Fortnightly Commentary No 63: 8th August 2014 circ. 2000 people




Dear Members and Friends,

I have a generous and financially well-off friend who had business in India and was to fly here and would I come and spend 3 days with her, all expenses paid, at the Leela Hotel in Delhi. Yes, I would! I would come right away! Booked train, did nails, bought new clothes, looked at self in mirror and said “Yes now, you scruffy mongrel, you are ready for The Leela.” I swaggered off the train at Nizamuddin, skipped my usual Cum-Sum coffee in readiness for finer brews ahead, hurried into an auto and raced to the Leela. Dear Readers, you’ve perhaps never set foot in the joint: feels French, feels like French Saigon (no I’ve never been there); feels Russian Tzar; feels Moghul Emperor; feels big, bigger than Delhi, enormous bouquets of fresh flowers built using ladders and floating in the perfumed air. Glimmering all around are chandeliers suspended from a ceiling higher than, higher than the sky, People. Down below tapestries soft as moss, every corner a morsel of unexpected grandeur. I stride up to the desk wearing my best I-Own-It face. A half smile. My eyebrows slightly raised. “I’m checking in please.” “Your name?” “my name is blahblahblah. I am staying with your hotel guest So-and-so.” “So-and-so?” The receptionist looks deep into the crystal ball of his computer screen. “I’m sorry, we show no one by that name.” “Keep lookin’” I say, a model of tolerance. I foggily recall her maiden name. “Try such and so.” Receptionist seems to blush. “No, I’m terribly sorry. No such and so, either.” Well sh*t, I’m thinkin,’ was she kidnapped? “Ooookayyy,” I say with faux confidence. “So!” more quietly. “So. So, can you direct me to your wash room please?” “oh yes madam yes” (he’s patronizing me now, probably using ‘madam’ sarcastically.) I sit down on a tight weave silk and wool chair, and call her in America. “Ahhh, next month? August, not July?! Ohhh, silly! hahaha. No, no problem AT all. Hahaha.” The lobby bathroom is one of those Louis the Fourteenth ordeals with rolled up white face cloths in a gilded basket and hand lotion more expensive than I’d buy, steaming hot water… I use everything, right in front of the attendant. So, yes, yes, I’ve stayed in the Leela. I was there for an hour on 15th July, as a guest, almost. I paid a fortune to get home on a tatkal booking but wow, how sweet it felt to be where I belong, surrounded by dogs and donkeys and cows, their muddy paws and foody mouths all over me, just one of the freeloaders.

Holy Cow

Tamil Nadu chief minister Jayalalithaa recently inaugurated dairy farms and godowns to the tune of Rs 11 crore, increasing the milk production of Tamil Nadu by 1.2 lakh litres a day. One has to wonder what will happen to the animals when they will stop giving milk.

Some laws in India provide for slaughter of cows that are injured. This often means that animals are beaten or injured profusely so that they can be slaughtered. This provides an easy loophole to anyone who is looking for a reason to slaughter cows for their meat/leather. Thus, the cycle of milk production directly feeds into the industry of meat and leather.

Fruits of collaboration

With IFA fast approaching, there is bubbling excitement and activity in the Jaipur federation which is playing co-host to the national conference. Members of J-FAPO met last week to plan to showcase their work to their guests next month and develop Jaipur into ‘the city that respects animals the most’. The federation is keeping its foot on the throttle with the camel vigilance campaign and charted out follow up actions for the same. Pune federation meanwhile has made steady progress in getting names of member organisations included in the internship programme of Maharashtra State Fisheries and Agirculture University. Activity in Kerala is now focused on three cities- Trivandrum, Thrissur and Kochin, with respect to the KFAPO-Drools adoption programme. Kochi is leading the pack with its first adoption camp scheduled for the end of August.

J-FAPO’s campaign to save camels draws prominent personalities
Within two weeks of the launch of the vigilance campaign to ban camel slaughter by the Jaipur Federation of Animal Protection Organisations (J-FAPO), several notable personalities including the Commissioner of police and MLAs from various regions have signed on the appeal to Chief Minister Vasundhara Raje to enact this legislation.

Read more here.

India For Animals, 2014

With just less than 50 days left for the conference, the preparations are going in full swing.

The Announcement about the Jeanne Marchig Animal Protection Award has garnered outstanding response from all corners. And, why not? It is a wonderful opportunity for any animal protection start up to secure seed money up to 1 lakh.

If you haven’t registered for IFA yet then click here to register.


Living Free


Living Free is spreading like fire in the Southern part of the country! From Chennai to Kanchipuram to Vellore to Anantpur to Tuticorin, more than 2500 people have been reached out to in the past one month and the number is growing. The campaign is also spreading in Delhi, with newer volunteers, new excitement. FIAPO team also head out to speak out for the animals and created quite a buzz in Connaught Place in New Delhi, having lots of fun and reaching out to couple of hundred people.

Come, help make the world a better place! Please email if you want to bring the movement to your part of the country!
Wanted: Movement Building Campaign Manager, Varanasi
Building a network of animal protectors and helping shape the community’s capacity to help animals is the rewarding assignment in this new job posting. Some experience with animals is a big plus. Share widely and Read more here.

UNESCO Warns India about Rhino Poaching in Manas Sanctuary
The Manas Sanctuary provides critical and viable habitats for several rare and endangered species. Expressing serious concern over poaching of rhinos in Assam’s Manas Wildlife Sanctuary, the UNESCO World Heritage Committee has warned India of including the wildlife reserve in “the List of World Heritage in Danger” if it failed to check poaching and encroachment in the forest.

Read more here.

Bihar bans over-the-counter sale of Oxytocin

Down to Earth magazine reports that consuming the hormone Oxytocin, which is widely abused in the dairy industry, can cause brain damage, seizures in human foetuses and reduce heart rate. Oxytocin also damages the health of cows. The Bihar State Health Society (BSHS) has imposed an immediate ban on over-the-counter sale of Oxytocin injections. Read more here.

Animal Rights and Social Justice

Rukmini Sekhar’s argument that animal rights are an intrinsic part of the social justice movement is developed in an article about animal citizenship and rights published in The Statesman print edition on 10 July. Read more here.

Streamlining Death in Modern Slaughterhouses in Tamil Nadu

FIAPO has written to the Tamil Nadu Director of Animal Husbandry arguing that the state’s plans to increase and modernise slaughterhouses disregard animal suffering.  Read more here.

Bad Ideas Dept: Eating Animals to Lose Weight

FIAPO wrote to Times of India criticising an article highlighting animal protein consumption as a method for weight loss. Read more here.

Excellent Reporting by Deccan Herald on Lax Animal Protection Laws

The Deccan Herald recently published an expose of the lax penalties for domestic animal abuse, citing laughably low monetary penalties, slow court processes and poor enforcement of existing laws. Even peacock killing gets mentioned in this conscientious article. Read more here.

I have a friend who works summers in northern Canada as a forest fire scout. He lives completely apart from people; his food is helicoptered in once a month, and he has a lookout tower. But alone, he is not. His world is “peopled” by Jimmy the Squirrel, Maggie the Bear, Mrs. Mouse, and dozens of other friends who communicate rather indirectly and like to snack or snooze undisturbed. Mrs Mouse makes quick work of a single peanut but Jack’s life has stilled and settled so completely in the mountains that he is able to see Mrs Mouse in her entirety, and appreciate the excavation of the single peanut, and shrink his universe such that her small banquet seems formidable enough: he’s able to see the world, for a brief moment in time, through Mrs Mouse’s eyes. Jack’s communion with wild folk of the forest reminds me how even in the jumbly surround of a city, jungly friends are everywhere, and if we’re able to keep to our habits we’re sure to see repeat visitors often enough that we can begin to know many unique personalities. Being friends with wild animals surely must bring out the very best in animal people, because to love someone truly wild is to take him or her on his or her most personal terms, watching in stillness and admiring in silence. There is no slobbery puppy hug or kneading cat paws as our prize. Our reward is that he or she comes close enough for us to see, to say good morning with a beak scraped against a branch, or to amble as a beetle or to scramble as a rat who has spied the cat’s food, who comes and goes before we even absorb what we saw, who we saw, or remember that we are supposed to be afraid of her, for some silly reason.

Best wishes,

Erika Abrams

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