By Trishala Sanyal, AKK New Law Academy.
“Unseen they suffer, unheard they cry
In Agony they linger, in loneliness they die
Does it mean anything to you or anyone who passes by?”
These lines are completely apt for animals that are often exposed to the cruelty and brutality of human civilization. Few days back, Kai, a crossbreed dog was seen tied to a railing outside the Scotland Railway station with a personalised suitcase. The dog that was bought online was abandoned by its family. “This case highlights the potential consequences of selling an animal online as it often leads to the impulse buying of pets that people know very little about.” The situation is not much different in India, where stray cows and stray dogs are a common sight. Is it not regarded cruelty to let them roam around on the streets, let them eat garbage dumped on the road sides, exposing them to be hit by the fast- moving traffic and by the shopkeepers whose goods they are destroying? When the animals fulfil their purpose and become old or diseased they are often abandoned and are left on their own to suffer pangs of hunger and are banished to suffer and die. The question that arises here is that do animals have a right to live well? Animal Rights Activists raise their voices but their protests are too weak to be heard. Animals in many religions were worshipped and any cruelty towards them was condemned by the society but today we have become insensitive not only towards animals but also towards other human beings.
“The greatness of a nation and its moral progress can be judged by the way its animals are treated” Mahatma Gandhi indeed said the truth. He initiated the idea of uniforms in the schools to instil a sense of uniformity among the sections of the society but he never asked us to slaughter animals to obtain leather and make the school shoes. The leather is mainly extracted from the skin of dogs, cows and other animals. In 2014, PETA India and Union Minister Maneka Gandhi contacted the Central Board of Secondary Education for proscribing the use of leather school shoes. The agency issued an advisory to its 18,000 affiliated schools urging them to ban students from wearing leather shoes. Similarly, the states of Delhi and Bihar also advised its schools after being contacted by PETA. The issue raised by PETA India would be saving just some sections of the animal kingdom. There are many faces of the leather industry. It is an irony that in a country where the Constitution has reflected its intention “to protect and improve the natural environment including forests, lakes, rivers and wild life, and to have compassion for living creatures” in Article 51(A) (g) whereas in the same place we find it convenient to slaughter the poor beasts for our luxury stuffs.
Moreover it is a mockery on humanity when the future of pharmacy is dependent on the positive test of researched products on animals.US Food and Drug Administration reported that 92% of drugs which have proved to be effective in animal testing have failed to give a positive impact in human body. Moreover when it comes to pharmacy, the problem is never restricted to one nation but it becomes a topic to be debated globally. In India almost all the pharmaceutical units are generic companies where the techniques and methods are adopted from foreign parent companies making it clear that based on similar guidance even the generic company will produce the similar product. This leaves us asking ourselves is the pharmacy industry really benefited with the genetically produced Onco mouse. Going against nature has not really proved to be effective in any way to the people. Animal testing is not only an abuse on animals but also an abuse to the human body. In 2012 the University Grants Commission issued a notice banning the dissection of animals for education and research purpose but the generic companies have not been taken under this law.
India is a country where cattle slaughter has been proscribed by most of the states. Cattle slaughter in India is closely attached to the sentiments of religious beliefs. The religious sentiment of the people was well reflected in the 1966 Anti-cow slaughter agitation. Article 47(b) of the Directive Principle of State Policy states, “To preserve and improve the breeds of the cattle and prohibit slaughter of cows, calves and other milch and drought animals.” A shocking report published by the Times of India will give goose bumps to many; the report stated that in the year 2014, exports of cow meat hit 1.9 million tonnes, according to USDA, while India has a 20 percent share of the global beef export market. Often the abuse of the milkman has been witnessed but the greatest abuse is when the cow stops producing milk, that cow is sold to the slaughter house for meat. Cows are often injected with Oxytocin, an illegal drug which helps in producing large quantities of milk. It is an animal abuse and abuse on nature when the cow which has produced and nourished many babies with its milk is slaughtered and the legal framework only suggests and prohibits the slaughtering of cows in public.
Thus, there are dozens of loopholes in our rich and nurtured tradition of 1000 years. It is often regarded as an ill omen when a black cat crosses a road, an ill omen when a jackal or a night animal cries out in pain amongst various other omens of kind. Beautiful beasts known as “animals” are just like us breathing the same oxygen we breathe, the same earth we live on and the same ecosystem we share. We at times mention chimpanzees and gorillas as a little part of our own community so abusing animals is abusing human civilization. The various Animal Protection Laws as laid down in our Constitution in Section 54(A) (g), Indian Penal Code,1860 in Section 428 and 429, The Prevention of Cruelty of Animal Act, 1960 and many more such acts should be given importance in our society and it should be taken as a moral and a legal duty to protect animals from abuses to the best of our ability. Quoting the words of William Ralph Inge would prove to be best suited for the current scenario, “We have enslaved the rest of the animal creation, and have treated our distant cousins in fur and feathers so badly that beyond doubt, if they were able to formulate a religion, they would depict the Devil in human form.”