we do not hand it over to just anyone," says Mashru. "The cows are not sold. Hence the person accepting the animal must have enough resources to maintain it and, more importantly, a passion to rear the Gir breed," he adds.

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