Fortnightly Commentary No 35: 19th July, 2013 circ. 2000 people

Dear Members and Friends,

I'm just back from Jaipur where I sat in on a FIAPO presentation (by one Claire Abrams – a close relative of this writer!) to 150 students of the Arch Academy of Design, to explore what we as individuals can do for animals starting today, costing us nothing. The action we can take is, of course, to stop eating animals.

After the presentation – which included a lovely one-minute video of a baby chick interacting with her very watchful mom (now I know where the term "worrying as much as a mother hen" comes from), cameos of rescued street animals whose lives were saved by a single phone call, and warm discussion about all the reasons why we should never forget the power of one when it comes to saving a life – 40 students requested a copy of the video on the poultry industry by PETA to show it to their families and friends, all requested the Go-Veg leaflets which FIAPO has made for its Living Free veg outreach campaign. The enthusiasm of these students outnumbered that of every group we have ever addressed for their immediate commitment to help animals farmed for food and clothing.

Those involved in fashion design are neither trivial nor frivolous. Turns out, they are activists-in-the-making, and this group today won my life-long respect. Abhijit, a student, stopped us after the presentation to thank us for changing his life. "I have been drifting toward eating non-veg, but after today, I'm never going to do it. That's a promise." Not only his life has been changed, but the lives of hundreds of animals got changed with him too.

Do you want to work for protecting animals? There are 2 new openings with FIAPO. One is for a researcher, to study nationally the welfare of dogs in India The other post is that of a fundraiser coordinator, who will enable animal protection by bringing in valuable resources to run various programmes. Applications by email only.

Fruits of Collaboration…
Prashanth writes: Jaipur is seeing sustained action towards implementation of the draft pet shop rules. This week, JFAPO members met with the Director of the state animal husbandry department and presented him with a copy of the Chandigarh government order on implementation of pet shop regulatory guidelines. They requested him to get a similar order passed for the state as well.
Also, in the second phase of its corporate engagement endeavour, P-FAPO is in the process of drafting a proposal for conducting animal awareness programmes in corporate companies.

We have all come across situations where dogs need first aid and sometimes, treatment for small wounds, or minor ailments – especially if you are in a remote area. Here's a manual that could help – we suggest extreme caution though – there is no substitute for proper veterinary treatment!

Living Free…
Bikramadittya writes: Recently, I distributed leaflets, advocating Living Free, to various corporates and business hotspots in Kolkata. The three major areas where IT offices are located were targeted, specifically, Millennium City IT Park, Unitech Infospace and Mahish Bathan. The IT employees were mostly young and upwardly mobile. During the activity, I had one on one interactions with many inquisitive faces who wanted to learn more and organise an outreach activity. The response that I received through this activity was quite heartening! To organise a similar event in your city, order leaflets, and even apply for a quick grant contact me at

Excellent to read about Sonia Agarwal, a Mumbai based entrepreneur, who recently showcased a collection of works made with Elfh, a mineral-based composite that is the new, animal-friendly ivory! And another company now in Bangalore set up to create accessories from a leather alternative

Holy Cow…
Shweta writes:  The meat export policy is currently up for review, and the last couple of weeks I was gathering data to support banning any meat export – the committee reviewing the policy is still accepting comments, so make sure you send yours here with a few simple clicks.
Meanwhile, the research on basic welfare standards for dairy cows globally is in full swing to draft a welfare code that will include standards for all aspects of welfare for dairy cows including, food, housing, welfare, transport, euthanasia and health and quality management. This will allow for a decent standard of living for dairy cows, and will be a huge step forward for the Indian dairy industry.

Harayana's Bishnois are showing others how its done – protesting against a nuke plant over the tragic death of a blackbuck recently in Gorakhpur.

An elephant alert system that is based on SMS and GPRS could pave the way of reducing human elephant conflicts, implementation and reception on the ground of such high-tech solutions will be the big challenge

FIAPO has joined a consortium of organisations, led by Humane Society International India in asking the Ministry of Environments and Forests, to formulate a Fins Naturally Attached Policy to regulate shark fining in India. Shark fining is the practice of cutting of the fin from the animal and disposing the dismembered animal back into the ocean. Often, the animal is still alive but cannot swim, and quickly sinks to the bottom, to die. India is reportedly the second largest shark catching country in the world. We are requesting our members and supporter organisations to sign on to the request going to the Minister. Please email to add your voice.


In focus: Animals Matter to Me
From companion animals to distressed mammoths, this group of animal carers reaches out to everyone in need of help. Through Ecovet, Hospital on Wheels and CaTzilla , Animals Matter To Me (AMTM) has helped more than 800 animals to date. Their work has found wide coverage in the media and their tribe of animal protectionists continues to increase by the day. Read more about them here

At my 7th grade "graduation" ceremony silly awards were given. I got two of them—one for "Tallest Girl," one for "Biggest Gossip." The Tallest Girl was incontestable, but I felt then, as now, that the gossip judgment was unfair. 

Although over the years I admit I've stooped to engage in "trash talk" that came to nothing and shined a mean light on someone else, but I declare it hasn't been often.  Generally, when I have talked "about" someone I've been trying to get a better understanding of WHY he or she does what he or she does. It's not to discover or share my idea of their weaknesses or their strengths in order to make myself look better (which is gossip) or to bring them down (which is gossip.) But analysis is the right word when you're appreciating the other person as complex and vast and struggling to understand him or her – not gossip.

When we want to inspire another person to act on his or her compassion or to contribute money generously, we have to  try to guess their capacity to care, and to evaluate our own ability to help them see and feel what we do that might have most meaning to them. It's important that we ask the right donation from the right persons. If we ask too little, we may miss a big opportunity for animals. If we ask too much, we might scare them. How can you know? Analyse. 

Instead of getting an award for "Biggest Gossip" they should have said "Biggest Nose" and left it at that. I wouldn't spend my life tossing and turning over that one. Facts is facts, ma'am.

Help animals in your own way; remember – no action is too small.

Best wishes,

Erika Abrams

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