Over 2000 years ago, Ashoka the great instituted the first laws for animal rights in this country and in the world. He was among the first to institute animal hospitals where sick animals were brought in and attended for. Humans and beasts of burden both had rest stops where they could refresh throughout the empire. Under his protection animal hunting was largely forbidden. Pregnant animals that were feeding their young were also protected and some festival days even even fish were forbidden to be killed.
In one of his famous rock pillar edicts he decries ;
“I have enforced the law against killing certain animals. The greatest progress of righteousness among men comes from the exhortation in favour of non-injury to life and abstention from killing living beings.”
Fast forward 2000 years later and a group of Congress miscreants in Kerala dragged a young calf into the middle of the street and promptly decapitated it. Against public laws of decency as well as health safety this was done as a mark of protest against what was perceived to be nationwide decree that cow slaughter and a personal preference for beef is not acceptable to the government. Is this really the case however?
This protest originates from a statement made in the Gazette of India published on 23 May that really outlines a intention to change the prevention of cruelty to animals act.
The act itself is clearly available online to anyone and outlines far-reaching measures to try and institutionalize a standard across the country where certain measures are in place to reduce suffering in animals and regulate some safety standards in the slaughter of animals.
Anyone can clearly go on you tube and see the horrendous videos of decapitations in side streets and galleys where torrents of blood flow down the street often making their way to contaminating the city water supply. Buffaloes and cows are often wrestled to the ground with their horns. Their mouth and nose clamped, before a sharp razor and is quickly sawed across their neck. This leads to a partial decapitation with the animal still shouting in agony. The spinal cord is still intact and often the brain may still receive partial perfusion via the vertebral arteries. Often times laceration of the carotids does not lead to instant unconsciousness because of the relative size of such carotid arteries and arterial spasm. This means that not all blood is drained instantly. The animal is still left kicking to the side for minutes on even after decapitation in partial consciousness and significant pain. This of course is in full view of the other animals down the line watching this gruesome spectacle. A review of online videos of slaughterhouses in other countries such as Australia show the humane process by which cattle are effectively stunned and completely unconscious before any slaughter begins. The Brachiocephalic branch is lacerated leading to a effective form of shock and death painlessly.
Even official slaughter houses here flout safety norms regularly with online videos of the Ghaziabad slaughter house being a example. Sick and infected animals are quickly dispatched and enter into the food chain. Buffaloes are repeatedly electrocuted with live wire in a poor attempt to stun the animal. Often times the animal is seen running in the opposite direction before being repeatedly shocked, wrestled to the ground, asphyxiated and then partially decapitated again with a small razor.
If such a poor attempt is made in official slaughter houses, then one can only imagine the horrors that exist in small unofficial slaughter houses dotted around major metros. It is no wonder then that foot and mouth disease is going through a steady rise among mainly metro children.
Even more inhumane is the transfer of a lot of these animals across state borders without any regulation. Animals are often transported for days without food and water on route, to states where beef is legalized. In order to prevent dehydration in these severely overcrowded settings, cows are often given copper sulfate to destroy the kidneys so that they don’t urinate, slowing dehydration. Often time these walking dehydrated and sick animals are severely tortured and beaten to make sure that the can meet the border where the are promptly dispatched again in unhygienic settings without following any health safety parameters. In crude attempts to ‘stun’ the animal a hammer blow to the skull with a iron hammer serves as a crude replacement to a actual stun device.
So what has the new government and try to achieve with this new act that is easily online for anyone to read?
It really begins by the district magistrate trying to organize a animal welfare rights committee to oversee a legal process by which animals are better cared for. It goes on to list a number of members that I needed each district to really form the committee so to speak.
Mention is made of registration of existing animal markets and registration of new animal markets so that basic animal amenities can be inspected and tracked.
It goes on to list that in new animal markets, some basic features such as troughs to hold food or water for the animals and shade should be provided. A veterinary facility should be present as well.
Veterinary staff and assistant veterinary staff should be present as well to care for any sick animals that may be present.
A list of a clear set of practices that are not to be entertained are laid out. This includes branding of animals, castration and casting animals to the hard ground before they are promptly decapitated. Other laws on feeding, handling and accommodation are well laid out and detailed.
Article 22 however seems to have instilled the most controversy. The article clearly states that cattle are not to be brought to the market for selling or trade. For all of those that have said that they single out cattle, a review of the definition of cattle as stated in the definition section clearly outlines that most bovine animals are under this act. This includes buffaloes, calves, bulls and even camels.
For a government well known to surprise and take hard actions on needed policies such as the demonetization, the above statement is a huge shift in the lifestyle that we’ve all taken for granted. It will clearly help to regulate and serve to alleviate some of the horrendous suffering that animals are forced to undergo in India. More than that it will insure some form of food trace-ability as livestock and mainly cattle infected with diseases such as foot-and-mouth don’t rampantly cross state borders as they do today infecting thousands of other cattle in the process and therein us ourselves.
This cattle smuggling also serves as a huge finance for terrorists especially in states like West Bengal where thousands are illegally smuggled to Bangladesh, leading to a boomerang effect where Indians indirectly are getting killed.
Cattle have to be registered via farmers initially who rear them for slaughter and take them to specific government license slaughterhouses to ensure such trace-ability and spread of such diseases, such as foot and mouth, leptospirosis, brucellosis etc. These are zoonotic disease for which even we are at risk and susceptible.
Instead of trying to understand government regularization, Congress workers in Kannur Kerala have flouted all rules of decency and health standards by performing this atrocious spectacle on the roads. Being a increasingly radicalized hotbed, it has taken little for such atrocious spectacles to slowly shift to humans as well. Choorakad Bijju an RSS worker was recently hacked to death in the Kannur district in broad daylight. Little reported it seems that this year five other BJP workers have met similar fates as well.
Gandhi has often been quoted “the greatness of a nation can be judged by the way it’s animals are treated” Radicalized Kannur seems to have made the transition in dehumanizing political workers of the RSS/BJP so that any protest against the government is met with a street butchering….
What is remarkable is that this has become a fight for a individuals right to eat beef. Our foreign funded news media has repeatedly made this a government versus a individuals rights to personal food preference. What has been completely ignored is this horrendous cruelty meted out to animals and the government trying to radically safe guard the health of it’s citizens from communicable disease. Should such a disaster such a mad cow hit India, it would be a rapid pandemic that would surge across the sub continent.
Ashoka throughout his life even with his transformation, found it hard to give up his taste for a few peacocks and deer through the year. Neither should he have had to, it’s hard to argue if one was brought up to include domesticated animals as part of our diet to radically make a transition towards a certain animal or none. These regulations coming into effect however should make us pause to think about how our food does make it to our table. We have always been a civilization that respected the rights of animals stemming from the ancient philosophical thought of Ahimsa. Ahimsa does not mean to do no harm, but to do the least harm to all living creatures involved. Various animals in different forms have long been worshiped and respected forming even avatars with glorious stories of redemption of humanity. Asiatic lions hunted to extermination around the world have found safety and thrive in India because of such principles.
What the government has done is to be lauded and made me more aware of how food makes it to my table. May we all introspect and realize that even if the gazette demands are presumptuous, that it is a start towards a less cruel practice and a safer and healthier population for all Indians.