“Not a single creature on earth has more or less right to be here.”
― Anthony Douglas Williams
If one were to define the crux of animal rights, the above quote would be it. This marks a major difference between ‘Animal Welfare’ and ‘Animal Rights’. The seemingly semantic distinction, in reality goes further more into the position on morality regarding the treatment of animals. Animal welfare is the humane treatment of animals; while animal rights is understanding the fundamental rights of non-humans and their intrinsic value – to not be used, labeled, enslaved, branded and exploited. To end the exploitative nature of human-animal relationships, we proudly associate ourselves federating the ‘Animal Rights Movement of India’.
While the animal rights movement can be broadly categorised into ‘Animals farmed for Food and Clothing, ‘Companion Animals’, ‘Animals in Experimentation’ and ‘Animals in Captivity and Entertainment’, it is in no way limited by speciesism. It isn’t confined to raising our voice against the puppy flung from a building, rejoicing at the new dog breeding & pet shop rules, caring for the dogs and cows in distress on the streets, or even the gigantic task of getting ABC and ARV implemented. Animal rights activism is beyond and extended to also bring an end to every use of animals – the infamous dairy and slaughter industries, the experimentation labs, the confining zoos, the humiliating circuses. Backed up with logic and reason, the animals rights viewpoint goes on to understanding the vested interests of political and religious groups in the cattle market muddle, having the foresight to contemplate if the plans to build the supposed sanctuaries for cows are in fact, in the animals’ best interest. The animal rights movement of India exceeds the love for our favourite cat(s) & dog(s) in the locality, or the alleged worship of a certain bovine animal that is sweeping away attention – it also lends thought to the suffering of millions of other animals languishing in equally horrific conditions.
There’s no denying that the human-dog conflict, or the suffering of the birds and reptiles caught up in our modern cities, requires constant attention of the movement today. Fortunately, there are a large number of us who are working on rescue, rehabilitation, and care-giving, running helplines, and shelters, and hospitals and hospices.
But there is also a need to identify and urgently work on other issues that have been ignored for a long time. While we feed stray cattle, more and more cows are abandoned by the dairy industry to die (and we consume their milk); while we rescue street dogs, more and more bitches are kept in harrowing conditions for breeding; while we rescue birds caught in a manjha, a circus owner somewhere is cutting feathers off another bird.
Recognising rights for all can start with something as simple as adopting veganism – as an animal rights activist, to not cause suffering to one animal as we save another. It can also be broadened to work on the significant atrocities caused to animals in the field of dairy, slaughter, experimentation and the pet industries in India, and to be an active voice in the animal rights movement of the country-for all animals, unbiased!