Fortnightly Commentary No 51: 14th February 2014 circ. 2000 people

Dear Members and Friends,
Hats off to the paid staff who work with volunteers.  The animal movement heroes may be the wage earners who have to shout out “how high?” when the volunteers says “jump.”
I have great sympathy with how our staff scurry when they see volunteers coming, because I used to work for NGOs and often wore the “staff” cap myself.  Some of “my” former volunteers in the olden days were extremely wealthy people whose capacity to give, and capacity to not give, made me sweat. Many were gracious and sympathetic with the pressures on the staff. But there were bullies among them, too, who made the staff like me feel that no matter what we did, it wasn’t as good or clever as what the volunteer did “for free.” Most of the volunteers had no idea what a difference it makes when you’re turning up for 8 or 9 hours day in and day out; they didn’t know what it means to try to hang on to your enthusiasm when you too are tired after lunch and would love the nap the volunteer so often goes home to enjoy at 2 pm.
Most of the staff I have worked with when I was among them cared tremendously about the NGO employers, the “cause” and the people, environment or animals who were the beneficiaries. Whether or not one draws a salary does not offer any clue about how much one cares about the issues.
Tyrannies of the powerful over the less powerful play out in every arena, including in NGOs and in animal protection organisations.  Whether you’re a paid or honorary worker, it’s important to do everything in your power to add to the energy of those around you and never to drain it, for the sake of the animals we all love so much.
Fruits of Collaboration…
Prashanth writes: Students of 12 schools participated in the birding fair that introduces the wonders of nature to children. Annually organized by TWSI, a JFAPO member organization, the two-day fair included seminars by experts and birdwatching expeditions in the famous Mansagar Lake. In Kerala, local federation members from Trivandrum- PFA and Streetdog Watch expanded their reach and conducted a mass vaccination drive in Warkala. It was a truly cooperative approach, with local activists, Warkala Municipality, vets and animal handlers from Madurai participating in the drive which vaccinated about 200 dogs. This event, and an earlier adoption drive, where 12 puppies were adopted, raised enough funds for a new surgery table to be bought for the ABC unit. More help coming the animals’ way!
Animal Sacrifice exposed in Kerala temples
Cutting off the heads of 12 goats by poojaris who promise riches to the ignorant people who gather for this bargaining bazaar with their gods probably only lines the pockets of the poojaris themselves.
Living Free…
Bikramadittya writes: February begins in Kolkata with the biggest cultural crowd-puller —The Kolkata International Book Fair. With thousands of young minds thronging in the fair ground, it’s a great place for leafleting.  In four days I’ve handed out Living Free leaflets to over 3400 people and most of them went ahead reading through and not tucking it in somewhere. Take a look at the pictures here: 
Vegans Galore!
Hyderabad Vegan Group organised a Vegan Epicurian Bazaar in Hyderabad last week. Look at the lineup! It was a big hit – complete sell out one hour before closure, with nearly 500 visitors in 5 hours!
Holy Cow…
Shweta writes: The vibrant animal protection movement encompasses people over the world. By virtue of culture and circumstances, different ideas emerge about what defines good animal welfare.  For example, in case of new born calves, some “welfare” experts suggest housing calves in groups to encourage natural social behavior and positive interactions. However, the increased incidence of contagious diseases in the young, and the absence of good hygiene and perhaps because their immunity is lowered due to the stress of separation from their mothers, such housing can mean a higher rate of death. The assumption of the separation of calf from mother is inherent in all commercial dairying around the world.
A “World ministry for cow science” is sleighted to be set up in Rajasthan. Lots of talk about milk production, dung collection and urine use, but will it ever help cows?
Abused Elephant Defends Herself
An elephant in Varanasi killed the drunk and cruel mahout who had most likely tortured her.
Infocus: KARMMA (Karuna Animal Rescue Ministering and Management Association)
A one person entity in 1997 to more than 250 strong in 2013, KARMMA has, through its long and measured strides of growth, amassed some of the most passionate animal carers in its ranks. Read about how they are making lives of street animals better in Kerala here 
I used to think fur on the collars of most inexpensive jackets or sweaters had to be fake, or how else could it be so cheap? 10 or 12 years ago, in the USA, I bought a sweater that had a “fake fur” collar that you could detach. Once I got home, having detached the fake fur collar, looking at it and admiring what an excellent job the simulators did, I began to examine it more closely. It even felt like real hair. I plunged my nose into it. It smelled like—yes, it smelled like cat fur. How recently it was that I came to know that it most certainly was cat fur, a cat born in China.
But why did cat fur seem so much worse than leather? Why do we drive by a cage stuffed with chickens but we would rush to the police if we saw a cage stuffed with dogs? And many of us still drink milk knowing, knowing that the cows it came from never even have a chance to nurse their babies. I do believe we should all very deliberately meditate on the suffering of chickens every day, and take up the training of compassion within ourselves, which our parents, our schools, our governments and commerce failed to provide.
Help animals in your own way; remember – no action is too small.
Best wishes,
Erika Abrams
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