These creatures were here before us and if we are not careful, they are gonna be here after us..
Hair-raising lines from the trailer of Jurassic World: Final Kingdom, aren’t they?
The cold and piercing stare of Jeff Goldblum sums up a lot of what is wrong in the islands we humans prefer to live in – being neither careful nor concerned.
In a world where Cecil and Xanda adorn walls and not forests, in an era where veterinary doctors are fighting allegations of abusing the creatures they apparently swore to protect, and in a year where activists and medical researchers are locking horns over animal-testing in a new tangle; it becomes both intriguing and disturbing to ask ourselves – what if the wrong-doers had to face more than a few angry tweets and protest-marches? What if there was a legal burden to acts of indiscretion or animal-oriented barbarism when the moral baggage on one’s common-sense and conscience is not a weight heavy enough?
What if we not only knew the penalties and implications of laws as wide-spread as Drugs and Cosmetics Rules, Motor Vehicles Act, Wildlife Protection Act, PCA, Article 51 A (g) and others; but also could warn an abuser if s/he fiddles with a creature’s nest, abandons a pet, relocates a stray dog, makes cocks fight, treats a Circus monkey like a toy or throws away a poor stray dog from a balcony?
Laws are crucial. That explains why the Act to Prevent the Cruel and Improper Treatment of Cattle got its feet as early as 1822 itself in Britain and how the grip continued with The Performing Animals (Regulation) Act 1925 to Cock fighting Act 1952 to The Breeding of Dogs Act 199I.
Yes, as odd as it may sound; legal cages are necessary for reigning in misdemeanours happening all around – from circus-tents to slaughter-houses to breeding-farms and of course, on everyday streets.
Controversy-dotted movies like Francis Ford Coppola’s Apocalypse Now, Lars von Trier’s The House That Jack Built, Andrei Tarkovsky’s Andrei Rublev etc. do not leave much hope for this voice to come from the entertainment business though.
That’s precisely why it matters when John Abraham, Jacqueline Fernandez, Arjun Kapoor, Sonakshi Sinha, Raveena Tandon Thadani etc. join shoulders and hands with grassroots’ activists. This adds to the voices raised by Dr. Kiran Bedi, Virat Kohli, Shikhar Dhawan, and Ajinkya Rahane.
The latest in this crusade was a letter from Sidharth Malhotra on behalf of People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals (PETA) India. “If those guilty of cruelty to animals received jail time and significant fines – as well as counselling and a ban on contact with animals – it would help ensure that our duty under Article 51A(g) of the Constitution of India to show animals compassion is better upheld and respected and that society at large is protected from violent behaviour,” He argued in a hard-hitting way, just the way he beats up bad guys.
“..why psychologists, sociologists and law-enforcement officials have all documented that children who hurt animals often end up hurting other humans.” He also reasoned in a heart-melting way; just the way he makes his female fans crumble.
In this Q&A with Deepak Chaudhary, Emergency Response Coordinator, PETA India, we try to get into the fine-print of such open letters wherein it has also been pointed out how India’s Prevention of Cruelty to Animals Act, 1960, contains outdated penalties.
How bad is the state of animal-abuse in India?
PETA India Emergency Response Team, on an average, receives 60 animal cruelty cases every day. It is pertinent to note that many cruelty-cases go unreported. Unlike crimes against people, cases of animal abuse are not compiled by State or Central law enforcement agencies, making it difficult to project how common they are.
Animal abuse is not just the result of a minor personality flaw in the abuser but rather a symptom of a deep mental disturbance. Research in psychology and criminology shows that people who commit acts of cruelty to animals don’t stop there; many of them move on to their fellow humans.
Any specific animals (elephants or dogs) that have been ignored and need more attention?
All animals need equal attention. Animals deserve rights, regardless of how they taste or how convenient it is to experiment on them. Like humans, animals are capable of suffering and have an interest in leading their own lives. They are not ours to use for food, clothing, experimentation or entertainment. In our country, dogs are poisoned, cows have been burned with acid, elephants are beaten into submission, bullocks are forced to race and countless other animals are abused every day, and the current penalties are not enough to deter people who want to harm them.
Even ‘Holy Cows’ and their offspring are not spared from abuse in India. Cows on dairy farms today endure the trauma of being repeatedly raped and impregnated and are genetically manipulated to produce more milk than is natural. Shortly after birth, dairy farmers kidnap baby calves from their crying mothers and tie them up so that humans can steal the milk that was meant for them. Females may be given milk replacer, while males are considered worthless by the industry and are therefore often abandoned, left to starve, or sent to be killed for beef and leather.
If we compare ourselves to other countries/laws what specific areas of improvement can we harness in terms of legal action?
In a perfect world, laws to protect animals would eliminate all cruelty because dogs should not be bred and sold, cattle and other animals should not be sent to slaughter, and fish should not be kept in tanks. According to studies done by World Animal Protection, legislations and policies of countries like Austria, Switzerland, United Kingdom, Germany, Netherlands, Denmark, Sweden etc. maintain higher standards of animal welfare.
As punishment under the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals Act 1960 can be as weak as a mere Rs. 10 or 50 fine for a first offense, PETA India have been appealing to the Ministry of Environment, Forests & Climate Change to strengthen the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals Act 1960 which has outdated, weak, almost meaningless penalties for crimes against animals. There is an urgent need to protect India’s animals from abusers. If those guilty of cruelty to animals received jail time and significant fines – as well as counselling and a ban on contact with animals – it would help ensure that the duty of having compassion for animals under Article 51A (g) of the Constitution is better upheld and respected.
Is/how much is the presence or absence of corporate-sustainability-side attention relevant here?
For creating a socially developed India- where animals are protected, poverty is eradicated, genders are equal, education is omnipresent, and development is all-inclusive; involvement of all stakeholders is a must. Animal protection is increasingly an important component of Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR). In fact, the PETA International Science Consortium Ltd.;its members collaborate extensively with a number of organisations—including chemical, medical device, consumer product, and pharmaceutical companies as well as alternative method developers—to ensure that available animal-free methods are implemented; and to promote the development of novel non-animal tests. Consortium members hold annual meetings with a number of Fortune 100 companies and these discussions have resulted in numerous actions to reduce animal use.