Those who venerate the cow cite innumerable benefits flowing from the 'go-maata' to present their case, where facts, unfortunately, become a casualty. These now include homegrown FMCG brands, such as Patanjali, making unsubstantiated claims that cow urine can cure cancer to leaders endorsing cow dung for protection against radio-waves.
And now a minister from Rajasthan has become the butt of jokes by reiterating yet another myth around the cow: that it is the only animal that inhales as well as exhales oxygen.
Rajasthan Education Minister Vasudev Devnani made this claim while speaking at a cow shelter home, adding that "there is a need to understand the scientific significance of the cow and ensure that the message reaches all people", reports Indian Express.
While it's a shame that such a scientifically untenable claim has come from a minister in charge of education, the fact remains that this myth persists.
Even news channel Aaj Tak presented this myth as fact on one of its special programmes on the cow!
But how fair is the claim?
The claim that the cow exhales oxygen has repeatedly come under the scanner. There is an entire Quora thread devoted to it, where people have pointed out that a cow exhales as much oxygen as any other mammal and there is nothing special or unique about it.
While experts have repeatedly termed it a myth, here's a fact-check by The Hindu on this supposed miraculous feature of the cow.
It concluded: "Other than plants and mosses that photosynthesise, there is no living being that exhales oxygen. The oxygen that is noted upon exhalation is part of the (unused) oxygen inhaled."
"The lungs of any animal are not efficient in delivering all oxygen from the inhaled air. Some of this oxygen that was not absorbed is exhaled," it noted.