Fortnightly Commentary No 45: 6th December, 2013 circ. 2000 people

Dear Members and Friends,
 
A few months back I attended the birthday celebration of a one-year-old Rajput boy whose close family has struggled with alcoholism, schizophrenia and relentless poverty. But this kid had a way better party than I've had in all my life, including a couple of marriages when I myself was the bride. 
 
Tube lights and balloons in a rental hall of Rs 2000 were enough: the hall was decorated by the guests themselves. The family of the pre-toddling one-year-old dressed lavishly. Uncles donned ill-fitting three-piece suits and lady relatives sparkled and glowed. The music was loud and fast, the glitter poppers were Chinese and dangerous, the cake was beautifully white, its ingredients suspicious and its size enormous.
 
Guests tossed the birthday tot like a cricket ball, smeared his face with cake-icing and occasionally flopped a stiff turban around his soft head, but the crawling celebrity beamed indulgently and danced as best he could from the arms of his Dada. 
 
Gandhiji urged stoicism to maintain non-violence in the face of oppressors. But what made the stoicism possible might draw on perspectives much stronger than mere intellectual conviction.  So many of the satyahis were poor folks like these. Maybe will power in India springs from the vast security of identifying oneself as part of an old family.  Honour, tradition and respect for the elders might be easier to maintain when the elders know a thing or two about how to put on a rocking birthday party for a one-year-old.
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Diabolical Deonar Slaughter House Stopped. Deonar death center in Mumbai, slaughtering 6000 animals daily for export, will no longer be functional from 1-Jan-2014. We are delighted, congratulations to Viniyog Parivar Trust and others involved in making this possible! A copy of the order is available here http://www.fiapo.org/downloads/21_2013(App)(WZ)_29Nov2013_final_order 
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India for Animals 2014 will burst with ideas, debates, laughter and learning in Jaipur, September 12-14, 2014. India's only conference for animal protection, it's a "must attend" event which will include practical how-to sessions, philosophy of animal protection movement building, strategies, success stories, improvement techniques and give all participants a chance to meet with old friends and make new ones in an atmosphere promoting the overarching federation principle that together, we are stronger than we are alone. Mark your calendars!
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Ask the Expert: What's the best way to stabilize a frightened horse in order to clean a leg wound? Read detailed response here http://fiapo.org/view_art.php?viewid=12954 
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Fruits of Collaboration…
Prashanth writes: Animal activists joined ecology-minded and sustainable living buffs in Jaipur Federation of Animal Protection Organisations' Compassionate Living Festival in early December. Activists and organisations from Delhi and Mumbai also participated. Photos here https://www.facebook.com/events/222202454627439/ Following on the heels of the festival, the Pune federation is planning a workshop on volunteer mobilization later this month, along with plans of engaging mothers of school children in effecting a change towards healthy and cruelty free eating habits.
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Using the law to save animal's lives is an under-used tool in our movement—but this is changing thanks to a week-long intensive Animal Law Workshop held last week in Hyderabad, with the highly experienced insights from Gauri Maulekhi, Jayasimha Nuggehalli, and special guest Smt Maneka Gandhi as well as several law professors. Claire Abrams shares her views on the inspirational and practical workshop. http://fiapo.org/view_news.php?viewid=12969
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Efforts to end experimentation on and dissection of animals is making progress in academia, but the expense of alternatives to animal testing is still used cited as an impediment by players in some research institutions.  Is India lagging where it should be leading? http://fiapo.org/view_news.php?viewid=12960
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Definitely Dogs…
Sudhersena writes: India is among the top ten countries with the highest pet dog population, with 10.2 million dogs. Dogs are increasingly looked upon as companion animals rather than guard dogs. But few studies have focused on the welfare of pet dogs. How is the welfare of a dog defined? What parameters should we look at? These are some of the issues that would be addressed in the companion dog research http://www.mapsofworld.com/world-top-ten/countries-with-most-pet-dog-population.html 
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Making the Most of Mission Rabies, the project launched in September by World Veterinary Services to demonstrate the possibility of vaccinating a large number of community dogs in two-week intervals involving several specially chosen regions in India. Thanks to participation from NGOs in organisations in those areas, who contributed dog catchers, equipment, and project management on site, MR received some good media attention and inoculated thousands of community dogs. http://www.missionrabies.com/video/
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Ahmedabad's community dog sterilisation efforts at risk due to funding shortages, according to TNN. Read more http://fiapo.org/view_news.php?viewid=12957
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Living Free…
Bikramadittya writes: The most important event in the last two weeks would be the hour long discussion we had with the Indian Coastguard personnel at GRSE, Kolkata. The feedback sheets indicate that most people who consume dairy products are not at all aware of the extremely cruel practices of the industry and never associate consuming milk/milk products with cruelty. Once aware, they are ready to change but if we can give them alternatives. With the Dairy Free booklet available now, what could be a better chance to help them out. Access the booklet here: http://livingfreeindia.org/resources/dairy_free_booklet.pdf 
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The fur has blood stains…
Despite an enormous range of synthetic and organic fabrics which provide warmth and look great, animal fur and wool are still chosen by many consumers who will literally "kill for fashion." PETA-India has released a video exposing the suffering behind fur collars, wool coats and angora rabbit sweaters.  http://fiapo.org/view_news.php?viewid=12958
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Holy Cow…
Shweta writes: This weeks' commentary is a sad reminder of how profit motives can often blur the lines of morality. In an article titled 'Give milk its primary due', author Harish Damodaran refers to our inability to see milk as a 'crop', pointing out that a 'cow' is just a 'machine' that converts fodder into milk. Surely, even from a production perspective, such views cannot be entertained. In an effort to balance both sides of the scale, a response letter has been written to the editor of The Hindu, where the article first originated. 
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When children and their teenaged mothers beg on the street I usually see only a "crowd" but not  particular faces. If I'm riding in a taxi and beggars approach with a soil-covered little baby, I am capable of staring straight ahead and rolling up the window against the reeling tide of "have-nots."
Onward I go, relieved to pull away. Maybe I say "oh god," but not "awwwwe."  The impulse to help is assuaged by a "go-away" rupee, rarely the wish that I could put my arms around all of them and take them home for a bath and a cuddle. But if they're been a family of dogs huddled under a flyover I might turn the car around, buy them biscuits, worry about their water. 
 
When I observe people pass by any destitute dog, or recoil at a flirting canine someone, inside my head I berate them: "What's wrong with you?  Only an idiot would waste your life afraid of nature's extraordinary gift. You scowl at an angel?" The English poet William Wordsworth wrote, in Intimations of Immortality, "…But trailing clouds of glory do we come / From God, who is our home: Heaven lies about us in our infancy!…"
 
How many times have I failed to see the children's clouds of glory? Though I see such clouds so clearly 'round the animals. This failure is a measure of my place on the road to achieving a vegan life. For a vegan life is a magnificent achievement, bigger than one's food choice: protection of the vulnerable, reducing the ego and serving the world with compassionate action. Including that young girl tapping on the glass of your car, cajoling you in the cadence we all know as the rhythm of beggars. There's a desperate person trapped inside those rags, trailing clouds of glory visible to those vegan enough to see them.
 
Help animals in your own way; remember – no action is too small. 
 
Best wishes,
 
Erika Abrams 
 
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