​Fortnightly Commentary No 54: 28th March 2014 circ. 2000 people

Dear Members and Friends,

Visiting family brought the latest Scientific American magazine last week. Although I expect animals to be victimized by experimenters, I was taken aback by an analogy one of the science writers used to describe the results of gene therapy used to correct a defective retina of an eight-year-old boy: “Now [he] sees well enough to go turkey hunting with his grandfather.” I was astonished that the imagination of the writer was so impoverished that she would laud the ability of a young child to point a gun, pull the trigger and kill an animal as the measure of his restored vision. In this world of real wonders, how could she miss the infinite alternative choices? How could she not say: Now he can see the individual feathers on a dove? Now he can spot the planet Venus? Now he can delight in the fascinating eye of a bullfrog sitting on a lily pad?

This ugly analogy bespeaks the insensitivity of the scientific community, the decadence of sport hunting and the outrageous gun laws making my birth country seem foreign and hostile to life.

I was saddened when the only Olympic medal ever won by an Indian was for shooting, because shooting has never had any purpose but to kill. Yet I feel certain that no Indian science writer would ever have pointed to a child’s ability to shoot an animal as the proud measure of his faculty of sight. I’m going to make a copy of the paragraph where this multiple offense appeared, and when the next American turns to me with furrowed brow to say “Why India?” I’ll have a concise little hand-out.

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India for Animals – India's largest conference for animal protection – will be held in Jaipur, September 12-14, 2014. Mark your Calendars!

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Fruits of Collaboration…

Prashanth writes: Last week, the Pune federation celebrated its first birthday. Members met to review the work in the last year – thank you Darshana and Jasmin, PFAPO coordinators! The federation also nominated Manjiri Patwardhan and Nikhil Lanjewar as the new joint coordinators and welcomed four new members. In Kerala, Animal Care Trivandrum held another successful adoption camp last week and the city will be hosting a workshop next week to increase the success of such adoption programmes. Jaipur’s sustained efforts with pet shop regulation continues with a proposed sensitization programme for the city’s corporators.

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Living Free…

Richa writes: Planning for the Day of Living Free has been in full swing for the past two weeks, with volunteer leaders pulling in ideas, efforts and time to make this event a success. Now, the volunteers and ready, the material is being mailed, samples are almost ready, and all we need is a great crowd! If you are in any one of the five cities, namely Bangalore, Chennai, Jaipur, Pune and Trivandrum from 11-3pm on the 12th of April, please come by and learn more about cruelty free lifestyle, try out a few samples and have a hearty conversation with our volunteers!

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Kindness Winning: Children younger than 14 making compassionate choices were honoured last week in Chennai. Pledging to be veg, boycotting the use of animals in entertainment, putting out waterbowls for birds are examples of actions children are taking thanks to guidance from the initiative’s sponsor, Winsome Constance Kindness Trust, promoting ethical action for animals around the world. http://fiapo.org/view_news.php?viewid=13176

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Articles highlighting the increasing demand for meat and dairy in India are on the rise. Recently the BBC and Times of India, published articles highlighting the growth of the gourmet meat market in India and the benefits of a diet rich in animal protein, respectively.  We have been actively responding to such reports by urging these publications to sensitize their readers by publishing the truth about the adverse impact of industrialized livestock farming, on animal welfare, human health and environmental safety. Read more on our actions here http://fiapo.org/view_news.php?viewid=13172  (TOI) and http://fiapo.org/view_news.php?viewid=13171 (BBC).

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Holy Cow…

Shweta writes: Standards once passed and made, are seldom brought up for upgrading. I have been researching the standards by set by the Bureau of Indian Standards (BIS). Recommendations for farm cattle housing for large dairy farms, unfortunately, are quiet on the flooring of milking sheds, which are often not fit for the cows to stand on. Bad concrete floors can have a devastating effect on the welfare of cows, causing lameness, which is excruciatingly painful. The practice of tethering in dry animal sheds also needs improving. Animals tethered 24 x7 are often curbed the fundamental freedom of movement, standing or lying in one position for hours on end. FIAPO believes that there is no method of farming that allows dairy cattle to have, in their truest sense, the five freedoms. But to improve the conditions of the cattle in dairies across India, improving such standards is critical.

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Definitely Dogs…

Sudhersena writes: Due to the efforts by PFA Uttarakhand, the High Court has ordered the Uttarakhand Government  to create, in 6 months, Animal Birth Control Campuses for dogs in every single nagar nigam, nagar palika and nagar panchayat – congratulations PFA Uttarakhand! The Government has to create budgetary provision and hire vets, catchers, paravets, drivers, buy ambulances, and conduct a systematic ABC programme. Last May, Allahabad High court also passed a similar order upholding the ABC (dogs) rules and has ordered Lucknow Municipal Corporation to implement the same https://docs.google.com/file/d/0BzAMn08dit28eDc1MEhDbXhxd0k/edit

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Mumbai’s Housing Societies Animal Rules De-bunked: Housing Societies in many regions attempt to create laws to control community dogs and the efforts of the public to interact with them. Mumbai law says such rules have no validity, and natural behaviours such as barking do not constitute a nuisance. This is a big victory for animals and their guardians. Read more here http://fiapo.org/view_news.php?viewid=13175

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Wild Matters…

Puja writes: TRAFFIC, a wildlife trade monitoring network, uncovered numerous and outrageous violations of law in their investigation of India’s largest animal “fair.” Elephants, birds and primates are among the poached and traded individuals in Sonepur Bihar animal “mela”. People wishing to be involved in wildlife protection will be interested to know that according to TRAFFIC, the government has not made an effort to enforce law to protect these victims. Read more  http://fiapo.org/view_news.php?viewid=13162.

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Infocus: TOLFA

Tree Of Life For Animals is a strong reminder of the power of a small seed of compassion, and what it can grow into. The Tree is not just an oasis for animals but also actively participates in community engagement to bring about a holistic change in the quality of life for all. More here http://www.fiapo.org/view_news.php?viewid=13179

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Two tragedies struck young people well-known to me this week: a young friend drank pesticide. She survived, but says she had truly intended to die. Intubated and nauseated, our young friend lay still but conscious. Two kilometres away, a poor girl died a few days after delivering a stillborn boy. Her husband—our friend—said her arm receiving the continuous drip had swollen to thrice its size by the first day of admission, and for the last four days of her life she complained constantly of its aching. The nurses were denied permission to remove the drip. When our friend removed it himself, the doctor came and sternly mocked him: “So you’re a doctor?” I wonder: embolism? allergic reaction? line out?  All life-threatening and no one on deck to check that arrogant doctor. After she died, she was cremated almost immediately. They are tribal villagers; I do not think they were offered a post-mortem and probably in grief would not imagine it could be useful.

How was it that I failed to be for them a “last resort?” How did it happen that I learned about these tragedies only when it was too late to intervene? Of course we cannot help each and every person in our midst, but most of us reading this have resources many people don’t possess. We can use them in the service of vulnerable people just as we use them for animals. I look on these two victims’ reluctance to approach me for help as a failure in me. If you are unconditionally available in an emergency, don’t forget, as I did, to say so.

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

Federation of Indian Animal Protection Organisations www.fiapo.org; mail@fiapo.org

Best wishes,

Erika Abrams

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