Fortnightly Commentary No 47: 3rd January 2014

Dear Members and Friends,
I tried to learn how to tie knots between beads on youtube. (You'd think this was easy. Try it and get back to me.) What fascinated me more than the thread wrapped round these English ladies' hands, suggesting you "begin with a simple overhand knot" and proceeding to flash for three seconds an impossible web of thread at angles, were the glimpses of the backgrounds in their homes. If I were making a reality TV show about life abroad, it would be called 'Extreme Comfort'. All the amenities peek through in the backgrounds: wall-to-wall carpets, plush sofas, soft flowing curtains. If it's winter, you can almost smell the central heating system. Closet space, kitchen mixers that cost $500 just for making almond milk, big bathtubs, sprinkler systems.
We've gone crazy for what we call "creature comforts." But the animals make do with so little. An old black bull roves in a territory not far from my house. He must be favoured by some neighbours because he stays in the same street—a big boy he is, with a bum hind leg that doesn't touch the ground, pokes straight out and calcified. Day or night, he is alone, brave one. I see him in the chill of winter curled quietly within himself on the same patch of grass where he sleeps on summer nights. He adjusts. He keeps his own counsel. He has nothing material but he knows all the secrets of the night. The birds are his music; the grasses that poke up are his cuisine; the traffic around him seems a nuisance he has somehow made peace with.
I pass him often, and always he gives me the same message: Take Little. Be content.
Fruits of Collaboration…
Prashanth writes: Movement building wrapped up the last two weeks of the year with JFAPO, the Jaipur Federation, preparing for a bird treatment camp and the country's first bird-specific rescue hotline. Training has been organized by JFAPO today, 3rd January. Pune is ploughing ahead with creation of a model for outreach to be done specifically for businesses and commercial groups. The Kerala federation is now planning a workshop to improve adoption camps, boost adoptions and increase guardian awareness about what their pet dogs need to be healthy, safe and happy.
Entrepreneurs Who Kill…
Nepal and Bhutan have become an animal smuggling corridor feeding precious animals and their stolen body parts to an eager Chinese market. Pangolin scales, Tiger skins, Elephant tusks or animal bones are commonly confiscated along the Siliguri Corridor.
Living Free…
Bikramadittya writes: Christmas crowds provided a great opportunity for outreach, and the team Living Free's stall at Calcutta's Christmas Fair brought hundreds of curious shoppers to brighten their holidays with new ideas about compassionate consumption. From construction engineers to police, teachers to dog feeders, everyone thanked us for opening their eyes and hearts to the chain of benefits that come from eating plant-based diets. And some even came back to ask for more leaflets they wanted to distribute. Please check the photos here:
Holy Cow…
Shweta writes: The meat industry will take a nose-dive following Rolling Stone Magazine's latest feature piece on the abominations of the meat industry.  Rolling Stone is one of the most widely-read progressive news and entertainment journals in the USA. The meat industry story suggests "mainstreaming" at an impressive breadth. With a circulation of about one and a half million, the 45 years-running bi-monthly magazine is popular with the trend-setting upper middle class demographic who rely on it for accurate coverage on contemporary issues. This must-read piece covers the horrors of the industry and the heroics of the activists who have risked life, limb and heartbreak in their efforts to expose the hellish lives of animals held and sent for slaughter.
Soul Slaughter…
Jallikattu continues to bedevil bulls, and despite rigorous efforts on the part of AWBI and activists over many years, the bloody, cruel and incomprehensibly stupid blood sport continues.
Wonderful People in High Places…
Getting help from powerhouses like Shashi Tharoor, Minister of State for Human Resource Development, is one of the best ways we can help animals. PETA-India recently honoured Tharoor for his help in encouraging the National Council of Educational Research and Training (NCERT) to look over PETA's suggested programme to include humane education in secondary school textbooks.
No Stopping Us Now! Dept: Animal Testing Finished in Cosmetics Industry
The years-long efforts of Humane Society International – India together with PETA-India, Beauty Without Cruelty and other activists across the country have culminated in a historic boon for animals—the absolute ban on their use in the cosmetics industry.
Definitely Dogs…
Sudhersena writes: The Mandya Municipal Corporation's plan to seize and dump dogs in "the forest," flagrantly violating PCA Act and ABC Rules, underscores the urgent need for Parliament to adopt the draft animal welfare legislation which will include harsher penalties for individuals and governments who violate laws protecting animals. 
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In Focus: Save Our Strays
What started as an initiative to save street animals from being the subject to abuse and neglect has grown to be an organisation with an enviable record and list of programmes. Save Our Strays (SOS) Mumbai is an excellent example of the magic passion and dedication, augmented with skills developed over time can do to help animals. Read on for more at
Norway's cold waters sparkle with species wild and small as a cell and big as a blue whale. Fluttering in the dazzling early spring sunsets of Oregon are the lively silhouettes of sandpipers and eagles. The lake cabins in northern Ontario are enveloped by trees sheltering slow elk and raccoons, and in the Tasmanian forests of eucalyptis, clusters of kangaroos and ambling wombats spring and chew. For me, Rajasthan is home now, and the whispering deserts and craggy hills hide the peering magnificence of pythons, skittish jackals, convivial birds. Where do you live? Who is watching you from behind a leaf, under an eave? Everywhere, despite humanity's stomping and pillaging, nature does yet flower. We are each part of that flower, not only watching it with our magic eyes, but in it, of it.  FIAPO wishes for you a wonder-filled year ahead.
Help animals in your own way; remember – no action is too small.
Best wishes,
Erika Abrams
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