The cow: Arguably India’s most prized animal. 
These gentle farmyard animals wander unimpeded through traffic-choked streets; scores of auto-rickshaws and honking motorbikes slalom through grazing cattle in downtown Delhi; traffic grinds to a halt in Varanasi as they meander unperturbed through chaotic roundabouts - you haven’t been to India if you haven’t tread in cow shit. According to the United States Department of Agriculture, India’s approximately 301,600,000 cattle account for over 31% of the earth’s population and are an obviously huge factor in the country’s effort to combat climate change. The cow is worshiped widely through India, but the animal is an increasingly polarizing topic for the country. India’s Prime Minister Narendra Modi had campaigned vociferously against the slaughter of cows; however, under Modi’s governance, India continues to lead the world in beef exports, despite the sale of beef remaining illegal within many parts of the country. Some have blamed Modi's political rhetoric for stoking the small vigilante cow protection groups that have surfaced around the country: just last September, a 50-year-old man in Uttar Pradesh was killed in a mob lynching over allegedly storing and consuming beef in his home. While an incredibly rare occurrence, it’s indicative of how sacred the animal is to some here.
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A cow in the small village of Orchha, Madhya Pradesh. Orchha is a town of approximately ten to fifteen thousand with a 99% Hindu population.