Fortnightly Commentary No 36: 2nd August, 2013 circ.

Dear Members and Friends,

I had to visit a government office to fulfil a formality the other day and found my gang of three watching serials. It's the latest craze. Loads of government offices now boast a television. Apparently watching it causes no reduction in productivity. Still, they must have had to beg, using tactics I myself employed as a teenager to my parents: "If you don't let me smoke cigarettes at home, I'll be out a lot more."
My local bureaucrats must have said "If we can watch TV here in the office, we won't stay home from work watching it from our living room sofas." It worked!
These threats have no limit. TV! What's next: "If I can't have a romantic interlude with my office mate right here in the office, then we're going to take really long lunches and you'll be sorry. We'll only compound the problem if you force us to LIE about it."
TV. Preposterous. I would never watch TV while working! Just last night, I was working. I am on Youtube only. My Youtube investigation took me on another proud history quest: the civil rights movement and its connection to animal protection. Problem was, within moments somehow my finger had clicked "60's TV commercials" which led, then, to something called "Evil Doll," all within a 10 minute sit.
An Evil Doll. Imagine that. How dumb. Determined to return to my quest for historic perspective, I paused, vacantly regarding the plethora of dangerous choices. What was I researching…? Animal movement building?…or…a "Big B" retrospective?…
Oh, I remember…click click…it's the Big B…looking at me again from that gondola in Venice.

Fruits of Collaboration…
Prashanth writes: Members of the Jaipur federation met to discuss additions to the draft dog breeding and sales rules that the municipal corporation has proposed to introduce. Jaipur will also be hosting its first animal rescue and first aid workshop headed by our own Abodh Aras this weekend. Meanwhile, the Pune federation has prepared a proposal for engaging corporate companies in animal welfare activities. Preparation of collateral for awareness building workshops is also underway. Pune has finalised the date for its first legal awareness workshop later this month, and its open to non-members too, contact us to book a place.

Reports from Kozhikode that the corporation is planning to start Animal Birth Control (ABC) – and also plan to set up adoption centres. We are watching this one closely.

PETA and VoSD have filed a PIL in the Madurai High Court against the plans of the Chennai Municipal Corporation to create pounds for dogs to relocate them permanently.

Living Free…
Bikramadittya writes: Two weeks back, a family member suffered a stroke and was admitted to the hospital. A perfectly healthy and active individual even minutes before the stroke, she is back home now, with her right limbs paralysed and speech gone. Research suggests that incidences of stroke are on the rise the world over and one of the major causes is lead poisoning, and the most abundant source of lead (and chromium) in our food is fish laced with industrial runoffs. Does it now make sense to cut down on the fish consumption?

This independence day, let's live free! While we live free, we should give animals a chance to live free too. If you're in Delhi, tune in to Radio One on the 10th and 14th August and listen to FIAPO campaigning for animals. Visit LUSH store at Select Citywalk, Saket, and talk to the experts and pamper yourself with a complimentary animal free facial or a hand massage starting 12th August to 15th August, between 4pm-8pm. Email for more info

Holy Cow…
Shweta writes: With Independence Day approaching, we're celebrating the cause of freedom to animals, and are concentrating on raising awareness on cruelties committed against farmed animals. For example, did you know that the cows are often injected with the growth hormones to increase production, leading to lameness and mastitis, a painful infection of the udder? Their average life span gets reduced from 20 to 5 years in this process. Thankfully, the dairy code is finally beginning to take structure with the parameters being laid out now.

Milk production in India has risen by 25 million tonnes in the last 5 years. Most of India's milk is produced by small producers – that have their own welfare problems, but a new problem that we face is the prospect of mega dairies being set up in India which will spell disaster for dairy animals.

First it was Bijlee and later it was Raja the circus hippo – precious lives lost in captivity. The most recent population estimates suggest that over the past 10 years there has been a 7–20% decline in Common Hippo populations and it is listed Vulnerable by IUCN – yet they continue to be used in circuses in India. FIAPO urges MoEF to help rescue and rehabilitate the remaining animals at Gemini Circus. Some good news – Laxmi, an elephant in Mumbai, was rehabilitated and saved from the fate of Bijlle. See
If you attended IFA in Goa last year and worked with 150 colleagues to create India's activists vision of an animal-cruelty-free world, you will remember the painful demonstration depicting castration of bulls. The good news is that AP is going to be the first state government to provide much needed pain relief for such a procedure. One of our collective dreams from IFA is already coming true – one dream at a time! See

Poacher turns conservationist! I wish there was more news like this – the plight of animals turning someone completely around. See

In focus: Cats and Brats
Cats and Brats is a young and energetic group of people from Pune which believes in changing mindsets of people to achieve welfare of animals. Their range of awareness workshops which they fine tune to the needs of a six year old child to a forty year old adult are a treat to be part of. Their involvement in adoption camps also has been an added bonus to the animal protection communiuty of Pune. Read more about them here

Everyone wants to know how to raise funds for the organisations they care most about. I have raised millions of rupees for charities I love and I have learned one golden rule: If you want to learn how to raise money you need to learn how to give away some of your own. You don't have to be rich. Within one's own means there is always extra.

Learn what it feels like to give. The old saying "give ‘til it hurts" is misleading. Give til it feels GOOD. Give ‘til you glow inside. It will put you on a fast learning track about fundraising: What was the emotional context which made me feel great about giving? Who asked me? What was the money for? How was its uses explained to me? How was I thanked afterwards? Did I get an update about how the money helped? Really give, and really ask those questions.

I was at a FIAPO workshop about animal protection laws a couple of years ago. I shared a room with two other women. One of the women gave both my organisation and our room-mate's organisation Rs 5000 each. That woman ALSO had an animal organisation she was extremely involved in, and I know she did not have lavish funds.

"You're so generous," I said. "You have [org X] to give to—but you're giving to us?"

"I'm so glad I can help," she said with such a warm smile. "You're doing such good work. I know it's nice to get a little something for our organisations."

I want to be more like her.

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

Best wishes,

Erika Abrams