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Econews-Oct-Dec, 2012, Vol.18, No.3
This is a special issue celebrating 50 years of the creation of the Animals Welfare Board of in India which came into existence in 1962, following the enactment of the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals Act (1960). Animals are a part of our environment, but while the
disappearing tiger, lion and elephant are part of the public discourse, the millions of animals suffering on factory farms, the cruelties of the slaughter houses, the disappearing diversity of domestic animal species, the agonies of cattle packed into lorries and transported over long distances to an agonizing death and many more issues are a part of the public silence over inconvenient issues. Traditionally, Indians grazed cattle, sheep and goats over vast stretches of pasture land designated for that purpose by village elders. Hens and
chicken ran around the backyard while the rooster was the village doubtful title of “broiler chicken”. The cow who gave milk continued to live after her milking years were over, and she died a natural death. Bullocks that ploughed the field or pulled the cart were never sold once their productive years were over. All that has changed. CPR Environmental Education Centre (CPREEC) has always been sensitive to animal issues. We serve only vegetarian food in our programmes. We have been talking about animal welfare to teachers and students and including it in our curricula and text books. Our campus overflows with birds, squirrels, dogs, cats and even occasional monkeys, snakes and palm civets.
The following articles have been put together by the staff members of CPREEC. Since our earlier issues have covered biodiversity and wildlife, we have deliberately omitted our wildlife friends of the forest. “Factory Farming” and “Genetic Engineering and Animal Suffering” touch upon two important and abnormal issues of contemporary cruelty to
animals which take place behind walls of silence and ignorance. “Invasive and Alien Animal Species in the Andaman & Nicobar Islands” discusses the effects of introduced species on the island’s environment. “The Sacred Cow” tells us that the cow is sacred only in name, while “The Declining Deccani Sheep” is about the survival of an individual breed. “Issues of Animal Welfare in India” discusses problems of rabies and slaughter houses.
The Todas are one of the ancient indigenous tribes of India who were buffalo herders and worshippers who never killed their animals or ate buffalo meat. “Sacred Buffaloes of the Todas” laments their disappearance as grasslands are used to cultivate exotic commercial tree species. Finally, “Kindness to Animals in Ancient Tamilnadu” reminds us that Tamil literature, especially the writings of Thiruvalluvar, promoted kindness to animals by example and precept. How such a culture with such an ancient and beautiful tradition could
promote jallikattu (bull tying), a form of bull fighting, today is beyond my comprehension.