Mahatma Gandhi, the Father of our Nation said, "The greatness of a Nation and the moral progress of a society can be judged by the way its animals are treated". Going by that parameter our greatness and moral progress seems to be under a question mark
In a nation which has always followed an inclusive development inspired by the ideology of Vasudhaïva Kutumbakam ( the world is one family ), it is astonishing that the laws to prevent and punish animal cruelty are so grossly inadequate to deliver its purpose.
Recent times have seen a sharp increase in animal abuse cases. Innocent animals are being tortured by individuals, and innovative methods of torture are being devised.
The police doesn't regard crimes against animals as 'serious crimes' and even when they do, they are restricted by the scope of action under the current laws. No arrests are made for killing or torturing animals. Only in a handful of cases that go viral (like the Shaktiman or Bhadra case) the abusers get arrested, only to get bail in a matter of minutes. After years of court case, even if convicted, they walk free and remorseless, paying a fine of just Rs. 50/-!
The prevailing laws ( Prevention of Cruelty to Animals Act ) formulated back in 1960 are insufficient to deal with the cruelties perpetrated on animals today and the paltry fine of Rs 50 equivalent price as that of a chocolate, for killing an animal is nothing more than a mockery in the face of the gruesomeness of the crimes.
Nor are they sufficient to act as a deterrent for such crimes in the future. Which is why the Animal Welfare Board of India had drafted a new Animal Welfare Bill and submitted it to the Ministry of Environment, Forests and Climate Change in 2014.
But due to a lack of political will it has not even been tabled for discussion till date. Even the Supreme Court has slammed the Government for not passing the Animal Welfare Bill as recently as 12th May 2016 serving a show cause noticed to the Government for the delay.
Owing to the lack of political will, a movement called India Unites for Animals, a citizen's initiative, is being launched simultaneously in over 50 cities in India and over 20 cities worldwide on the 18th September 2016 - with the sole aim of getting the Animal Welfare Bill passed by the Parliament.
The overwhelming response received even before the launch of the movement is a proof of the growing resentment in the nation for failing to protect our animals. the 'compassionate and animal loving people' community have now United as a consolidated and growing vote bank cutting across regional, religious, political lines- from a vegetable vendor to corporate houses to celebrities - who will vote and support candidates based on their declaration of their stand on animals.
The organization has also launched a toll-free number 180030005581, a pledge form and an online petition whereby it will have numbers to show their strength. The number of calls have already crossed a lakh within a week, and over 25,000 signatures on pledge form and thousands of signatures have been received over the online petition.
The movement is also getting overwhelming celebrity support in forms of their video cameos appealing to people to join India Unites for Animals to bring stricter laws.
Major differences between PCA Act 1960 and the Animal Welfare Bill
PCAAct 1960 -
* Preventive law
* Animals are basically considered as someone's property ( either State Property or owner's)
* Weak Penalties : 50/- Rs. fine for cruelty
* Even as a person is convicted and is known to be a habitual animal abuser there is no clause to stop him from keeping and torturing an animal again.
Animal Welfare Bill -
* Active animal welfare legislation
* Not considered as anyone's property but recognised as non-human persons
* Strong penalties: Fine for cruelty runs in lakhs. Imprisonment upto 5 years.
* Provisions to debar such persons from owning an animal.
* Animals have been recognised as sentiment beings who have rights of their own like right to freedom from hunger, pain, distress, physical and thermal discomfort, fear and right to express normal patterns of behaviour.
Some recent cases of cruelty
* The mascot horse of Uttarakhand mounted police, Shaktiman, was beaten up mercilessly while serving the Nation during a political protest , who succumbed to his injuries later after having his leg amputated.
* Bhadra, an innocent 5 month puppy was flung off a terrace for the amusement of two medical students near Chennai. Video went viral.
* Three little pups were filmed being tied and burnt alive in Hyderabad
* Dogs being shot down in broad daylight and filming it, merely for fun or to make the video go viral.
* 22 dogs poisoned in Bengaluru
* another dozen dogs including pups were poisoned in Dharamsala.
* In another case in Hyderabad a pregnant female dog was doused with acid because the locality didn't want her to deliver pups.
These are just examples of the extreme cruelty faced by innocent animals and the alarming increase in the number of animal abuse cases across the country.
Why is this movement important for the society as a whole and not just animal lovers
1. It is a well established fact now based on FBI study and numerous researches that there is a strong link between animal abuse and human crimes. For those who are unaware of it, a simple Google search of 'link between animal abuse and human crimes' will reveal a horrifying picture.
2. Studies have proven that cruelty towards animals, if ignored, eventually moves towards crimes against vulnerable sects of society be it women or children or weaker sections.
3. Rising incidence of heinous crimes against humans is directly proportional to the increasing animal abuse.
4. If animal abusers are stopped by law there and then, the society can be saved from facing barbaric, gut-wrenching crimes against humans that we are increasingly witnessing in recent times.
5. If animal abuse breeds crime, animal compassion does just the opposite. Which is why CBSE has already included 'compassion to animals' in its curriculum and we wish ICSE and other boards to follow suit.
- If we choose our candidates based on their animal policies, we will have compassionate people in the Parliament. A person who can feel for mute creatures is bound to be more sensitive towards human problems as well.
Kamna Pandey is Spokesperson, India Unites for Animals