To the defence of the defenceless

Although several organisations espouse the cause of animals, people still have to learn to be compassionate to them

Published: Thursday 31 March 1994

To the defence of the defenceless

Where does it stop? (Credit: KARE)MORE than 30 years after the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals Act was passed, a lot still remains to be done to prevent maltreatment of animals, whether they be pets, live-stock or wild animals. The main problems have been exposing and preventing unkind acts perpetrated on animals.

To deal with these problems, the Animal Welfare Board, an autonomous body, was formed by an act of Parliament in 1960. The board has worked in collaboration with various NGOs for the welfare of animals. Its main projects include birth control among pets and establishment of gaushalas (animal shelters). In all these areas, the board provides financial aid to the NGOs.

The board gives the Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals the legal power to impose fines on persons inflicting cruelty on animals and to take such cases to the court. In the fiscal year 1992-93, the board collected fines totalling about Rs 1 lakh. The board also creates public awareness through cultural shows. In 1994-95, it will concentrate on animal birth control programmes in the metropolitan cities.

Several other organisations have come up in the country in defence of the animals. In 197, Beauty Without Cruelty(BWC), an international, educational and charitable trust for animal rights, set up a branch in India. It has been instrumental in various campaigns, including securing bans on exporting monkeys and frog legs and bringing about amendments to legislation on animals. In 1978, BWC won the Pegasus Award for highlighting animal exploitation through advertisements. BWC has also prpared a report on circuses in India.

The Delhi-based Kindness to Animals and Respect for Environment (KARE) works mainly with schoolchildren. Says Camellia Satija of KARE, "We concentrate on schoolchildren because they are more receptive to our concerns and also because they are our future." KARE produces films and slides on cruelties inflicted on animals and also promotes vegetarianism and provides legal advice on animal rights. "However," says Satija, "it is very difficult to find legal experts who volunteer to help in this area."

The Centre for Action, Research and Technology for Man, Animal and Nature (CARTMAN), a voluntary organization in Bangalore, has employed technological research for the welfare of animals, especially livestock. CARTMAN has modified The traditional bullock cart by using aluminium instead of wood for the body of the cart, thus reducing its weight. To prevent cart wheels from wobbling, it has used ball-bearings. Also, brakes have been installed to replace the wooden pole that puts a strain on the animal's neck. Says N S Ramaswamy of CARTMAN, "This technology has been used in 90 per cent of the bullock carts in Haryana, western Uttar Pradesh and Punjab. The response has been good even in Tamil Nadu."

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