AWBI -The Animal Welfare Board on India
The Animal Welfare Board of India, the first of its kind to be established by any Government in the world. The Indian government set it up in 1962, in accordance with Section 4 of the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals Act 1960 (No.59 of 1960).
It keeps the Act under constant study and advises the government on the amendments tobe undertaken in the law from time to time. It also advises the Government on any matter connected with animal welfare or the prevention of infliction of unnecessary pain or suffering on animals*.
PETA (in India and globally) has been at the forefront of efforts to make mankind more humane in its treatment of animals. Along with Greenpeace, it is an example of how passionate individuals working concertedly can awaken the conscience of various stakeholders including the community, industry, policy makers and the common man.
Work Done by AWBI & PETA and the Jallikattu fiasco
The Animal Welfare Board of India and PETA have been doing a yeoman’s job relating to animal welfare. Any balanced, right thinking individual would find nothing wrong in supporting the AWBI or PETA. But the Jallikattu imbroglio has queered the pitch for both these agencies with many supporters of Jallikattu observing the following:
- The AWBI has been justified in raising incidents of animal cruelty during Jallikattu. The festival definitely needs to be monitored and regulated to protect animal rights. Else the age-old tradition of benign Jallikattu cannot be justified or sustained.
- The AWBI and PETA does not seem to have done due diligence on all aspects of Jallikattu. Besides the obvious annual performance of bull taming, the sport has other dimensions. These bodies have not seen it fit to delve into these. For eg. The impact of a ban on Jallikattu on the production of the better quality A2 milk versus the unhealthy A1 milk.One could say in their defence, that the AWBI and PETA is not expected to do indepth research on all aspects.
- PETA/AWBI may say that its job is just to look at the superficial instances of animal cruelty, report them and work to ensure non-recurrence.
- PETA educates people to turn to vegetarianism by highlighting the impact on environment due to meat production, but has not devoted much energy to shut down abattoirs (illegally or otherwise). As many meat eaters would themselves agree, our abattoirs are not places where we would witness humane treatment of animals.
The Animal Product / Meat Industry in India
#Animal Products play an important role in the socio- economic life of India. It is a rich source of high quality of products such as milk, meat and eggs. India has emerged as the largest producer of milk with 17.64 percent share in total milk production in the world. India accounts for about 5.19 percent of the global egg production and hosts the largest population of milch animals in the world. Exports of animal products represent an important and significant contribution to the Indian Agriculture sector. The export of Animal Products includes Buffalo meat, Sheep/ Goat meat, Poultry products, Animal Casings, Milk and Milk products and Honey etc.
India’s exports of Animal Products was Rs. 30,137.08 Crores in 2015-16, the major products are Buffalo Meat (Rs. 26,681.56 Crores), Sheep/ Goat Meat (Rs. 837.76 Crores), Poultry Products (Rs. 768.72 Crores), Dairy Products (Rs. 754.20 Crores), Animal Casing (Rs. 17.02 Crores), Processed Meat (Rs. 6.18 Crores) and Natural Honey (Rs. 705.87 Crore).#
There are more registered abattoirs in the country (1000+, excluding the illegal ones) than registered milk producing units (200+). Looking at the more than $1 + Billion dollars that the meat industry earns for the country, it would not be easy for the PETA or AWBI to easily fight this lobby.
PETA and Pets
Besides the Meat industry, another disturbing and increasing trend in society is people’s fascination/infatuatipn with keeping pets at home. Some of the possible issues with this are:
1. Foreign species being kept as pets in Indian conditions which they are not used to
2. They are kept locked indoors in small houses most of the time. Many dogs for eg. need open spaces to play about and run.
3. Often we see owners disowning animals after a while, just dumping them in remote places, where they can’t find their way back. These poor animals are completely lost. They find themselves in an alien environment at the mercy of other street dogs etc which are very territorial and by no means accomodative.
The PETA and the AWBI has enough on its plate to worry about is what the protesters believe. But protestors fear ‘missionary zeal’ and ‘foreign dairy desires’ are playing a larger part than appears on the surface.
Cool Chilli’s Comments
The AWBI may not wish to ruffle feathers in the government. Meat exports contribute more than One Billion US Dollars. The NewsTikka team does not see any other reason for the AWBI to keep mum on the cruelty faced by animals in our slaughter houses. APEDA also issues guidelines for Export Oriented Units on humane slaughter. This is basis inputs from bodies like SPCA (Society for Prevention of Cruelty to Animals). But the inference based on its website is that the APEDA expects only EOU units to follow them. Foreign (importers) countries will not encourage Indian EOU suppliers otherwise, but does one expect our abattoirs (legal and illegal) to be keen on humane treatment and slaughter of animals.
Why is the AWBI or PETA not focussing its energies on this year round cruelty as well as the yearly once bull taming festival. This festival incidentally doesn’t prescribe cruelty, though some elements may abuse the animals if not properly monitored. Slaughter on the other hand is inherently (especially as practised by some denominations) cruel. Hence needs monitoring and measures surely.
Is it that the meat producing lobby is too strong or that ending Jallikattu is just a means to various other ends?