Harold Jaffe’s Dispatches from India – November 10, 2015

Animals Kashi

I am weary of being human
–Clarice Lispector

Among Hindus, the cow has a long history of veneration: it provides
milk, its excrement provides fuel, it is a gentle ruminant.
Lord Krishna in one of his manifestations was a cowherd adored by
the beautiful gopi, or cowherd maiden, Radha.
The cow is officially protected throughout much of Hindu India.

In Gandhi’s words, “The gentle cow is a poem of pity. She is the
mother to millions of Indian mankind. Protection of the cow means
protection of the whole dumb creation of God.”

Gandhi’s ahimsa, or non-violent compassion, has not worked for the
sacred cow.
Cows by the thousands wander the turbulent Indian streets, and in
every instance are underfed, with sores on their bodies, compelled
to evade the manic traffic and find rest and sleep in the congested
inhospitable streets.
They eat trash, they eat excrement, they eat the ropes that bind the
corpses in the burning ghats.
There are no more than a handful of official residences for cows,
called Goshalas, throughout Hindu India.

Other creatures, unvenerated, are in worse shape.
Hear the stray, starving, mangy dogs howl and bark everywhere in
Kashi all the night long.
The small, underfed goats which grant milk, hardly bleat, they are
silent, distressed, sidling along the ghats, needing to eat.
Monkeys gaze down on the blasted city—they scounge then scoot

As the Karuna Society for Animals, established in 2000, puts it:
All over India, animals suffer.
Injured by traffic, in fights, dogs with mange, female dogs with
emaciated puppies, abandoned donkeys, underfed goats, the
scorned cat—creatures suffer.

Attempting to control the dog population through sterilization and
even slaughter, as has been done in India, is a project to protect
people, especially tourists, from dog bites and rabies.
It is ineffective; dog population grows rapidly back to its original size,
defined by the availability of the everywhere garbage.

One hopeful recent project contained in India’s Prevention of Cruelty
to Animals Act on “Dog Rules,” specifies that the killing of dogs is a
punishable offense.
Municipalities are charged with controlling dog population by means
of sterilization and anti-rabies vaccinations to prevent bites and
human death due to rabies.
Rabies is not only a problem for humans and dogs but also for
cattle, goats, donkeys, sheep, monkeys.
To what extent Indian municipalities adhere to the “official” strictures
is another question.

It is best not to attribute domestic animal suffering to the obligatory
triage of an “underdeveloped” country, where there is scarcely
enough food and shelter for humans.
It is we who have rendered creatures unwild.
Love them, don’t abandon them.

The Wound Dresser writes:
If I could I would live with the animals.
They do not wage war, exile or murder the innocent for money.
They do not extort surplus labor for surplus value.
They do not exhibit overweening ambition, murderous bravura.
They do not use Skype or smart phones to have virtual sex and
whine about their condition.
A donkey braying in agony is no less than a billionaire banker.


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