Tuesday, August 15, 2006

Independence Day - Vision Animals 2025

Hindustan Times had asked me to write an article on my vision of how animals would be treated in India in 2025. It has appeared today in the special Independence Day supplement but has been drastically chopped. Here is the full version…

“The greatness of a nation and its moral progress can be judged by the way its animals are treated”. This oft-repeated quote made by Gandhiji sums up my vision of how animals should be treated in the year 2025. In order to achieve this, I hope that there is a drastic change in the attitudes of municipal and police officials, politicians and bureaucrats who need to look at animal issues with compassion and rationale. The common man though will continue to be compassionate towards animals just as our culture and values teach us to be.

Sensitizing children about animal welfare through the education sector can achieve a lot. I hope that awareness on animal welfare issues would be a part of environmental education in schools and colleges and by 2025 there would be many animal lovers who would have graduated out of colleges and universities offering courses on animal welfare, stray animal management, farm animal welfare and NGO management.

Veterinary education in the country needs to keep updating and incorporating changes and breakthroughs in practices, methods and technology taking place in the world. Newer subjects that deal with specializations like ophthalmology, dentistry and cardiology and specialization in the treatment of birds and wildlife need to be introduced in the curriculum. Courses with alternative medicine therapies like homeopathy, ayurveda, acupressure and acupuncture (all for animals) need to be introduced and institutionalized so that lakhs of animals are benefited.

Animal cruelty was thought to be an important issue by our lawmakers even in 1960 and so they framed The Prevention Of Cruelty to Animals Act. Sixty-five years later, I hope that this act, which is obsolete today, would have got upgraded and toughened so as to give it more teeth such that people would think twice before inflicting cruelty on any animal.

Though urban Indian cities have stray animals today, their population would decrease by 2025. This would happen if the municipal authorities implemented a proper garbage management plan and invested enough in basic infrastructure (land for more sterilization centers, animal shelters (Mumbai has none today), animal hospitals etc) and in recurring expenditure (sterilization programme) whilst partnering with professionally run animal welfare NGOs. This would reap the benefits of a decreased stray animal population and more importantly elimination of human rabies in urban areas and a drastic decrease in rural areas.

I am sure that by 2025 more and more people will keep pets, though the trend of keeping more dogs than cats will continue. I also hope that more people who keep pets would adopt it from an animal welfare organisation like The Welfare of Stray Dogs (WSD) instead of buying it from a breeder. There also needs to be stringent laws incorporated in The Prevention Of Cruelty to Animals Acts, 1960 for breeders with clauses of yearly licensing and monitoring.

I also hope that there would be more responsible pet ownership displayed, people would not abandon their pets and sterilizing them would be made mandatory. I hope that by 2025 there are no societies that say no pets allowed or no pets in lifts and more and more restaurants, hotels and shops allow pets to go in with their owners.

I also hope that our technological advances would make way to minimize research on animals and tissue culture meat would replace meat from slaughtered animals.

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