Animals ought to have fundamental rights
Let us create a world where animals are not looked upon as a product, but something deserving love and compassion,urges the writer Shivanshu K Srivastava
We support animal rights. Show our courtesy for animals by liking the posts on social media advocating tender and good behaviour for animals. Even sometimes pretend to be a typical generous person by sharing the posts with friends and the world at large. Then, turn off the computers, pick up the keys and drive off to the butcher’s place to buy meat. I am not saying that you don’t have a freedom to eat what you like, at least as per the Constitution.
No one can devoid your right, but it’s a very debatable question whether the animals in India have a fundamental right to live or not. The hens are confined in very congested coops where they can hardly move. As soon as they stop laying eggs, they are sent to the butchers. Their infants are sent to the restaurants like KFCs and local dhabas to serve the non-vegans. If dogs and cats are ‘adorable’ and ‘loving,’ then why there is a discrimination for cows, pigs, chickens and hens?
Domestic ducks and geese like Mulard, a domestic duck hybrid of Muscovy and American Pekin ducks, are subjected to gavages (nutritional force-feeding) by feeding tubes in order to fatten their liver. Once their liver swells, they are sold and killed for making a dish called Foie gras (fat liver). These food items are not really needed and these killings are done only for the sake of food. The world has enough food resources to feed the humans but lust and greed know no boundaries in human terms.
Last year, the Delhi High Court had upheld that birds have a fundamental right to fly and cannot be caged. According to this judgment rendered by the Delhi HC Justice Manmohan Singh, “Birds have fundamental rights, including the right to live with dignity and they cannot be subjected to cruelty by anyone. They deserve sympathy.” As a novel law student, I will certainly file a PIL in a High Court once I learn some supportive laws and drafting, to advocate the animals’ right to live without being cruelly killed for food.
It doesn’t matter if people find it stupid, as it is said that there are just two ways to live life – Tolerate the things as they are or take the responsibility to change them. We should resolutely choose the second one. The culling of nilgais (blue bulls) in Bihar in July 2016 was so deplorable that it doesn't need any justification. The excuse given for this slew by the State government, the then environment minister Prakash Javadekar and the judiciary is so illogical that it mocks all the solutions available to stop the nilgais from destroying the farms.
We live in the 21st century and culling is only the very last option we have. The farmers can either opt for fencing around the farmlands or if it's unaffordable, then the government can give ordinances to relocate them to the forests. This problem is a result of our own rapacity for more and more land which has, in turn, brought the wild animals to the other side. This annexation into the forest habitat is the prime reason for this.
But whom are we punishing ultimately? They're those animals who have been declared ‘vermin’ out of our very own culpability. Not only Nilgais but the influx of other non-domestic animals like leopards, tigers and coyotes in human residential areas demonstrate that we really need to reconsider our development plans. The excuse given by some intellectuals that it will help in balancing the ecological balance is dim-witted because of the simple and convenient ways available.
Yet again, if the population was to be manipulated by slaughtering, then remember that humans are the first species needed to be controlled. Everyone is well-versed with the problems of the uncontrolled population growth, which is indeed a reason for many great problems of a country including unemployment and inflation. Single hydrogen or atom bombing, and a majority of a particular place’s population will be out of the frame. But it’s just psychopathic and inhuman; same is the case with the animals too.
Instead of nilgai, had they been simply 'gai' (cow), then a particular religious section would have come in protest of this slaughter. We care about animals only when their population decreases or we have a spiritual attachment with that particular breed. People feel prestige in supporting to save the tigers and calling themselves animal lovers; while pretending not to see these misdeeds over other animals. There must be an end to this hypocrisy.
If any problem occurs due to a large number of animals, confine some of them in the zoos. It will at least not take away their lives. Jungles are being invaded by the humans; zoos are nearly a safe place to keep both humans and animals apart, though it is not a necessity if forests are not disrupted. The ‘sacrifice’ of a goat on Bakr-Id is a result of another misunderstanding. Sacrificing means, both literally and as said by the Islamic scholars, giving up of bad habits and evils that one has in him or her.
It is similar to Holika Dehan as celebrated in Hindus. Slaughtering a goat and calling it a sacrifice contradicts the message of Islam, which states that “If you kill an innocent, you kill the whole humanity; if you save an innocent, you save the whole humanity.” Allah never said to kill a goat and celebrate its “sacrifice.” If goat really is a symbol of sacrifice in Islam, then we can plead our Muslim brothers to cut a goat-shaped cake in its place.
Concluding this, I urge more and more people to turn vegetarians. Vegetarian foods are not only good for health, but it also checks the animal trade and cruelty. Let us create the world where animals are not looked upon as a product, but something deserving love and compassion. Before becoming a human, we must focus on becoming humane. A life is indeed a life
(The writer is LLB (Hons) student at Lucknow University)