Mahatma Gandhi once rightly said, “The greatness of a nation is judged by the way it treats its animals.” The history of the movement in the context of protecting the rights of animal dates back to the 3rd century when Ashoka explicitly banned the killing of any animal in his kingdom. The Independent India consists of Acts and Laws for the protection of animals from cruelty. They are backed up with punishment and fines for the better obedience. But to take the culprits and the crime to the eye of law is in itself a difficult task.
But in today’s competitive world, no heed is paid to basic morals and ethos and in a rat-race to earn more and easy money, animals become the target. They are exploited since they are mute spectators and are incapable of raising their voice against these cruelties.
It is a common sight to see crudely castrated bulls pulling carts full of huge loads and being whipped repeatedly if it stops on the way. People pelting stones at dogs and cats out of fun and how to forget, all the ‘taming’ contests, fights and cart races where animals like bulls, cows and hens are treated as if they are just playful objects. In this world of modernization and development people are slowly losing their ethos and morals not only towards each other but towards these innocent animals as well.
You may have found full grown adults stoning and harming stray dogs, shooting innocent birds and leaving completely harmless animals to starvation and death, or seen companies illegally experimenting their products on animals, animals being mistreated and harmed for entertainment in zoos and parks, men carrying an unimaginable number of cattle in a cart or truck, beating them and overloading them, and wondered if there is an end to this cruelty regime. There is only so much that a person can do for protection of animals in the absence of laws. India has a fair repertoire of animal protection laws that, with certain amendments can completely change the scenario of how animals are treated in India.
A very recent incident from Kerala which is also called as the heaven on earth clearly shows that there is no humanity left in Humans. They have reached a different level of brutality.
There was a Pregnant Elephant entered into a village Pathanapuram searching for some food. She was offered a Pineapple which was apparently stuffed with powerful crackers. The moment she ate the pineapple exploded in her throat. The pregnant wild elephant in Silent Valley Forest had fallen victim to an act of human cruelty on May 27,2020. The officer said the elephant was found in a serious condition from the fringe areas of the forests in Pathanapuram by forest officials in the month of April.
The question arises that what are her rights? Will the culprit get punished?
The Constitution of India
It recognizes the lives and welfare of animals by making it a fundamental duty of the citizens of India to respect and treat all living creatures with compassion. Animal rights are protected under the Constitution of India. Article 51A(G) makes it a fundamental dutyupon every citizen of India to protect wildlife and have compassion for all living creatures. It states, “It shall be the duty of every citizen of India to protect and improve the natural environment including forests, lakes, rivers and wild life, and to have compassion for living creatures.”
- According to Article 48, the State has the duty to organize agriculture and animal husbandry on modern, scientific lines and to take steps for preserving and improving breeds, prohibiting slaughter of cows and calves and other milch and draught cattle.
- Article 48A provides that the State also has a duty to protect, safeguard and improve the forests and wildlife of the country.
- In List II (State List), Seventh Schedule, it is provided that the State has the power and authority to: Preserve, protect and improve stock and prevent animal diseases, and enforce veterinary training and practice.
- In List III (Concurrent List), it is provided that both the Centre and the State have the power and authority to: (Clause 17) Prevent cruelty to animals, (Clause 17B) Protect wild animals and birds.
- Under the Eleventh Schedule (Article 243 G), the Panchayati Raj institutions have the duty and authority to deal with matters relating to: Animal husbandry, dairying and poultry and Fisheries
Prevention of Cruelty to Animals Act
The Prevention of Cruelty to Animals Act enacted in 1960 is with the objevtive to prevent the infliction of unnecessary pain or suffering on animals and to amend the laws relating to the prevention of cruelty to animals. After the enactment of this Act, the Animal Board of India was formed for the promotion of animal welfare.
The Wildlife Protection Act
The Government of India enacted Wildlife (Protection) Act 1972 with the objective to effectively protect the wild life of this country and to control poaching, smuggling and illegal trade in wildlife and its derivatives. Punishment and penalty for the offences under the act have been made more stringent by an amended in January 2003. It has been proposed to further amend the law by introducing more rigid measures to strengthen the Act.
The cruelty animals go through often: –
Cosmetic testing on animals: Animals are poisoned and killed in barbaric and cruel tests that attempt to test the dangerous effects of consumer products and their ingredients. To measure toxic effects, different animals like mice, guinea pigs, rabbits, and other animals are forced to inhale massive quantities of a test substance. Even after it has been established that tests on animals are incapable of predicting the results of human skin and body and the availability of testing methods without the use of animals, there is a continuance of such heartless practice.
Neglect of stray dogs after the procedure of birth control: There is an urgent need to amend the Animal Birth Control (Dogs) Rules enacted in the year 2001 as under these rules animal organizations after the completion of animal birth control surgeries, which is basically sterilizing and vaccinating them do not provide any special treatment and release them in the area from where they were picked.
Keeping animals in battery cages: India is the third largest producer of eggs and around 70% of eggs comes from commercial poultry farms. Section 11 (e) specifically talks about the space which an animal should get, but the cages are very congested, and it does not allow the right to movement of animals, meaning thereby to contradict the act clearly.
The cruelty on elephants: The plight of elephants in our country is shameful. On one side they are forced to perform dangerous stunts in circuses but even then, no proper care is taken. On the other hand, captive animals are used for tourist purposes. But in 2013, the Animal Welfare Board of India has banned the registration of animals for such purposes.
Animals are a major part of the environment. To protect the rights of animals is must to every human in the environment. Animal rights are also known as “Animal Liberation”, meaning that the most basic interests of non-human animals should be treated the same way as the similar interests of human beings.
I agree with Utilitarian approach, which states that animal ethics should be morally considered. It means that this is the duty of humans to protect animal rights. If a community is rejecting animal rights it suffering from ‘speciesism’, which means the community is following racism and is sexiest. Animals are voiceless but are still an important part of our Ecosystem and hence, we being human blessed with voice should raise our voices for them and there rights against the culprits and make sure they are behind the bars for whatever they did to the innocent animals.