Fortnightly Commentary No 92: November 27th, 2015, 6000 people

Dear Friends and Members,

My organization installed 8 close circuit TV cameras a couple months ago so that we could more easily see animals in various corners of our hospital, especially on night shift when there are only 2 staff on duty. Among the dramas these cameras have revealed to us include the valiant determination of spiders to build webs and catch insects in front of the warmth of the camera’s glow, or salamanders who embrace the warm lens with their portly bodies and human finger-like salamander claws. Hello there little ones, suddenly giant size. I see the hair on the spiders legs, the soft steady inhalations and exhalations of the salamander.  If you’ve ever seen slow-motion film about grooming mice or hurrying birds or munching squirrels, you realize how like every other larger animal they are. We somehow have a terrible habit of dismissing what we can’t see clearly or understand well. The unblinking eyes of fish suggest to us that they lack emotion. The goat’s horizontal pupil confuses us about what she is thinking. But each creature is busy with an agenda all her own, and its full measure cannot be grasped by our weak species. We expect animals to understand our language and call them “less intelligent” and “more intelligent” depending on their interest in understanding and obeying us. But what of them do we understand? So little in the wake of our profoundly empty arrogance as a species. We humans have understand dominance and little more—until very recently. Let’s celebrate the emergence of the New Human Being, who knows it is not enough to be a poet and eat animals, or to be a musician and wear fur, or to be a dancer and dance on leather shoes. The New Human Beings are attempting to respect and protect all species, whether we understand their language, or not.Fruits of Collaboration

The Greater Mumbai Federation of Animal Protection Organisations is going all guns blazing. The current membership stands at 17 organisations with around 10 new organisations to be inducted this month. Forming 3 subgroups, this youngest FAPO has taken on key challenges in the city already! The western suburbs sub group is in talks with the Municipal Corporation to reopen the Kapaswadi ABC centre and is also exploring ABC for cats. Wildlife subgroup is creating guidelines and protocols for wildlife rescue in urban areas to be followed and shared all across the city. Thane sub group is going to meet the Collector and Municipal Commissioner to discuss a range of issues including starting monitoring and coverage of the ABC program in Thane. With significant progress on all fronts, the next meeting takes place on 5th December at Thane.
Meanwhile, the oldest local federation in the country - Jaipur FAPO, recently shut down a 40-year old illegal dog market in Pani Pechh, which was selling dogs without licenses, keeping them and many puppies under filthy conditions, without proper food and water. As a result of police intervention, puppies have been rescued and the illegal businesses shut down for now.

End Circus Suffering
Local organisations in Gujarat put in a coordinated effort with FIAPO to free animals from yet another circus. The organisations were finally able to pin down the circus which had been constantly shifting locations to mislead authorities, and were able to get the police to confiscate two camels, one horse and one emu from the circus. The organisations also made arrangements for the rehabilitation of the rescued animals where they will now lead a life recuperating from years of abuse in the hands of the circus. Read about our campaign here.

Living Free
Moving forward after the enthusiastic dog work, Bhopal activists conducted their first leafleting activity. This activity was aided by one of the Chennai’s active volunteers. A true example of our keen and networking activists! In Jammu, our Living Free activist, Malvika Kalra makes it a point to reach out to thousands of readers through her weekly column in a newspaper. Most recently, she spoke about the myth of protein and how meat and eggs, is actually doing us more harm than good.
Our Pune activists once again soared the Living Free flag high on World Meatless Day, showing documentaries to a vast array of audience at the Sadhu Vaswani Mission’s celebrations. Read about our campaign here.

Farm to Freedom
As part of chicken shop campaign, activists of the Jaipur Federation held an awareness drive for local residents about the deplorable conditions of animals in meat shops and collected photo appeals asking the Municipal Corporation to regulate meat shops. The residents are going to continue to be vigilant, and ensure the well-being of the animals in there! They also agreed to report to the Municipal Corporation any illegal slaughter of large animals at these meat shops. Check out their photos here! A meeting with the Municipal Commissioner was held in this regard and two more complaints were filed against shops where large animals were being slaughtered.

Dog Tales
Insanity knows no bounds and often it's the animals who undergo the ravage of this mob-madness. A pup was attacked by a bunch of kids in the pretext of him being 'mad' and infected with rabies whereas; he just showed symptoms of distemper. In spite of our emergency treatment he couldn't be saved. No animal - whether rabid or non rabid – should undergo such cruelty. Efforts are on to educate children in the slums and communities of Varanasi, which fall within the ambit of our work-area.
This week, we helped the local activists approach the Municipal Corporation to obtain some space in some Gaushalas for the sick and injured bulls. Read more about our campaign here.
I went to a Jain Social Group program to make a presentation about cows eating polythene. The bulk of their program involved felicitations about the birthdays that had taken place during the month. Husband would stand in front of the thrilled assembly and place a mala around the neck of his blushing 70 year old bride, handing her a plastic rose while the camera fluttered and blinked, then the rose would be returned to the podium to be pressed into service in the next birthday recognition couple. Up would stride Mrs this time, to wait, beaming, for her faux-reluctantly trudging chaperone to end up facing her, sober-mouthed, as she, suddenly shy after 40 years of marriage, places the mala around Mr Wonderful, and the plastic rose makes another cameo appearance. 20 couples were thus adored after the achievement of their birthday. Silly in one way but yet, I believe there is ancient wisdom in this public courtship ritual. I sat on the stage looking down on these mature citizens, suspecting that like most couples, this month has had its share of downs as well as ups; he said a sharp word, she cast a dark look; they had a bitter quarrel over a grievance old and mean, yet here for a sunny moment it is all forgotten, and the community reassures them that they are a sweet couple once again; they must stand for a snap and face each other eye to eye and reach their arms round the grey heads of their old comrades. It is part of the value even of conferences like the India for Animals Conference which will be held in a few months. A place in which at many intervals the silence holds these words:  I am yours, you are mine, we are in this community together, you acknowledge me and need me,  and I  acknowledge and I need you, we  need one another’s belief, we are real here for a moment, we are not invisible, we are seen
Erika Abrams