Everyday, we receive many queries and calls over the Jaagruti helpline complaining about how their Residential Society’s Welfare Associations (commonly abbreviated as RWA’s) putting up notices ‘banning pets’, coming out with ‘no pets allowed’ clauses in their society bye-laws, ‘asking people to abandon their pets’, ‘mistreating street dogs’ etc. The article below by Rishi Dev of Citizens for Animal Rights, is a must-read for all those facing such a situation. This article explains as well as empowers you with information to fight your own respective battles in this regard for your sake and for your pet child..who has no one other than you in this world to fight for him/her or their rights.
In 2010, the Central Mumbai Consumer Disputes Redressal Forum gave a strong directive to a group housing society who was charging a pet owner resident monthly fees for using lifts. The court clearly said – “Dogs are part of a family hence they have the right to use the lift just as any other member, and we cannot decide who is a family member and who isn’t, each family decides for itself.”
Before this in 2008 a similar order came from a lower court that clarified that pets are part of family and cannot be restricted from living or using the residential complexes.
In 2012, the Gurgaon Municipal Corporation was the first of their kind to issue strict notices to all CGHS and RWAs in Gurgaon, warning them not to formulate rules and regulations against pets and that any such move is in conflict with the law. The notices clearly stated – “Such a move may lead to dissolution of the RWA and prosecution of its office bearers, says the letter. It is illegal to remove animals from the area through security guards employed by RWAs. Nor can they intimidate residents who may be feeding those animals. Under stray dog management rules 2001, it’s illegal for an individual, RWA or estate management to remove or relocate dogs. The dogs have to be sterilized and vaccinated and returned to the same area. Vaccinated and sterilized dogs cannot be removed by the municipality too. Under Section 506 of the IPC, it’s a crime to threaten abuse or harass neighbors who feed animals.”
So what is origin of these laws protecting dogs and cats from humans who treat them unequal?
The system of law in Indian is a tiered system, based on Arthashastra from 400 B.C. & Manusmriti from 100 A.D. wherein the central philosophy was tolerance & pluralism. This is the reason the constitution declares India to be a sovereign socialist secular democratic republic, assuring its citizens justice, equality, and liberty.
The hierarchical system of Indian constitution thus forbids the lower hierarchies to overrule or override the higher orders, laws, directions or acts. This means that if Supreme Court says ‘yes’ to something, the ‘no’ by the high courts’ gets automatically nullified. This hierarchy comes down to the lowest local urban body or court. In India most courts have already ruled in favor of the animals in all respects. Hence any organization, individual or body ruling or following actions against such orders are automatically breaking the law and in contempt of the constitution and the honorable courts.
There are laws and constitutional provisions directly allowing people to take care of animals, whether inside or outside their places of work or living. The laws clearly protect people and their animals from all kinds of discrimination. The Indian constitution states them very clearly via various sections. Article 48-A - “The State shall endeavor to protect & improve the environment and to safeguard the forests and wildlife of the country.” Article 51-A deals with the fundamental duties of the citizen. Article 51-A(g) states – ” It shall be duty of every citizen of India to protect & improve the natural environment including forests, lakes, rivers and wildlife and to have compassion for living creatures.” Article 19 deals with the fundamental rights of the citizen. So “Right to Protect the Environment ” comes within Article 19. After the Stockholm Declaration in 1972 the Indian Constitution (Forty-second Amendment) Act, 1976 inserted for the first time specific provisions to protect & improve the environment. I.P.C. Section 428 and 429 provides severe punishment to people resorting to dislocation, abduction and acts of cruelty towards community animals or pets. Ministry of Public Grievances notification and a similar notification by Animal Welfare Board of India dated March 2008, provide immunity to animal feeders and restrict government employees or bodies such as Resident Welfare Associations from harassing people who try to feed or help animals. Article 25, 26, 27, 28 provides religious freedom to all citizens and preserves the principle of secularism in India. According to the constitution, all religions are equal before the State. Citizens are free to preach, practice and propagate any religion of their choice in their own way. Keeping or feeding animals is a part of the same right. The other acts which protect animals are The Environment (Protection) Act – 1986 & Wildlife (Protection) Act 1972.
Hence, anyone taking care, keeping pets or street animals has natural immunity in the law. There are many orders pertaining to street animals by many courts. But in the recent times many RWAs have shown their autocracy over residents keeping pets. Keeping the same in mind the Animal Welfare Board of India and many municipal corporations have time and again written to the Registrar of Societies (ROS) and their RWAs to refrain from these undemocratic actions.
An RWA is a private, representative body which has no legal sanctity. It is just a group of people who have come together and formed a club. Their resolutions and bye laws are not legal mandates and especially if they violate the fundamental rights of a citizen or even more goes against an existing court order. Such RWAs can be legally prosecuted and if need be can face fines or imprisonment or both. Such precedence has been set before. If any resident faces such harassment from RWAs, must immediately approach the local magistrate and file a complaint of harassment and violation of their fundamental rights. The complaint must also be sent to ROS asking them to dissolve the RWA with immediate effect. AWBI must also be approached for taking appropriate legal action against such RWA members.
Guest post* by Faizan Jaleel
*Views expressed herein are solely the personal views of the author – Faizan Jaleel, who can be contacted on firstname.lastname@example.org
**For those interested in the subject, there is also a website based book titled, “Animals in Islam” by Al-Hafiz B.A. Mazri , which can be accessed by clicking here.
Being a Muslim has been linked to meat eating and in fact rightly so because many or most of the Muslims (followers of Islam) are non vegetarians. Being a Muslim myself and a non vegetarian till around 2009, I could simply understand that meat was a part of our cuisine and never in the entire time of my being a Non Vegetarian came from any religious guidance at that time. Meat was cooked and we ate it. It was not told to us in any religious sermon that you should eat meat to be a Muslim and yes neither it was the other way round like it was also not told to us not to eat meat as well. We didn’t know about the slaughter and cruelty and the pain and suffering and sentience. It was out of sight and so out of mind.
If we look at the history of Islam which had its roots in the sands and deserts, it is obvious that many hundred years ago there would have been almost meager vegetation and that’s why the cuisine there was mostly bland (lack of spices) and meat (lack of fruits, vegetables and grains). While Islam does teach about being compassionate and merciful and loving to all the life forms, it doesn’t prohibit meat eating, which fits well for that era. There is no evidence that I could refer to where it has been propagated in Islam to raise farm animals for organised slaughter and profit making if there are alternates available in abundance.
The entire meat eating frenzy which is common to a large part of our society is an organised business that rides on billions and trillions of dollars, cruelty and misery. Each day many million lives are taken in an indefinite number of slaughter houses. Many countries and unfortunately my Country also participates in this madness and crime and holds a distinction of causing maximum cruelty through its extremely crude methods of killing and murdering animals. Billions are earned each day.
As I see it and present my view, I believe, that meat eating in today’s world which provides a sea of alternatives is not as per the teachings of Islam. I believe Prophet Mohammad would have never approved of this, I believe that no Islamic scholar can justify this madness of killing and profit making when it is not required to be as per the tenets of Islam, however it can be very easily proved that this form of mass murder is against the teachings of love, compassion and mercy that Islam preaches so strongly. And it is not only about eating meat and killing animals, another aspect of the same issue is the amount of food grains used in raising these cattle and livestock population, the food that could have very easily fed millions of starving human population.
In Islam, drinking alcohol is prohibited because it is “sharaab” or “water that induces indecency” and is habit forming and is something that is not necessary to life – based on the same principle, meat in today’s context is extremely habit forming and not at all required as there are other options available – so why Muslims should not denounce meat in total and live the spirit of Islam!
Is it so hard for us to stop eating meat because it has become a habit; is it stronger than the urge to be righteous? Has it become bigger that the religion itself?
I know by writing this I must have disturbed many Muslims, but that is what I meant to do, so that the next time when you have your juicy chicken breast, roasted lamb, steaks or veal, biryani or qorma, roghan josh or stew, kebabs or liver fry.. you take a moment to think that it is coming from one of the murder houses which just made a profit running in billions at the cost of your ignorance about your own religion and you are still happy about it.
This is the time to think again and be a rightful Muslim…. Not eating meat will not kill you however you will save a life somewhere.
Ignorance is a crime, seek knowledge and be an informed and compassionate being that is what we ought to be – all of us!
With love for all….
Faizan Vegan J
In this post, we are sharing with you one comprehensive document that compiles all the laws, news-clippings and court orders/rulings, pertaining to street dogs
Please download this document by clicking here: A Dossier of Indian Street Dog related laws and court rulings
Save it, take print-outs and read it well.
These are updated laws, rules, orders pertaining to DOGS, their feeding and other rights. Most dog lovers don’t bother to read them and end up getting harassed while the law is strong and clear. Please keep a copy ready and if possible submit one copy in your local police station and the RWA, so unfortunate encounters can be averted beforehand.
A point wise synopsis is also written in the beginning of this document.
We thank Citizens for Animal Rights for their effort in compiling this document and sharing the same with us. By posting it here, we are sharing it further and hope you all will share it widely too and feel empowered.
Remember: Your responsibility however doesn’t end with just feeding them, please also ensure that these dogs you care for are sterilized and vaccinated…since you are friendly with them, can touch them, it is much easier for you to collaborate with the NGO run Animal Hospital (that runs the local Municipality supported ‘Animal Birth Control’ Programme for street dogs) near your home to help undertake the sterilization of these dogs, it is just a one time exercise and will prevent you the agony of seeing pups dying (of illnesses and car accidents) in front of your eyes ever so frequently.
Animal Welfare Board of India has decided to issue Identity Cards to Street Dog Feeders/Colony Care Takers of Animals who are taking care of animals in their locality.
A proforma of registration form can be downloaded from this link- http://awbi.org/awbi-pdf/caretakers.pdf or please click below.
Please download the form and send the duly filled in form along with the following:
ANIMAL WELFARE BOARD OF INDIA
(Ministry of Environment and Forests, Govt. of India)
Post Box No. 8672, 13/1, Third Seaward Road, Valmiki Nagar,Thiruvanmiyur, Chennai – 600 041
A news report on the same in Indian Express dated 21st January 2013, by Senior Correspondent Kamala Kelkar, is posted below. Please hoever note that the process may take less or more than a couple of weeks for you to receive your cards, as mentioned below
People who care for street dogs will soon be getting government-issued identity cards. The new ID cards are expected to do away with harassment faced by many such persons from the general public, when they try to feed canines on the road.
In a move that animal activists termed “unprecedented,” the Animal Welfare Board of India (AWBI) has decided last week that anyone who voluntarily cares for strays — dog feeders and colony caretakers who tend to animals in their locality.
It Board has put up a one-page registration form (can be downloaded free of cost) on its website awbi.org, for those who want to get these ID cards.
The applicant needs to fill in personal information such as name, address and experience. Once the application is submitted, the ID card would be processed and mailed to the applicant, board member and legal advisor Anjali Sharma said.
“The card would have the person’s name and an attestation that he/she is doing a right and lawful deed and the Animal Welfare Board supports it. This lends credibility to the person,” Sharma said.
The AWBI is a legal advisory body that was formed under the Animal Prevention Act of 1960 to protect the animals.
Sharma explained that the goal of the card, which does not provide any exclusive rights, was solely the welfare of animals and caretakers.
“Most people don’t realize that sterilization and vaccination of stray dogs would be possible only through feeding and befriending dogs,” Sharma said.
In December 2011, the Delhi High Court had passed an order voicing its approval for designated “dog feeding spots” for stray canines in the city. It passed the order on a petition which sought to protect dogs from “intimidating” residents, so they could be fed without any hassle.
Rishi Dev, founder of Citizens for Animal Rights who has written a book on “Urban disputes over animals”, said this was the first time that the government was supporting such an initiative.
Sharma hoped that many would come forward to apply for the cards. “They are performing a duty,” she said. “And it’s a legitimate exercise.”
This template letter on Google Docs is kind courtesy of the Voice of Stray Dogs, Bangalore and makes for a good resource material for those of you trying to educate their own residential societies (RWAs i.e. Resident Welfare Associations) on the best possible legally correct, scientific and humane way of dealing with the ‘subject’ of street dogs in their colonies.
How to do this yourself?
Firstly, read these two articles to best understand the Rights of Street Dogs in India and the Delhi High Court rulings on the subject of feeding street Dogs, then save the images and the PDF Files embedded in these articles on to your computer, take a print out of these saved files and attach it as annexures to the above letter that you would draft and address to the concerned person in your RWA, seal the letter and send it across through courier or registered post, keep a photocopy of the same set with you. Be strong and fight it out intelligently, the laws are on your side and the dogs, just use your wisdom and intellect to drive the point across to the ‘uninformed’.
Answers to Frequently Asked Questions on the above subject (kind courtesy of People for Animals):
Q) Can people who feed animals in their areas be stopped by the RWAs or Societies or neighbours under the law ?A) Article 51A of the Constitutional Law of India, speaks about the duties of every citizen of India. One of these duties includes having compassion for living creatures. So the animal lover is protected under the Constitution.
Article 19 of the Constitution of India, deals with right to freedom and in this freedom comes the right to profession, occupation, trade and business. Therefore, it means that every citizen has the right to occupation and if someone has taken the caring of animals as his occupation, it is legal and he has every right to carry on with his occupation.
Article 21 of the Constitution of India states the right to personal life and liberty. Now this is the very vast right. If someone wants to feed dogs and provides shelter to the dogs, he has every liberty to do so. He has this right to liberty that the law provides to every citizen of India.
But, above every law and rights, there is a natural right too, which is a universal right, that is inherent in the nature of ethics and contingent on human actions or beliefs. It is the right that is claimed to exist even when it is not enforced by the government or society as a whole. It is the right of the individual and considered beyond the authority of a government or international body to dismiss. Therefore, if there are any rights at all, there must be right to liberty, for all the others depend on this. And, loving, caring and feeding and giving shelter to dogs, definitely is a natural right of any individual.
In a judgment passed by the Delhi Court, it has been stated that the Animal Welfare Board of India and the Municipal authorities have in the guidelines issued by them specified the problem often faced by the individuals and families who adopts stray animals and feed them and come to the assistance of such persons. The court says, that it is necessary to bring into record that these individuals and families who adopt stray animals are doing a great service to the humanity as they are acting in the aid and assistance of municipal authorities by providing these animals with food and shelter and also by getting them vaccinated and sterilized. Without assistance of such persons no local municipal authority can successfully carry out its ABC programs. The court has went on to say that the local police and the municipal authorities are under the obligation not only to encourage such adoption but also to ensure that such persons who come forward to take care of these animals specifically the community or neighbourhood dogs so that they are not subjected to any kind of cruelty.And finally, the court has said that every individual has a right to live his life in the manner he wants and it is necessary that the society and the community recognizes it.
Q) Can an RWA/Society or any individual pick up the dogs in a colony that are sterilized and vaccinated and throw them away somewhereA) Under the Government of India Animal Birth Control rules 2001 , no sterilized dogs can be relocated from their area. Under 5 High Court orders , sterilized dogs have to be in their original areas. Even if the dog is not sterilized , the Society can simply ask an animal welfare organization to sterilize and vaccinate the dog. They cannot relocate him. Relocation is not permissible as it would cause more problems such as increase of dog bites as dogs are territorial by nature and fight to retain their areas keeping out other dogs.
We are no experts and neither do we run an animal ambulance or hospital that tends to animals. We do it one animal at a time and try to do our best in getting them treated/taking care of them and returning them back to the streets/areas where we picked them up/rescued them from.
We would like to share here what we have learnt, in our few years of doing this work on how best YOU can also try to pick an animal in need; place them in your car and take them to the nearest good vet for treatment/first aid.
Sometimes, a few regular visits to a good vet is all the injured street dog needs to recover back to full fitness. Also, try and learn some animal first aid; and keep a first aid kit handy with regular medicines (we will post that list as well shortly, please read this link: http://jaagruti.org/first-aid-for-dogs/)
Please remember sending each and very injured/ill animal to the animal hospital is NOT the solution. The animals recover better when treated on the streets, wherever possible, by animal lovers in the area. Vets like Dr. Vijay in Delhi, also do street dog sterilization surgeries (by prior appointments only) at his clinic in North West Delhi in the afternoon, post his regular clinic hours, at minimal costs for the dog lovers who tend to street dogs in their area and are willing to take care of the sterilized dogs in their homes for a few nights till they recover from the surgery, by sheltering them at their homes for this period of recovery.
However, dogs do try to run away when they sense that you are trying to catch them..when they are injured, they may also tend to bite you, that is not because they hurt you, but because they are already in pain, that may have been inflicted by ‘humans’ only, and are thus less trusting of you
So here goes our checklist for catching an injured dog and taking them for medical treatment:
1. Make sure you are atleast two people, as two are always better than one.
2. Take some dog food with you to tempt the animal to you and allowing the animal to trust you to pet/touch them.
3. Equipments you will need to catch a dog:
a. A naada i.e. a cloth string/rope that is used to tie pyjamas here in India)- it works better than a muzzle and we use the same to tie the dog’s mouth and then take it around the neck and tie it at the back of the neck. The naada is gentle and better on the snout.
b. A dog leash (one with collar and one without collar)- the handle of the leash without the collar also acts as a good thing to put around the dog’s neck, while sliding the leash through it so that it becomes a lock.
c. Cover your car seats/floor with a waterproof cloth or/and old bedsheets to avoid getting your car covers/flooring dirty, as the dogs may vomit (due to motion sickness), urinate or poo en-route, please be prepared for it (Do this preparatory work in your car before you go to rescue the dog)
4. Lifting the dog: Once the snout is muzzled and the leash is tied around their neck (which also gives us a chance to ensure that the dog doesn’t run away once we land at the vet’s clinic), and then lift the dog up in your arms by placing your hands across/under their chest to establish a tight grip as you lift them up. Yes, you are thinking right, you need to be physically strong to lift dogs up in your arms this way.
5. Place the dog in your car: We take the dogs in our car, we have a Santro, we push down/fold down the backseat, so that the boot of the car and this space adds up and the dog has enough space. Sometimes, for small-sized dogs, we have used pet carriers; but mostly, we just place them in the car the above way and then when we reach our destination (the vet’s place/hospital), see photo below..once inside your car, roll down the window just by a few inches and not too much the dog tries to stick its neck out and run away.
6. Also, try to ensure a crowd doesn’t gather (which may happen, as the dog being caught will try to scream as a defense reaction); too many people crowding together will make the animal nervous. To disperse the crowd, take help of your team mates and gently try to explain them what you are doing and request them to disperse.
What we do? We have, through experience, learnt to talk and explain about such things gradually with different kinds of people; and when we are only trying to benefit a living being, what’s the shame in trying to answer curious queries..people do listen. While we request people to move inside their homes and not crowd about as the animal is in any case scared, some listen, some don’t and when they don’t, sometimes we have to be forceful and assertive in requesting them, while trying to make sure that we don’t enter into a fight by offending their sensibilities, its a test of patience we agree, but then its all worth it.
7. Once you reach the vet’s clinic, either request help from their paravets to take the dog from your car to the vet’s examination room/table. Or ensure that you lift the dog back into your arms carefully (taking care that all other windows/car gates are locked) and take him/her inside the clinic.
Please do share your experiences by posting comments below. This is just a synopsis of what we do and what works for us..
A few weeks back, someone happened to share with us the following article over an e-mail, the reason we are sharing it here is because we also get asked such questions repeatedly, by the people whom we interact professionally or personally, the most common of them being Why do you work for animals, when there are so many suffering humans around?
Also when we attend to animal-issues specific calls on the Jaagruti helpline, some callers often try to argue with us on the subject saying, ‘human lives are more precious than animals, Madam!’
This article, kind courtesy of OpEd News by Dr. Charles Patterson, author of Eternal Treblinka: Our Treatment of Animals and the Holocaust makes for an inspiring read for people like us, and also tries to address those who question people like us who dare and care to be different in their own quiet ways to make a difference to the animals around them and the humans who care for them.
“Against the Current”
How often have you heard complaints that animal activists are misguided and have misplaced priorities? The implication is that people who care about animals are disrespectful of or even hostile to human values, the oppression of animals being the oldest and most strongly defended human prerogative. Critics ask, how can the interests of animals in any way be as important as human problems like war, poverty, disease, hunger, AIDS, racism, genocide?
Those who claim that the lives of animals are of little or no importance reflect the deep-seated speciesism of our society. They defend the status quo of human supremacy as strongly as the supporters of slavery and white supremacy used to claim that the lives and well-being of slaves were of little or no importance.
Another deep-seated conviction of our society is that when it comes to animals, might makes right. The late AIDS and animal activist, Steven Simmons, described the attitude: “Animals are the innocent casualties of the world view that asserts that some lives are more valuable than others, that the powerful are entitled to exploit the powerless, and that the weak must be sacrificed for the greater good.”
This is, of course, fascism pure and simple. Indeed, it was Mr. Fascism himself, Adolph Hitler, who stated the matter directly: “He, who does not possess power, loses the right to life.” How ironic that Hitler’s view is now flourishing in the United States where millions of cows, pigs, sheep, chickens and other innocent animals are killed every day because they are powerless to defend themselves against the might of the master species.
The great divide between humans and the rest of the earth’s inhabitants began about 11,000 years ago in the Middle East with the so-called “domestication” of animals. The enslavement of oxen, sheep, goats and other animals quickly led to human slavery and the treatment of human slaves like animals. The enslavement of animals increased significantly the level of cruelty, oppression, and conflict in human history.
The vilification of other people as animals followed. Europeans called Native Americans beasts, wolves, and snakes, and Africans transported to the Americas to be sold into slavery were treated like domesticated animals. During World War II Americans described the Japanese as yellow monkeys, dogs, rats, and vermin to be exterminated.
The vilification of people as animals made it that much easier to kill them because most humans have been brain washed from an early age to have little regard for the lives of animals.
In the memoirs of Holocaust survivors, the constant refrain is “they treated us like animals.” Victims of the Nazis were transported to extermination camps in cattle cars and were killed in assembly-line fashion, much like animals are killed today in American slaughterhouses.
The grim but undeniable truth is that our civilization is built on the exploitation and slaughter of animals, and it is from this core oppression that all other atrocities flow. The abuse of animals and the destruction of the earth are the crux of what’s wrong with our society.
Those who advocate for animals and fight for their liberation, radicals in the best sense of the word, are attacking the roots of human oppression in the most direct and effective way. Thank goodness there are people willing to go right to the heart of the matter with their dedicated activism. Each and every one of them is a hero and will be judged as such from the hindsight of history.
I’m reminded of the observation that Harriet Beecher Stowe, author of Uncle Tom’s Cabin, made more than a century ago. “It’s a matter of taking the side of the weak against the strong,” she said, “something the best people have always done.”
Don’t let anyone tell you that the life-and-death struggle for animals liberation against the fascist underpinnings of our society is anything other than a noble enterprise of the utmost urgency. Nothing is more important.
And don’t worry too much about complaints and criticism.
You will be going against the current of what society thinks, but so be it.
To quote the German poet Goethe, “The world only goes forward because of those who oppose it.”
About the author – Dr. Charles Patterson:
Dr. Charles Patterson is a social historian, Holocaust educator, editor, therapist, and author. His first book, Anti-Semitism: The Road to the Holocaust and Beyond, was called “important” by Publisher’s Weekly. The National Council for the Social Studies in Washington, D.C. presented Patterson with its Carter G. Woodson Book Award for his biography of Marian Anderson at a special luncheon at its annual convention in St. Louis, Missouri in 1989. His most recent book is Eternal Treblinka: Our Treatment of Animals and the Holocaust (now in 15 languages). For more information on his writings and activities, see his website.
“It doesn’t matter who you are or what you look like, so long as their is somebody to love you”, said Roald Dahl.
Each rescued dog we revisit after rehabilitating them back to their home territories post treatment showers us with bountiful of love, we visited two of them the night before yesterday as we passed by their ‘areas’ (streets where they stay).
For most of us who do anything off the conventional track, like choosing not to burst crackers or spending our Diwali trying to get an injured dog treated, in all likelihood we may be mocked upon and today we just want to tell you, “do not care abut what the world says, its their job to say and we can choose ours, by not listening to their chatter and instead focussing on doing things we love”. For the unconditional love, we get in return from these supposedly ‘speechless beings’ is priceless, that lick on our hands, the tail wagging up and down or sideways, the elated jump…it is all these memorable little moments that make life so worth living.
We believe it when we read that you only get happiness when you give happiness to someone.
We get a lot of calls on the Jaagruti helpline by animal lovers sounding weak, lonely and dis-spirited in their battles fighting their RWAs, neighbours and the world who tries to abuse them, ridicule them, physically assault them, humiliate them, term it whatever..in short anything that breaks their spirits!
We request them all to dig deep through their reserves of courage and hope and amass all strength they can to stand up for, rescue or treat/get treated all those beings whom they love, respect and/or care for. There is no other way!
Because when that dog or any other animal rescued and treated with your efforts, expresses himself to let you know you are the best, you really don’t need to go around seeking a second opinion. Please remember that this world is a better and compassionate place all because of people like you.
On this day after Diwali, we wish all power to your elbow and all strength to the heart of all such people who carry on doing all that they love.
Hi..we are sorry for not posting any entries on this blog for the past many months. I had hit a writer’s block!
There were too many things happening and a lot of animal cases to attend to that took away the emotional energy that I require to write.
The heartening aspect though has been that we were able to successfully foster back most of the dogs that we attended to, tended to and got treated back to fitness…these were dogs with maggot wounds, broken legs, VG (Vaginal Granuloma)/Venerial Tumour, Pus Wounds and swollen legs, aural haematoma. Their stories and pictures are something we would share with you all shortly.
First things first though.
I am writing this post to share with you a very personal story that always springs back to our (me and my brother Vivek’s) memories every Diwali or rather in the days nearing it, as we start hearing the noise of bursting firecrackers around us, like in the time that I am penning this down.
The year was 1997, I was in Class 11, studying Sciences at D.A.V Public School, Pushpanjali Enclave, Delhi. I was 15 years old at that time, and every Diwali, my mother would pay an uncle of mine (who had his shop in Sadar Bazaar area of New Delhi) to get a box, or often boxes full of an assortment of firecrackers for us, which we enjoyed ourselves with.
But, that year, there was something unusual and uncharacteristic that our school did pre-Diwali, something I had not seen or learnt about in my 7 years of being in that school.
Our school participated in an ‘Anti-Fire Cracker’ campaign. At first I thought, that this campaign was the school’s way of teaching us not to burn fire crackers as burning them lets to our air being polluted and us contracting a host of respiratory diseases. But I was mistaken.
Under this campaign, we were distributed these little red stickers which had the following text written in Hindi.
“Pataakhe nahi jalaayenge, baal mazdoori hataayenge”
(which in English when translated would mean “We will not burn fire crackers and help get rid of child labour”).
Child Labour and Fire Crackers?? I was confused. What was this being talked about…I listened with intent and that was when I first understood that children as old or many years younger to me are employed by Fire Cracker factories across India to make fire crackers, the fire crackers that I had joyfully burnt in all Diwali festivals prior to that year.
While, we the fortunate ones, used our soft and nimble hands and fingers to write, paint and play, in many a villages in India, children like me were labouring to churn out fireworks working for more than 10-15 hours a day, contracting unknown health ailments in the process of making these tiring efforts to feed themselves and their families.
A guilt overtook my conscience that day.
We pledged not to burn fire crackers any more, that Diwali onwards.
The pledge of ours was further strengthened when my fellow classmates enacted a play themed on this subject of ‘Child labour and Fire Crackers’ at the first ever Delhi School Eco-Mela (Eco-fair), held in the lawns of Delhi Public School, Mathura road.
Friends joined in and we convinced our family to not force us to burn fire crackers either.
It has been 15 years since those days and we have been able to stick to the promise we made to ourselves and the pledge we undertook and not burnt a fire cracker ever since.
In 1997, there was no internet we had access to, and neither were there these host of news channels, but today there are many and despite ‘legislations banning the use of children for labour’, many a million kids continue to be exploited and forced to work in and for such fire cracker units even today.
Spare a minute to read one such detailed news article and watch through the news clips below and think a little before you pick up the next fire cracker to burn this Diwali.
Now choose your next step..