Shouldn't the "voiceless" include animals?

Source : SIFY
Last Updated: Sat, Jan 18th, 2020, 03:56:06hrs
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Every year, as the country begins its round of harvest festivals, kicking off with Pongal and Sankranti, I'm acutely aware that sports that claim to celebrate the human-animal bond actually celebrate human brute power, draw participants and audiences who are driven by testosterone, and somehow find sympathy with the left-liberals for being a "tradition" of agriculturists, purportedly connected to the soil and its sons.

Those who hold placards claiming to speak for the voiceless are happy for the humans they consider downtrodden to oppress the animals that allow them to earn their livelihood. Regional chauvinism and egoistic machismo are branded as culture and heroism.

The Supreme Court delivered a landmark judgment outlawing several blood-sports that exercised extreme cruelty on animals, on the basis of evidence painstakingly procured by animal rights activists after years of investigation and risk-taking.

But all the camera footage and the verdict of the country's highest court counted for nothing thanks to a few politicians deciding to prioritise the whims of humans over the lives of animals.

And now, four years after mobs took over the Marina Beach and the IT corridor, television channels in Tamil Nadu are telecasting jallikattu events live on Pongal day.

This is particularly telling in a year when a billion animals lost their lives in wildfires in Australia, and yet preparations are on to cull 10,000 camels in the same country, because they are being driven by thirst to human settlements which are already dealing with drought. The Australian authorities' solution is to gun the parched animals down from helicopters, and it's anyone's guess how many will actually die quick deaths and how many will be left maimed. Perhaps the animals that perished in the fire were the luckier of the two groups.

If a country as sparsely populated as Australia cannot find a way to share resources between humans and animals, what are the prospects for India?

The ruling BJP has promised to save cattle, and banned the sale of large animals that fall under this bracket. The anti-BJP sentiment of the left-liberal brigade is often expressed as vengeance against cows and expressed gleefully with pictures of beef and beef-eating.

The pro-BJP elements inflict their share of cruelty on cows, making them involuntary "mothers", consuming their milk while depriving their calves, and feeding the leather and beef industry by encouraging the dairy industry.

For all their anti-Muslim rhetoric, leaders of the BJP and their allies regularly host iftar parties, at which goats which have been killed for the occasion are eaten. It might be useful to remember that the story Eid seeks to honour involves a man sacrificing his son, not his goat. The son was saved by the propitiated powers-that-were. These powers appear to have little interest in or intention of saving goats.

When even religion and culture are used as excuses to impose human dominion over animals, there can be no hope that nature will be prioritised over development.

When forests are cut down and the courses of rivers are changed, when dams are erected and highways built, it is not only humans who are displaced but entire ecosystems that are destroyed.

Across the world, awareness about the close link between animal life and natural harmony is rising and veganism is becoming slowly more widespread not simply to avoid cruelty, but also to reduce the global carbon footprint and prolong the planet’s life.

However, in India, those holding placards declaring their opposition to the Citizenship Amendment Act and the National Population Register are also holding placards demanding the right to eat cows and other animals.

In India, the issue of animal rights is confused with casteism, and the vegan lifestyle is branded "Brahminical".

It does not seem to strike those who confound the two that most temple rituals, which are also branded Brahminical, involve the abundant use of milk, ghee, butter, and other products of cows, which the animal does not produce for human consumption.

It is a pity that those who consider themselves "woke" only consider less-privileged members of their own species voiceless, when it is really every other species that speaks a language that none of us understand and is, for all practical purposes, truly voiceless.

With the same obliviousness to irony that sees printed books on celebrity climate change activist Greta Thunberg becoming bestsellers with no thought for how many trees were felled to produce the paper on which her exploits are printed, left-liberals have decided to leave animals out of the equation in their demand for equality.