Extolling her as a mother, Prime Minister Narendra Modi on Monday said cow has been an important part of India's tradition and culture and his government has taken several steps to improve the health of cattle.
Addressing a gathering after his first visit to Vrindavan Chandrodaya Mandir, he praised the people of Mathura-Vrindavan, saying 'gau sewa' is a tradition in the area, drawing loud cheers from his audience. They also raised slogans like 'gau mata ki jai' during the speech.
Modi stressed his government has created a "security cover" to ensure good heath of children and mothers during the past 55 month of his rule.
"But there is another mother, who has been nourishing us for ages. I want to express my gratitude to her from the land of Gokul. That mother is 'gau maa'. We cannot repay the debt of cow's (gau mata's) milk. Cow is an important element of India's tradition and culture," he said.
He said his government has started the Rashtriya Gokul Mission to improve the health of cattle. In the Union Budget, Modi said, his government also took a decision to establish the Rashtriya Kamdhenu Aayog with an allocation of Rs 500 crore for taking care of cows.
Alluding to Lord Krishna's legendary childhood during his nearly 30-minute speech at the Mandir campus, the prime minister said, 'gau mata' nourished 'Bal Gopal' through milk.
"Cows have been an important part of our culture and tradition (Gai hamari sanskriti aur paramaopra ka aham hissa rahi hai). And also an important element of the rural economy," he said.
Modi was in Vrindavan to participate in a programme hosted by Bengaluru-based NGO Akshaya Patra to mark the serving of its 3rd billionth meal.
On the milestone, he said, "We are witnessing this moment in the land of Krishna Leela."
After his address, where a massive stage had been mounted for the function, Modi served meals to a group of underprivileged schoolchildren.
He also unveiled a plaque to mark the serving of 3rd billionth meal by the NGO.
Funded by International Society for Krishna Consciousness (ISKCON), Akshaya Patra is a Bengaluru-based not-for-profit organisation that works with the government on mid-day meal schemes. It has a state-of-the-art kitchen in Vrindavan.
A silver 'patra' (container), as symbolised in the NGO's logo, was gifted to the prime minister, said Naveena Neerada Dasa, the head of strategic communications at ISKCON.
Uttar Pradesh Chief Minister Yogi Adityanath, BJP's Mathura MP Hema Malini and Mathura MLA and UP government minister Srikant Sharma were present during the event.