Fortnightly Commentary No 40: 27th September, 2013 circ. 2000 people

Dear Members and Friends,

I remember a few years back hearing about a personal counselling technique in which one was supposed to define their greatest social fears and then the group would manage to set up a scenario in which you conquer that fear by confronting it publicly. My very overweight friend, mortified by the way she looked, submitted to wearing a revealing garment on a small runway to an audience of fellow sufferers of social phobias and their close family and friends. Spooky! For me…the worst one is not my phone phobia; nor is it the eating in public one. It's not the one where-as in a paranoia dream-I'm caught in my high school hallway standing inexplicably naked at my locker. It's none of those. It's the one where I have to interact with very very rich people.
For years I worked as a fundraiser and had to plan events and strategies with very wealthy Americans and Australians-millionaires, billionaires! Sometimes I would get invited to their parties. Turn up one more time in the one nice black dress I had and look at the hors d'oeuvre trays and ferry lights as if I were a newly-landed Martian. Fundraising for animal work leads me again toward people of means much greater than my own. I'm here to tell you, saturation in the phobia doesn't necessarily work to alleviate it.  Really rich people still make me nervous. I wonder what it is?! Why do I care, really? What am I afraid of: that they'll know I'm not rich? They'll know!
But now:  progress.  Phil Wollen said at an Asia for Animals conference, "If you're rich, you're not giving enough away." Thank you, sir. I can skip the Character Building Counselling Course.  Merit is defined by your will to share what you have with those who have less. Wealth is spiritual. Enriched are those who give. Rather poor are those who don't, whatever their bank accounts might hold.

Holy Cow…
Shweta writes: Celebrating for cows! The project for the mega-dairy in Nellore, Andhra Pradesh is likely to be dropped! IFFCO's plans to import 9000 pregnant cows, frozen embryos and semen from New Zealand have been rejected by the state Animal Husbandry department. The facility was to house 40,000 cows in one place at its highest capacity, drastically compromising the welfare of cows.

Mega dairies or factory farms have raised ethical and practical issues around the world. Such industrial milk production involves holding a large number of animals in close confined conditions, with little chance to express normal behaviour such as grazing, grooming calves and establishing social bonds with other animals. Such systems of production also generate large amounts of waste, often disrupt livelihoods of farmers in their immediate vicinity and are extremely cruel to animals.

Thank you – our members, supporters and friends, for making this possible for cows in India! More about this here

At FIAPO, we talk a lot about the growth of our movement – of sharing ideas, swapping skills, learning best practice – all for achieving our big collective dreams. I was excited to see the programme of Student Conference of Conservation Science – which concludes tomorrow, and if you are in Bangalore, it's certainly worth a visit. SCSS is all about making our passion-driven work scientific, measured and impactful. Organising ourselves is as important as rescuing an animal in distress – both indispensible.

Fruits of Collaboration…
Prashanth writes: Federations across the country saw activity in terms of reaching out to more people and working systematically with government agencies. The much awaited ABC programme for the year began in Pune with the participation of the municipal corporation and three local organisations. Blue Cross Society Pune also lent its support to the Mission Rabies campaign by sending two of its staff members to Bikaner. Organisations and volunteers from Pune have started registering for the ‘Joy of Giving Week' to showcase their work and spread awareness on animal issues to a wider audience.
In Kerala, PAWS Thrissur has made small but significant progress in getting the municipality to start the ABC programme in their jurisdiction. They are also working to build local capacity for the same. In Jaipur, local activists have ensured progress with the municipal corporation regarding the adoption of the pet shop guidelines.

Mission Rabies has been around the country – 51,000 dog vaccinations, with a 70% coverage in targeted areas, in just 25 days. More on their website

6 districts of Kerala are all set to run 'Cattle Soft' – a software for farmers to trade in cattle. 200 resource persons who are envisaged to help farmers use this software, will be on the ground by next year. Email your views to

Living Free…
Bikramadittya writes: While on the train from Kolkata to Bangalore on my way to the India International Vegan Festival in Byndoor, Karnataka, the greatest challenge I faced was the railway food. The vegetarian option, sadly, relies heavily on paneer and dahi, both products of milk — obtained by depriving the rightful owners, the calves. I'm sure, if most Indians knew how cruel dairy products actually are, they would have refused these items on their veg platter. To know more, please visit:

Meat production has continued to grow, with changing patterns of consumption and increasing demand. A recent piece in the Economic Times tells of measures to increase and improve quantity and quality of meat products.

Some 'ice cream' is plant-based (not vegan though!) – so majority of the ingredients of a Cornetto are vegetable fat. And according to this recent report market share of such 'ice creams' is increasing. I wont be buying a Cornetto until its vegan and rid of all its milk solids, but its encouraging to see that people will ditch the dairy if alternatives are available! Contact for more info on alternatives.

In focus: PAWS Thrissur
From rescue and rehabilitation of stray animals to working with the local government for an effective ABC programme, PAWS Thrissur believes in people giving animals the rightful place and respect they deserve. "The world does not belong to us. We have just been given a space to live in. We need to learn to share this space with other living creatures as well" –With this mission, PAWS Thrissur was registered as a charitable trust in June 2012. They are one of the very few animal welfare organisations in Kerala striving to end the ill treatment of animals in God's own country
Read on for more info-

Two vet students fell in love a few weeks ago with a little failure-to-thrive type puppy they've named Hank. Now they've had to return to the UK. Hank is the size of a stuffed toy you'd throw to your cat to roll around.  They've got their hearts set on taking him back to England about 5 months from now after he's passed this intense battery of inoculations and quarantines and vet's certifications and blood tests. Why Hank, with all his problems? Why UK, with all its criteria? Why Animal Aid, with its reliable flood of new arrivals carrying every virus that can be carried by a street dog in India?
I don't know. It's love. Whether "meant to be" or "against all odds;" whether "we're as opposite as day and night" or "we felt like we were separated at birth…" it's love.
Love will write its own rulebook and you might as well surrender! Love may not mean you can always be near your beloved. He might be dead; she might be distant; he might be a tiny little puppy who has a great struggle ahead. But love, when it's real, WILL have its way. You WILL love who you love. I've never known anyone who could "decide" love away, though perhaps I've never met a person who really loves who'd want to. Love always wins.

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

Best wishes,

Erika Abrams

To subscribe visit

To unsubscribe email