A new book, History of the Animal Welfare Movement in Madras-Chennai by Dr. Prashanth Krishna, was launched at a special ceremony in India by member of parliament Maneka Gandhi, who discussed important milestones in the recent history of animal welfare and exhorted listeners to promote the concept of Ahimsā as it pertains to human attitudes about animals.
Ahimsā, or non-violence, is an essential part of Indian culture and is India’s unique contribution to world culture. The principle of compassion towards animals is an indispensable part of Indian culture. When colonialism hit India, there was a radical change. In colonial greed to convert forests into revenue yielding agricultural land, predators were decreed to be vermin and killed, Indian dogs were shooting targets, and cattle were considered useful only as long as they gave milk or pulled carts. The concept of the slaughterhouse to provide meat and leather came into existence. The Indian ethos of compassion collapsed.
Madras was at the forefront of the animal welfare movement. The intellectuals and humanitarians of Madras lent their minds and shoulders to bring about a comprehensive parliamentary act to prevent cruelty to animals and to provide succour for injured and abandoned animals. The book includes a historical review of animal welfare in India and Tamilnadu; the animal welfare movement in the colonial and post-colonial periods; and the contribution of Rukmini Devi Arundale, a woman whose call for compassion made her the voice of the voiceless. There is also an in-depth study of the contributions of the Animal Welfare Board of India, which was situated in Madras-Chennai till 2018, and the Blue Cross of India, which was founded in 1964 and has pioneered Trap/Neuter/Return of street dogs.
The book’s foreword is written by Australian philanthropist Philip Wollen, who has been instrumental in the growth of the Indian animal rights movement. Said Wollen, “India’s success in the Animal Protection space will not happen in a spectacular fashion. The change will be slow, despite the herculean efforts of activists to accelerate the process. And there will be no seminal event that shows we have succeeded. But, as Prashanth’s book has described, we have made a good start. Our victory will not be seen on television. But as Lech Wałęsa, the Polish statesman, dissident, Nobel Peace Prize laureate, and President of Poland wryly observed: ‘The fall of the Berlin Wall made for nice pictures. But it all started in the shipyards’. The wall of animal cruelty in India will be torn down. And it all started in the shelters.”
History of the Animal Welfare Movement in Madras-Chennai, published by CPR Publications, is available on Amazon.