November 24: Hey, how about trying camel’s milk instead of buffalo’s or cow’s milk with your porridge? Not very keen on the thought? Doesn’t sound appetising?

Did you know that many mothers, particularly in the rural regions of Rajasthan and Gujarat, offer camel’s milk to their children? Unlike cow’s milk, a camel’s milk is rather salty and very thick. But as far as being a source of nutrition is concerned, its benefits are considerably more than that of cow’s milk.

The Supreme Court of India, says so, too. In a recent verdict the Court said that camel milk is actually as good as the pasteurised cow milk that you and I drink, if not even better.

Camel's Milk and Pet Registration [Illustration by Shiju George]
Camel’s Milk and Pet Registration [Illustration by Shiju George]

But why on earth would the Supreme Court pronounce a verdict on camel milk or who drinks what? Villagers have been drinking camel milk for generations in Rajasthan, but the local courts, for some strange reason, suddenly decided that camel’s milk is not fit to be drunk by humans. It promptly threw a poor Rajasthani milkman into jail for six months and fined him Rs. 1,000.

But two Supreme Court judges browsed through loads of research material on camel milk via the Internet before they decided that the milkman was right and the local court wrong.

The judges referred to the Encyclopaedia Americana and even a French scientific organisation’s website. Their conclusion: camel’s milk is actually “very rich and so thick that it forms lumps in tea or coffee”. It has been designed by nature to rear fast-growing camel calves in the hostile desert environment. So how could it possibly be harmful for humans?

Still curious about what it is the milk contains that is of so much value? For one, camel’s milk has a naturally low fat content, with 40% less cholesterol than cow’s milk. Second, it has a low sugar (lactose) content (which explains the salty taste), but with as much protein as in cow milk. With 3.5 mg per 100 ml, camel’s milk has the highest Vitamin C content of all species. Unlike cow milk, it does not curdle when sour, so it is easily digested.

In fact, desert dwellers, consider camel’s milk to be a complete food. They believe that one can live on it for weeks at a time.

Meanwhile, at about the same time that the Supreme Court was deciding the fate of the milkman – and camel’s milk – the Municipal body of Delhi decided to toughen laws for pets at home.

The New Delhi Municipal Corporation (NDMC) has decided that pets with tails, whether dogs, cats, mice, cows or horses, will have to be
registered with the NDMC. The NDMC says that the law has existed since 1957, but it will be strictly enforced now. It says this will prevent animals from running around on the roads bumping into people and cars, and also to prevent diseases from spreading.

So, be careful. Not having a licence for your pet can cost you 50 rupees, whereas registration can be done for a paltry sum annually.

However, as pet owners, your duty does not end there. Your pet also has to wear a collar bearing a metal token with a registration number on it.

Among the first few the Delhi government have targetted include ex-Chief Minister of Delhi, Sahib Singh, for his two cows, and supercop Kiran Bedi for her cows and calf. There are so many pets in Delhi nowadays, that the municipality collects Rs. 70,000 annually as pet collection!

But it appears that the NDMC’s warning has paid off. Already, owners have registered 1,500 pets.

608 words | 6 minutes
Readability: Grade 7 (12-13 year old children)
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Filed under: world news
Tags: #india, #supreme court, #deserts, #camels

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