do? I will stand and save her, isn't it? Likewise, you should get up, gather and save our mother cow," he said.
In a cavern under the well-swept courtyard of a Hindu temple off the narrow streets of Old Delhi, a calf blinks as it takes in the world for the first time and nuzzles for its mother's udder.
This is a goshala, a shelter for cows brought there by Hindus as thanks to the gods for good fortune, or simply pulled in off the streets where they wander, disrupting traffic and feeding on rubbish.
Hindus believe that Nandi, a bull, is the steed of powerful deity Lord Shiva, and that Lord Krishna was born as a cow-herd.
Many rural households in India, the world's biggest producer of milk, own at least one cow or buffalo. Female buffaloes, in particular, are prized for their creamy milk, while the males are used for pulling carts and ploughs, and their dung keeps home fires burning in villages that have little or no access to power.
Statistically, there are enough cows and buffalo in India for every rural household to have about two. But once cows are past their productive life, owners will often simply turn them out, unwilling to spend on fodder for no return.
Buffaloes and cows are increasingly ending up in abattoirs mushrooming across the country, according to industry participants and officials Reuters spoke with. Buffalo makes up by far the bulk of India's beef exports. Cow meat is banned from export, but animal rights groups say some finds its way abroad.
In all, India has half the buffaloes in the world, according to the Indian Council of Agricultural Research, and the largest number of cattle, with 327 million head, according to the USDA. The United States has around 89 million cattle.
BOOMING BEEF INDUSTRY
Sitting in his airy ground-floor office in an abattoir about 8 km (5 miles) from the town of Aligarh in northern India, Mahendra Singh says business is booming. His production of buffalo meat has increased to 150 tonnes a day from 100-120 tonnes around a year ago.
His employer, Hind Agro industries Ltd, has sought