Monday, July 30, 2012

Creatures and things we don't see, revisited

The author Vandana Singh left a comment on this post about human apathy towards other life-forms, and I thought it worthwhile to put it up here separately. Here it is - do take the time to read it.

My deepest condolences, and thanks for connecting to my essay.

I don't think the problem is specifically to do with Indians. One thing I've noticed from living in the US for a while is that often the same sort of attitudes or practices persist, but they are not out in the open. In India, everything is out in the open, such as animal abuse. In the US there are plenty of shelters filled with abandoned animals, some of them horribly abused (one dog I saw had been shot by his owner). My own dog is a rescue from some abused past that still haunts him.

I think, though, that the possibility that Indian attitudes toward animals has worsened over the years deserves deeper analysis. I can only present a hypothesis or two for what they're worth: consider the fact that my mother and many people from her generation who were raised in small towns or villages, still regard animals as ensouled beings who also have to live. Consider old practices that my mother still follows, of giving rice grains and so on to the birds or ants after you sort the grains. Consider that once India didn't have factory farms for meat, that once that would have been unthinkable, to line up animals in tiny cages so they couldn't even turn around, and subject them to unbelievable terror and cruelty – this is common practice in the US on a scale of millions of animals every single day, and is considered scientific farming.

Consider also the observation that the less educated, less westernized chowkidars actually are able to treat the dogs like fellow beings.

My suspicion is that we in India are in the middle of a cultural transformation, likely brought about by a) a colonised mind-set that compels us to blindly accept Western notions and paradigms without examining them, b) increasingly globalized consumerist culture that emphasizes I over we and therefore one's individual status and power and wealth over social good and environmental health. I've mentioned in my article naturalist Valmik Thapar's conjecture that the only reason why so many animals survived in India despite the population explosion was because of the Hindu attitude toward animals, one also reflected in other religions of the subcontinent – but in particular the idea that animals and humans are not essentially different and via reincarnation one can get to be various life-forms, so they are kin to us. One does not have to take this literally, or even be a Hindu to recognize our kinship with all beings, but one can see how this kinship might still exist among poor people who haven't had an expensive Western education/ cultural brainwashing beat it out of them.

Think about this: India's natural resources have taken more hits in the last two decades than in the 200 years of British rule. Think about how it makes certain corporations drool to see "their" coal and oil under all those forests. Isn't it easier to rape and pillage a land if the attitude toward animals and trees and forests can be undermined? And how much easier it is to do that when people are disconnected from each other and plugged into a global urban culture that is all about feeding the insatiable appetite for things, things, things? Undermining a love for nature and animals paves the way for mass scale destruction of the world habitat.

This might sound unduly portentous and melodramatic but sadly, it is true.

I suggest that likeminded people of all backgrounds rally together to make kinship with our street dogs, the local trees, the local patches of nature not swallowed up by our endless greed. I also have a lot of hope in children, who can make their families change their attitudes. Start a nature club! When I was growing up in Delhi, we did this with great success in many schools but it should work just as well in various colonies and apartment complexes.

In solidarity,
Vandana Singh


[Note: in a small way, this discussion ties in with the Mr Colpeper character in A Canterbury Tale – a lonesome crusader who has a strong connection with the natural world and is concerned about the relentless march of "progress" (though he is incapable of discerning between the good and bad aspects of a modern world). Perhaps one reason why I've been thinking so much lately about that very moving film]


  1. Anjali Lal Gupta9:49 AM, July 30, 2012

    Ms. Singh is spot on.

    I had been thinking on the same lines. Consider how people surreptitiously and sometimes not so surreptitiously kill a tree to make spots for their extra cars. Many would just like to hobble up any open space available to extend their flats in an illegal manner.

    I had done a story on the Niyamgiri Mountain some years back. That mountain is sacred for the tribals there. The Vedanata PR said something to the effect that most of such things are sacred to these people. Reminded me of a line from Avatar.

  2. Strongly agree with Ms Singh. Most people from our generation began disconnecting with the natural world when we were children, and we are passing on those attitudes to our kids. Most of us can't identify trees or birds or flowers, and as my daughter's school repeatedly tells us, what you don't know and love, you don't feel any urge to protect.

    Thankfully, speaking personally, we found a school for Ananya that emphasises these values, but -- and I don't want to sound smug here -- I don't know of too many other schools that do. They are too busy peddling their swimming pools and AC classrooms.

  3. Two more pieces I want to link to here - one related to this subject directly and the other tangentially. First, an article in Tehelka by Anjali Lal Gupta (who has commented above): No country for street dogs.

    Second, this piece in the Wall Street Journal by Tripti Lahiri, about the blinkers worn by the Indian upper-class (who often describe themselves as "middle class") in another context. Here's a passage I found particularly relevant:

    "If you’re driven to work in an SUV with tinted windows, furiously tapping at your Blackberry all the while or looking only at the business pages, spend the day working in an air-conditioned office building with few outside views, and then head home to a condo, perhaps it really is possible to believe that your reality is typical, rather than an anomaly to be enormously grateful for. Which is why, when programs trying to sum up India in an hour or two dwell on slums rather than people like you, you think they’re being unfair."

    I think it's self-evident that the people described above are the sort who think of themselves as entitled to do what they like with the planet and its resources - Vandana touches on that in her comment, where she mentioned corporations drooling about "their" coal and oil under all those forests.

    (Note: I'm not defending Oprah Winfrey's rhapsodic poverty-exoticising.)

  4. Let me confess I am neither a animal lover or a animal hater I am just a selfish human being. However I do not like to see ill-treatment or torture of any being. I am curious to know what you propose should be done by the society/authorities/individuals to deal with stray dogs especially in cases where they have mauled a kid or something

  5. Oddan: a dog that is violent enough to have mauled a kid is best put down - that's the practical thing to do (even if human cruelty is the highly probable reason for the dog having reached such a state in the first place). "Dealing" with stray dogs who are being looked after/fed/sterilised by individuals in the community is another matter. In these cases I'd say the priority is for people to educate themselves and their kids about how to conduct themselves around animals: if you can't bring yourself to show affection, at least don't be needlessly provocative or hostile, or work yourself up into a state of visible fear by seeing demons where there aren't any.

    You might want to go through this page sometime. And I assume you've read the wolves-and-humans post that was the starting point for this discussion.

  6. I don't know why there is a need to drag "imperialism" into every argument.

    Am referring to this line -

    a colonised mind-set that compels us to blindly accept Western notions and paradigms without examining them

    Also I don't agree that Colpeper is incapable of discerning the good and bad aspects of modern world. There is no evidence in the film that he is a Luddite. He has his eccentricities yes. But even those quirks are thought-provoking.

    It is indeed a sign of our times that we regard the "Glueman" as an abomination. But at the same time accept lustful foreign soldiers impregnating uneducated village belles as a sign of modernity!

  7. ...But at the same time accept lustful foreign soldiers impregnating uneducated village belles as a sign of modernity!

    Straw-man argument, Shrikanth. Who exactly is doing this "accepting"? Certainly not the people who would disapprove of the Glue Man's methods or the dunking chairs.

    Anyway, if you don't mind, can we take the Canterbury Tale discussion back to the relevant post? (Though I realise that the lines are a little blurred here.)

  8. Anjali Lal Gupta2:01 PM, July 30, 2012

    Thanks Mr. Singh for your answer to Mr. Oddan's question.
    I'd like to add the quote of a person working for animal welfare: "Dogs that engage in unprovoked attacks on humans need to be removed from the population by people qualified to know the difference."

  9. Ms. Vandana Singh has written well. In a city dwelling, caring for stray animals comes with its own challenge.

    I am in US and I would like to share my experience with a neighborhood 'cat-lady' who has taken upon herself to feed all kinds of stray cats. At any given time there are many cats on the sidewalk, under the cars parked on the street and some peering through her hedge. She also keeps constantly refilling a bowl of cat food that she keeps outside her home, but on the sidewalk.

    Her compassion for these stray felines is touching, but in a crowded neighborhood of New York area, its a nuisance. Car owners have to be careful when pulling out their car as cats take shelter under their vehicles. Kittens may even climb up the engine and the car owner may be unaware before starting car.

    So far none of her neighbors seemed to have complained as I have seen the number of cats grow over the past 2-3 years.

    Unless someone stops this lonely cat-lady (I haven’t noticed any male or female companion with her), I would not be surprised if some frustrated neighbor starts poisoning these cats to reduce the menace (I joke, but you get the point).

    The kittens are cute to look at, but here is a clear case of misplaced compassion and a person who apparently needs help with her obsession of caring for cats.

    City officials seems to impound stray dogs, but not the cats.

    I am an animal lover. But frankly, I, and am sure my fellow neighbors are overwhelmed by these cats.

    How does one address such a scenario?

  10. Anjali Lal Gupta1:46 PM, July 31, 2012

    Hi Mr. Ravi,

    You have raised valid questions.

    Here In India since animals lovers are very few in sheer numbers they take extra care to feed strays at a time when there is hardly any footfall and at a place that is not being frequented for that time of the day. This comes not only from a sense of not wanting to get noticed but also a sense of responsibility. There has to be a good balance between what animal lovers want and their civic duties. In India, anecdotally, because there hasn't been a wide scale survey, animal lovers try to remain out of view.

    Also many who feed strays find it imperative to get them sterilised and vaccinated. This way they help in reducing the number of the strays in their colonies.

    In the instance of the old lady of your neighbourhood, clearly she is too weak or disinclined to take up the sterilisation and vaccinations responsibilities of the stray cats she is feeding. Ideally the kittens could be given up for adoption.

    How about the citizens of your neighbourhood (I am sure there are also animal lovers among them) initiate a dialogue with the old lady, perhaps taking on the responsibility of sterilising them. They could even rope in an animal welfare organization and request them to conduct an adoption drive. These efforts would be more constructive than poisoning.

    I truly hope the matter is dealt with in a humane and sensible manner so that the residents, the old woman and the cats are all benefitted.

    Thanks and best wishes,

  11. Hi Anjali,

    Please call me by first name. The prefix 'Mr' seems serious and formal. :)

    Actually, the lady is not old. My guess is she is middle-aged (40s or 50s).

    This is a desi neighborhood, where she is a white lady. So there are racial undertones and she may not be amenable to reasoning by a desi (my assumption). We once tried offering some cat food to one of the cats and she snapped back asking us not to feed 'her' cats.

    Your suggestion of contacting the Humane Shelter or an adoption agency is good. Let me look into it.


  12. So true, Ms. Singh's observations. This is indeed the depressing reality. Didn't dare to read Anjali Lal Gupta's article as I know it's bound to be really distressing. I've decided to do what little I can and not think too much about what's beyond my control. It's the only way I can stay sane.

  13. Jai,

    I usually don't comment here though I love reading your posts, especially your reviews.

    First of all, I appreciate the concern and the work that you are doing to enlighten humans about the "other" living beings, which we mostly tend to ignore.
    That being said, I do not see a place for Tripti Lahiri's post here, and drawing a direct conclusion about SUV-with-tinted-windows-driving middle/upper classes automatically feeling "entitled". You do understand that many of those 'feelign entitled' people might be software professionals who come from humble homes, and were it not for the sudden boom of IT outsourcing, would still be there. So, a lot of these people grew up being 'close to nature' as you mention, before they got a taste of having more money than they needed to pay their monthly bills. I believe that link to Ms. Lahiri's article seriously undermines the impact of your post.
    Because it is so off topic for this otherwise excellent post and Ms. Singh's touching message, apologies for crowding your comment space. Ms. Lahiri's post seem to be written in a lot of angst against such people, and she seems to underline the fact that - some realities are more real than others. India, like every country, is a land of contrasts, and I don't see why I cannot take offense if an outsider just highlights the 'lows' rather than the 'highs' of a country, or, given a chance to explore a new country, would still stick to showing stereotypical situations which have stuck like labels to India. No, I do not feel offended when my grad friends in US comment about my 'good english', but to Ms. Lahiri makes a sweeping judgment when she says that I can speak it only because I belong to the "elite class". No, I can speak it because my parents sent me to an english medium school in a small suburban town and paid for it by letting go of other pleasures in their life. In fact, I have friends who went to free english medium schools run by the same company their fathers worked in, so they did not need to be elite to attend them. I am not saying that everyone is like that, and yeah, I am ranting here when it is your comment space, but I am tired of being typecast into an 'evil character' who drives around in AC cars, and is made to feel guilty and automatically assumed to have 'lost touch with reality'.

  14. Aparna: thanks for the comment. Maybe I did blur issues by linking that piece here, but I think the general point Lahiri makes about the privileged Indian is a good one - it doesn't, of course, mean that everyone who travels by SUV etc etc has become irredeemably cut off from reality (who has claimed that here anyway?). And I agree that sweeping generalisations don't help. But what I regularly see around me - and this often applies to people who come from humble backgrounds and make it big - is an utterly blinkered, self-aggrandising narrative-creation that goes: "I got where I am purely because of my/my parents' hard work/talent/initiative. Luck had nothing to do with it." This is a very good way of rationalising one's own privileges, of course, and staying sane in an insanely unfair world. But it does also have the effect of cutting you off from other people who never had the same opportunities - and therefore seeing them as inferior. (I've written about this in other contexts, btw - such as movie stars who dispense platitudes like "I seized the moment" - and I had a nice long conversation about this with Katherine Boo, who knows more than most people do about how poverty all over the world gets prettified/exoticised and triumphalist narratives get written about people who "pulled themselves" out of the muck.)

    Ms. Lahiri's post seem to be written in a lot of angst against such people

    Let's stick to addressing the argument instead of psychoanalysing? I'm sure you felt a certain amount of angst/personal indignation while writing your comment too. And I certainly know how I feel when - day after day - I hear about cases of people who live in big houses but have such tiny hearts that they abandon pets after a few days, sending their drivers (in their big cars) to leave the animal somewhere far away. We all have our honest imperatives and things that personally resonate with us.

    she seems to underline the fact that - some realities are more real than others

    I regularly roll my eyes at the cliched phrase "the real India" myself, but perhaps there is something to this argument if we are discussing the realities of the privileged minority versus the realities of the unprivileged majority (or vast majority), and specifically commenting on a case where the former is feeling offended that the latter are being talked about.

  15. One more thing, quickly... professionals who come from humble homes, and were it not for the sudden boom of IT outsourcing, would still be there

    Yes, and even if they were still in those humble homes, they would still be leading cushier, more privileged lives than a majority of people in this country (the people of Boo's book, for instance). When we discuss this subject, let's recognise the many hierarchies and gradations of privilege.

  16. I disagree with Vandana Singh -- if we truly 'blindly' accepted Western notions and paradigms, we'd treat our pets a lot better, and a lot more people would have house pets. Here in the UK, I see people board the bus along with their pet dogs -- it is freely allowed. There is a lot of outrage against people who are cruel to animals, there are laws for animal welfare in food production and experimental labs. Factory farming is a horrible modern innovation, but there are prominent celebrities who campaign against it and have raised a huge amount of awareness in the population so that sales of free-range meat, eggs, organic milk etc are growing (as is vegetarianism).
    And don't place the 'simple' chowkidar on a pedestal. When I was growing up in India (decades ago, when we were less Westernized), I have seen such men not scruple to aim a kick at a poor stray dog just for their amusement.

  17. Jabberwock - Have you reviewed Katherine Boo's book?
    I read a brief review of it in the WSJ, but never got around to actually getting a copy of the book.

    What is your opinion of what she has written? I have read 'Shantaram' and 'Maximum City' and hence am reluctant to read something that has been covered before.

  18. Ravi: the link I've provided in my comment is a review-cum-profile.

  19. Jai, that was quite a reply. As I mentioned before, the comment space for your post should NOT be a place to discuss Ms. Lahiri's post.

    So, I will re-iterate that I appreciate the sentiments, efforts and initiative that you and other are taking to help humans be a little humane towards non-humans (yeah, sometimes we need to be reminded about the name of our species and the adjectives that come with that name). Having grown up in a small quarter with a garden fence that was specially constructed to let in stray dogs (by my mother), and knowing that we need to cook extra rice so that they don't go hungry, or even get chapatis on the way home if we eat out anyday, and helping my mother and sisters tie splints onto injured legs and feed dogs boiled potatoes with hidden antibiotics in them so that they get well faster, I identify with everything that you had written in your previous posts.

    As for Ms. Lahiri's post, yes, I was and still angry at the insinuations that, quoting you, 'former (privileged minority) is feeling offended that the latter (unprivileged majority) are being talked about'. Because the term is not 'offended', the term is 'frustrated' that even when the outsider gets a chance to experience first hand the diversities of a country different from theirs, they still go in and show the stereotypes. That does not mean that the PMin are not aware that others exist, or the fact that they are in minority. It means that they want the outsider to take back to their country both sides of the story. So, the post seemed lacking in understanding about the motives behind the outrage against Oprah's "report" on India. And yes, Ms. Lahiri still gets it wrong about 'speaking good english'. Because when the firangs ask us about it, they don't always mean 'how can you speak english when you are such a poor country'. They actually mean 'how can you speak english when it is not your mother tongue', and they mean it in comparison to other Asian and European countries. So when it comes to narrating this part of the story, she misses the point. I could go on and on and pick more loopholes, but I guess as is with any point of view, they are always stronger when they are one-sided and the author always runs the risk of sweeping generalizations and stereotyping to make his/her point.

    I understand, from your comments that because you 'hear about cases of people who live in big houses but have such tiny hearts that they abandon pets after a few days', Ms. lahiri's post seemed to be connected to yours or resonated with you, but frankly, seen separately, they are not connected. And that post does nothing to add to your efforts, except provoke outbursts from a 'privileged but on the lower side of the grade and still loves and cares for animals' person like me (who probably is having one of those hormone-surged days to be writing such strong and long replies), and just add to comments to your post. Which I am sure you can do without.

  20. Aparna: no problem at all with writing long and strong comments about a subject that has come up earlier in the discussion (even if you feel it doesn't belong with this post). But I've tried to make my stance clear in my comment too, and I stick by it - having already said that generalisations don't help. And no, my angst doesn't only stem from hearing about rich people abandoning pets; as I pointed out in the comment, I have written scattered thoughts about privileged/apathetic people before, in contexts having nothing to do with street dogs and the natural world.

    I take your point about the loophole in the "speaking good English" question. I also appreciate that you feel strongly about the WSJ piece, and that on some level you feel personally attacked by it. But I don't think it contains the blanket condemnations that you are seeing. (If it did, I would certainly be jumping up and down too, as someone who belong to a similar stratum as you do.) To take just one example, Lahiri does say "Someone who is completely fluent in English is usually from a very privileged background" - I'd direct your attention to the "usually" in that sentence. (Personally I'd remove the "very" before the "privileged", but that's about it. And again, that is relative anyway. The people who sleep on the road outside the DDA flat I live in would be fully justified in thinking of me as "very privileged".)

    Like I said above, do feel free to continue commenting if there are specific points you want to make. But it seems there is a fundamental difference of opinion in how we each see the WSJ piece (and of course that is tied to prior life experiences, the things that resonate most with us, etc) - so I suspect this discussion will fade away naturally.

  21. Thanks Jai, agree with what you said.

  22. I'm sorry, jumping into this debate rather late in the day -- but I think there's a pretty glaring logical fallacy early on in Ms Lahiri's piece. When Indians get offended by Americans commenting on their 'good English', it's not because they believe everyone in India speaks good English and nobody should be surprised by this (as Ms L seems to suggest). I do think they are offended by how ignorant many Westerners are about India and Indians, and our complex, heterogeneous society. IMO it's that failure that puts people's backs up and not some blinkered, ivory-tower view of India.

  23. Shrabonti: yes, as discussed in the comments above the "good English" bit is not the strongest part of the story.

  24. I disagree with Vandana Singh -- if we truly 'blindly' accepted Western notions and paradigms, we'd treat our pets a lot better, and a lot more people would have house pets.

    Very pertinent point.
    Modern "environmentalism" itself is a "Western" notion!

    Just to make a point - The London of the 15th century was FAR more polluted than the London of today!
    If anything the much reviled Industrial Revolution has made the world a cleaner place, a more habitable place.

    So much for "Western paradigms" spoiling environmental health.

    Regarding Lahiri's "good english" remark - If someone were to ask me that question, my rejoinder would be that I am a very proud member of the Commonwealth and hence am expected to speak "good english".

    And it's not just the "privileged class" in India that speaks good english. There is a burgeoning middle class which speaks the language across the country. In certain parts of the country - TN for instance, the language is well understood and reasonably well spoken even in very small towns.

    To my mind, Modern India is not an "Oriental" country. Its institutions are anglo-saxon. Its pastimes are anglo-saxon. It is a parliamentary democracy (another anglo-saxon concept). Its urban middle classes have a healthy belief in the free market, faith in meritocracy, hope for upward mobility...I can go on. This is a society which has downloaded western values and hopefully will continue to do so (the way Japan did in the late 19th century).

    India simply isn't a China or even a Russia. Those are genuinely non-Western countries with their own paradigms of development. India on the other hand is a part of the Anglosphere. A part of the Western world. I hope people acknowledge that.

  25. A brilliant essay by Dr Kapil Kapoor -Decolonizing the Indian mind

    I don't agree with most things written in this essay!

    India at the dawn of the 18th century was not an upwardly mobile nation. It was a nation on the decline. A failed state so to speak. Imperialism (mistakenly referred to as "colonialism" which means something else) was the best thing that could've happened to India.

    Then after Renaissance God was replaced by nature. God was dead. They killed God. Then the opposition is to nature. Nature is very harsh — cold, permafrost. So, nature becomes the adversary

    Totally untrue Mr.Kapoor.
    The influence of 15th cen Renaissance on the Enlightenment is often overrated. Europe remained backward for a couple of centuries after the Renaissance. The "Intellectual Revolution" in Europe in the 17th-18th centuries was ushered in by all kimds of people (who just happened to be destined to change the world). Religious fanatics like Issac Newton contributed to the Enlightenment. So did farmers like Jethro Tull. These remarkable guys were not "athiests" that Richard Dawkins would like to have tea with!

    Also the Enlightenment led to an "embrace" of nature not a fight against it. The productivity of farmers improved manifold, epidemics were conquered among other things. Some Enlightenment figures like Jean Jaques Rosseau were self-proclaimed nature lovers. "Back to nature" was his cry. Whole new sciences like Zoology and Botany were practically founded in that truly wonderful era.

    The remarkable, yet misunderstood, Western civilization, is something each one of us should be proud of. The achievements of 17th-18th century Europe is a wonder of the world. It was the luck of the world that this great civilization was universalized quickly enough thanks to global trade, colonialism and imperialism.

  26. Eternal progress is the myth of the west

    This sentence from Mr Kapoor's "essay", is in fact, a myth perpetuated by those who love to loathe the West.

    Western civilization, which is now "Our Universal Civilization" as Naipaul once famously put it, believes in perfectibility. Not in something as silly as "eternal progress". These are two totally different things.

    In the history of most Western European societies, you will find that change has not simply marched with time. Progress has always been hard-fought. Debated by conservatives and liberals alike. The Call for change was never a dogma. In cases where "change" was driven by dogma, the "change" failed as it did in the case of the bloody French Revolution.

  27. do think they are offended by how ignorant many Westerners are about India and Indians, and our complex, heterogeneous society

    I just couldn't resist commenting on this line.

    Why should Indians feel "offended" about Westerners not understanding India, while we don't make any attempt to understand the West, despite sharing a language!

    The West (more specifically the Anglo-Saxon West) is unfairly demonised and looked down upon by every shade of political opinion in India (be it the Right or the Left). Misconceptions of the West abound among most urban Indians.

    Yet in our self-righteousness, we expect the whole world to "understand" us in our entirety - a totally unfair expectation given the language barriers.

  28. Shrikanth, dude, you're on a roll! I do agree with that last point you make about most Indians not attempting to understand the West. Though of course that doesn't mean one should not write articles pointing out the lack of understanding (in either direction).

  29. although this link doesn't talk about the same issue as your post it is related.

    what would you say about that? also isn't it true that Indian pet dogs are badly trained and that adds to others' fear of them...?

  30. Colours: many of us have been discussing that NYT piece on Facebook - it is thoroughly one-sided and alarmist, unwilling to examine any of the isues in depth and almost amusing in the picture it presents of a country being in mortal terror of armies of ravaging beasts. (There has been some very creative mocking of the story's tone on Twitter too.)

    Nilanjana S Roy has a response here.

  31. No developed nation as stray dogs. That is a simple fact. I cannot go for a morning jog on the streets of Delhi without being harassed by snarling dogs. I don't bother them, don't even make eye contact, yet I have been bitten (and had to take rabies shots).

    Jai, will you pay to sterilize all the strays of Delhi? How about vaccinating them? It is mostly the lower middle class who don't have access to cars that bear the brunt of this upper class hobby of feeding strays.

  32. No developed nation has stray dogs.

    No "developed" nation has anything like the population of poor people we have living in slums or under flyovers either. Feel like culling them all too?

    Both here and in Nilanjana's piece (and in the various other pieces that have been linked to), it has been clearly discussed that exterminating strays is never going to be any sort of viable solution as long as we have the garbage problem. But carry on fantasising that one can magically "cleanse" our colonies and streets of these "pests".

  33. Since you refuse to see reason till it bites you (or your loved ones), if the "poor people we have living in slums or under flyovers" bite me I can get them arrested. No one has tried so far.

    Ironically, it is precisely these poor people who are most affected by strays. Just cos India has poor people doesn't mean we should also have stray dogs.

  34. if the "poor people we have living in slums or under flyovers" bite me I can get them arrested.

    Similarly, in every case of a specific street dog biting someone that I am aware of, action has been promptly taken - the dog has been removed by the MCD. (This includes cases where highly exaggerated reports have been made about dogs launching vicious attacks on people - lies are spread quite frequently too, as I mentioned in the post.) By the way, I have had rabies shots plus stitches at age 15 after being scratched by a semi-domestic cat (in a situation where I made the mistake of briefly getting in the way of a cat-fight.)

    Ironically, it is precisely these poor people who are most affected by strays.

    Based on my interactions with poor people (and I interact with many, including those who look after animals in our colony - this lady, for instance), they have a much higher degree of tolerance for and understanding of stray animals - on average - than privileged people do. And their children usually learn much more quickly how to behave around strays than the sheltered children of middle/upper-middle-class people do.

  35. For every anecdote there is a corresponding example. In B 9 Vasant Kunj, stray dogs fed by residents (who lack the responsibility to actually shelter, sterilize and train them not to bite) have bitten domestic help and regularly poop in the stairwells. They chase people who come from another block for their walks and kids attending tuition classes.

    When the MCD was called and finally arrived, the feeders (not responsible enough to be owners) hid the biting dog only to release it after the van had left.

    Compassion is useless without responsibility. You sound like the irresponsible parents you (justly) ridicule here who claim their kids are perfect. The claims of a dog's non-biting nature can also be exaggerated.

    The number of stray dogs and rabies cases in India are shameful. I agree garbage and the vulture decimation are serious issues and would love to see them tackled but dogs are not suited to live independent of humans (they are not wolves), so we cannot have more dogs than humans who can take FULL responsibility for them and their bites.