India is a nation that is recognised for its ahimsa or non-violence. They oppose the ill-treatment of animals and their consumption or abuse. Despite this, many strays and other animals have been subjected to gory torture. The paucity of animal rights in the earlier years was a menace to our country. Reports have unravelled a daunting image regarding animal abuse. From being thrown off from rooftops to burnt alive, they have suffered it all. But with the enhanced awareness and befitting laws, the country has fashioned a securer place for animals.
Animal buffs and dog shelters have also risen to the occasion. They have helped relocate many dogs and cats and provided safe rehabilitation for them in needy times. They have petitioned various amendments to safeguard animals. Dog shelters have been a blessing in disguise, as they have served animals selflessly. Their philanthropic endeavours have helped reform the situation of animal suffering. Further, the constitution emphasises on being compassionate about living beings and harbouring a safe environment for them.
The Vedas propagated the teachings of ahimsa or non-violence towards all living beings. Hinduism regards killing an animal as an infringement of ahimsa and leans on the belief that it invites bad karma. Hence, vegetarianism is exceedingly commonplace in India. They also forbid sacrificing animals for ritual practices. Jainism came to light in the 5th-7th century BCE, streamlining its focus on ahimsa. They emphasise the sanctity of vegetarianism and take massive steps to conserve all living beings, including insects. Buddhism is much like Jainism and upholds its beliefs.
British India witnessed massive animal experimentation. It was the first time that they made an initiative in pursuit of supporting animals. Colesworthy Grant founded the first Indian Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals (SPCA) in 1861, Calcutta. They successfully influenced anti-cruelty legislation in the 1860s, which expanded to the rest of the country by 1890-91.
Cow Protection Movements had gained significant traction. Hindus led them to protect the cattle. Mahatma Gandhi also advocated vegetarianism. The first national animal welfare law in India was the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals in 1960. The law also prompted the creation of the Animal Welfare Board of India that ensured the enforcement of the law and its efficacy.
The Breeding of and Experimenting on Animals (Control and Supervision) Rules, 1998 has limited the use of animals for breeding and experimenting. A 2006 amendment identifies that experimenters must try to use animals which are the lowest on the phylogenetic scale. Subsequently, in 2013, the amendments banned using live animals for experiments. By 2014, India became the first country in Asia to place a ban on testing cosmetics on animals.
The country is battling with the overpowering number of strays. In 2015, they found 30 million strays on the streets of Bangalore and Kerala. There were incidents of dog bites, chasing, attacking and troubling pedestrians. Around this time, dogs were burnt alive and exposed to utter torture. The government has taken steps to increase awareness and glorified the importance of saving animals. With the internet sprawling contemporary lives and using powerful forums like Instagram, many abused pets have been brought to justice by the authorities.
However, despite the changing times and mentalities, animals continue to suffer a vicious fate.They treat severe punishments and offences at par with less severe ones. The amendments lack precision and specifications. For them to be effective, the severity under the offences should be made clear. The current rules enable the police to act on an offence only with the permission of the Magistrate. This is empowering the culprits to go scot-free. The laws should be more perceptible and give the police more autonomy.
The lack of guidelines is enabling the guilty to carry out more heinous crimes. By August 2020, (People for Ethical Treatment of Animals) PETA, Delhi requested an apt sanctioning regulation for animal husbandry processes. The petition advocates using anaesthetics before castrating the animal and replacing gory practices such as nose-roping with face halters and branding with radio frequency identification.
The laws have reformed enormously over time. But they lack potency because of being incognizant. It is crucial to address this complexity and eliminate the ambiguity. Animal welfare laws will only be a success when people exercise a moral compass and treat animals with dignity. All living creatures deserve consideration. Being voiceless, they often render animals paralysed. But with the increased alertness, people are acknowledging changing times.