Cruelty to Animals: Animal Welfare in India

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Animal abuse is a chief social issue affecting animals, families, and communities. It includes physical, sexual, emotionalabuse, staging animal fights, cruelty and inhumanity towards animals. In India, cruelty to animals is a major concern which Indians are not taking any responsibility for. Over 24,000animal cruelty cases are reported in India in the last 3 years: Govt (Times of India, 2016). From 2011 to 2016, 19028 cases of animal abuse were reported in the Indian city of Mumbai (Bombay Society for prevention of cruelty to animals, 2017). 100 dogs killed, stealthily buried in a village in Chennai India (The Hindu, 2016).

It is occurring around India due to the lack of public awareness, poor public veterinary facilities, inadequate or stringent rules for the protection of animal rights and the minimum penalty for the violation of law. Moreover, there are numerous laws in India that were established to safeguard animals and stop cruelty towards them but very few are aware of what they are and how they work. India is facing certain barriers for implementing these laws such as high cost for higher welfare standard and dearth of resources.

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Majority of animals including domestic as well as wild animals are affected with this issue, since ages. Cats and Dogs seem to be the most abused animals. Animal cruelty begin in India from the ancient times. Of course, animal fighting is only one of the many types of animal cruelty and each has different history and timeline. For instance, kambala, buffalo race in Karnataka which is a 300-year-old sport, cockfight, bear and monkey dance to name but a few.

Our leader and her community demonstrate High context and Formal forms of intercultural communication. She built trust among people by her valuable contribution to both women, child and animal welfare sectors via working with various groups. For example, she founded a group called People for Animals’, which works all over India with the unity of likeminded people. The Organization aims to build hospitals for animals and the prevention of cruelty towards animals.

She formulated and implemented strict rules and regulations while she was the Union minister and encourage people to follow such rules. , on her work for women and child welfare, she formulated a set of rules to ensure the safety of children staying in Hostels. Maneka Gandhi said 'we decided to formulate a set of guidelines to ensure adequate safety, minimum standards of living conditions and periodic inspections at hostels' (NDTV, 2018).

Maneka was born on august 26,1956 in New Delhi, India. She is a graduate from Lady Sri Ram college and later at Jawaharlal Nehru college, New Delhi. Her interest was in Politics and animal welfare activities. she is a well-known animal right activist. She started a political party called Rastriya Sanjay Manch (1983- 1988). She became minister for women and child development in 2014 in Narendra Modi government. She is the founder of an organization People for Animal which is the largest organization in India for animal welfare and animal rights. Maneka Gandhi has led the way for social and legislative reforms and has played a key role in bringing the issue of animal rights to the fore front. She won various accolades, like PraniMitra award (1996), International Women’s Association’s Women of the year (2001), Environmentalist and vegetarian of the year (1994), Life time Achievement award by Venu Menon Animal allies foundation(1999) .She was honored with Lord Erskine Award from the Royal Society for the prevention of cruelty against animals.

She demonstrated democratic style of leadership, her leadership style is evident from her active role in Indian democracy and politics as well as her efforts to safeguard animals through her animal welfare activities. She is a member of Lok Sabha, the lower house of Indian Parliament and a member of Bhartiya Janata Party, a prominent democratic political party which follows a participate leadership style.

Strong democratic leaders inspire, trust and respect among followers. While she was the Minister for women and child development, Maneka Gandhi set up a four-member committee panel for handling complaints of sexual harassment which arises during the ‘Me Too campaign’. Gandhi said 'I believe in the pain and trauma behind every single complaint. Cases of sexual harassment at work must be dealt with a policy of zero tolerance' (India Today, 2018, para. 3). This activity increases Maneka Gandhi’s faith and respect among women and children.

In democratic leadership style all activities and decisions are based on their morals and values, for example Maneka Gandhi once said “Every single animal brings to us life, we don't give it life. If you remove them, you will lose all your trees, you will lose all your flowers and you will lose your biodiversity” (The Economic Times, 2019, Para. 3). This single statement from her shows that she considers animals as equally important as humans and value them surely deserve to live their lives free from suffering and exploitation.

The four leadership practices that Maneka Gandhi demonstrates which relates to our problem are:

1. Model the Way

Leaders model the way by setting an example. They can motivate, inspire or teach the world by demonstrating their vision through words and actions. Maneka, not only known as Indian politician but also a known environmentalist got a blessed quality of understanding, acknowledging feelings and values of humanity along with affectionate to animals. Besides this, she is clear about the guiding principles as well as she has her own voice in bringing the issue of animal cruelty to the forefront. Therefore, Maneka encourages others to follow her guiding spirit by setting an example. She caught the attention of people recently by saving an injured Monkey, and act immediately after seeing a news on twitter. Maneka Gandhi quickly responded after she found that she was tagged by someone asking help for an injured monkey. She responded with in an hour.'Thank you for tagging me, I am sending a car right now to have him send to Sanjay Gandhi Animal Care Center for treatment. The car will be there in few minutes 'she posted (Times of India, 2019, para.3).

Moreover, Maneka also stood up for children’s rights, Domestic violation act and several activities for gender equality. These heartening thoughts and behavior made her as a good model.

2. Encourage the Heart

Leadership has no purpose if there is no relationship between leaders and the people, in the simplest sense of heart. Leaders are passionate about what they are doing and contribute individually for the success of the project. Maneka Gandhi said once that 'treating animals is more important than having something on the wall” .Maneka Gandhi is selling her rare mica art collection for her true love - Animal welfare to raise money for the animal hospitals under her organization -people for animals (Hindustan Times, 2018,Para.1 ).Through this activity she endorsed the heart of many people and proved the ways to treat animals with respect and care. Rather than emphasizing on fame and profit, she focused on animal welfare.

She received Shining World Compassion Award including an amount of US$20,000 as a proof of her love for humanity, animal friends and thus planet shines because of her actions. Following the ceremony of award receiving , on behalf of Ms. Gandhi, one of her trustees wrote a thanks giving letter stating this.'Accordingly , Ms Maneka Gandhi has transferred the entire amount of US$20,000 to the non- profitable charitable trust that she heads, People For Animals to be solely used for the benefit of animals and the environment. We should be most grateful to receive your blessings for this work' (Shukla A, 2010).

3. Enable Others to Act

Enable others to act is by fostering teamwork, collaboration, trust and strengthening others to achieve the goal. Maneka has the quality to encourage other people in order to act against social evil. She as an animal right activist, legalized to end cow slaughter as well as banning zoos across the country during the time of her ministry. Maneka pleaded for a nation-wide protest to stop slaughtering of cows. Furthermore, she alleged that zoos need to be closed and are not for entertainment and seem to have an anti-social element. She described zoo as a hell on earth and suggested people to watch discovery television channels rather than going to zoos. Because of her collective activity a law passed by The Ministry of Environment and Forests to ban cattle sale and purchase for slaughter in the year 2017.She enacted strict rules for supervising the slaughter houses to make sure that no animals are bought for slaughter, but they can be derived from farms so that health safety can be guaranteed. Via her actions large number of illegal slaughterhouses were closed and people ought to follow her rules for running slaughterhouses, thus reduced zoonotic diseases like anthrax. Her perspective is that humans ought to provide fairness to animals and people equally.

Union minister Maneka Gandhi today said the new rules banning sale and purchase of cattle from animal markets for slaughter would ensure that the bovines are not ill- treat (The Economic Times, 2017, para. 1).

4. Challenge the Process

Leaders lead others to greatness, seek and accept challenges. Leaders always find a different and creative ways in doing things in order to grow and improve and challenge the status quo and question the existing norms. Maneka Gandhi said “Customs that are retrograde and cost unnecessary cruelty to animals and humans must be avoided”. There is no justification for so many poor people and animals getting injured and dying every year during events such as Jallikattu” (The Week, 2017, para. 3). Maneka is dynamic to convey her views in facing issues and she questions any form of sport which cause harm to animals even if it’s a part of culture.

Jallikattu, a traditional and popular bull-chasing sport which is organized during the harvest festival Pongal. It was challenged by Maneka for the ethical treatment of animals. She advocated and led ‘People for animals’ for the opposition of jallikattu. Even though there was heavy disagreement from local people against her views since it is a part of their culture to celebrate Pongal, she collaborated with other animal welfare organizations to support the prohibition of this ancient sport. They alleged that behind a game, bulls are being hurt in many ways such as twisting their tails and consuming alcohol to provoke them in order to win the competition. Eventually due to the collective objection from animal lovers Supreme court banned jallikattu in 2014 embracing that this sport is really a brutality to bulls, also declared this as an offense under the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals Act. However, the government issued an order lifting the ban by enforcing stringent rules and regulations to avoid harm to these bulls during the sport in 2017.

The main allegations she faced during the journey of animal welfare is regarding the stray dogs. As per Indian law, stray dogs are supposed to be sterilized and injected with Anti- rabies vaccine and to be set free where they live. Since Maneka loves animals she was against this law which results in the rise of death due to rabies infection. Many incidents emerged, for example, small children were attacked by the stray dogs and it led people to run campaign against her and her movement, to protect stray dogs. “Maneka Gandhi’s Human rights more animal centric’’(Varma, 2015). Maneka Gandhi failed to succeed in her stand against the sterilization of stray dogs due to objection from people. An appropriate suggestion to overcome this issue would be the domestication of stray dogs, birth control measures and implementation of regular vaccine.

Maneka Gandhi urged people to follow vegetarian diet in order to save animal lives, this was against certain religious practices and diets. During religious festivals in India, where they practice slaughtering animals for meat. 'Everything about every part and organ of human body is vegetarian. When we put and alien substance like meat into the human body, we become prone to diseases'(Gandhi, 2017). Major festivals are associated with their regional/traditional belief and practices, which they were observing it from long time back. As a result of her efforts, many slaughter houses were shut down in various parts of India, ending a majority of illegal slaughtering.

'I don’t understand their lust to kill animals said by Maneka Gandhi” (Ganesan, 2016). Maneka has criticized the environment ministry’s recent decision to declare some animals as vermin. In certain states of India like Himachal Pradesh, Goa, and West Bengal, state governments gave permission to kill certain animals such as monkeys, peacock and elephants that destroy crops and possess harm to human life. So, there was an intense pressure against Maneka Gandhi to support the state government policies of declaring animals as vermin. Meneka suggested that government must think twice before approving the projects which damage forests and they must work with farmers in developing some solutions such as fencing the farmland, noise makers, planting chili plants to repel them.

Even though, India, a developing nation with strong political, hierarchical bias and male chauvinism, she came forward from a politically famous ‘Gandhi’ family she has been successful in designing a unique identity because of her outstanding effort towards her goal.

Maneka was successful to a great extend in saving animal life throughout India. She led an unbeaten life in which she made others to rethink their cultures, traditions, lifestyle, behaviors and attitudes related towards animals. Remodeling an entire system or the judiciary matters in a nation is not easy, but minor changes in the legislations will gradually promotes to a positive outcome. As a result of her animal welfare works and campaigns, people became more aware of animal rights, regulations, hence cruelty to animals in India subsided. Menaka Gandhi drove an anti-animal sacrifice campaign that ends the tradition of sacrificing animals at Bhukal Kalinka Temple in India. The victory encouraged Maneka Gandhi to continue the campaign, and a dozen of other temples in the country stopped animal sacrifice.

Menaka Gandhi encouraged developments in animal welfare sector by influencing and working with various groups. She brought strong restrictions for transportation of livestock. She made movements to stop illegal transportation of animals and introduced special trucks with welding cages inside them to prevent overloading. Moreover, her activities resulted in the reduction of illegal export and smuggling of animals. Minister of animal care in India ordered a ban on all animal experiments at Pune - based National Institute of virology as a result of effort by Menaka Gandhi.

'I am grateful to Union minister Harsh Vardhan,for formulating and publishing the pet shop rules 2018,which will act as a major deterrent to animal cruelty in trading of pets Maneka Gandhi tweeted ( Press Trust Of India, 2018, Para.4). As a result of work by Maneka Gandhi’s peoples for animals, a stringent rule (Prevention of Cruelty to Animals) came in to act emphasizing banning the sale and purchase of cattle from animal market for slaughter. Considering a social and judicial impact, Menaka Gandhi was successful in reducing the suffering of animals by urging Indians to ditch dairy and the pharmaceutical industry to replace gelatin capsules with plant-based versions. She successfully led the legislative initiate to require stringent punishment for transporting chickens in battery cages throughout India (Cappiello , 2017).

Maneka succeeded not only in animal welfare activities but also in creating a new division for women safety, bringing attention to their problems, gender equality. Overall, she won to catch the heart of others and motivated all the Indians to consider animals as a living creature, with humanity. She is continuing her service to promote women empowerment and animal safety and welfare in India.


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  2. Wildlife & City: PfA has rescued 61 slender loris in Bengaluru, says Maneka Gandhi. (2019, September 29) The Economic Times. Retrieved from
  3. WCD Ministry to Formulate Guidelines for Children's Hostels. (2018, December 05) Retrieved from
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  8. Pet shops rules will act as major deterrent to animal cruelty: Maneka Gandhi. ( 2018, September 18) Business Standard. Retrieved from
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  11. ‘lust for killing animals' irks Maneka. (2016, June10) The Pioneer. Retrieved from
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  13. Monkey Declared Vermin in Himachal Pradesh. (2019, February 25) Insights. Retrieved from
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