Fortnightly Commentary No 43: 8th November, 2013 circ. 2000 people

Dear Members and Friends,

In 1999, I did not myself know myself as one who could help animals. Whenever I saw a troubled animal I cupped my hands at the sides of my eyes and demanded Claire do the same. 'Don't look to your left!' or 'Look down!' I would snap.  What could we do? Why help one when there were thousands like it around the corner? Near the house we shared with village farmers, puppies often toddled and I determinedly looked away from them as they slept in the courtyard of the house near where the cute baby buffalo was tied.  It seems my need to believe in a kinder world was the very thing that kept me blinkered-until my daughter insisted I take those blinkers off.

Claire, then 10, scooped up a dying puppy withering on rubble, quietly proceeded up the stairs toward our kitchen, and said 'We can at least bring her inside to die.' OK. It would be a matter of hours-maybe even minutes-until the emaciated, congested and resigned puppy would pass away. Claire got a Parle-G from the kitchen and offered it to the dying puppy. Suddenly a pale pink tongue appeared. The nose twitched. She liked it! Her eyes opened wide. 'At least she won't die completely hungry,' I said. Claire knew better. 'She might not die!'

In that moment, an emotional curtain parted.  My heart lunged toward hope. We 'went to work' on the puppy-caressing and cajoling her to eat, and to live. And she did. She led us to save thousands of animals, teaching me never to under-estimate the power of ONE.

FIAPO is Hiring: Animals can't speak for themselves. We are looking for someone who can speak for them: an outgoing, strong communicator who can be an effective advocate for animals.

Fruits of Collaboration…
Prashanth writes: Movement building is set to take on its new avatar this winter by helping organisations in conducting direct outreach and education and a programme of training for practitioners of animal protection. Keep your eyes on this segment for updates! Neha Vaz, a PFAPO member will be travelling to Mumbai next week to sensitize activists to focus group outreach as apart of our new initiative – Neha recently also presented to professionals of the Defence Research and Development Organisation in Pune. While in Jaipur, activity is centered around the new ‘Compassionate Living Festival' which is being organised for the first time in Jaipur. The Kerala federation also wrote letters last week to the Tata Institute of Social Sciences (TISS) and the Coconut Development Board against a proposal to train monkeys to pluck coconuts

Training for Effective Outreach is taking place in Mumbai on 14th November, from 1pm-4pm. Learn how to conduct outreach – right from securing your audience to delivering the perfect presentation. Free to attend. 15 places only, on a first come first served basis. Contac to book a place.

Animal Law Training Program which is an intensive training program designed to create through awareness and understanding of all legal and government mechanisms governing animal welfare in India. 27 Nov-1 Dec residential programme at Nalsar University, Hyderabad. Contact or for more info

Canine Capers…
Sudhersena writes: In Chennai, a police constable recently killed a dog – who had the misfortune of being at the wrong place at the wrong time. Drinking to celebrate Diwali the constable killed a nine-month old male pet dog and though now a case has been registered, no further action has been taken against the constable.
This is an unfortunate case, but by no means isolated. Public attitudes – of intolerance and a lack of respect for animals, continues to be a common issue, for dogs, for donkeys, for cows, for all animals. The research project we are currently scoping for, aims to answer key questions raised for the welfare of dogs, and will hopefully help us identify priorities and interventions urgently needed for dogs.

Living Free…
Bikramadittya writes: Recently there was a viral increase in the number of meat selling stalls (read illegal slaughter houses) along the National Highway 55, in the Angul district of Odisha. Concerned citizens, though being aware, could not do much against this – and Pandit Bhaskarji, the founder of Gayatri Ashram embarked on a hunger strike for 6 days, pressuring the local administration to remove these illegal slaughter houses. Kudos to Bhaskarji for bringing this issue to the notice of the law-enforcers – and if you want to curb this from the other end, act to reduce consumption by building awareness. Check and for outreach ideas, get touch with me at

Amul has set up a new milk processing plant in Thane that will have a capacity of one million litres a day! This is just another sad indicator of how demand for milk and high end milk products is rising in two tier cities. What's more is that the Maharashtra chief minister has called Amul to set up even more plants to meet the demand. See

Holy Cow…
Shweta writes: Last week, I participated in a week-long meeting with FIAPO staff and friends, planning and strategizing for a better world for farmed, and all other animals. One of the big worries is the changing state of dairy in India – marked by higher mechanisation and industrialisation; it directly hampers the health of the animals concerned. From putting 10 animals in the place of 2, to forcing injections in their bodies for higher milk production, they are the worst sufferers. Humans aren't far behind though, as we become the end consumers of this toxic anti-biotic loaded milk. Wiser consumption patterns and concentrated efforts to encourage good practices are indeed the need of the hour.

Reliance has decided to enter the Indian food markets introducing a chicken restaurant chain called ‘Chicken came First' – in partnership with the third largest food company in the UK called 2Sister Food Group (2SFG). A disappointing development from Reliance, when Mukesh Ambani is a strict vegetarian. The news also comes as a shock to the Jain and vegetarian community, who are raising voices against this move. Read more here:

The Karanataka State Government has recently decided to trap tuskers and move them to the camps in their bid to reduce human elephant conflict. Prashanth V, tells us why this plan is a bad investment and likely to fail. See

In focus: Indian Vegan Society
Situated in the pristine climes of the western ghats, Indian Vegan Society is a group of inspired individuals which practices and spreads the message of a 'satvik' lifestyle. Their means of reaching out to people with this message is to host and attend international vegan gatherings, outreach in educational institutions, vegan excursions, a vegan magazine, vegan awards and more. Read on to know where they are and what they do.

Wedding preparations for neighbour Ganeshi- now 14 – were underway. A feast was arranged in a village 15 kilometers distant and we would travel by bus, which shook its years of grime and greasy metal bars, ushering us to hurry. I took my sticky seat toward the back as the women, their gagras fragrant with soured buffalo milk, baby urine, kitchen utensils washed with cooking ash and hair washed with earth and water, sacheted into the bus. Each lady was delighted by the prospect of the outing  -toothless oldies and brightly clad beauties jammed and adjusted so that each three seated row accommodated four or five.

The temperature inside the bus must have been 40. Sweat trickled. With one final bellow of the horn, the bus jumped onto the road and we were off. The trickle of the bidi smoked by the driver mingled with the almost visible reeking stench of bus – I began to feel nausea welling up behind my eyes. We arrived at dusk. A bus mate whispered news of my nausea to a villager. Within moments I found myself laying on a wooden charpoi's cinched rope and comfy pad made from old sarees and shirt cloth stitched. A buck-toothed boy of 10 fanned me with woven thatch.

Who are these people, who make so little fuss over the arrival of a nauseated stranger from a foreign land? She has become a good village lady herself. I have seen the tradition of kindness pass from generation to generation. The villagers' kindness to animals cannot be anything but possible.

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

Best wishes,

Erika Abrams

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