Fortnightly Commentary No 60: 20th June 2014 circ. 2000 people

Dear Members and Friends,

I’m at a music performance the other day put on by the brother (Vishal) of one of our staff members. Now, comes and sits behind us, a 45 year old western volunteer, Ron, who has only just arrived in Udaipur. As I am sitting there pressured to make small talk, the performer, Vishal, comes and gives a hug to Ron, the volunteer.

My interest is spiked – how did this relationship come to be? Perfect small talk material. Me: “Hey Ron, how did you come to know Vishal?” (Hidden question: how did you become such fast friends in one single day of volunteering? You must have then gone out drinking with that staff member, met his brother, talked all night long over whiskey and now, greet with a hug of the sort I would give my real sister?) Ron: “We’re friends.” (Hidden answer: I’m not going to tell you.) Me:  Unhunh,  but how did you meet?” Ron: smiles, “Vishal?” Me:  “Yeah, Vishal. How did you guys meet?”

Up goes the music, lights, voices. I got sucked into a good-manners trap! I have no idea how they know each other, and I'm exhausted by the mini-hysteria of creating an incomplete and dissatisfying conversation. Meaningless jabber is often so difficult to contrive, and leaves so many of us bumbling. Dogs have it right, sniff and move on.


India for Animals, 2014: The Indian movement for animal protection is ripe and bursting with new wins for animals, new solutions to old threats, ideas and debates.  Thousands of grassroots workers, practitioners and activists are investing their heads and hearts to take this movement forward and bring animal protection to the forefront. India for Animals 2014, the largest gathering of animal protectors in the nation, will be an exciting adventure, with activists from across the country together for three days of learning, building, and sharing.  Registrations are now open! Dates: September 12 to 14 at the delightful Clark’s Amer Hotel in Jaipur. Book today


Fruits of Collaboration…

Prashanth writes: For past two weeks, all our local federations have been buzzing with many exciting activities. As the summer takes a strong grip in northern India, the Jaipur federation has been successful in securing better shade and water facilities for the tourist elephants of Amer. Another remarkable achievement of the Jaipur federation is promoting humane handling and transport of live cargo by the North Western railways. If that’s not enough, the member organisations are also actively involved in preventing vivisection on the city’s Langurs!

While Jaipur FAPO is using its strength in numbers for working on diverse issues, organisations of the Pune federation are making the most of the collective for improved efficiency, and are pooling their resources by formulating a Common Internship Programme for vet schools around the city and have already created its first draft.

Finally, the Kerala federation has taken another step forward facilitating sponsorships to its member organisations. Much needed financial support for adoption related work will be finalised for all Kerala FAPO members organisations in an event on 13th July in Trivandrum.


Living Free…

Richa writes: Since the launch of Living Free on 12th April, 18,219 people have been outreached to! Almost half of the outreach which was done last year, was done in 2 months this year! The future looks bright- we have seven events planned in the coming two weeks and are also putting up a Go Veg billboard in Dehradun! Amongst other events, we have a movie screening in Chennai and also have leafleting sessions coming up in Jaipur, Pune, Chennai and Udaipur.

We are looking to spread the movement all over the country. Do you want to bring the message of compassionate living to your city? Get in touch!


The spread of animal (ab)use:

Mapping the use of animals in different walks of lives, shed light again on how even vegans ends up using animal based products every day. For example, by-products from the dairy and meat processing industries produce a bevy of organic fertilizer products. These products include, feather meals, bone ash and blood meal. Similarly, gelatin is commonly used on cakes for glazed icing, to clarify wines, in photography, medicine and many glues!  Keratin, a common product in many cosmetics (Think Tressemme), is actually the main protein in hoofs, feathers and horns. Collagen, used in anti-aging products is a protein found in the connective tissues of all animals.

It makes me think about how vegan I really am, if there is any ‘pure’ vegan, and how absurd the concept of purity in our animal-produce inter-dependent world is. On my journey of living free from exploitation of animals, glue is next.


Holy Cow…

Shweta writes: The efficacy or usefulness of anti-biotics is being threatened by overuse. And the prime culprit is the use of anti-biotics in animal production, where so-called “farmers” routinely feed or inject anti-biotics to healthy animals as a protection against the bacteria which festers in over-crowded conditions. The consequences of over-use is that when you need an anti-biotic, it no longer works, because bacteria mutate to resist the chemicals. Fearing spread of antibiotic resistance through the food chain, the Drug Controller General of India (DCGI) and the agriculture ministry have directed state governments to stop the use of antibiotics and hormones in animal feed. They have also called for strict implementation of a 2012 law, which mandates a gap between the time an animal is given a drug for medical purposes and sale of food products from that animals.


Animal Sacrificers Should be Arrested, says former Jaipur MP

About 40 goats were sacrificed to “propitiate” the goddess Maa Mahakala in a temple located within the famous Buddhist site Udayagiri in Jajpur district. According to The Asian Age, former Jajpur MP Mohan Jena said “I urge the district SP to arrest the people who killed the animals.”


West Bengal Government Gets A+ from FIAPO

The West Bengal government would not undertake tourism projects which would have an adverse effect on animal corridors or affect their movement, Tourism Minister Bratya Basu has announced. Basu also noted that in the financial year 2013-14, the tourism department achieved its goal of ensuring holistic tourism development and maximising employment and economic and sustainable growth.


Elephants’ Anger Erupts Over Ill-Treatment

The number of captive elephants turning restless and running amok due to poor upkeep and torture by mahouts are on the rise in Kerala, where over 850 such incidents had been reported since January this year.  With mahouts ignoring signs of tension over their captivity, and even the biological imperative musth, one can hardly be surprised that their aggression flares.


Zoos Ignore Call to Get Elephants Out of Zoos

On Nov 7, 2009, the Central Zoo Authority issued a directive to relocate captive elephants from zoos. The directive stated that most zoos do not have enough space and thus keep elephants chained which is detrimental to the physical and mental wellbeing of the animal.

However, only a few zoos have complied with the directive with 19 zoos asking to be exempted from the ban. Failure of captive breeding programmes in the case of threatened species such as gorillas, rhinos and elephants, only highlights the fact that captivity is outdated and sacrifices animal intelligence, emotional cognition.


Wild Matters…

Good news for Gorillas! Dame Jane Goodall renowned primatologist and Founder of the Jane Goodall Institute and UN Messenger of Peace has appealed to the Central Zoo Authority of India to prohibit the import and keeping of gorillas in captivity in Indian zoos in support of our campaign to save gorillas. We are hopeful that together we will be able to protect gorillas from suffering in captivity in India. Support the campaign! Join FIAPO and Dr. Goodall in advocating for the rights of Gorillas by sending in your letter to the Central Zoo Authority here


Poachers On the Take

India’s precious and rare pangolins, tortoises and lizards are vanishing in front of our eyes, as poachers kill and steal wildlife for trade. TRAFFIC—the international illegal wildlife trade investigators—has shared comments on the crisis with Business Standard, noting that many of the most endangered species like sea cucumbers and pangolins are hardly on the radar of authorities compared to tiger and rhinocerous poaching. We can change this.


In Focus: Deccan Gymkhana Parisar Samiti

With the least attempt at flattery, their work for street dogs in Pune borders on being unbelievable. Read on to see for yourselves.


I find I don’t want to do the same things I wanted to do 10 or 20 years ago. In my city we are still tussling with the commissioner about the corporation’s dog catching practices, and like so many others in the movement, we continue to meet with the new collector as with his many predecessors. It’s all so tedious, to start from rock bottom and convey to authorities that xyz is cruelty, or worse, that cruelty is a bad thing, not a good thing, and other Basics of Human Decency.

Because of its tedium, I especially salute all the lifelong animal advocates who are in their 30th or 40th year of fighting for the rights of animals.  They too probably don’t like saying the same things they were saying 20 or 30 or 40 years ago. But these stalwarts continue to show up day after day in the courtrooms, legislative assemblies, board rooms and classrooms where they’re eye to eye with people who did not, before them, care about animals, but yet who, by the end of the session, are changed. And between now and next time, their audiences will think a little more. And there will be a “next time” because that’s what the heroes of animal protection do. They show up again.  Look at the results! Dolphins banned, Leather in many public schools banned. Cosmetics testing banned. In our lifetimes we will see the end of battery cages in the poultry industry; we will stop the establishment of mega dairies, we will get animals out of circuses and end captivity of elephants. Someday, thanks to the movement’s seniors who speak to others with the stature of their experience, on their way home from work will notice an overburdened donkey or a parading elephant and think: I could stop that.  Someday, they will stop that.

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

Best wishes,

Erika Abrams

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