GANESHA IN BONDAGE PDF Print E-mail
Written by Rukmini Sekhar   
Thursday, 28 August 2014 10:37

GANESHA IN BONDAGE

Sunday, 24 August 2014 | Rukmini Sekhar | in Agenda


Elephants’ future in private captivity is now an exposed cesspool of ambiguity and corruption. If laws are not amended soon and fail to reflect the concerns of conservationists, wildlife enthusiasts, activists and well-intentioned public, India will lose the ground it has achieved in wildlife conservation and animal protection laws. Ganesh Chaturthi is a good time to take stock of the reality of captive elephants and give meaning to the festival, says Rukmini Sekhar

Ganesh Chaturthi falls on August 29, a few days from now. The rumble of celebrations for the elephant god will soon turn into a roar of frenzy. At the end of 10 days, the statue of Ganesha will leave each house to the rambunctious shouts of‘Ganpati Bappa Morya’ as processions wend their way towards the sea to immerse the elephant god.

But what is actually immersed is the liberty of India’s 4,000 elephants living in bondage. I write this article just before this festival to draw attention to the reality that the god we celebrate is in chains. This is a plea to demand the release of India’s captive elephants and take collective action to make sure that every elephant is free to be an elephant in its natural wilderness, never a slave to human masters. As well as to demand that no new elephants are captured from the forests.

A video went viral about a month ago. At the Government elephant camp in Sakrebyle, Shimoga district, Karnataka, an elephant calf was shown being beaten mercilessly by a group of ‘trainers’. The calf, wrenched from his mother who was watching by the side, had no idea what wrong he had done. The shocking video recorded the calf’s screams and captured the brutality on camera. When asked to stop, they replied between blows, “Yeh junglee janwar ko aadmi ke layak banane ka tarika hai.”(This is the way we want to make this wild animal fit for humans).

This savagery, euphemised as training, takes place in full view of the tourists who were visiting the Government forest camp at the time. Says Suparna Ganguly of Wildlife Rescue and Rehabilitation Centre (WRRC) and Chairperson, CUPA, Bangalore, “Elephant families have well defined norms, akin to a human society and an elephant’s lifelong attachment to its nodal family group is well known and documented. Elephants are gentle and patient teachers to their young. The youngster’s best learning is imbibed by watching their adult family members over a long life of nearly 70 years. They have a sense of self, recognition, disparate clan members, humor, play and grief.”

The cruel human interference in the disruption of families and herds by capturing calves for commerce, festivals and pomp, and thereafter their brutal training which is the fate of all captured elephants, destabilises the family structure of elephants and ultimately their survival in the wild.

Raju’s recent rescue on July 4 in Allahabad also went viral. Tortured for nearly 50 years, his shackles spiked, speared with bull hooks, malnourished and exhausted, he shed tears as his chains were finally removed by a team of rescuers from Wildlife SOS. Behavioural scientists have described elephants as ‘near persons’, so it was possible that he got emotional. Raju was probably captured soon after he was born and sold again and again. He may have had up to 27 owners. He was forced to work as a begging prop on the side of the road and at temples and often rented out for weddings, festivals and other celebrations. All the while he was kept in control with torture and starvation. He is free at last, but experts say it will take Raju years to accept human kindness.

On July 1, 2013, the death of 58-year-old Bijlee, the ‘working elephant’, made international news. A leading daily reported, “Bijlee’s owners forced her to work for 50 years by begging on the streets of Mumbai and Thane and standing at weddings, paying little attention to her health or diet. Injured by an earlier accident, she finally collapsed and died. Bijlee, who also suffered from obesity due to bad diet, degenerative joints and osteoporosis, was a victim of long-term and continuous neglect and abuse by her owner. The release of Sundar (nee Santu from Assam), who was abused in a Kolhapur temple, made headlines till he was finally relocated to a zoo.”

“Kerala tourism trumps Paris on Facebook”, stated a report in a daily on August 12, 2014. Trump Paris it may, but God’s Own Country rides this encomium on the backs of its hundreds of terribly unhappy captive elephants.

One of Kerala Tourism’s unique sales propositions is to flaunt and parade its nearly 800 elephants in various temple festivals. These are the ‘Devadasis’ of the Gods, dedicated to the deity in perennial bondage though no scripture or texts says that elephants must be an essential feature of a temple festival or any other ritual.

The season for these festivals is during the hottest months of the year — from January to June. A study by Beauty Without Cruelty (BWC) says that the elephants walk for nearly 12 hours continuously on hot tarmac for nearly 20 km a day and are not given the required 230 litres of water and 250 kg of food daily. They end up losing nearly 300 kg during a single festive season as they keep earning for their owners, mahouts and contractors at the rate of Rs30,000 to sometimes Rs1 lakh during this ‘harvest’ season. After all, they have to make good the nearly Rs40 lakh to Rs1 crore that they have spent in buying the elephant from North East India (illegally, of course), claiming that they were born in captivity, complete with fictitious certificates.

We are faced today with modern progressive consciousness and traditional exploitative practices. We have believed for years that the ‘tame’ elephant was a glamorous and necessary appendage for entertainment, celebrations and festivals. But the desperate and tortured lives of captive elephants are no longer acceptable to any progressive society. In 2008, the book, Gods in Chains, commissioned by CUPA and WRRC in Bangalore first lifted the veil of secrecy, confusion and lies surrounding the lives of captive elephants in trade, entertainment, tourism, festivals and commerce in India. Today, these gods in chains are asking us, the people of India, to play a prominent role in stopping captive elephant abuse as well as the Indian Government to re-enact and implement elephant protection laws.

How are elephants ‘trained’ generally? Simply put, through extreme torture and violence, which aims to do only one thing — break its spirit till it arrives at a state of ‘learned helplessness.’ The torture methods are somewhat similar throughout India. The dreaded bull hook keeps piercing their 107 sensitive points, mainly on the back, feet, head and anal region. A small spear is jabbed behind their ears to make them obey. And then there is the axe which cuts deep, resulting in chronic pain. Many mahouts have blinded the elephant in the right eye to keep them from getting alarmed by moving vehicles when in a parade. Diagonally opposite legs of calves are often spike-chained, one leg with a 20-foot-long chain and the other with a 2-foot-long one, and the chains are interchanged till the bruises, which initially bleed, become hard and calloused. And as if all this is not enough, there are always beatings and starvation.

So for every dart thrown, tug of war played, bicycles ridden, standing on their heads, jumping through hoops of fire, painting pictures, playing polo, ferrying and bowing down for tourists, travelling long distances in cramped boxes, performing tricks, begging on the streets, standing at temple festivals and weddings with the ear shattering sounds of musical instruments and crackers, wrenched from their babies, the elephant convulses with untold grief as it is first and foremost a wild animal right down to its DNA and not meant to be trained and tortured for human entertainment.

Elephants are long-ranging animals with no political borders. They roam over large tracts of land feeding in close-knit family herds headed by a matriarch along with uncles, aunties, cousins and grandparents. Who hasn’t been thrilled at the site of these gentle giants in their natural habitats, walking and feeding peacefully? But captive elephants stand in abject loneliness for hours on end, chained to their poles. Like dolphins and the great apes, they are group animals and loneliness makes them depressed and psychotic. Standing for long hours causes painful foot ailments because their footpads are meant for soft earth floors, not burning hot tar roads. They are deprived of a good soak in a water body followed by a mud bath.

Dr Joyce Poole, elephant scientist and advocate for captive elephants, says, “The complexity and depth of the elephant psyche is terrorised and traumatised by captivity. Captive elephants are often referred to as ‘domesticated’. Captive elephants are tamed, not domesticated. No elephant has ever or will ever be born that willingly adapts itself to a life of service to humans.”

So then, where does India stand in the light of all this? Ignorance, blind tradition, corruption, commerce, political clout, status symbolism and faulty implementation of the law, in word and spirit, have increased over the years.

The Wildlife Protection Act (WLPA) was passed in 1972 and amended in 2002. The Indian elephant was declared a Schedule 1 animal (like the tiger) worthy of topmost priority and protection. In October 2010, the elephant was formally declared a heritage animal. The amended law says that no animal born after 1972 can be domesticated or used commercially, but they are openly bought and sold including at the famous Sonepur Mela in Bihar. Elephants fetch several thousands if not lakhs of rupees in each transaction. Elephant traders claim that elephants have been born in captivity while the reality is that they are captured and sold illegally.

Elephants’ future in private captivity is now an exposed cesspool of ambiguity and corruption. For instance, Section 40 (2A) of the WLPA gives protection to all Schedule 1 animals, but Section 40 (2B) of the same Act nullifies it by saying “except for the live elephant”. What does this mean? We need clarity and amendment of this clause.

According to the Forest Act, only a ‘rogue elephant’ or a known herd of regular crop raiders can be captured with the express assessment of the Chief Wildlife Warden (CWW). He alone is authorised to give permission for captured elephants to go out of the camps for any reason whatsoever.

Surendra Varma of Asian Elephant Research and Conservation Programme says, “It has come to light that Chief Ministers, Governors and politicians are overriding the CWW and giving these permissions. However, according to the law, it is illegal to buy or sell elephants for any religious or commercial activity or domesticated for private ownership. But poor law enforcement allows for individual ownerships, which includes temples.” Further, Section 40(2) of the WLPA gives a window to the CWW to extend permission for the acquisition of elephants, the authority which has been misused by giving permissions for gift, loan, transfer, lease and many other terms — all euphemisms for sale in unaccounted cash for the wealthy and powerful.

Current laws need to be strengthened to prevent trading, buying and distributing captive elephants within India and to Nepal. Wild elephant calf trafficking is done under the cover of the WLPA, which allows CWWs of States to give permission to so-called ‘owners’ to send their elephants anywhere in India. This is neatly wrapped up in terms such as gift, exchange, loan, lease or donation to religious institutions and private holdings. This needs to end. There should be an immediate formation of care facilities and rescue centres for abused elephants which need to be seized from abusive owners or temple trusts. Management of such centres should be transparent and done through public-private participation.

Close monitoring of elephants in captivity in all States should be mandatory. Government Forest Campmahouts should have refresher courses in the latest developments in training and upkeep. Counselling and anti-alcoholism support for mahouts should be made available. Processions and exposure of captive elephants to crowds, noise and chaos to be strictly prohibited.

What can we the citizens do? Remember that elephants are not working animals and that their place is in the forests. We need to lobby and campaign that all the 4,000 elephants kept in captivity should be kept as elephants in forest camps or rescue centres without putting them on display or used commercially. And let us not participate in tourist rides, jungle safaris, circuses, temple processions, parades and games which involve elephants.

Let us give a real meaning to Ganesh Chaturthi.Rukmini Sekhar is a writer committed to ethics for animals. Email:  This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it (Research inputs: Suparna Ganguly & Surendra Varma)

 
PROTEST AT MINI SECRETARIAT GURGAON AGAINST SLAUGHTER HOUSE PDF Print E-mail
Written by Anando Das Gupta   
Thursday, 14 August 2014 19:12

Please Join:
WAH (Walk for Animals and Habitat)
JAAG(JNU Animal Activist Group)PETA(People for Ethical Treatment of Animals) PROTEST AT MINI SECRETARIAT GURGAON AGAINST SLAUGHTER
HOUSE : A horrifying story unfolding IN A CITY DISTRESSED BEYOND LIMITS FOR ITS ENVIRONMENT, WATER ,POWER, ANIMALS and AGRICULTURE.

DATE:21st August 2014

Time:11 am

Venue: Mini Secretariat ,Gurgaon

A bus would pick up participants from the JNU main gate to Gurgaon venue of protest on 21st morning at

9 am.

Contact:Manu Singh 9911089216,Ekta Khandury9312578787, Ankita 9899334662,Ravi Ranjan9999108727,Aimy Dhankar 9654304684.

 
Lawyer strips woman over dog in Gurgaon PDF Print E-mail
Written by Anando Das Gupta   
Tuesday, 12 August 2014 01:12

This is what india has become..a cess pool of animal haters..this GUPTA SHOULD BE HANGED IN PUBLIC.  Here is the times of india link and the article.

http://timesofindia.indiatimes.com/city/gurgaon/Lawyer-strips-woman-over-dog-in-Gurgaon/articleshow/

Lawyer strips woman over dog in Gurgaon

GURGAON: A 43-year-old woman, employed in the corporate sector, was beaten up and stripped in full public view by her neighbour, an advocate, and his family members, over an argument about walking her dog in a park adjoining Old DLF area of Sector 14. The victim has been hospitalized. Civil lines police have lodged a case against the lawyer, who is absconding along with his family.

The incident occurred on August 7 when the victim's domestic help Mohan, 18, was walking her dog in the park in the afternoon. The accused, A K Gupta, who also lives near the park, objected to the dog entering the park and hurled abuses at Mohan.

When Mohan tried to pacify him, Gupta picked up an iron rod and started thrashing Mohan and the pet, leaving him with head injuries. On hearing cries of their domestic help, the victim rushed to the spot and tried to intervene.

"When my wife objected to Gupta saying it was not his private road, he caught her by her hair and slapped her several times. Soon, he was joined by his wife and two daughters, who all punched and slapped my wife, and she stared bleeding" alleged Suresh Yadav, the victim's husband.



Yadav, who works at an automobile major, told TOI that Gupta tore her wife's kurta and stripped her. They hit her on her private parts and dragged her into their house, he alleged, continuing that as they kept thrashing his wife, one of Gupta's daughters took pictures of the assault on her mobile phone.

However when other locals gathered and a neighbour offered his wife a piece of cloth to cover herself up, the accused left the spot. "When I heard of the incident, I rushed home and took my wife and Mohan to a nearby private hospital. Mohan has been discharged. My wife is likely to be discharged tomorrow," said Yadav.

Expressing discontent over police action, Yadav claimed Gupta had been caught by the police the same day and later taken to Civil hospital for medical examination after he complained about chest pain. But he disappeared from hospital Friday morning. "How could he escape from police custody? Cops say they are conducting raids to nab Gupta and his family, but it seems there was pressure from the lawyers fraternity," Yadav alleged.

Civil lines police said that a case, under sections 323 (causing hurt), 506 (criminal intimidation) and 354 (assault or criminal force on woman with intent to outrage her modesty) of the IPC, has been lodged and police teams have conducted raids to arrest Gupta. As for the other family members, a decision on whether to arrest them will be taken after the probe is complete, said an official.

 
e-invite: Launch of DOGS! An Anthology of Comics, 7th August 2014 @ Oxford Bookstore, New Delhi? PDF Print E-mail
Written by Anando Das Gupta   
Tuesday, 05 August 2014 19:44

Dear Fellow doglover's,

Do come for this event .

I will be giving a short talk on Sai Ashram Animal Shelter and the proceeds from the sales of the comics will come to the animals currently staying at the shelter.
It's a great initiative and I would love to see you in person!
Warmly ,
Mudita Chandra
Sai Ashram Animal Shelter
30 Satbari Farms,
Gaushala Road,
Chattarpur Mandir Road,
New Delhi
Directions- Take a left from Daffodil Hotel,Continue to go ahead for 1.5 kms and the shelter comes up on your left.


Please do come for our launch, and do circulate widely :)

‘DOGS!’ is an anthology of comics dedicated to life’s canine companions. It features artists and writers from both India and the U.S.

Contributors:
Aditya Dipankar | Aniruddha Sen Gupta| Cristina Mezuk | Dyuti Mittal | Jack Zaloga | Jeremy Stoll | Mindy Indy | Orijit Sen | Patrick Goussy | Prayas Abhinav | Priya Kuriyan | Pia Hazarika | Shohei Emura | Vidyun Sabhaney

‘DOGS!’ is the second endeavour of Captain Bijli Comics, a comics publishing project based in New Delhi which aims to promote collaboration amongst comics creators and develop new content and dialogue in comics. Visit: www.facebook.com/ captainbijli to know more.

View previews here: https://www.facebook.com/ media/set/ ?set=a.697552353608860.1073 741826.465376016826496&typ e=3

Date & Venue: 7th August 2014 @ Oxford Bookstore, New Delhi.
Time: 6:30 pm.

Warmly,
Vidyun Sabhaney


 
People for Paws PDF Print E-mail
Written by Anando Das Gupta   
Thursday, 31 July 2014 21:09

From: people for paws < This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it >

Hi friends...I along with my friends have started with a group called People for Paws...we are based in Delhi and working very hard to give the stray animals a better life. We are college students and recently had our first campaign to help the animals in need. Please join us in our movement of spreading awareness and giving the abandoned pets a loving home. We also help in adoptions and other needs.

Also as we are shortly coming up with our official website, we would like you to share your experience and pictures as an animal lover. You can describe your experiences with your pets or any related matter to share with the world.

Send us your articles at  This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it

Your support will be appreciated.

Regards,
Namishtah Arora
People for paws
(A generous act. A benefited life.)
09711126416
This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it

twitter: @PeopleForPawsIn

 
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