1000+ animal protection activists at IFA 2022 urge Government for stronger action on animal welfare
New Delhi : More than 1,000 animal protection activists, organisations, and animal lovers came together to highlight key issues that need immediate attention at the two-day India for Animals Conference (IFA) 2022, organised by the Federation of Indian Animal Protection Organisations (FIAPO), held in association with The Dogs Trust Worldwide. This was the fourth edition of the conference, held virtually for the very first time due to the pandemic related limitations.
The conference identified seven priority areas where the government needs to urgently act, for the welfare of animals, as well as because of the urgent need to counter the visible global impact of climate change. They are:
On priority, tabling of the Prevention of Cruelty against Animals Amendment Bill and introducing strict penalties in cases of cruelty against animals.
Concrete improvement in the condition of housing, transport and slaughter of a chicken, including an end to battery cages
Clear policies and a regulatory framework to regulate aquaculture farms and improve the lives of fish
Strict implementation of Slaughter House Rules and action against illegal meat shops
Adoption of welfare measures to improve the condition of cows and buffaloes in dairies
No dilution of Section 43 of the Wild Life (Protection) Act, allowing the sale of elephants
Widespread recognition that adopting a plant-based diet is imperative from the perspective of animals, human health, and climate change
“On behalf of the animal protection community, FIAPO is submitting Resolutions based on the seven priority areas identified at the India For Animals Conference 2022 to the Government, seeking immediate action and collaboration between the government, animal protection organisations, and civil society,” said Bharati Ramachandran, CEO of FIAPO.
On IFA’s opening day, keynote speaker Dr Peter Singer – acclaimed philosopher and author of Animal Liberation, who recently won the Berggruen Prize (Nobel Prize equivalent in the field of Philosophy), set the tone with his searing talk on speciesism, stating that the use of animals, particularly in intensive farming systems, was morally indefensible, from animal rights, climate change and pandemic perspectives.
Various speakers, including Dr Manilal Valliyate, CEO of PETA India; Alokparna Sengupta, Managing Director of the Humane Society International/India; Gauri Maulekhi, Trustee of People for Animals; Shreya Paropkari, Sr. Manager at the Humane Society International/India; highlighted the horrific conditions that mark animal agriculture, from trait selection, housing, use of medicine, transport, and slaughter. The conditions are equally true for fish in aquaculture ponds, layer hens and broiler chicken, small animals in meat shops and slaughterhouses, as well as cows and buffaloes in dairies. Dr Yamini Narayanan, Researcher & Senior Lecturer at Deakin University-Australia, talked about caged hens exploited for their reproductive organs, emphasising that the female of both human and non-human animals are the most oppressed.
Dr Sailesh Rao, Founder and Executive Director of Climate Healers, spoke about the undeniable role of the animal farming industry in the rise of pandemics, the climate disaster, and the disconnection of global industrial civilisation from nature. The solution is for humanity to transition to a vegan lifestyle, a point reiterated by Shankar Narayan, founder, Satvik Vegan Society; Robin Singh, co-founder, Peepal Farm, and Prashanth Vishwanath, Country Manager, Veganuary India.
The conference also highlighted the plights of animals in captivity, in particular, elephants. The exclusive screening of the haunting feature-length film, Gods in Shackles, by award-winning filmmaker Sangita Iyer, revealed the exploitation of elephants used in temples and for festivities in the south Indian state of Kerala. Sixteen-year-old animal rights activist Nikita Dhawan delivered an inspiring talk on how she built a global campaign to free Shankar, an African elephant who has spent most of his adult life in isolation at the Delhi Zoo. Suparna Ganguly, founder CUPA and WRRC (Wildlife Rescue and Rehabilitation Centre), spoke about working with government authorities and policymakers, while mounting pressure campaigns, creating awareness, and garnering widespread support.
The conference concluded with honouring individuals and organisations for undertaking animal protection work and to encourage them to help them grow and strengthen their efforts. In addition to this, FIAPO has also announced a media fellowship to promote coverage of animal focused stories in the mainstream media.