Fortnightly Commentary No 44: 22nd November, 2013 circ. 2000 people

Dear Members and Friends,
I meet many westerners who feel arranged marriages fail to recognize what they believe is a fundamental right: to choose your life partner. What often goes un-reported is the phenomenon of being NOT "chosen" by anyone. It doesn’t start with not being chosen for marriage. It starts with not being chosen to dance at the school dance, say, in an important year such as 1970 when certain people were at the important age of 14.
The dance band included electric guitars, drum kit and cool ninth grade boys who knew multiple chords and were allowed to turn the speakers up to about 7, after which neighbours of the school would be apt to complain. The fun was "on" from 3pm to 5 pm.  Boys asked girls to dance. Not the reverse. Some girls danced constantly. Others occasionally. One girl was not asked to dance at all, and she stood to the side, pale in the realization that she was certainly the ugliest, tallest, and least charming creature on earth. When home, I was so embarrassed I didn’t even tell my mother how horrible it was. She asked if I had a good time, and I said "Yes!" (By the way, it fares well as the most humiliating day of my life, even though it has some fierce competition.)
If arranged marriages are bad, then equally bad are cultures in which you have to get asked in order to participate in dance or sport or marriage. That dance should have been like the Ghumar (stick) dance of Rajasthan where everyone’s out on the floor, everyone’s dancing, no one’s waiting to be asked. 
As we work for animal justice, we’re all welcome on the floor, and we can link arms and charge forth together, no one waiting to be asked, all welcome, pitching forward to meet the opposition resolute, clear, expecting success for animals, and finally forgiving. 
Fruits of Collaboration…
Prashanth writes: FIAPO’s Compassionate Living Festival in Jaipur will spring to life 30 November in Jaipur, when Indian animal protectors will showcase the joys of living vegan lifestyles, practicing kindness in all forms, promoting street dog adoption, exposing the problems of dog breeding businesses, celebrating healthy and organic foods and more. The first of its kind in India, this event will bring together people interested in animals, environment and health for all. Learn more here: Kerala activists are reaching out through PFA Trivandrum, as volunteers spread awareness on reduction of animal products. Thrissur to follow suit soon.  Another workshop for volunteer management- a much needed capacity- is on the cards for the Pune federation. 
Combining Strengths…
The Asia for Animals (AFA) Conference, will be held in Singapore from 13th – 17th January 2014. Much of the initial brainstorming about setting up the Federation happened at AfA's in Singapore and Chennai in 2007. Registrations for 2014 are now open   
Canine Capers…
Sudhersena writes: Last week in Tamil Nadu, street dog sterilization efforts got a big lift when 60 transport vans were dispatched to take street dogs to animal birth control centres. See Sadly, Tamil Nadu carried the distressing news alleging that the Panchayat of Tiruvallur district hired people to remove 200 dogs, who were then shot and killed.  Education and public relations are essential to persuade authorities and the general community of the integrity of research that shows ABC in combination with responsible garbage management is the most effective and humane dog population control.
Kerala is considering humane improvements in abattoirs (slaughterhouses) and the government has set up a committee to review practices. Let’s hope it’s a start.
And on a lighter note, Mollywood (Malayalam celebs) speak about their much loved pets! 
Living Free…
Bikramadittya writes: "Eventful" describes it – Mumbai played the venue for a three hour orientation on "Living Free Advocacy – Why and How?" presented by Neha Vazirani. The Vegan Bangalore group carried out an excellent outreach and food tasting session at Palace Grounds (photos here: In Delhi, the Holy Cow Music Festival was held on 16th and 17th, where FIAPO launched the visiting card-sized ‘Dairy Free’ booklet at its stall. Order copies and distribute them everywhere! Just email
Increasing productivity per animal has long been an argument for exponential hike in production, and the national dairy plan aims to do just that. The scheme being implemented by NDDB involves increasing the genetic potential of bovines, and producing superior quality frozen semen. However, improving genetic potential also implies compartmentalized quantity and quality of food, stifling an environment of free grazing and other natural behavior. Read more at
Holy Cow…
Shweta writes: UK animal help took a step backwards when plans for Wales’ first mega-dairy got the go-ahead despite significant public protest. The dairy will house 1000 cows —  nine times larger than an average UK dairy; cows will be kept indoors for as much as eight months a year. FIAPO is working diligently to prevent this catastrophe in India, and is devoted to establishing legal and enforced welfare codes and guidelines for dairy cows. Keep updated with our work for cows and "like" us on Facebook 
Jai Jumbos…
Mumbai’s new head of the Maharashtra Forest department’s western branch has cited requests from animal lovers and compassion, and lack of welfare for captive elephants as the reason to enforce a ban on elephants entering Mumbai.  
Anger management. Gets top billing in offices and government schools all over America. Everyone’s angry there, apparently.  Road Rage. "Going postal" is a euphanism for getting mad, a black-humor reference to several incidents a few years back when humble postal workers opened fire on colleagues and people waiting in line to buy stamps.  
India is not nearly so prone to violence.Today, the tile-layers in my house drew a huge arrow with a felt tipped pen on a freshly painted wall, to indicate something about "the level." When I saw it, my world came crashing down. "How could you be so stupid as to write with a permanent marker on that wall?! Are you children? Should I go write my name with a permanent marker on your Hero Honda?"
Result: not a fist fight. Not "I quit." A simple pull of the earlobes. They smiled. Not a mocking smile, just a happy smile, "so sorry!" The ink, they insisted, was NOT permanent! See? It comes off if you scratch it with a nail! All that’s left is a patch of scratched wall and lots of finger prints. 
Being angry is like drinking poison and expecting the other person to die. Happy always wins.
Help animals in your own way; remember – no action is too small. 
Best wishes,
Erika Abrams 
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