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Gurgaon Speaks
Amit Chaudhery
Where is space for animals in today's developing society? 02 February, 2014
We live in troubled times. The world, as we know it, is ridden with strife and intolerance. In our own society, as traditional structures crumble and as the arrogance of new money emerges, many old values are being eroded.

Animals, unfortunately, are at the center of this onslaught. While they have always been persecuted and exploited, the abuse has increased exponentially. India, especially Gurgaon was always a deeply hypocritical society, now it has become intolerant as well.

Cattle were robbed of their pastures decades ago, as our greedy city swelled. The lovingly offered chapati too has disappeared as rapidly as dying love. Cattle now roam about freely on the streets of Gurgaon to eat new offerings: polythene and filth, to painfully, suffocatingly and slowly die.

The cow is sacred in theory and ritual, in practice she is abused. If we look around then we see all pasture and field have been converted into concrete. Cows feed on filth and garbage. The plastic they consume clogs their stomach linings and intestines, leading to slow, painful death after months of heavily distended stomachs. Speeding vehicles slam into these gentle creatures and they lie in blood to die painfully. They are regularly beaten by people at large and security guards across urban areas in Gurgaon.

As the city has extreme summers and winter, it affects the animals a lot. In extreme climate, they suffer the vagaries of nature. Calves are always torn from mothers, denied their right to milk. Now those who claim ownership, extract milk from painfully swollen udders, administering oxytoxcin injections. Male calves and older or sick cows are sold to India’s flourishing beef industry to further fuel our status as the world’s largest meat exporter.

Gau Mata (cow) is no longer holy, except in Krishna images. As strictures against eating animal flesh crumble, maximum capacity exceeding trucks transport live animals over hours if not days. To create greater space, their legs are broken, tied and they are thrust one atop the other in suffocating and panic-ridden journeys. Buffaloes, buffalo calves, goats, sheep, chicken. As for pork, Gurgaon’s ‘free ranging’ pigs are killed most brutally with electric wires and iron rods rammed down their throats.
 
Donkeys, who have built, and still toil at Gurgaon’s tony building sites, are worked to death. Once broken in body, are abandoned with festering sores. Monkeys, worshipped as Hanuman, and reverentially fed on Tuesday and Saturday, are a menace. Their forest groves are gone. They do not see recurring sunrises as weekdays on which to seek food or avoid people. Neither do they comprehend electricity cables. Innumerable monkeys die from electrocution ; many more from illegal rusted traps. The Langur monkeys, who are illegally tied to scare away the Rhesus monkeys, are the latest animals to be abused.
 
Dogs have always excited strong emotions: love or hate, fear or petting. We destroy them in roadkills or from violence by groups of people. Day old puppies are taken away from lactating mothers, tied in gunny bags and left to die. All because people do not wish to behold stray dogs. Pedigreed dogs fare no better. They are used in cruel blood-sport of illegal dogfights.
 
Neelgai, the Indian antelope or blue bull, is yet another victim of our unregulated and lopsided growth as are foxes, hyneas and jackals. Not to count several smaller animals. Expressways and roads cut through forests without any regard for animal migratory paths or underpasses.
 
New townships and colonies sprout amidst, and at the cost of jungles. Animals have no voice, no real rights and no say in their fate. They have no vote. Now, in grim finality, they have no status in a culture whose civilisational value has long been respect for all life, compassion, the concept of Karma.
 
A tradition in which all gods and goddesses are associated with animals and an entire race with the natural order. We now view animals as unsightly, regressive, exterminable pests. We deny their right to life, freedom and domicile.
 
But animals are as much individuals as we. Like us, they have as much biography as biology. And like us, are ardent followers of that great song of all life: pursuit of pleasure, avoidance of pain. This is a sad and very frightening view on a people for whom nothing is sacred anymore. And whose faith rings hollow.
 
(About the Author: Amit Chaudhery is a journalist, activist, and writer. He is President of People For Animals, Gurgaon. He is a nominee of the Ministry of Environment & Forests for animal ethics, and an honorary animal welfare officer for the Animal Welfare Board of India)


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