Making Difference: One Step At A Time
“The question is not, Can they reason? nor, Can they talk? but, Can they suffer?” – Jeremy Bentham
Animals have been exploited by human beings since time immemorial and have been used and treated as a commodity meant only for serving certain purposes and then to be discarded and left on their own. What is lacking is the realization that animals are not a lower form and are not supposed to be subjected to slavery of humans. Animals have equal rights to enjoy their lives in peace and without being oppressed, the way humans have. It is to bring forth this realization among the students of IIT Delhi that the movie screening and discussion of the documentary, The Plastic Cow, was conducted on the 20th of February. For conducting the discussion, we had amongst us Mr Abhinav Shreehans from the NGO Fauna Police and Mr Rajiv Jain from the NGO Sanvedna. Both of the guest speakers have been actively involved in the field of animal conservation and animal rights.
The event saw a great turnout and a spectrum of audience from freshers to research fellows and also faculty members. The documentary, the Plastic Cow, showcases the extent to which plastic use has become a part and parcel of our lives in the modern times. It shows how much dependent we are on plastics and how the same plastic becomes a serious threat not only for the environment, but for the innocent cattle that consumes it. This plastic ends up in the stomach of the cows and since it can not be digested, it keeps accumulating inside the bodies of the poor animals. One cow, rescued and being operated upon by the Karuna Society – a body working for the welfare of neglected animals, had a whopping 53 kgs of plastic in its digestive system. 53 kgs! – more than what many of the students must be weighing – is the amount of harmful human discard that the animal was carrying. One can only imagine the pain the cow must have endured, leave aside the thousands of other animals who are unknowingly inviting their own death by feeding on plastic.
This sad state of affairs leads us to ask the question, why is the condition of the cow, the holy cow, so pitiable in the country that worships it. It is the hypocrisy of religious practices and the people that is also showcased nicely in the documentary. India is known as the holy land, the land of gods, the land of religion and the cow is considered a holy symbol. The cow is meant to be worshiped but the reality is that the respect and love that the cow should have is limited only to the religious texts and the false promises of the people. Cows are used for their milk and are fed or in some places, are not even taken care of properly even when they produce milk, and are later left to fend for themselves when they stop milking or are savagely slaughtered. The neglected animal, having no other alternative, takes to eating from the garbage dumps and thus ends up eating plastic, leading to a painful death.
There are people who have a deep sensitivity towards animals and who have taken steps to ensure their safety and make sure that they lead their lives happily, without it being cut short by a sad demise by plastic consumption or slaughter. But there needs to be a greater and widespread acknowledgment of animal rights and we all need to strive to ensure a better life for animals.
The audience was moved by the documentary. It brought forth the harsh realities of the times, hidden behind hypocrisies and false regard. It showed that every animal has equal right to enjoy a full life, free of oppression and fear.
The discussion saw active participation from the audience. The students were interested in knowing more about the state of animal cruelty and the steps being taken to curb it. The discussion was able to derive some fruitful conclusions from the entire experience.
In the end, everyone left with a better understanding and a deeper respect and regard for all forms of life and their claim to a better life.