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I meet so many mothers who won’t let their children walk barefoot

I meet so many mothers who won’t let their children walk barefoot in the house or the park, won’t let them touch snails, won’t let them grasp mud or go out in the hot rain of the monsoon, won’t let them near any animals and refuse to keep a pet because it might bring in bacteria. Their children wear socks throughout the year, have no idea what a plant is, apart from the cut flowers they see in vases at home.

And they are sicker than most children.

For decades paediatricians warned mothers that if they wanted their children allergy free they should keep animals out of the house.

By the early 2000s, a number of studies showed the opposite - that exposure to pets in the very early stages of life  confers protective benefits and prevents the development of allergic rhinitis, asthma and eczema. Of the nine studies analyzed in 2011, six detected lower levels of IgE antibodies and 15 to 21 percent less eczema in children who had been exposed to cats or dogs as soon they were born.

Allergies have been on the rise since the 20th century. Even in a country where nutrition levels are higher, like the USA, 8-10% of children have asthma, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Asthma is a chronic lung disease that inflames and narrows the airways. It causes recurring bouts of wheezing, chest tightness, shortness of breath, and coughing. Conventional wisdom says that  reducing allergenic substances at home will help lessen asthma symptoms.

However the Urban Environment and Childhood Asthma (URECA) study, funded by the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases (NIAID), points in the opposite direction :  that exposure to certain allergens and bacteria early in life, before asthma develops, may protect children from asthma. Since 2005, URECA has tracked newborns who are at high risk for developing asthma, because at least one parent has asthma or allergies, for 7 years. Their findings were published in 2017, in the Journal of Allergy and Clinical Immunology.

Of the 442 children, 130 (29%) had asthma at age 7. The children who didn’t have it had , strangely enough, higher levels of cockroach, mouse, and cat/dog bacteria in the dust samples, collected from the children’s homes, during the first 3 years of life starting at 3 months.

“Our observations imply that exposure to a broad variety of indoor allergens, bacteria early in life may reduce the risk of developing asthma,” says URECA principal investigator. The microbes that pets carry into the home from outdoors, could mature baby’s developing immune system and train it to fend off assaults from allergens.

Researchers at Kuopio University Hospital in Finland, writing in the journal Pediatrics, say that babies who grow up in homes with a dog or a cat — have a lower risk of allergies than children who live pet-free. Their study found that living with household dust from homes with a dog, prevented infection with a common respiratory virus that is thought to increase the risk of childhood asthma.

The researchers followed 397 children, born in Finland between 2002 -5, and found that babies who grew up in homes with pets were 44% less likely to develop an ear infection and 29% less likely to receive antibiotics, compared with pet-free babies. Overall, babies who lived with a dog were 31% more likely to be healthy in their first year than babies without a dog; kids from homes with cats were 6% more likely to be healthy than those in cat-free families. The study found that children with pets were healthier overall. But this varies: the children who grew up with indoor dogs only, had more infections that than those whose dogs went out every day, suggesting that when animals are allowed to bring in more dirt and microbes from outdoors, it helps strengthen babies’ immune systems faster.

Research at the University of Alberta, published in the journal Microbiome, shows infants exposed to dirt and bacteria from furry family pets, especially dogs, showed much higher levels of two types of gut microbes associated with lower risks of obesity and allergic disease.

746 infants, in the Canadian Healthy Infant Longitudinal Development Study between 2009-2012,  also showed that those who grew up with dogs had lower rates of asthma and more diverse groups of microbes in their guts. The study also suggests having pets in the house could reduce the chances of a mother passing on a strep infection during birth, which can cause pneumonia in newborns.

Scientists at the University of San Diego Knight Lab, which is doing one of the largest studies on microbes in humans, has found that living with dogs provides the body protective benefit. Nearly a thousand species of microbes live inside the human gut and they play an important role in the health of the human by bolstering the immune system. Each species has a different impact and, without exposure to a diversity of bacteria, the body doesn’t learn how to differentiate between dangerous and harmless bacteria. This theory has emerged after more than a dozen studies showed that children born into families with significant farm animal exposure had fewer instances of asthma and allergies, compared with those that had no exposure to farm animals.

In a 2010 study, done in the University of California, researchers discovered that homes with dogs had a far greater abundance of bacteria than those with no pets. The scientists then researched on whether the dog microbe rich house dust would protect mice against allergens. It did. In 2016, the scientists went ahead to examine the faeces of 308 babies less than a year old. The results, published in Nature Medicine, showed that babies with the highest risk of developing allergies and asthma lacked dog exposure.

In the latest study, scientists from the University of Gothenburg, Sweden looked at another angle: if having more than one pet would increase the benefit.

They looked at data from two previous studies. One of them had tracked 1,029 children from infancy to age 8. 49% children, who had not had pets at home during their first 12 months of life, had allergies. This fell to 43 per cent in children who, as babies, had lived with one pet, and 24 per cent for children who had lived with three pets. Two of the children had lived with five pets – neither of them had allergies.

In another study, tracking 249 children from birth to 9 years of age, the rate of allergies was 48 per cent for children with no pets in their first year, 35 per cent for children with exposure to one pet, and 21 per cent for children who had lived with two or more pets.

This proves that more exposure to pets means more immunity Studies have found that children who grow up on a farm with livestock have a lower risk of allergies.

Can exposure to animals help pregnant  women’s growing babies ? A 2009 study in Europe showed that the umbilical cord blood in pregnant women with farm exposure had more active neonatal immune cells. This means that the microbes in the pregnant mother are doing something positive for the child.

We’ve known for years that dogs were good for our mental health. Now there is clear proof that those health benefits go even deeper. Pets prevent allergies. Exposure to an animal increases the baby’s immunity. The more cats or dogs you live with as an infant, the less your chances of getting asthma, hay fever and eczema, to name a few diseases.

Maneka Sanjay Gandhi
Pl. add: To join the animal welfare movement contact,

Candida auris is a dangerous fungal infection that emerged

Candida auris is a dangerous fungal infection that emerged in 2009 in Japan and, in just a few years, has spread round the world, especially in hospitals. It is a superbug: a germ that has evolved defences against common medicines and cannot be treated by the fungal medications now available. These include antifungals such as fluconazole, the standard antifungal drug in many countries, and echinocandins.

Once the germ is present, it is hard to eradicate it from a facility. Some hospitals have had to bring in special cleaning equipment, and even rip out floor and ceiling tiles, to get rid of it.
It is a life threatening fungus with a high death rate. It has been identified in Japan, South Korea, India, Pakistan, South Africa, Kenya, Kuwait, Israel, Venezuela, Colombia, the United Kingdom, Canada, and the United States. Other countries have it, but probably cannot identify the fungi because the specialized laboratory methods needed to do so are not available.

People with weakened immune systems are the most vulnerable - newborns, the elderly, people who are sick with other infections, diabetics, people who have undergone broad-spectrum antibiotic or antifungal therapy. The rise of C. auris has been little publicized because it is relatively new. Outbreaks have been played down, or kept confidential, by hospitals even governments, as publicizing an outbreak would scare people into not going to hospitals. In America, even the Centre for Disease Control is not allowed to make public the location, or name of hospitals involved in outbreaks.

The symptoms of C. auris — fever, aches, fatigue — are not unusual, so it is hard to recognize the infection without testing. The next step is blood poisoning / sepsis, coma, organ failure and death. The fungus can colonize on human skin, or surfaces, and live for a long period of time, allowing it to spread to new patients.

One reason is the indiscriminate doling out of antifungals by the medical community. But even more harmful is the use of antifungals in modern agriculture/animal husbandry. 
It is clear that Candida auris’s resistance can be traced to industrial agriculture’s mass application of fungicides which are similar in molecular structure to human antifungal drugs.
Wheat, banana, barley, apple, potatoes, soya bean, grapes, corn, stone fruit, are some of the varied crops that fungicides are used on.

Before 2007 six main classes of fungicides were rarely used. Azoles, morpholines, benzimidazoles, strobilurins, succinate dehydrogenase inhibitors and anilinopyrimidines. Now they are common – with azoles leading the pack. Azoles, used in both crop protection and medicine, are broad-spectrum fungicides, annihilating a wide range of fungi.

It cannot be a coincidence that Candida auris has developed resistance to the azole antifungals, including fluconazole, amphotericin B, and echinocandins. 

C. auris has probably been fought off for centuries by the human system. It is only now that it has become immune to human intervention, and can enter the bloodstream.
In an effort to identify the source of the infection, an international team collected fungal germs from hospitals across Pakistan, India, South Africa, and Venezuela in 2012–2015.

They found azole resistance in all – but the strains were varied and related to the fungicide that was used in that country. In response to wide exposure to fungicides in the field, each strain evolved its own unique solution to the problem. This fungus spread and diversified, because patients and crops, through agricultural trade, migrate.

In 2015, scientists discovered that the Candida auris genome had several genes of a superfamily (MFS). MFS effectively destroys broad classes of drugs. It permits C. auris to survive an onslaught of antifungal drugs. They also found that the C. auris genome also had many genes that increased its virulence. 

Candida auris is not the only fungus on the cusp of multidrug resistance. There are many more which plants and humans are becoming resistant to. 

One fungus, Aspergillus fumigatus causes infection in the lungs and is a major cause of mortality. Azole antifungals, itraconazole, voriconazole, and posaconazole, have long been used to treat pulmonary asperillogosis. In the last decade it has developed a resistance to these drugs, causing the death of lakhs of people each year.

Studies comparing long-term azole users and patients just beginning to take the drug have shown that drug-resistant A. fumigatus was prevalent in both groups, suggesting that resistance came from the food they ate and the antifungals used in fields, rather than in the medicine they took. Agricultural, rather than medical reasons. 

In many field studies scientists have found fungicide resistant A. fumigatus in the soil /crops across the world. In simple terms, due to agricultural practices, Aspergillus is entering hospitals already adapted to the slew of antifungal cocktails designed to check its spread. By using azoles to control fungi on fruit and grain, conditions have been created to accelerate drug resistance in human patients.

Aspergillusfumigatus and Candida auris share similar geographical distributions.
One would have thought that both these funguses would have been enough for governments to realize the acute danger its people were in and to phase out all fungicide.

But, instead, government policy has actively promoted the expansion of fungicide use. 
Agricultural azole fungicides comprise a third of the total fungicide market. Twenty-five different forms of agricultural azole fungicides are being used in millions of tonnes, compared to just three forms of medical azoles. Fungicides use to control soyabean rust have quadrupled between 2002 to 2006. 30% of corn and wheat had fungicides applied in 2009 and now it is more than 50%. Boscalid fungicide is now commonly used in fruit and vegetables. 33 different fungicides are used on potatoes.

Global sales have tripled since 2005, from $8 billion to $21 billion in 2017, expanding not only in sales but also in geographic distribution. 

And, of course, all the fungicide leaches into the water, and you drink it. 

Climate change brings heavy unseasonal rains and drought and higher temperatures. This means more funguses. And more fungicides. Unless the government finds a better organic way now. 

Instead of blaming hospitals and hospital workers for contamination, we should be looking at agricultural bans of antibiotics and fungicides. Various Indian agriculture ministers, and prime ministers, have promised in Parliament to do so – but have done the exact opposite. As time goes on companies will propose more genetically modified crops to, supposedly, combat funguses, and these will prove to be as deadly as GM Cotton and require even more deadly fungicides in time. As I see it, large chemical companies run governments and the world. And you and I are the victims. 

There is so much empirical evidence that simply rotating crops and putting different crops together, like soya bean and flax, can greatly remove funguses. In California, strawberry producers have found that planting broccoli, between rotations of strawberry crops, removes fungus.

Scientists have discovered that instead of azole fungicides to control blight in potatoes, silica works much better. 

Organic farming supports good fungi, which crowd out pathogenic fungi. Reducing chemical fertilizers and limiting tillage creates beneficial strains of fungi that form beneficial relationships with plant roots .Crop rotations, the incorporation of legumes, and the cultivation of soil aggregates, instead of burning, create good conditions for soil microbiota.
Leaving small wild areas also removes fungal depredation. For instance, a study done by University of Michigan and Vandemeer, on agroecological fungal control in coffee, found Mycodiplosis fly larvae, from nearby wild areas, feed on the coffee rust in Mexico and Puerto Rico.

What we are doing to our farmers is giving them absolutely the wrong information and tools – of which fungicides are one. Monocultures need fungicides and both cause disease. Agribusiness, and their governments, views nature as their enemy. So wiping out local ecologies and the benefits these offer in helping farmers enrich their soils, clean their water, pollinate their plants, feed their livestock, and control pests—pathogenic fungi among them—means the largest companies can now sell their poisons to a captive market. There must be some reason that our Indian governments refuse to train agricultural scientists, and are happy to have totally ignorant people working in Krishi Vigyan Kendras. Could it be a business plan? Financed not just by pesticide companies but by hospitals and the medical industry? Is there any difference between the rich and poor if both don’t have food safety? 
Long before climate change finally does us in, it is catastrophic superbug outbreaks that are now killing millions. While data is available, it is rarely taken seriously by politicians. In the US alone 2 million illnesses and thousands of deaths are caused by drug resistant infections. In India it would be at least a crore, because we indiscriminately use medicines on animals grown for food and on crops. We need an intelligent far sighted humane government.

Maneka Sanjay Gandhi
Pl. add: To join the animal welfare movement contact,

When we were young, we spent two months every year with my mother’s

When we were young, we spent two months every year with my mother’s parents on a huge farm in a village near Bhopal. We slept in mosquito netted beds in the garden, we shelled peas and roasted green channas, we played pittoo and all sorts of indoor games with shells and seeds. We were fed relentlessly. Did I ever sit down and ask my grandmother things about herself ? Not that I remember. I called her Dujama and learnt her name twenty years later ! I was far too much in awe of my grandfather to even talk to him.

My granddaughter is shy. Once she loosens up she tells me all about her world. But she, like me as a child, has expressed no interest in who I am or what I am interested in. I am her Dadi and that is enough for her. Will my granddaughter remember me when I am gone ? She is small now but I shall to try to pass on as much as I know to her – about my family and the world around us and perhaps how to survive it.

Are we the only grandparents / Do any animals know their grandparents the way humans do ? For most species the answer is no. Insects spread out immediately and the ones that are in community housing – like ants and bees - are brought up communally in nurseries by feeders and caretakers. In 2010, researchers reported, in Current Biology, that in gall-forming aphid colonies, older females defend their relatives after they've ceased to reproduce.   

Most birds do not recognize their family members after their first year. There are exceptions to this, especially among social birds such as cranes, crows, and jays. A 2007 study, in the journal Evolution, found that older female Seychelles warblers help their offspring raise chicks. Canada Geese also remember their parents, and may even rejoin their parents and siblings during winter and on migration. There is cooperative breeding and care in about 200 species of birds. But that doesn’t necessarily include grandmothers.

In some cases, the life of the wild mammal is so short that the grandparents are dead before the grandchild is of an age to know them. In some cases, the children spread out so that they don’t compete for resources – male tigers for instance – so the chances of running into a grandparent are slim. In many species, the mother and grandmother fight each other for resources, if they're in the same area.

But there are so many that live in sociable close knit groups. Humans, whales and dolphins have evolved to live well beyond child-bearing age, because this helps raise the survival chances of their descendants, argues a new theory of ageing in social animals. Dr Ronald Lee of the University of California, in the journal Proceedings in the National Academy of Sciences, says "In some species, post-reproductive females make substantial contributions to their descendants, either through direct parental care or through grandparental care. Post-reproductive bottlenose dolphins and pilot whales babysit, guard, and even breastfeed their grandchildren" .

Many whale species travel in family pods that include both grandmothers and grandcalves. Orcas and short-finned pilot whales, belugas and narwhals, go through menopause. Once they stop reproducing, grandmothers stop competing with their daughters for mating opportunities. That enables them to live in and play an important role in social pods where all the male and female offspring stay together. Studies show that adult orca sons are more likely to survive with their mothers around. Orca grandmothers often lead their pods and can live for decades after they stop reproducing. Scientists, writing in Current Biology, say that the elders are important because they help the pod survive by remembering the best places to find food and share fish with their grand-calves. In groups of sperm whales old females help babysit the group's young while their mothers dive for food.

Great apes appear to be aware of their grandchildren, and have even been known to foster grandchildren if the parent is dead or ineffective (just like humans).

Rhesuses and Langurs live with their daughters and grandchildren in loving relationships and the grandmother is the boss. The grandmothers are in charge of defending the group's children against assaults from humans, dogs and other monkeys. Within the group, grandmothers give their own grandchildren special treatment, grooming them and disciplining them if they step out of line.

Elephants often live in large families made up of babies, juveniles, and mothers. Elephant herds are usually led by the grandmothers who collaborate with their daughters to raise the young. In a study, in Scientific Reports, scientists found that the calves of young mothers were eight times more likely to survive if their grandmothers lived near them than if they didn't. The experienced matriarch was more likely to offer solutions in life threatening situations than the inexperienced mother. Grandmothers led the family to the right places to forage or drink, or when interacting with other elephant families. According to a study done of 834 individual elephants in Kenya's Amboseli National Park over a period of 40 years, researchers say "The new and exciting part of our study is the strong effect females have on the reproduction of daughters and granddaughters in their family. Daughters of long-lived mothers lived longer themselves and had higher reproductive rates."  

Feral cat colonies, according to cat behaviour experts at the University of Bristol, are "based around multigenerational cooperation between females—grandmother, her daughters, and their kittens." Male cats are not involved in raising young.

Do dog grandparents acknowledge their granddaughters/sons, or do they just treat them as random dogs? It depends on the "bonding" period they have when they are born. If they get a few months together they will recognize each other. If the grandparents of the pups are around, when they are puppies, they might possible be able to recognize them if given this same bonding opportunity. Although adult dogs can recognize close relatives, that ability depends on what happened to the dog as a puppy.

Their genetic ancestors, the wolves, still move in family packs in which the parents hold the highest status and are the pack leaders. A family of wolves can be large and extended, including aunts and uncles, siblings, grandparents, and even adoptees. The basic form of a wolf pack consists of a bonded pair, known as the breeding pair or alphas. These are the leaders of the family and their bond can last a lifetime. The alpha pair are nearly always the parents or grandparents of the other pack members, until they become too old to continue as leaders, in which case, if they have been benign leaders, their descendants will look after them. If they were bullies as alphas they will be driven out.

According to Lee’s theory of ageing, If a species makes no post-birth investment in raising its offspring, then the species depends entirely on  fertility, not on a long life. Eg. butterflies lay many eggs, then die. But in species where parents have few offspring and invest time and energy into promoting their children's survival, natural selection would logically favour a longer lifespan. So, if grandparents help their children succeed as parents this will favour living even longer. Anthropologists have found clear evidence that older women have a beneficial effect on grandchildren in traditional societies.

My granddaughter needs me and her Nani. Just as I needed mine.

Maneka Sanjay Gandhi
Pl. add: To join the animal welfare movement contact,

Most people who choose dogs seem to have some physical

Most people who choose dogs seem to have some physical similarity with them. High heeled coiffured ladies with long legged, high stepping dogs, overweight people with plumper dogs, shaggy haired master and dog. Sadahiko Nakajima is a psychologist at Japan's Kwansei Gakuin University who has researched not just the notion that humans and their pet dogs look alike, but also why that is so.

In 2009 Nakajima showed how people were able to match dogs and their owners simply by looking at photographs of their faces. This is one of the many experiments done that reinforce the popular belief that dog and owner have a physical resemblance to each other.

The next step was to understand why. Nakajima conducted another experiment, the results of which were published in the journal Anthrozoos.

He found that the reason lay in the eyes.

500 people were shown two sets of photographs. One set showed pictures of real dog-owner pairs, while the other set had random pairings of people and dogs. The participants were shown 5 sets of pictures where different organs were masked : no-mask (in which the human's and the dog's faces were unobstructed), eye-mask (the human's eyes were blacked out), mouth-mask (the human's mouth was blacked out), dog-eye-mask (the dog's eyes were blacked out), and eye-only (where just the eyes of the human and the dog could be seen).

The participants were then asked to select the dog-owner pairs that physically resembled each other. As in Nakajima's 2009 experiment,  80 % participants who were shown the unobstructed photos correctly identified the dog-owner pairs . When the owners' mouths were concealed, participants were correct 73 % of the time. But when the eyes of either humans or the dogs were blacked out, there was no accuracy at all – simply random guesses.  When participants were shown only the eyes of the dog and the human, their accuracy rose to 74 percent.

The conclusion reached was that people choose to get dogs that look similar to themselves – but mainly in the eye region.

The psychological mechanism, that explains why a person might choose a dog who looks similar to themselves, is”familiarity”, known in technical terms as the “ mere exposure effect”. That is why we like the same authors, the same “oldie” songs. That is why we vote for actors, and the wives/children of well known people, without caring about their competence. It is also the reason why fake news has so much strength - repeated every few weeks , it takes on a life in our imagination simply because we are familiar with it.

We are familiar with our own faces. So, anything that looks like us  arouses a warm response. In a test done by Dr Stanley Coren, 104 women were asked to look at the heads of four dog breeds: an English Springer Spaniel, a Beagle, a Siberian Husky and a Basenji. The women rated them on looks, friendliness, loyalty and intelligence. The women were divided into those with longer hair styles that covered the ears and those with shorter or pulled back hair that exposed the ears.  

The results ? Women with longer ear covered hair preferred beagles and spaniels with longer ears that framed the face. Women with shorter hair and visible ears chose the Siberian Husky and the Basenji with pricked ears.

Now a new study done by social psychologists at Michigan State University says that dog and owner  personalities also tend to be similar.

The study had 1681 owners of dogs evaluate their own personalities and the personalities of their dogs. Researchers found that most of them shared personality traits. An agreeable person was twice as likely to have a dog that is happy and less aggressive than one who was moodier. Loving responsible owners rated their dogs as amenable to training. Neurotic owners rated their dogs as fearful.

Obviously the study could not rely on just the observation of the owner, as it might be biased. But acquaintances rated the dog in the same way as the owner did.

This is the standard personality guidelines for personality comparison:

Neuroticism or emotional stability – is a person oversensitive and nervous, or secure and confident.

Extraversion – is the person outgoing, sociable and energetic, or solitary and reserved.

Agreeableness –is a person friendly and compassionate, or cold and unkind.

Conscientiousness – is the person hard-working, efficient and organized, or easy-going, lazy or careless.

Openness – Intelligence levels – is the person inventive and curious, or consistent and cautious

When the owners rate the personality of their dogs, using a test developed by the University of Texas to measure a dog's personality, the owners rated their dogs as similar to themselves in all five of the personality traits. Family members rated the dog as well and the results showed, that in four out of the five personality characteristics, these family members saw the same traits in the dog as in the dog's owner. However, both these studies apply to one dog households. If there are more than one, the similarities become less consistent.

A study by the University of Vienna, published in the journal PLOS, recruited 132 dogs and their owners, monitoring the stress of each member of the pair using both behavioural tests (how they reacted to perceived threats in the lab) and physical markers (heart rate and saliva samples to detect the stress hormone cortisol). The scientists found that the more anxious the owner, the more neurotic the dog. If the owner was relaxed, so was the dog.

Why do these similarities exist. Maybe because the owners tend to pick dogs who are similar to themselves. But even more, through our daily interactions with them we shape their personality. Of course  this is a complicated issue. Do friendly people choose friendly dogs. Or do friendly people take their dogs out more so that the dog becomes better socialized? Dr Stanley Coren, professor of psychology at the University of British Columbia, researched 6000 people’s personalities in 1996 to bring out a chart that predicted the breed of dog that they were likely to choose. The data from that study, which resulted in the book Why We Love the Dogs We Do, was not a comparison of the personality traits of the dog and its owner, but on how the personality of the human affected his attitude toward certain types of dogs. For instance, the study found that individuals who owned aggressive breed dogs had life histories associated with aggression.

When Lambu came to me he had been thrown out of three homes for bad behaviour. Alpha male, he needed attention and would not tolerate any other dogs. For the first few months he drove away all the other 24 that live with me, and took the entire front of the house for himself. As time went on, he has become far less aggressive, gets on with the dogs and is a mature well balanced personality whom one can talk to. All my dogs are throwaways, or crippled in some fashion. When they settle down, none of them are competitive, all of them are curious and they tolerate people while wandering through the world with their own personal agendas. We share many traits. They came in having suffered through contact with the world. In my no-demand house they relax, as do the insects, birds, monkeys and the occasional snake

Dog personalities aren’t set in stone. They change as they grow and are influenced by their lifestyles and experiences. The dog you take home from the shelter isn’t the same dog you’ll have a year from now. You have the power to change it. Nurture is more important than nature.

Maneka Sanjay Gandhi
Pl. add: To join the animal welfare movement contact,

My mind and body have instinctively always had

My mind and body have instinctively always had the right feelings towards things that are harmful for the planet – it is almost as if my relationship with Nature is so profound that we think as one. I have always hated kites and plastic straws, for instance, long before I knew how many millions of lives they took. Another phobia of mine is balloons. My family knows that I will not touch one and will not enter a space that has them. People who release pigeons and balloons at rallies have my undying hatred because the pigeons will die and the balloons will kill. Fortunately, because we have been so vociferous about bird releases at ceremonies, it is no longer done. Now we need to stop the balloons as well.

The deadliest ocean garbage for seabirds is balloons. In a small survey done on one coast, 1,700 dead seabirds were picked up. 500+ of these had swallowed plastic. Four in 10 of those deaths were caused by balloons.

Seabirds frequently snap up floating litter because it looks like food. When pieces of latex, or Mylar, are mistaken for food and ingested, they lodge in the digestive tract, inhibiting the animal's ability to eat, and causing a slow and painful death by starvation. Birds, turtles and other animals commonly mistake balloons for food. In addition, many animals can become entangled in balloon strings, which can strangle them or cut their limbs.

A balloon floats to a high altitude where it bursts. The burst pattern makes it look like a jellyfish, that now comes down, is washed into the ocean, and is swallowed by predators like dolphins, whales and sea turtles.

If a seabird swallows a balloon, it's 32 times more likely to die than if it had gulped down a piece of hard plastic, researchers reported in a new study done by the Institute for Marine and Antarctic Studies at the University of Tasmania in Australia printed in Scientific Reports. "Among the birds we studied, the leading cause of death was blockage of the gastrointestinal tract, followed by infections, or other complications, caused by gastrointestinal obstructions. Birds are especially likely to swallow balloons because they closely resemble squid. Sea turtles, among other wildlife, eat shrivelled, or exploded, rubber balloons because they look like jellyfish. Sea turtles are hit hard, as they surface to breathe and eat and commonly eat balloons. Scientists, doing necropsies on  turtles that washed ashore dead, have often found the necks of latex balloons blocking the entrance to the small intestine from the stomach, and four feet of attached ribbon in the intestine. In July 2018 a handful of boats held a competition on picking up balloons in the ocean. In one day over 600 balloons were collected.

The Sea Turtle Foundation estimates that 100,000 marine mammals and turtles and 2 million sea birds die every year from ingesting or becoming entangled in marine debris, including indigestible plastic that blocks stomachs. In 2016, the CSIRO (Commonwealth Scientific and Industrial Research Organisation) named balloon litter as one of the three most harmful items to marine wildlife.

Balloons are made of latex/mylar or foil and fall to the ground as litter. They are as harmful as cigarette butts and plastic bags. The ones that are pumped with helium travel thousands of miles and their pieces are found in the most remote places, like wildlife refuges, where they pollute the earth. For example, more than a hundred balloons were recently collected at the Edwin Forsythe National Wildlife Refuge in New Jersey at a single cleanup on one beach. Petrels swallow shrivelled up balloons and die. On any beach in the world, you can pick up at least 10-15 balloons every day.

To use helium in balloons should be made a crime punishable by life imprisonment. Helium is a finite gas and should not be wasted on fripperies. Helium is used as a shield gas for non-ferrous welding and for cooling the superconducting magnets in MRI scanners . There is no substitute for it, due to Helium's low boiling point? It is also used in breathing ventilators for infants and the patients. In 1996, Nobel Prize winner Robert Richardson issued a warning that supplies of Helium are being used at an unimaginable rate and could be gone within twenty years. Because of balloons ?

 According to the US-based Consumer Product Safety Commission, balloons are linked to more infant fatalities than any other child product, and death by helium inhalation consistently takes lives each year.

Balloon companies say that latex, or rubber balloons, degrade. They give different names to the balloon – Qualatex for instance. This is not true. There are no safe balloons. They degrade in decades and are eaten long before that.  While conservationists all over the world are asking for an end to balloons, the companies in America have predictably got together and have created the Balloon Council to fight any laws that restrict the buying and release of balloons. They are reinventing their selling techniques by calling themselves biodegradable. This nonsense, that they use “Natural” latex so it is biodegradable, does not hold, because the latex has had chemicals, plasticizers and artificial dyes added to it. It may degrade eventually, as even rocks do, but it is certainly not biodegradable. People who live in the desert have found thousands of them, some over 20 years old.  

The ribbons, or string that is sometimes tied to balloons, whether it is “biodegradable” or “ naturally dyed”, will last years and entangles animals that comes into contact with it. The balloon industry claims that when a balloon pops, it bursts into many little pieces, and that the pieces land far away from each other. How does that matter? Each piece is a time bomb.

People see balloons as an uplifting thing. Going to the skies and the heavens. They don’t reach heaven – but this flying trash makes thousands of animals and birds reach it before their time. Look at the site 'Balloons Blow' so that you can see pictures of the lakhs of creatures killed by balloons.

Birthday parties, weddings, graduations, sport events , political party jamborees – all these are now mass balloon littering events. It is time to make them illegal : they are pointless, useless, and an anachronism that nobody will miss if they were gone. I am surprised that the Environment and Forest Ministry has not moved to stop this industry. But then, they are equally useless at banning fireworks.

Are you, as a parent, not concerned about the state of the world. Start by changing the birthday party balloon use. Have fun, celebrate with environmentally-friendly alternatives. You want to have things that make your parties memorable and happy ? Flowers are the best way. Coloured lights, colourful streamers, flags and banners save money and time. Pinwheels, with flashy colours fluttering in the wind, attract attention. Tissue Paper Pompoms in different colours are pretty. Blowing bubbles is always fun; watching them bounce around towards the sky and twist with the wind like rainbow butterflies . There are companies that create giant bubbles which are a sight to behold. Chinese paper lanterns are not an environmentally-friendly alternative. Sky lanterns have started huge fires.

Here is a film that you should show in every school - Rubber Jellyfish by Carly Wilson is a documentary about the effects of released helium balloons on ocean wildlife - in particular, Australia’s population of critically endangered sea turtles. 

Carly Wilson discovers that helium balloons, that are often released ceremoniously, usually land in the ocean. She examines the phenomenon that causes balloons to mimic the appearance of jellyfish, a prey that all sea turtles eat, when they rupture high in the earth’s atmosphere. She meets several turtles suffering from the excruciatingly painful and often fatal ‘float syndrome’, which is caused by the ingestion of balloons and other ocean rubbish. 

Through the film Carly seeks to understand why and how the multi billion dollar balloon industry has led the public to believe that latex balloons are biodegradable and environmentally friendly, despite massive evidence to the contrary. She meets marine biologists, turtle activists, reps of the balloon industry and policy makers, to question why Australia has not taken action against mass balloon releases, when it's waters host all six sea turtles on the CITES endangered species list.

Listen to the reports scientists, wildlife rehabilitators and conservationists are filing about the impacts balloons have on animals and the environment Stop using them. Or invent edible , organic, biodegradable balloons made of unwaxed paper, or straw or even soya, that disintegrate when they are wet.   

Maneka Sanjay Gandhi
Pl. add: To join the animal welfare movement contact,

Cholesterol is a fat-like substance in the body.

Cholesterol is a fat-like substance in the body. It is produced by your body (75% by your liver). The rest comes from the food you eat. Cholesterol is present in every cell of the body and is important in digesting foods, generating vitamin D, building cell walls and producing some hormones.

While it is needed for good health, too much cholesterol can damage your arteries and increase your risk of heart disease.

Cholesterol in the blood doesn't move through the body on its own. It combines with proteins to travel through the bloodstream. Cholesterol and protein traveling together are called lipoproteins. The main types of lipoproteins are high-density lipoprotein (HDL) and low-density lipoprotein (LDL). HDL moves cholesterol out of your arteries and back to the liver for disposal. LDL cholesterol is known as 'bad' cholesterol because it brings and leaves cholesterol in your arteries.

The extra LDL-cholesterol builds up in the walls of the arteries, forming plaque. Plaque can block arteries, making it harder for blood to flow through and putting you at risk for heart disease, attacks and strokes. Having high cholesterol does not usually produce any symptoms, so you could be in danger even without knowing it. One sign is a gray-white line of fat deposits growing on the outside edge of your cornea. If you're under 40, it could be a sign of dangerously high cholesterol.

You can inherit a tendency towards high cholesterol. No one in my family has died of a heart attack so far. But I do have small yellowish white patches on my eyelids which I developed in my forties – and which are a symptom of extra cholesterol. They are more likely to develop during a person's middle years and are more common in women than men. My mother and grandmother had them too. My cholesterol levels have always been on the high side even though my lifestyle includes exercise and only non oily vegetarian food. The doctors say hypercholesterolaemia may be an inherited condition which occurs because of a mutated gene. This usually results in heart disease before 55 but I am past that now. Around 12% of females, who inherit the genetic mutation from a parent, will develop coronary artery disease before the age of 50 years, and 74 per cent by the age of 70 years. About 85 per cent of affected male children will have a heart attack before the age of 60 years. But this can be kept in check by diet and exercise.

In adults, total cholesterol levels less than 200 milligrams per deciliter (mg/dL) are considered healthy. Between 200 and 239 mg/dL is borderline high. 240 mg/dL and above is high.

LDL cholesterol levels should be less than 100 mg/dL.100–129 mg/dL is acceptable for people with no health problems but may be a concern for anyone with heart disease or heart disease risk factors.130—159 mg/dL is borderline high.160–189 mg/dL is high.

HDL levels should be 60 mg/dL or higher. Less than 40 mg/dL can be a major risk factor for heart disease.

Cholesterol only comes from animal foods like egg, milk, butter, cheese meat, fish, poultry, hydrogenated oils like lard, margarine, palm and coconut.

People who eat animal products may have more cholesterol in their bodies, at any given time, than those who don't. It is not just from the food they eat - the liver will also increase cholesterol levels when a diet is high in fat and trans fats. Having an increased amount of LDL cholesterol, caused by trans and saturated fats, increases the risk for heart disease and diabetes.

A report from Harvard Health has identified foods that actively decrease cholesterol levels:

Oats, barley and whole grains, beans, eggplant and okra, nuts, vegetable oil (canola, sunflower), fruits (mainly apples, grapes, strawberries, and citrus), soy and soy-based foods, foods rich in fibre (no animal based foods have fibre.)

Reducing the intake of fat in the diet helps to manage cholesterol levels. Limit foods that contain:

Saturated fat: This occurs in meats, dairy products, chocolate, baked goods, deep-fried, and processed foods.

Trans fats: This occurs in some fried and processed foods.

Excess weight can also lead to higher blood LDL levels.

Other conditions that can lead to high cholesterol levels, include: diabetes (another lifestyle disease), liver or kidney disease, polycystic ovary syndrome and steroids.

If your diet is high in fibre and you eat mainly fresh fruit and plants, plant sterols will lower your cholesterol. Physical activity will also make you maintain or lose weight. Exercising for an hour a day raises the heart rate, helps with keeping a healthy weight, and reduces LDL cholesterol levels while increasing HDL cholesterol levels.

Researchers of the Department of Preventive Medicine at Northwestern University Feinberg School of Medicine, Chicago and published in Journal for the American Medical Association, JAMA, examined data from six study groups of more than 29,000 people followed for 17½ years. At the start, participants filled in questionnaires detailing the foods they ate. Over the follow-up period, a total of 5,400 cardiovascular events occurred, including 1,302 fatal and nonfatal strokes, 1,897 incidents of fatal and nonfatal heart failure and 113 other heart disease deaths. An additional 6,132 participants died of other causes.

When they analyzed the data, the researchers found an association between egg consumption as reported at the start of the study and participants’ risk of developing cardiovascular disease. As their egg consumption rose, so did their risk. An egg has 155 calories and 11gms total fat. Each egg has 186 milligrams of cholesterol, which is 124% of what you should be eating per day and sodium 124 mg - more cholesterol than a fast-food double cheeseburger.

Three or more eggs a week was associated with a 3.2% higher risk of heart disease and a 4.4% higher risk of early death. Each additional half an egg consumed per day was associated with a 6-8% higher risk of cardiovascular disease and higher risk of early death due to any cause.

The researchers factored in every other unhealthy behaviour, such as low physical activity, smoking and an unhealthy diet full of processed food and saturated fats.

Dr. Robert H. Eckel, of University of Colorado School of Medicine, wrote that the new report "is far more comprehensive, with enough data to make a strong statement that eggs and overall dietary cholesterol intake remain important in affecting the risk of cardiovascular disease, and more so the risk of all-cause mortality."

"Considering the negative consequences of egg consumption and dietary cholesterol in the setting of heart-healthy dietary patterns, the importance of limiting intake of cholesterol-rich foods should not be dismissed," he concluded. According to industry data, the world will eat more eggs in 2019 than any time for the past 20 years.

Are eggs eaten alone? The food they are eaten with is as terrible for the body - white bread, butter, salt, and/or processed meats like bacon or sausages.

How many eggs a week is safe?  None.

The more eggs a person eats, the more those risks increase. People in the study, who averaged an egg every day, saw their risk of a heart-related event, such as a heart attack or stroke, increase by 12% compared to someone who didn’t eat eggs. Those who averaged two eggs every day had a 24% increased risk of heart-related events.

Researchers saw similarly increased risks for people who ate processed and unprocessed red meat.

Those associations held even when researchers looked at the overall quality of a person’s diet. Those who included eggs as part of a healthy diet didn’t have lower risks compared to those who ate eggs along with less nutritious foods.

It follows a 2018 study that looked at the evidence collected from 28 studies that had people eat eggs as an experiment and then looked at changes to their blood lipids. The study found eating eggs boosted total cholesterol by about 5 points compared to people who were on diets that didn’t include eggs.  Most of that increase came from an increase in LDL, or “bad” cholesterol.

Maneka Sanjay Gandhi
Pl. add: To join the animal welfare movement contact,

Mama, what does Papa do in office?

"Mama, what does Papa do in office?"

"He scares monkeys, darling."

What are the strangest jobs that involve wild animals?

*  Every morning when I get to Shastri Bhavan, my office, I hear the sound of a man hooting. He hoots off and on the entire day . His job is to scare away monkeys. The monkeys run when they see him, but whether it's because of his voice, or the large stick he carries, is a moot point. As soon as he moves away they come back and sit on the ledges of the upper stories of the building – and outside my window, where I feed them.

Illegal langur kidnappers go from building to building (less so now because I have them arrestd) and tie up their langurs on the gate to keep rhesus monkeys at bay. Some humans are paid by temples to dress up as monkeys to scare the others away.

*  Snake Milkers are people who extract venom from snakes and other reptiles for medical applications, for the treatment of minor heart attacks and preventing blood clots, and for anti venom serums that can be used if a person is bitten by a snake. A lot of venom is needed every year, and the milker has to spend all day catching and squeezing a snake’s mouth open so that he can push snake fangs into a plastic container in order to milk them. Being bitten is not unusual. In India, the Irulas in Tamil Nadu, who were snake hunters for snake skin, were taught by Romulus Whittaker and Harry Miller, to collect venom and sell it to the snake institutes. In 1978, an Irula Snake-catchers Co-op, owned and operated by the Irula tribals, was formed with Romulus as the Technical Advisor and permissions were given to catch snakes and bring them to the Snake Park  in Guindy where they are milked .

*  Brazil mosquito researchers, fighting malaria, must study the biting habits of the mosquito that spreads this deadly disease. In order to study these insects, Brazilian scientists offer themselves as bait. In the early evening, when mosquito activity is the most, a mosquito researcher sets himself up inside a mosquito-netting tent with a gap at the bottom. Mosquitoes fly in and get trapped inside, where the researcher sits. As they bite the legs, he or she draws them into a mouth tube and then into a container, catching upto 500 in 3 hours (which means at least 3000 bites). Many researchers get malaria.

*  An  Avian Vomitologist is employed by  entomology laboratories to collect vomit samples from sick birds, to analyse the avian flu pattern. This means moving through fields and forests in search of vomit.

*  In 2014, the Giant Panda Protection and Research Center, in China's Sichuan, announced its worldwide search for panda cub caretakers. Contenders faced several elimination rounds before getting the job. The ad stated “Your work has only one mission: spending 365 days with the pandas and sharing in their joys and sorrows.”

*  Better that, than working in China’s bear bile centres. Bears have a permanent tube fastened to their gall bladders, and the bile gatherers have to make sure the bile comes out and the bear, though in extreme pain, does not die. The bile is collected in jars and sold for the Chinese quack medicine industry.

*  Or even the rabbit hair puller-outers. The Chinese and French grow rabbits in tiny cages. Every six weeks the hair pullers get them out, spread eagle them on a table with straps and then pull out bunches of hair while the rabbits scream. Amusement comes from hitting the rabbit to make it shut up. What does your illiterate Papa do? He tortures rabbits the whole day for a very small amount of money.

*  Movies, that need insects, employ an insect wrangler. These individuals grow ants, cockroaches and flies for films and exhibitions, and get more exotic insects depending on the movie order. The wrangler directs the insects during filming, by motivating them with food or pushing them away with air etc. He has trained them to respond.

*  In Thailand there is a whole industry of jewellery made of butterfly wings (you can see them on sale at the airport). There are people who actually tear the wings of live butterflies and quickly push them between plastic covers edged with a gold lining. Add a hook and voila – earrings!

*  That is in the same league as snakeskin catchers who pin a live snake to the board and then strip its skin off. This is made into shoes/wallets/handbacks for the very rich and stupid.

Crocodile skinners do the same . Their job is catch the mouth of a baby crocodile and bind it. Hammer a nail into the neck which paralyses it and then strip the skin off.

For every guy who eats a live grasshopper, on reality shows as disgusting as Fear Factor and Survivor, there are people who are paid to do the same thing in real life. These masochists are called Gross Stunt Testers and their highly paid job includes doing everything that's gross, like eating worms or  cockroaches. The film and television industry employs them to test disgusting items, such as bugs and fluids, to make sure it is safe for others to consume on camera, in order to avoid lawsuits.

*  Professional elephant painters and dressers are hired to paint and decorate elephants during the festivities in Kerala. Sri Lanka has official outfitters for the elephants taking part in festivals. Each elephant has to be measured, and custom made outfits are made for the body, trunk, ears, and tail of the animal. The drapery has to fit snugly to the elephant’s hide, instead of being tied on with rope. The elaborate creations take around two months to make. The outfits are bought by wealthy families and donated to the temple. Captive elephants are transported across the country to take part in these festivals . Every year at least ten elephants revolt under the heat of these dresses, the noise and the beating of the mahouts, and run amok. They are either killed immediately, or punished for months with beating.

*  Till a few decades ago leech were collected to draw blood from patients for therapeutic reasons. Leech-gatherers waded through dense leech-filled areas and allowed them to latch onto their legs and suck, losing tremendous amounts of blood. When they were covered with leeches they waded back and took them off.

One short life and look how we waste it. On very enlightened Guru told me thirty years ago that Earth was the designated Hell for all the sinners of the Universe. One look at these jobs that we create and I can believe it.

Maneka Sanjay Gandhi
Pl. add: To join the animal welfare movement contact,

In every survey taken across the world, the worst jobs that emerge are sewage cleaners,

In every survey taken across the world, the worst jobs that emerge are sewage cleaners, and people that work in the factory farm and slaughterhouse industry which includes fish, poultry, piggeries, cattle and, of course, all the other species you can think of – from rabbits and dogs to goats and camels.

Millions of people work in slaughterhouses, dragging animals out, stringing them up , bleeding them, breaking their bones, slitting their throats, skinning live beings. These are the direct killers. But equally horrible work is, growing them in tight miserable conditions, giving them injections every day, cleaning out their food and faeces, loading them into overcrowded trucks and then pulling them out half dead already. A poultry worker kills roughly 35,000 chickens a year. These people work in dirty, smelly, blood filled, unsanitary conditions. Workers are usually trained for one specific part of the process. For example, some workers kill and bleed the animals, while others make a series of cuts to separate fat, muscle and bone, some skin them while still conscious, others boil them alive. Hour after hour, day after day, the workers interact with countless animals in various states of fear and pain. They work with the constant noise of dying animals protesting till the end. They return home full of the germs of dried blood. What could they dream about at night and what aims propel them? How many women would marry a slaughterhouse worker? What do their children say when they are asked "what does your daddy do?" Could this be the reason that all slaughter involved workers live together in tight, slovenly ghettos all over the world (with the highest crime percentages) – so that they meet only their own kind?

Slaughterhouse workers, which include fishermen who go out into the ocean and spend the day hunting and killing the animals of the ocean, have so many kinds of jobs – one more terrible than the last.

For instance, these are jobs that are so strange that one wonders how poor (or mentally disturbed) you have to be to do them :

Animal Masturbator : The sperm of animals is always in great demand, whether by researchers or famers, who want artificial insemination. The only way to obtain the sperm is to masturbate the animal and catch the semen in a pot. Whether it is a pig, ram, horse or bull, people have to physically excite the animals. When dealing with a bull, there have been cases were people have been seriously injured during this procedure. There are other options: They can ram an electric probe up an animal's rectum, shove an artificial vagina onto the animal's penis, or simply do it the old-fashioned way - manual stimulation using the hand. Electroejaculation generally requires anesthetizing the animal and is typically used on zoo dwellers. The AV - a large latex tube coated with warm lubricant - is used primarily to get sperm from dairy bulls. The bull gets randy with a cow; when he mounts the animal with his forelegs, a brave technician, AV in hand, insinuates himself between the two animals and redirects the bull's penis into the mock genitalia, which he must then hold tight while the bull orgasms. Three additional technicians anchor themselves to restraining ropes attached to a ring in the bull's nose. The same thing applies to pigs and goats. 

An artificial insemination technician, also known as Diary Cow Midwife, inserts semen deeply  into female bovine vaginas to get them pregnant.

Chicken Sexer : This gentleman stands at an assembly line and picks up fluffy, hour old, chicks, turns them upside down and squeezes their faeces out from their anuses so that he can put a finger inside in order to determine their sex. Tiny bumps indicate a male, while a flat surface is female. The males are killed. This job requires a gentle hand (so as to not damage the female chicks), a good eye (to recognize whether they have a penis or not) and the ability to forget that your whole working life is going to be spent looking at baby chicken’s sex organs.

Animal Shearers : These worthies pin the rabbit down flat on a surface and then shear the hair off, often breaking the bones and making a million body cuts in the process, while listening to it scream. The same applies to sheep shearers – considered the worst  job in Australia, next to Sheep Daggers, whose entire workshop consists of bending over sheep and removing soiled wool from their backsides – a process extremely painful for the animal and backbreaking for the human.

Goose/Duck Stuffers : To make pate foie gras, the diseased duck liver so beloved of rich people, the bird has to have an aluminium or plastic tube put into its food pipe. Workers stuff corn mesh down the tubes the entire day and make sure that the retching birds keep it down. If the mesh gets stuck they have to put their fingers into the tube to make sure it is pushed down into the stomach. This goes on until the liver is as large as the bird and it can be killed.

Pig Hair Remover : The hair is pulled out from hogs while alive. Three people hold the squealing animal down and the fourth pulls out bunches of hair, which are sent to be made into brushes – after the blood is washed off.

Pig Stabber : There is a belief that pigs should be stabbed many times before being killed so that the pork is more edible. People are hired in piggeries to take short knives and stab pigs repeatedly before killing them. A former kill floor manager gave the following account: "The worst thing, worse than the physical danger, is the emotional toll. . . . Pigs down on the kill floor have come up and nuzzled me like a puppy. Two minutes later I had to kill them - beat them to death with a pipe. I can’t care."

Animal Renderer :  Workers who bring the entrails, bones and blood from butchers and slaughterhouses, clean and strip them, boil and sort them, so that these animals can be turned into soap, fertilizer, candles, pharmaceuticals and toiletries (previously, tooth brush handles and teething rings as well.) De-animalising that leads to de-humanising.

You just have one short life. Are you sure you want to spend it killing other species? The pursuit of money cannot justify this, because these are the lowest paid with the poorest working conditions in the world. In India it has become a family profession and often parents start their children off at the age of four so that they know nothing else.  Each slaughterhouse worker suffers from diseases ranging from tuberculosis, asthma and bronchitis, eye, nose and throat irritation, traumatic injuries, noise-induced hearing loss. Most facilities operate 24 hours a day, 7 days a week – killing and processing hundreds or thousands of animals each hour. As one worker stated: The line is so fast there is no time to sharpen the knife. The knife gets dull and you have to cut harder. That’s when it really starts to hurt, and that’s when you cut yourself. Workers suffer chronic pains in their hands, wrists, arms, shoulders and back. The industry has consistently operated with one of the highest injury rates in the country.

Fishermen experience one of the highest rates of fatalities among all classes of workers. They must stay at sea for extended periods, and withstand adverse weather and sea conditions, catch, extract and store fish, load and unload. Depleted supplies of fish in many waters add an element of uncertainty regarding the success of expeditions.

How sad that humans should want to do jobs like this. These jobs are killing not just animals but destroying the rest of the world through polluting the land and water and bringing about climate change so that all of us are unsafe. Instead of trying to increase our meat exports, the government should be looking at retraining slaughter workers and letting them get jobs that keep their self respect and bring more money.

And you can help them by becoming vegetarian.

Maneka Sanjay Gandhi
Pl. add: To join the animal welfare movement contact,

Many people think that the wool industry is made of sheep gamboling in pastures.

Many people think that the wool industry is made of sheep gamboling in pastures. That no animal are abused or killed. That placid sheep stand in line quietly and men with large electric scissors shear their hair off.

Not true.

Before you buy wool see the PETA video, released in 2017, of the treatment of sheep in the shearing sheds of the main wool farms across Australia. The undercover video showed workers violently punching frightened sheep in the face, stomping and standing on their heads and necks, slamming their heads on the floor, beating and jabbing them in the head with electric clippers. The violent shearing process left large, bloody cuts on their bodies and  workers stitched up gaping wounds with a needle and thread without any anesthesia. Says one photographer "The shearing shed must be one of the worst places in the world for cruelty to animals … I have seen shearers punch sheep with their shears or their fists until the sheep's nose bled. I have seen sheep with half their faces shorn off …"
Three years before this, in 2014, Peta exposed similar abuse in the top wool exporting farms. Many owners and workers were arrested and given cruelty convictions. The industry vowed to reform. The secretary of the Shearing Contractors’ Association of Australia said that the 2014 footage had been a “wake-up call” to the industry and vowed to implement a zero-tolerance policy on cruelty to animals

After a few weeks it was business as usual and the cruelty was resumed.

Shearers are the bottom of human evolution -  illiterate, impatient, insensitive farm labour, who are paid per sheep. It doesn’t matter whether they cause the frightened animals distress and injury, they simply want the numbers done and their wages.

Is this the only country where such terrible things are done by shearers? Similar exposés have been done in Argentina, Chile and the United States, and they show the same brutality.

If the wool farms are not going to stop this, it is upto us, the consumes, to do it. Go wool free (God, thank you for acrylic !). You could write to wool retailers across the world to demand better conditions. You could start a shaming process through social media.

But, let us look at another way which has worked beautifully in another sector – and which I am very proud of.

Twenty years ago carpet importers, from Europe and America, were under pressure to stop doing business with India because we had been accused of using little children to make them. I was not in government. We made a group called Rugmark, moved into Varanasi and Bhadohi, and went from carpet maker to carpet maker and removed the children. We sent some back to their parents in Bihar where they had been kidnapped from, we put others in orphanages and schools which we established. By the time the exercise was over, children were out of the production system. Carpet exporters signed a pledge, which holds good till today, that they would never use them again. They were then allowed to buy labels from us called Rugmark, and Germany took the lead in promoting the label, which meant Childfree. Soon Pakistan and Nepal followed suit with the same label. The label was paid for by the foreign importers – Rs1 per label at the time and it went to the upkeep of children and their schooling. Rugmark solved an ethical problem and the industry was a willing co-operator.

We need to solve this problem with a similar label. Australia and New Zealand are the largest exporters of wool. Australia alone accounts for one fifth of global wool production. India is one of the top importers of wool from Australia. 60% is imported by China (and they couldn't care less about cruelty). They buy the worst wool. Then comes Italy with 20%. They buy for high fashion designers like Armani. We are the third largest with 15%-18%, and growing at 17% every year. In 2018 Australia exported 152 million dollars worth (41.47 million kg) to India. We import carpet wool, greasy wool, scoured wool, clipped wool, tannery wool, lamb's wool, merino wool and wool waste

We use this wool to make carpets, handloom fabrics, yarn, hosiery and knitwear - cardigans, pullovers, socks, gloves, mufflers and suit material. Carpet manufacturers blend domestic with New Zealand wool. We export the finished products. In 2014 our raw wool imports were 96.13 million kg, 8% higher than the previous year. In 2014 we imported 356 million dollars worth and exported 1.05 billion dollars. In 2019 it is 1.14 billion. Every year we export more because knitwear has a huge market, and our clients range from South Korea, UAE and Japan and, of course, Europe and the United States. Most of the main wool companies are in Ludhiana. From 2014 we have become the highest importers of wool from the United States, with 1.16 million kg.

We are big enough to influence the way sheep are kept, and treated, all over the world.

India’s wool industrialists need to develop a label that says Ethical Wool. Consumers now object to buying things which are not made by paying ethical fair wages, millions have gone vegan or organic, most designers have given up fur. Why not apply this new morality, and distaste for wickedness, to wool ?

Companies like Patagonia have already stopped using wool from the general market, and source it from wool farms that have ethical practices.

Our companies should refuse to buy wool from farms that have cruel shearing practices. There is a hideous practice called mulesing. Sheep are grown to get more and more wool on their bodies - some cannot even walk any more. Because sheep hair is oily, and the area round the anus is warm, and full of faeces and urine, sometimes blowfly lay their eggs on the skin, and the larvae feed on the sheep’s tissue. This, of course, makes the sheep sick and the quality of hair goes down. So, what the industry does is even worse. They cut the skin from the buttocks without anaesthesia. What would you do if some sick individual tried to cut large chunks of skin and flesh from around your anus? Flystrike, as the problem is called, can easily be avoided with better management and the use of skin insecticides. But Australian wool farmers employ very few labourers in order to keep costs down, so sheep are generally neglected. The industry defends mulesing by saying while it hurts the sheep, it saves them from being eaten by flies. This is not true. Flystrike only afflicts farmed, not wild, sheep and this is because the skin keeps getting increased so that more wool can grow on one body. The increased heat and folds are attractive for blowflies. It also creates very unhappy animals assaulted by handlers and shearers. And with each breeding generation, the industry favours sheep with the densest skin folds, thus ensuring that each successive generation will be even more vulnerable to flystrike. 
When the world threatened to boycott mulesed wool, Australia vowed in 2004 that they would ban it by 2010.  It is 2019 and they have still not done it. Many clothing companies have pledged not to use wool from sheep that have undergone this procedure.

There are many other horrible things that happen to sheep. For instance, Sharlea sheep have been mutated to produce a certain kind of wool. However, the same genetic mutation has also made them blind and unable to walk. Millions of sheep perish every year on large wool farms due to disease and individual neglect that occurs when animals, meant to roam freely, are squeezed together. Adequate health, and veterinary care for ailments, is non-existent. And, at the end of their "productive" lives, they're shipped to slaughter to the Middle East in overcrowded ships.  

If we confined our label to anti-mulesing and anti-bad shearing, castration, tail-docking, and ear-punching, we would go a long way. If our Indian wool industry would hire one animal welfare organisation in Australia to check randomly, and then give ethical wool labels, it could change the world. When India banned Pate foie gras in 2014, so did dozens of countries in Europe. When we started Rugmark and cleaned up child labour, it had an impact on so many industries who used child labour. It is time for Ethical Wool to become a reality.

Maneka Sanjay Gandhi
Pl. add: To join the animal welfare movement contact,

Eggs have always been considered to be a standard safe food.

Eggs have always been considered to be a standard safe food. Few people realise that every egg is different, and some may not be fit to eat at all.

An egg is made up of albumen, yolk and a porous shell made of calcium carbonate. The internal ingredients of an egg can be altered so that the natural composition changes by manipulating the feed of the hens. For instance, in Japan Omega 3 and iodine have been introduced into the eggs.

This means that the quality of the egg depends largely  on the food given to the egg layer, and the conditions she is kept in. It is affected by many factors, before and after its laying. Everything from the weather, type of feed given to the hen, amount of water consumed by her, cleanliness of the surroundings, number of hours that she spends in daylight and even the way she breathes, can drastically change the composition of the egg. The way an egg is handled, before it reaches your plate, could make it inedible.

On average, a chicken egg should contain about six grams of protein and six grams of fat. To produce this level, it is essential that a laying hen receives a balanced diet, with adequate levels of protein, carbohydrates, fat, vitamins and minerals. Experts recommend a balanced ration containing 16 to 18 percent protein and approximately 3½ percent calcium, to promote strong eggshells. Laying chickens also require a constant supply of fresh, clean water, as water comprises more than half of an egg’s volume.

            The fact, that an egg’s natural composition can be manipulated, is well known to commercial poultry farmers. Chemicals are added to the food so that they produce eggs that are better looking and last longer. Baking soda and ammonium chloride are commonly added as dietary supplements to improve eggshell quality. Potassium chloride is mixed with their water as it makes hens thirstier. The use of antibiotics is also common with Indian farmers, pumping hens with these from the day they are born.

            The best eggs really come from hens that spend their days outdoors in a natural environment and scratch for insects, seeds and earthworms in the soil. The eggs you buy do not come from these hens. To ensure high production, with a minimum of money, all hens are kept captive in small crowded cages with a strict controlled environment, no sun, no fresh air and water, chemical food and antibiotics. They are kept under continuous lighting so that they lay more eggs daily. How nutritious would the product of such a stressed body be? India has particularly poor egg quality.

            Indian poultry farms are known to be some of the worst in the world, with very low health and safety standards and little regard for public health concerns. Investigations at  poultries show hens covered with sores, badly fed, sitting in their own faeces, covered with spiderwebs, full of mites and lice, fed cannibalistically with the dead bodies of their own kind, cardboard, marble chips, fish meal and grain laced with antibiotics and pesticides. This destroys the nutritional quality of the egg.
Unhygienic rearing practices, and lack of quality control measures, is an open invitation for egg contamination. Despite India being one of the three largest egg producers in the world, with 47 billion a year, they do not meet international standards, and Indian eggs are rejected for export due to chemicals in and outside the shells.

Thick albumen, plump yolks and hard shells are what you should look for superficially. Do buyers look at the thickness of the shell ? Because a thin shell means that the mother has been ill. Diseases like infectious bronchitis, Newcastle disease, avian influenza  and egg drop syndrome, affect the shell quality. Infectious bronchitis virus causes soft/rough shelled eggs, discolouration and wrinkling of the shell. The egg, as a result of disease, has pale egg yolks, runny egg whites and rough shells. A deformed eggshell means the chicken has had a number of serious diseases.

The shell is formed by the activity of cells lining the oviduct and uterus. When the egg layer is under stress, the secretions of these cells become acidic. In extreme cases, stress induced effects can result in eggshells that are misshapen and have excess deposits of calcium - a powdery "bloom" on the surface.

During summer, the hen, already in a small stuffy cage, reacts by panting in order to cool herself. This produces a condition termed "respiratory alkalosis". The pH of the blood becomes alkaline and the availability of calcium for the eggshell is reduced. The eggshell becomes thin shelled. The thickness of the shell plays a vital role in preventing bacterial penetration. Thus eggs with thin shells are more prone to microbial attack.

An egg should have phosphorous, zinc, Vitamins A, B 6 ,B 12, folic acid, thiamine and Vitamin D. During heat stress hens eat less and calcium intake is reduced as a direct consequence of reduced feed intake. This causes an elevation of phosphorous in the blood. Calcium and phosphorus balance is critical for proper eggshell quality. But high levels of phosphorus in the blood inhibit the formation of calcium. When the Calcium and phosphorus ratio is out of sync, zinc and manganese decreases. Vitamin D decreases in a sick bird. So, the egg is left with very little in it. Due to the lack of exercise in these caged birds, the fat component increases, and then the fatty acid composition in the yolk changes from healthy to unhealthy.

In free range poultries – which simply means that they are not in cages, crowded on the floor – chickens have a hierarchy. Those down the chain often lay whiter shelled eggs, with poor internal quality, due to the stress that they are under.

Many studies show that tap water containing sodium chloride has an adverse effect on eggshell quality.

What hens eat is of crucial importance. Every hybrid layer bird should have a specially devised diet. That does not happen in India. Feed nutrients are used by poultry owners without any knowledge of their nutritive value. They feed the cheapest food to their hens. If soya meal is expensive, they will replace it with cotton seed defatted cake and guargum, Nothing of these has any nutritional value.

When you eat eggs sourced from poultry raised on antibiotics and growth promoters, you ingest antibiotic-resistant bacteria. Heat cannot break down the antibiotic residues that remain within the eggs. When you fall sick, no antibiotic will be able to work on your disease. India has the largest number of people resistant to antibiotics, and the main reason is that our chicken/eggs carry them. 

            After leaving the farm, the entire supply chain poses additional risks of contamination to the egg. Cracked eggs (about 6%) are particularly susceptible to outside contamination. A 2005 study in Punjab found residue of hexaxhlorocyclohexane (HCH) and dichlorodiphenyltrichloroethane (DDT) in eggs. These are both banned pesticides, and their presence on eggs is extremely dangerous to human health. Another 2010 study, by S. Dey and S.K. Dwivedi from the Indian Veterinary Institute, found lead and cadmium in eggs. Their study noted that consumption of contaminated eggs could lead to heavy metal poisoning in children, resulting in IQ deficiencies and even mental retardation.

Large scale egg handling invites salmonella and aflatoxin contamination. While most nations take measures to sterilise the egg surface from contamination, especially from Salmonella enteritidis, no measures are taken in India.

In a recent study done in and around Hyderabad, eggs were collected from urban retail outlets and directly from poultry farms. Salmonella bacteria was commonly found on shells and inside the eggs collected from urban retail outlets. Salmonella infection is a bacterial disease that affects the intestinal tract. Typhoid fever, food poisoning, gastroenteritis, enteric fever, are all types of Salmonella infection. It is linked to contaminated water or foods, especially meat, poultry, and eggs. Salmonella bacteria is abundantly found in poultry sheds, water tanks, drinking water and feed in poultry premises. The internal contamination of eggs, by Salmonella, is either because the shell is thin enough to be penetrated, or that the egg was contaminated by the infected reproductive organs  of the hen. Eschericia Coli, Enterobacter aerogenes and Sheigella were the other bacteria found.

            The FSSAI laws state that the eggshells must be free of blood rings, must not be soiled, or have faecal matter, and they must not be cracked. They have laid down the hygiene parameters that must be observed during production, processing and handling, which includes sorting, grading, washing, drying, treatment, packing, storage and distribution. They emphasise on storage conditions, like moisture and temperature, so as to reduce microbial contamination.

No one even knows the laws. Poultry farmers, traders, exporters and even consumers, are unaware of the health risks of egg contamination.

Abroad, every batch of eggs has to have the name of the poultry where they have come from. That is how the food inspectors were able to determine so quickly that the eggs, with fipronil pesticide in them, came from 18 poultries in Holland (Indian eggs have the same pesticide in them). In India you have no idea where the egg comes from. Egg consumption is encouraged by the Government. This makes their quality, and contamination, a major food safety issue.

Maneka Sanjay Gandhi
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What is the difference between you and an ant?

What is the difference between you and an ant? From war making to making slaves, from inventing medicines to farming, they do it much like humans, only better.


*  In every dense community, human, mammal or insect, sanitation is a problem. Of all the creatures that inhabit the earth, man is probably the dirtiest, spreading his poisonous faeces everywhere and caring little about its pollutive effects. Lasius niger ants live in nests and they use the corner of their nests as common toilets, according to the journal PLOS ONE by the University of Regensburg, Germany. Ants normally keep a very clean nest, and usually throw out dangerous rubbish, like food remains and dead bodies. This piled-up dry waste is kept for defence, as building materials, and as manure for their crops.


*  Lasius neglectus workers tear apart and spray acid on pupae in order to disinfect the nest. If pupae are found to carry an ant killing fungus in their bodies they are killed and eviscerated . How do they know which juveniles to kill, while the fungal infection was still in its incubation period before it had become visible or contagious? Believe it or not, according to researchers from the Institute of Science and Technology, Austria, the pupa itself communicates a find me/eat me signal, the ultimate altruistic act to save the colony.


*  Diseases can spread quickly among dense populations of organisms, whether they're people living in crowded cities or groups of social insects such as ant colonies. When humans are infected with a pathogen, the immune system churns out proteins, called antibodies, that rally to the body's defence. Some ant species use antimicrobials — chemical compounds that kill pathogens — to stop disease, according to a study at North Carolina State University published in RSOS. These antimicrobial compounds are applied by the ants to their own bodies, to those of their nest mates, and to their nests.

These compounds may be acquired from antimicrobial bacteria; for example, leafcutter ants cultivate bacteria on their bodies that protect them against infection from parasites that feed on the fungus they grow as food. Other ant species harvest the ingredients from tree resin. These microbials are shared among the colony.


*  Ants have all kinds of different weapons. Often, ants will cooperate to pin down members of the other colonies, or cut them to pieces while the enemy is being held down. Ants are really quite nasty. Other ants have glands in the head, or abdomen, that exude toxic chemicals to confuse their enemies. Their tactics range from physical fighting to chemical warfare, just like it does in humans.


Their wars are large scale, intense, tactical. Mark Moffett’s book, Adventures Among Ants, documents barbaric and bizarre combat strategies – the same as human ones.

130 army ant species operate like Roman armies. Moving as a massive, united front, they depend entirely on the element of surprise to overwhelm the enemy. Once the food in the new territory has been eaten the army moves on.

As in human armies, which place the young and inexperienced as foot soldiers or infantry in front, ants also assign the smallest, weakest, older ants and the cripples on the front lines. In effect, the expendables. The actual fighters are behind the lines waiting for the enemy to get tired and reduce in ranks while fighting the cheap labour. Then the large sized, mega-jawed killers move in and bite the enemy to death.

And, while ants will readily die for their community, they're also pragmatic.

"An ant would never go out of its way to save another ant," Moffett says. "They go in to get the job done, not take care of one another."


*  Slave-maker ants attack other ant colonies, captures their eggs and larvae, bring them back to their own nests and raise them as slaves to increase the worker force of their colony. After emerging in the slave-maker nest, slave workers work as if they were in their own colony, while the slavemakers only concentrate on replenishing the labour force from neighbouring nests. A colony may capture 14,000 pupae in a single season. Most slave-raiders capture only the young, but Strongylognathus ants also enslave adult workers.

Workers that emerge from eggs  in the slavemakers’ nest will rear the brood, feed and groom the workers, defend the nest against aliens, and even participate in raids, including those against their original colony.

In some cases, the enslaved ants rebel against their slave-maker ants, killing a large number of the slave-maker ant offspring. Thus, the slave ants protect their native colonies from further raids by slave-maker ants.


*  Unlike in other ant colonies, all dinosaur ants are able to reproduce. However, there’s still a single queen, surrounded by beta females. If any of the queen’s servants becomes greedy for power and decides to lay eggs and be the new queen, it’s subdued by the rest of the courtiers and pinned to the ground for up to four days until the urge subsides.


*  Dracula ants are the fastest animals on earth. One species, Mystrium camillae, has a pair of mandibles that snap at 90 metres a second or 320 kilometres an hour, according to a study in Royal Society of Open Science. That’s 5,000 times faster than you can blink your eye and 1,000 times faster than you can snap your fingers. Their name derives from their cannibalistic feeding habits, As adult ants are unable to process solid food, they feed prey like paralysed termites or centipedes to their larvae and then chew holes in their larvae and drink their blood.

*  Weaver ants, Oecophylla smaragdina, build homes out of tree leaves. Their larvae produce a thin silk which acts as the glue that sticks the leaves together.


*  Allomerus decemarticulatus ants of South America make tiny holes in a plant stem, hide and cover themselves with a fungus they produce themselves. When an unsuspecting insect lands on a stem full of those trap holes, the ants jump up and catch it with their mandibles. Then, they slowly drag the captive to a leaf pouch and tear it apart.


*  Leafcutter ants are fulltime farmers. They  cut out fresh leaves with their sharp mandibles and  bring them to their nests to feed a particular type of bacteria that lives with the ants. That bacteria develops into fungi to become the food source for the ants.

Maneka Sanjay Gandhi
Pl. add: To join the animal welfare movement contact,

As more and more people become resistant to antibiotics

As more and more people become resistant to antibiotics, their chances of survival, if they have chronic wounds, decrease. Surgeons have now gone back to a thousand year old technique of healing called maggot therapy or biosurgery, introducing live, germ free maggots into non-healing skin and soft tissue wounds in order to clean out the dead skin, disinfect the wound and stimulate healing .

Flies sometimes lay their eggs on the festering wounds of living beings. Their eggs hatch, become larvae and start feeding on the tissue. The flies used most often for the purpose of maggot therapy are the Green Bottle fly (Lucilia sericata) and Northern Blowfly (Protophormia terraenovae).

Maggots are applied to the wound at a dose of 5–10 larvae per square centimeter of wound surface area, and are left within their dressing for 48–72 hrs. (Since medicinal maggots cannot dissolve or feed on healthy tissue, their natural instinct is to crawl elsewhere as soon as the wounds are clean, or the larvae are satiated.) Doctors have found that large numbers of small maggots consume necrotic tissue far more precisely than surgeons can operate, and can remove foreign material and damaged tissue in a day or two. They secrete enzymes that liquefy the necrotic tissue which they eat. As they eat they increase in size and have to be removed in two days, leaving a clean wound.  

Larvae kill bacteria in wounds by producing natural antibiotic‐like agents and growth promoting agents which cause a wound to heal rapidly. There is evidence that they secrete chemicals with a broad‐spectrum bactericidal effect. They also secrete ammonia, causing wounds to become more alkaline, which inhibits bacterial growth. Studies have shown that maggots destroy a wide range of pathogenic bacteria including methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus (MRSA), gram positive aerobic and anaerobic strains, Streptococcus pyogenes and S. pneumoniae. Having removed the bacteria, the wound is stimulated to grow healthy tissue. They are particularly useful in chronic ulcers including diabetic foot ulcers, osteomyelitis, postsurgical wound infections, and burns. Life‐threatening ear bone infections and gangrene have also been treated with maggot therapy after unsuccessful antibiotic and surgical treatments. Research is on to see whether maggots can be used to eat away tumours or cancerous lesions when surgical intervention is not possible .

Evidence exists that larvae have been used for thousands of years by ancient cultures such as the aboriginal Ngemba tribe of Australia, the Hill people of Myanmar and the Mayan healers of Central America. The Mayans soaked dressings in the blood of cattle, and exposed them to the sun before applying them to lesions, in order to attract flies.

The French surgeon, Ambroise Pare (1510–1590), was the first doctor to note the beneficial effect of fly larvae for wounds. Napoleon’s surgeon, Baron Dominique‐Jean Larrey (1766–1842), who treated the injured in  Napoleon's army, observed that maggots of the “blue fly” only removed dead tissue and had a positive effect on the remaining healthy tissue.

The first officially documented application of maggots was done by John Forney Zacharias (1837–1901), a surgeon from Maryland during the American civil war. He wrote “During my service in the hospital at Danville, Virginia, I first used maggots to remove the decayed tissue in hospital gangrene and with eminent satisfaction. In a single day, they would clean a wound much better than any agents we had at our command. I used them afterwards at various places. I am sure I saved many lives by their use, escaped septicaemia, and had rapid recoveries.”

But the popular medical belief was that maggots were dirty and full of infection. By the end of the 19th century, there were hardly any doctors who would support the use of fly larvae.

During World War I, mortality from open wounds increased to 70%. Antiseptic tools did not work. In 1917, William Baer, a military surgeon in France, reported his treatment of open fractures and stomach wounds with maggots. After the war he became Professor of Orthopaedic Surgery at the Johns Hopkins University. From 1929 to his death he continued his experiments with maggots on patients on whom all other treatment had failed.  In 1931, he published the first scientific study of maggots’ effectiveness in wound care.

In order to overcome the disgust of patients and staff, he created special bandages to hide the larvae, and he and his colleagues developed specific flies, and different methods, to sterilise the eggs.

In the 30s and 40s maggot therapy boomed. More than 1,000 American, Canadian and European hospitals introduced maggots into their programme of wound healing. Many had their own insectariums. Others bought from Lederle Pharmaceuticals, who bred and distributed “surgical maggots”. More than 100 publications appeared.

Then penicillin and antibiotics came in and the medical world abandoned maggot therapy. By the 50s, it was over.

By the end of the 1980s, millions of people were resistant to penicillin and antibiotics, pressure ulcers and diabetic foot ulcers were on the rise, and conventional wound care was inadequate. Diabetic foot ulcers alone affect 15% of the diabetes patient population and account for over 1.5 million foot ulcers and at least 70,000 amputations annually.

In 1989, University of California physicians Ronald Sherman and Edward Pechter reintroduced maggot therapy for use with patients whose wounds failed to respond to antibiotics and with victims of flesh-eating bacteria. Their results were every bit as spectacular as Baer’s first experiments. They demonstrated that maggot-treated patients required fewer days of antibiotics and healed their wounds an average of 4 weeks faster than control patients. Studies have consistently shown that pre-amputation maggot therapy saves 40–50% of limbs, usually with complete wound healing.

In the UK, surgeons John Church and Stephen Thomas set up the Biosurgical Research Unit in South Wales. Since 1995, the unit has commercially distributed sterile larvae. Thomas  has calculated that the use of maggot therapy for just 30% of non-healing diabetic ulcers could save the United Kingdom approximately £50 million annually.

Since 1996, an annual world meeting on larval therapy, called the International Conference on Biotherapy, is organised by the International Biotherapy Society.

In 2004, the FDA cleared maggots for use as a medical device in the United States for the purpose of treatment of non-healing necrotic skin and soft tissue wounds, ulcers and non-healing traumatic or post-surgical wounds.

Now it has become standard treatment all over the world. The revival in maggot therapy is due to technological advancements. The three most common objections to maggot therapy, during the 1930s, were the hassle of making dressings, the difficulty in obtaining live, germ-free maggots, and their high cost. Now, improved adhesives and synthetic fabrics allow doctors to make dressings to hold the maggots within the wound bed. The establishment of dozens of laboratories throughout the world, and overnight courier services, has made germ free medicinal maggots readily available. And treatment by maggots is less expensive than surgery

The UK Government is spending $250,000 (Pound 196,000)  in 2019 to buy green bottle blowfly maggots to send to war zones in Syria, Yemen and South Sudan.

To roll out "project maggot," the U.K. will have field hospitals raise maggots on location. Once the fly eggs are laid, they will be sterilized and then incubated for a day or two. At that point, the maggots can be put directly into wounds, or placed in BioBags which are then wrapped around injuries. By 2021 doctors plan to create a do-it-yourself maggot starter kit, so that people in remote communities can raise them themselves.

Every creature in the world is useful – except the human.

Maneka Sanjay Gandhi
Pl. add: To join the animal welfare movement contact,

Many years ago, I asked a stylish, older, film actress from Mumbai whether she would be

Many years ago, I asked a stylish, older, film actress from Mumbai whether she would be the ambassador of my animal welfare organization People for Animals. I had been to her house twice for dinner, and she had made the most amazing vegetarian food, and kept grumbling about how awful meat was.

She refused, and her explanation was that while she did not eat meat generally, she could not do without pate foie gras. Everyday.

Pate Foie Gras is French for fat liver paste. It is a luxury item because few countries allow it to be made, due to the extreme cruelty involved. It is the cancerous liver of a duck or goose fattened by force in a process known as gavage. Birds spend their lives in semi-darkness. Till 8 weeks old they are confined to cages to prevent exercise, and fed a diet designed to promote rapid growth. Force-feeding begins when the birds are between 8 and 10 weeks old. For 12 to 21 days, ducks and geese are subjected to gavage. Every day, between 2 and 4 pounds of grain and fat are forced down the birds’ throats through a feeding tube. The tube “is pushed 5 inches down their throats, and more food than they want is gunned into their stomachs three times a day. If the mushy corn sticks … a stick is sometimes used to force it down.” The birds’ livers, which become engorged from a carbohydrate-rich diet, grow to be more than 10 times their normal size (a disease called “hepatic steatosis”). Most of the ducks/geese are lame and unable to walk without using their wings for support. Some ducks moved by pushing their bodies along the floor. All of them are severely stressed and ill. Most throats develop skin lesions and neck wounds, and get maggots in them.  The carcasses show wing fractures and severe tissue damage to the throat muscles.

When the bird’s liver weighs 2 or 3 lb (1.0–1.5 kg), (these livers are felt every day by farm workers, causing even more pain to the bird that is already in agony from the unnatural feeding and damage to its food pipe, its forced restraints and its huge liver), its throat is slit and the liver taken out. The rest of the bird is thrown away.

French chef Jean-Joseph Clause created and popularized pâté de foie gras in 1779, and was awarded a gift of twenty pistols by King Louis XVI  (probably to kill more animals). He obtained a patent for the dish in 1784 and began a business supplying pâté to the rich. By 1827, Strasberg (and now Toulouse ) was known as the goose-liver capital of the world.

Pâté is made by removing the veins, gristle and membrane. The liver is chopped and made into a paste combined with wine, salt, herbs, mushrooms and sometimes veal (which is the meat of a baby calf starved to death so that its meat turns white). This paste is pressed down to form a cake.  The product is exported to all parts of the world in several forms—the paste in tins, the plain cooked livers, sausages and purée. Pate is served as an appetizer with bread or crackers.

France produces more than 20,000 tons of foie gras each year. Only five countries still produce foie gras: Belgium, Romania, Spain, France and Hungary.

In July 2014 India banned the import of foie gras. Its production is banned in 35 countries, including Australia, Argentina, Austria, the Czech Republic, Denmark, Finland, Germany, Italy, Luxembourg, Norway, Poland, Turkey, Ireland, Sweden, Switzerland, the Netherlands, Israel and the United Kingdom. However, foie gras can still be imported into, and purchased in, these countries. The European Union is working to phase out the force-feeding of birds entirely by 2020.

 While it is banned in California, it is made in a few goose/duck farms in America.

Foie gras is unhealthy for humans. It derives 85 percent of its calories from fat: A 2-ounce serving contains 25 grams of fat and 85 milligrams of cholesterol.

Companies all over the world are now working furiously on creating meat from animal cells. The end product already has a name : clean meat. The science for cultured meat is an outgrowth of the field of biotechnology known as tissue engineering

The initial stage of growing cultured meat is to collect cells that proliferate rapidly - embryonic stem cells,adult stem cells , myosatellite cells or myoblasts.

The cells are treated by applying a protein that promotes tissue growth. They are then placed in a culture medium, in a bio-reactor, which is able to supply the cells with the energy requirements they need. Nutrients and oxygen are delivered close to each growing cell.

To culture three-dimensional meat, the cells are grown on an edible scaffold.

It has been claimed that, conditions being ideal, two months of cultured meat production could deliver up to 50,000 tons of meat from ten pork muscle cells. Scientists have already identified growth media for turkey, fish, sheep and pig muscle cells.  

Once the scale and cost are dealt with, the price of cultured, or clean meat, will come down to the same levels as animal meat.  

A company called Hampton Creek Foods, founded in 2011 in California by Josh Tetrick and Josh Balk, has chosen to make Pate Foie Gras in this way.

With its team of food scientists, biochemists, and engineers, Hampton Creek is a technology rather than a food company. As of 2014, it has secured $30 million in funding, and is backed by six billionaires including Bill Gates, Jerry Yang (Founder of Yahoo), and Li Ka-Shing, the wealthiest person in Asia. Gates’ 2013 documentary, The Future of Food, features the company. Hampton Creek has signed agreements with Fortune 500 companies and is now valued at 1 billion dollars. Its food is sold across the States and many of its items, like egg-alternative mayonnaise, are the highest sellers of their kind, beating the egg based varieties.

They are now spending millions of dollars making the world’s first clean foie gras, while developing cell lines for various other meats. Like most of the clean food companies in America, many of their scientists are Indian.

One of those scientists is a stem cell biologist called Aparna Subramanian who grows the farm animal cell lines. She takes the birds from a local farm and removes some cells for the starting material.

Why Pate? The company feels that it is a high end luxury product which is technically easier to make by multiplying cells, and which chefs and foodies want as it is a status symbol. Because it is already so expensive, getting a cultured version of it to be cost-competitive is easier than trying to compete with other poultry products at first.

Liver is easier and cheaper to grow than muscle. If you feed liver cells a lot of sugar, they get fattier and fattier, to the point where they mimic the hepatic lipidosis that’s induced in ducks and geese when they’re force-fed to produce the delicacy.

Trials are on to get the cultured fatty liver to the exact taste of the current foie gras in the market – since no traditional pate eater cares about the cruelty part. “Until it scores better than the force-fed version on our blind tests, not a single consumer will buy this product” The company projects that Hampton Creek’s product will be “the world’s highest-grade foie gras.”

The current sales of foie gras are $3 billion globally. Its sale is banned in California (banned in 2004 by Arnold Schwarzenegger, it overcame all its legal challenges to become operative in 2017) so, if Hampton Creek became the first company to be allowed to sell Foie Gras in California, it would headline the progress that clean meats are making.

 “Foie gras is regarded by top chefs as perhaps the most prized animal product today. It can be sold for upto a hundred dollars a pound. ”

Tasters of the Hampton Creek pate say the pâté is meaty, rich, buttery, savoury, and very decadent. Hampton Creek wants to be the world’s largest meat company by 2030 – producing tones of blue fin tuna, Kobe beef and chicken meat of all kinds – without using a single animal . “We want to render the current model of meat production totally obsolete.

Our goal is to make meat so obviously better, that there’d never be a reason to choose the conventional kind.”

The plan right now is to commercialise Pate Foie Gras , the first cultured meat of an animal product made without using animal. Once it is on the market I will send masses of it to the actress, and then perhaps she will agree to be our brand ambassador

Maneka Sanjay Gandhi
Pl. add: To join the animal welfare movement contact,

There are no pests, no weeds, in nature.

There are no pests, no weeds, in nature. There are beings who get in the way of humans growing food, or destroying the habitat in order to take up residence and make service centres for these human populations. Billions of insects are killed by pesticides alone for this purpose.

Human beings have used insects as medicine in different human cultures throughout the world, but very little research was done to convert local use into proven, standardized medicine. Entomotherapy is a branch of science that uses insects for medicine. The rise of antibiotic resistant infections has forced pharmaceutical research into looking for new resources. Many insects, used in alternative medicine, are now being tested for mainstream medical products. FDA, for instance, recently approved the flu vaccine, Flublok, which is derived from cells taken from the ovaries of the fall armyworm moth.

One insect alone, the honey bee, provides honey, pollen, royal jelly, propolis and an anti-inflammatory peptide melittin. Honey is applied to skin to treat scar tissue, rashes and burns, and as an eye poultice, for digestive problems and as a general health restorative. It is taken hot to treat colds, coughs, laryngitis, tuberculosis, throat infections and lung diseases.

Apitoxin (honey bee venom) is applied through direct stings to relieve arthritis, rheumatism, polyneuritis and asthma. Propolis, used by bees as a hive insulator and sealant, is said to have antibiotic, anaesthetic, and anti-inflammatory properties. Royal jelly is used to treat anaemia, ulcers, arteriosclerosis and hypertension. Bee pollen is eaten as a health restorative.

Over a thousand protein families have been identified in the saliva of blood-feeding insects; these may provide useful drugs such as anticoagulants, vasodilators, antihistamines and anaesthetics.

Here are some lesser known insects who are used in human medicine :

1. The University of Miami is researching the use of the venom of the South American Devil Tree Ant in rheumatoid arthritis. Half the patients were injected with venom extract. The other half with placebos. Those who received the venom derivative showed dramatic reduction in the number and intensity of inflamed joints, and marked increases in their freedom of motion. Patients who received the placebo showed no improvement. A U.S. patent is pending on the chemical.

Many native healers use ants. Black Mountain Ant extracts dilate blood vessels that supply the penis. The venom of the Red Harvester Ant was used to cure rheumatism, arthritis and poliomyelitis. The South American tree ant, Pseudomyrmex sp., commonly called as the Samsum Ant’s venom can reduce inflammation, inhibit tumour growth and treat liver ailments.

Even 3,000 years ago the mandibles of soldier ants were used as stitches. The ant was agitated, and when it opened its jaws , it was placed around the wound to be stitched and the mouth allowed to close. The ant's body was then pinched away, leaving the head holding the wound together.

2. Several African cultures use poultices made from ground grasshoppers as pain relievers for migraines. Neurologists hypothesize that grasshopper toxins stimulate the human central nervous system, and dilate blood vessels, increasing circulation. Powdered, sun-dried, grasshopper is turned into a tea for the treatment of asthma and hepatitis.

3. Across Southeast Asia, healers have capitalized on blister beetles’ healing powers since ancient times. Also known as “Spanish Fly,” the beetles represent humankind’s first remedy for erectile dysfunction. Blister beetle secretions reduce burning pain sensations commonly associated with urinary tract infections, insect bites, kidney problems, and burns.

Blister beetles secrete cantharidin, which is effective in treating severe viral infections, because it prevents viral cell reproduction, and may be useful in treatment of cancerous tumours resistant to radiation and chemotherapy. A number of research papers have been published confirming that cantharidin has multiple effects on cancer cells.

4. Emerging science suggests that silkworm extracts may have benefits, as dietary supplements, for patients with heart disease and circulatory disorders. Preliminary studies indicate they reduce serum cholesterol, and dissolve vascular plaque. Boiled silkworm pupae  have been used by Chinese medicine to treat apoplexy, bronchitis, convulsions and frequent urination. A bacteria that lives in the digestive system of silkworms contains a substance known as serrapeptase. This substance appears to offer pain relief for people with back injuries. There are studies underway to see if they can also help with sports injuries.

5. Traditional Asian practitioners use centipedes to treat tetanus, seizures, and convulsions. Centipedes are dried, ground into a paste, and applied topically to sores and carbuncles.  

6. Ayurveda uses termites, and their mounds, for ulcers, rheumatic diseases, anaemia, and pain. In Africa Termites are used in asthma, bronchitis, influenza, whooping cough.

7. Spider silk is an ideal material to use in skin grafts, or ligament implants, because it is one of the strongest known natural fibres, and triggers little immune response. Spider silk may also be used to make fine sutures for stitching nerves, or eyes, to heal with little scarring.

8. The Jatropha Leaf Miner, a moth who feeds on the Jatropha plant, is an example of an insect considered a pest who has medicinal value. The larvae of the insect are harvested, boiled, and mashed into a paste which is administered topically and is said to induce lactation, reduce fever, and soothe gastrointestinal tracts.

9. In southwestern Nigeria, an infected foot is treated by smearing and rubbing mashed mole crickets on it.

10. Locusts are eaten in post childbirth anaemia, lung diseases, asthma and chronic cough.

11. The May Beetle is used as a remedy for anaemia and rheumatism. The Peanut Beetle for asthma, arthritis, tuberculosis and the Palm Beetle for earache.

12. Cicadas are crushed and applied to migraine headaches and ear infection.

13. The Red Velvet Mite is eaten in urogenital disorders, and paralysis. 

14. A mass of boiled Mealybugs was ingested to alleviate the affects of poisonous mushrooms and other fungi, or diarrhoea, and to clean the teeth and in the treatment of caries.

15. In the heads of cockroaches are chemical compounds that can kill Escherichia coli (E. Coli) and Methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus (MRSA), two harmful bacteria that are resistant to most drugs. It was discovered that tissues, taken from the brains and nervous system of the insects, killed off over 90% of MRSA infections and E. coli.

16. Scientists from the Institute for Biomedical Research, Barcelona, have carried out successful in vitro tests, using wasp venom, to kill cancer cells. Wasp venom contains Polybia MPI (from venom of the wasp Polybiapaulista), which shows anti tumour activity and kills only cancer cells, leaving the healthy cells around it.

17. Studies on caterpillar venom show that cecropins, which are a group of peptides isolated from the caterpillar blood of the Giant Silk Moth Hyalophoracecropia, have anti-microbial activity, and have been used as a potent anti-cancer agent against a variety of tumour cell lines. Cecropins are active against several mammalian lymphomas and leukaemia, and may offer novel strategies for the treatment of bladder cancer.

18. In 1993 Margatoxin was synthesized from the venom of the Central American bark scorpion. Patented by Merck, it has the potential to prevent bypass graft failure. Scorpion venom extract has been shown to be able to detect and spotlight cancer cells, under a special light used during surgery.

All these insects are being killed in the millions everyday as pests. Unless we take action to protect and develop our environment sustainably, and get rid of pesticides/herbicides and poisons that kill them and us, the window of chance for the discovery of new medicinal agents will be closed forever. One day we will find that the millions of insects we have killed, through pest control, could have saved our lives. By then it might be too late for them and us.

Maneka Sanjay Gandhi
Pl. add: To join the animal welfare movement contact,

New things are happening on the food

New things are happening on the food front that are exciting and potentially earth saving. From clean meat, which is real meat made by multiplying cells instead of using animals – which will remove the millions of animals that are grown and tortured for food – to milk that is made in the same way. One company has started making real yolks without chickens.

And now comes gelatine.

For the last five years I have been trying to get the Government to make a law, asking for all medicine capsules to be vegetarian. Millions of people, like me, can’t eat medicines because the capsule is made of ground animal bone from cows and pigs. The Drug Controller General of India (DCGI) made a number of committees. Presentations were made, issues discussed and, finally, he agreed that capsules should be vegetarian. Then the gelatine industry started feeding the press, and their lobbyists got into the act,…it would make them expensive, vegetarian alternatives were not available, all not true.  Then the political order came that this was not to be done as it would have “political repercussions close to the elections” – meaning that some politician’s friend was in the gelatine industry. So, we are back to where we started after five years, and I am really sad.

Gelatine is a flavourless, colourless, gelling and thickening agent made by throwing animal skin, bones and connective tissues into an acid, or alkaline, bath and dissolving them.

The animal parts, used commercially, are pig skin, cow hide, cattle bones, fish skin.

Gelatine dissolves in hot water and gels when it cools, and creates a texture and bite in confectionary such as sweets, marshmallows, desserts, cakes and jellies. It is used to simulate the “mouthfeel of fat” in low fat foods and to create volume in foods ranging from ice cream, all Chinese food, soups, cream cheese, gummy bears, wine, beer, apple juice and vinegar , pill capsules, frosted cereals, yogurts, dips and even some frozen vegetables. It’s what gives them their chewy, rubbery strength.

Food & beverage is the biggest market for gelatine, followed by nutraceuticals, pharmaceuticals, photography, and cosmetics such as face creams,  shampoos, hair sprays, soaps and nail polishes.

There are vegan alternatives to gelatine : agar agar, pectin, starches, gums. But companies using gelatine say that they do not have the same chemical and mechanical properties. They are also slightly more expensive.

But, now a company, Gelzen, has been founded in 2015 to produce animal-free gelatine, for use in food, pharmaceutical, and cosmetic products, in a new way. Gelzen co-founders are  molecular biologist Nick Ouzounov, Phd, and Alex Lorestani, Phd, who studied medicine at Rutgers, and bacterial pathogenesis. While studying at Princeton they asked themselves the question: Why has the consumer goods industry still not benefited from synthetic biology to the extent that medicine has? We no longer have to slaughter a pig and take its pancreas to get insulin, so why should we do it for gelatine and collagen?

Geltor (previously known as Gelzen) is a California based company that seeks to disrupt the gelatine market by providing the same gelatine – except that it is animal free. It creates designer vegan collagen for the best skincare products, and in 2018 it won the CEW  Beauty Innovation Award. CEW is Cosmetic Executive Women - 8,600+ beauty industry professionals who know the best cosmetics in the market.

The San Francisco-based company seeks to supply the overwhelming demand for gelatine. By taking the machinery that builds collagen in animals and moving it into microbes, Gelzen can make a customizable, cost-competitive, safe, animal-free and environmentally friendly product. Gelzen explains the simple logic behind the cruelty-free gelatine on its website: “Scavenging essential products from animals presents urgent economic problems, environmental problems, public health problems, and, for many, moral problems.” Gelzen has been heavily invested in by food and tech investors.

Most people don’t know they are munching on a sweet containing fish or pigskin. But, if they did, I am sure they would not buy the product – even if they are meat eaters. It’s not just religious (halal/kosher/cow/pig issues) but also about animal diseases. The vegetarian/vegan market is growing and there is a significant demand for a vegan alternative that can precisely replicate the unique qualities of gelatine. The current market for gelatine has been estimated at 3 billion dollars (current price is about $8 dollars per kg),so there is great potential for a cost effective alternative. People are already paying four to five times this amount for gelatine substitutes.

What Geltor has done is, it has taken microbes and genetically engineered them to produce collagen from which gelatine is derived via a fermentation process, without using or harming animals. Gelzen’s scientists program bacteria and yeast with the same genetic information as in animal tissue that produces gelatine. They then use these biological strains to ferment gelatine.

According to Lorestani: “We start with a suite of microbes that naturally produce proteins but we give them a set of instructions for making collagen [from which gelatine derives] in the form of genes. We are basically programming them to build collagen for us. The process can also be customized so we can make gelatin with a specific stiffness or beer clarifying agents with a particular property.”

Geltor’s animal-free collagen "" target="_blank">(N-Collage™) launched in April 2018. Their aim is to have significant commercial quantities available by 2020, but they have already started selling.

The use of animals as edible proteins is now fast becoming archaic. Once all these companies, with alternative production systems, come on the market, people will wonder twenty years from now why they ever ate meat and got all their diseases. Why they let millions of acres of land be devastated for animal grazing, why they let 70% of the water be used for animals, why they allowed greenhouse gases to be emitted by animals.

For the 400 million vegetarians and vegans in the world the suspect presence of gelatine in foods often means going without pudding, or having to read endless number of labels. It also means that many companies lose customers. Now, with Gelzen in the field with safe, sustainable, and no animal cruelty in its real gelatine, the gelatine companies in India have no excuse at all.

If you want to be a distributor here are the contacts:

Contact Email :

Phone Number : 415-325-3560

San Leandro, California, United States

Maneka Sanjay Gandhi
Pl. add: To join the animal welfare movement contact,

I came across a blog by an Indian software engineer

I came across a blog by an Indian software engineer, who claimed that he had not eaten eggs because he was a Hindu vegetarian but, since he was curious about “actual facts”, he did some research and has come to the conclusion that eating eggs is ok, because no chicks are killed in the process and that, since eggs are not animal flesh, they were vegetarian. This was his reasoning to start eating eggs and yet be called vegetarian. “Laying eggs to a chicken is similar to the menstrual cycle for a women. This means that hens do not need to be pregnant to lay eggs. Every chicken lays a certain number of eggs each week and peaks for the first 2-3 years after which it slowly drops off but still continues until 5 years which is its life expectancy.” He ended by saying that he demanded science over religion. Unfortunately every word he wrote was rubbish.

So, here is the actual science of whom an egg eater kills every time he eats an omelet :

The eggs we eat come from hens in giant industrial hatcheries. But when fertile eggs hatch to produce these hens, 50% are male—and the egg business has no use for male chicks.

Layer hens and their chicks are different to chickens that are bred and raised for meat production. Layer hens are bred to produce eggs, whereas meat chickens are bred to grow large breast muscle and legs.

At the layer-hen hatcheries, supplying the egg industry with layer hens, the eggs are developed in industrial incubators. Once hatched, the newborn chicks pass down a production line to be sexed and sorted. Small or weak female chicks, and all male chicks, are separated from the healthy female chicks and then killed.

Male chicks are an unwanted byproduct: they cannot lay eggs and they are not suitable for chicken-meat production, as they don’t grow fast enough (broilers or chickens grown for meat are killed in six weeks). 7 billion male chicks are killed annually. They are mashed and fed to the female chicks, or used as feed for other animals.

A chick is put on a conveyor belt as soon as it is born. It is picked up manually and a “ chicken sexer” ( this is actually a human’s job !) squeezes this little baby’s anus ( anal vent also called cloaca) so that its faeces comes out and he can see whether the chick has a small bump inside. If so, this is a male chick and it is put aside to be killed. (By the way, the salary for a chicken sexer in England is Pound 40,000 but hardly anyone applies. 'What does papa do?' He looks at baby chick anuses the whole day). The average life of a male chick, in the egg industry, is one day.

The forms of killing are:

1.    The chicks are thrown into gas chambers and then gassed with high concentrations of carbon dioxide. Gassing results in gasping and head shaking and, depending on the mixture of gases used, it may take up to two minutes for the chick to die. Remember how the world objected to Hitler doing that with people. He probably learnt it from the poultry industry.

2.    Being thrown, fully conscious, into macerating (high speed grinding ) machines. “Mechanical destruction” is an approved method of “culling chicks and ducklings”.

3.    In smaller poultries the chicks simply have their necks broken. The sexers check the anus and then twist the baby’s neck and throw it into a heap of dead bodies. The industry calls it “ cervical dislocation”. This is recommended by the American Veterinary Association, God bless them. So is “thoracic compression”, which means that the man squeezes the chest till the heart stops.

4.    Electrocution. The chicken is thrown into water through which a current passes and it writhes till it dies. At the end of the day the current is switched off and the dead bodies taken out. If it is a large poultry a high-speed vacuum sucks chicks through a series of pipes to an electrified kill plate.

5.    Another common way is to throw the live chicks into plastic bags and, when it is full, seal them so that the chicks slowly suffocate. This is usually done to pipped eggs. A pipped egg, or pip, is one where the chick has not been successful in fully escaping the egg shell during the hatching process, but is alive inside it and no one in the egg factory is bothered to help it out (after all its only a chick and time is short).

All these methods are legal internationally. According to the British Egg Industry (BEIS) spokesman “The practice of culling male chicks has been in place as long as the industry has been there anywhere in the world”.

In 2016 the United Egg Producers, which represents the egg industry in the United States, announced that it was committing itself to new technology that would stop the killing by 2020. This was after intense pressure from animal welfare organizations in the US and Europe. In 2015, a video went viral of an Israeli animal rights activist shutting down a chick shredding machine and challenging a police officer to turn it back on. Farm Forward challenged Unilever, which buys 350 million eggs annually, with a video of chicks being rolled on industrial conveyor belts and dropped down garbage disposals. More than a million people saw it. No US company did anything for four years.

However, a new technology could put an end to the annual live-shredding of billions of male chicks worldwide – by not letting them be born. German and Dutch scientists have found a way to detect male eggs.

Some years ago scientists at the University of Leipzig discovered that female eggs contain a hormone, called estrone sulfate, which appears when the egg is just 9 days old (it takes 21 days to hatch ) and developed a chemical marker like a pregnancy test.

Dutch technology company Hatch Tech has made an automated machine to conduct this test in egg hatcheries which is easy to use, scalable, precise, hygienic and, above all, fast – the eggs can’t be out of the incubator for more than two hours. 
A laser beam burns a 0.3mm-wide hole in the shell. Then, air pressure is applied to the shell exterior, pushing a drop of fluid out of the hole which is tested for the hormone. The process takes one second per egg. The patented process is called Seleggt. The 9 day old male eggs are processed into animal feed, leaving only female chicks to hatch. 
In November 2018 a Berlin supermarket starting selling these eggs. These No Kill eggs are called Respeggt and they will go on sale all over Germany in 2019 and Europe by 2020. By determining the chick’s sex long before it hatches, producers can make sure that almost every single chick that’s born is female. The goal is 100% female chicks,

The project was funded by the government of Germany – unlike the Indian government, whose poultry scientists' main achievement, in CARI Bareilly, has been proving that eggs that are boiled in salt absorb it, so people don’t have to buy more salt !
As we stand now in India, every egg eater eats the bodies of male chicks. Don’t be fooled by labels like “Humane” - it is impossible to buy eggs that haven’t been part of a male-chick killing process. “Cage-free” only means the chickens are not in cages. But they are crowded into windowless sheds, with thousands of birds on the floor and little room to move. Male chicks are still killed. “Free range” means the same. Even the term “certified organic” only guarantees that animals are raised without hormones and antibiotics.

And, male chicks aren’t the only victims of the egg production process: hens are typically slaughtered in a year when their egg laying rates start to decline, even though their normal lifespan is 15 years.

They have their beaks cut to ensure they do not peck at each other. They live on a diet of cardboard, corn, hormones and the crushed bodies of their own brothers. 50 billion chickens are killed annually. Everyone who eats an egg has taken part in the killing. There are so many films on You Tube. You should see them if you are an egg eater.

Maneka Sanjay Gandhi
Pl. add: To join the animal welfare movement contact,

Read this and thank God that you are still the boss of the planet.

Read this and thank God that you are still the boss of the planet. The day ants grow in size, the dominance of the human race is gone:

*  Do ants stand for election? Yes, and the months long process is almost as brutal as the Indian elections, according to research published in the The American Naturalist.

When an Indian Jumping Ant  colony’s queen dies, the workers, alerted by the absence of her familiar scent, gather at the centre of the colony and form a circle around the larvae and pupae.

One ant starts beating another ant’s head with its antennae and immediately most of the ants in the colony are in fencing duels, which escalate to slaps and then head biting, and “police” ultimately intervene and restore order.

The ants beat each other to see who gets to lay eggs and who doesn’t. Every Indian jumping ant worker can lay eggs, but only if they win. After weeks of conflict – no one dies but lots of minor injuries -  10 to 15 top candidates emerge and they transform into  Gamergates. Their heads shrink, their abdomens fill with ovaries and their  lifespans grow from six months to five years. The group shares egg-laying power and shared dominance.

Each ant goes from tournament to tournament establishing its power. During a tournament whoever locks their jaws around the head of another ant wins. The winner gets a boost of a hormone, called dopamine, and this helps it in its next tournament. Dopamine starts activating their reproductive system, while the losers’ reproductive capabilities shut down.

As more ants lose and drop out of the race, gangs of five ants, not taking part but rooting for a particular candidate, will start policing ants that refuse to give up. They will corral the ants for two days and refuse to let them move/take part till the hormone subsides . In effect these “goondas” are choosing the leaders by forcing ants out of the race.

Three political results emerge: when ants fought evenly with each other and fair tournaments were held, the result was more democratic : a  bureaucratic structure with a CEO at the top and power filtering by rank down to the last ant. When the duelling and head biting took place then a multi leader shared dominant structure came out. But when the goondas or gangs stepped in a despotic hierarchy emerged — a single ant on top, with all other ants sharing the same rank.

*  According to the Institute of Science and Technology, Austria’s paper published in Current Biology, when ants move into a new nest they spend the first days cleaning it thoroughly, like humans moving into a new home. Lasius neglectus ants  spray their nests with formic acid  ensuring that the nest is clean for first-time occupancy. The adult ants  are protected from the poison by a thick skin and eggs by a protective "shell", the  pupae are first covered in a silk cocoon so that they are protected as well till the acid settles down after killing pathogns, just as humans use gloves when they use harmful cleaning products.

*  According to a study published in the journal Royal Society Open Science when fire ants are flooded, or need to find land, they band together to form a  bell shaped structure, similar to that of the Eiffel tower.

An individual ant is capable of supporting as many as three other ants, to which it connects using sticky pads on its feet. By continuously scrambling over each other, the ants are able to eventually build a solid base, building on each other from the bottom up. Making tall structures allows them to hunt for empty spaces in which they can create new homes.

In water, fire ants form a dough-like ball by grabbing onto each other with their sticky legs. By staying perpendicular to each other the ants distribute their weight evenly, creating a raft that floats even when fully submerged in water.

*  Researchers from the University of Freiburg have discovered how desert ants find their way in a featureless environment. They count precisely. When they set out in search of food in the flat, bare, environment, they are always able to find their way back to their nest on the shortest route possible. The ants measure the distance they have gone by recording how many steps they have taken -- and they use the sun for directional orientation, taking time into account via their own internal clock.


1.   Summary:

*  The ant's acute sense of smell has allowed them to create the most complicated social organization on earth, next to humans. The waxy layer, that covers their bodies, is the source of the complex aromas that ants use to communicate. These smells act like uniforms, identifying individual ants by caste, colony and species, regulating their behaviour to make sophisticated and disciplined social systems. Ants see their world through their nose, their antennae. "Ants are unique in the insect world because they have more than 400 odorant receptors compared to 60 to 80 in other insects like fruit flies and mosquitoes. Ground-based communication is very important for them. For instance, ants emit alarm smells from a gland in their mouth if something disturbs their nest. It is a cue for ants to grab their larvae and run to safety. Defenders of the nest start running around with their mandibles open ready to bite. Bright orange citronella ants make a strong citrus smell when alarmed, and Pheidole ants stink of faeces.

*  According to the journal Current Biology, carpenter ants who feed from  plants  construct defensive shelters around the base of these plants, to guard against other insects and protect their food supply. Ants that live in hot, dry habitats survive long periods of drought by storing food. Their specialized seed-harvesters collect huge stockpiles underground. Honey pot ants use their own bodies as storage containers.

*  A colony of ants employs queens, gardeners, cleaners, foragers, nurses and soldiers, and each have developed specialized tools and skills to get their respective jobs done. Within each species, division of labour varies, depending on an individual's age and sex. Ants looking after the brood, and working inside the nest, tend to be younger, while those defending the nest and foraging outside are older.

*  Ants also teach in formal schools, with teachers and pupils, according to a study in the journal Nature. Older ants teach younger ants how to find food, using a poking and prodding technique called tandem running. When female worker ants of the species Temnothoraxalbipennis set out for food, they take another ant to make the journey with. If the second ant doesn't know where to find food, the leader teaches her through tandem running. The process is slow. The follower pauses every once in a while—creating a gap between it and the leader—to search for landmarks. When she is ready to continue, the follower catches up and taps the leader on the hind legs. If the gap between them gets too large, the leader slows down and the follower speeds up. The opposite occurs if the gap becomes too small. This is the first non-human example of bi-directional feedback teaching—where both the teacher and pupil modify their behaviour to provide guidance at a rate suitable for the pupil's abilities. In time, the followers learn the path  and become teachers .

*  Fungus-gardening Attine ants cultivate fields of fungus to feed the colony. But have the same problems as human farmers—crop-eating pests in the form of parasitic microfungi. A study in the journal Science shows that these ants use antibiotic-producing bacteria to keep their harvests from reducing.

The undersides of these ants is covered with fuzzy white clumps, and there are tiny cavities inside, which contain bacteria producing antibiotics that are deadly to garden pests. To keep the fields clean, the ants rub the bacteria all over. The ants use special glands inside the cavities to produce food for the bacteria.

Do you still think you are superior?

Maneka Sanjay Gandhi
Pl. add: To join the animal welfare movement contact,

Lakhs of people die in India every day.

Lakhs of people die in India every day. The Muslims bury their dead. The Hindus burn theirs. Conventionally, firewood, electricity or LG gas is used to burn human bodies all over the world. But there is no more ‘waste” wood left to burn. In Delhi they have found a unique solution. The government gardeners pretend they are going to “ trim” the existing trees. They lop off most of the large branches (often killing the tree) and sell them to Nigambodh ghat. The profit is given to the whole department – much like the traffic police share their bribes with the entire thana.  In rural India, a death in the village means a tree is cut down, and the most common victims are mango trees. So, wild  mangoes are disappearing and with them goes the entire pickle industry.  It takes about 600 kilos of wood to burn one body . The cost to the survivor is above Rs 15,000 or more. The act itself of cutting a tree is illegal, but who cares when a parent needs to be cremated.

A separate problem is the cow that has stopped giving milk. The farmer does not want to sell her to the butchers, but he does. Or  leaves her on the road to fend for herself. She wanders into the fields and is beaten to death with lathis. Or her legs are cut viciously by the barbed wire that most farmers use illegally. Hundreds of terribly wounded cows come to my hospital in Bareilly every day, their skin stripped off their thighs and their bones exposed.

Gaushalas are few and far between. And most of them are prison cells for this gentle animal, who often starves to death in the gaushala itself. There is no proper management of any gaushala, no doctors, and often the owners show the same disdain towards the milkless cow that her previous owners did.

Here is a business solution to both problems. We need to change our attitude towards the cow. Milk is NOT the most important part of the cow, it is her dung. This dung should be used  in the cremation grounds. For Hindus, the cow is sacred and so using cow dung, instead of wood, should not pose a problem.

There is a machine for making cow dung logs. My gaushala  in Delhi has bought one two years ago and  we sell the logs to Nigambodh Ghat. Even though we are not regular, because we are far too busy with actually saving cows, we earn Rs 60,000 a month. It is a fraction of what Nigambodh needs : they could absorb a hundred times that amount.

Cow dung logs cost less. There was an optical problem till recently, since people did not want to burn their relatives with round Kandas/Uapalas. But now they are being made into long logs by this machine that makes them with minimum manual intervention. While putting fresh cowdung into the machine we also put a little fragrant “havan samagri”.

The cowdung log making machine is very reasonably priced : between Rs 25,000 – Rs 35,000.

A combination of dung and straw ( or any aggro waste – harvested crop residues) is fed into the hopper of the machine. A screw mechanism is provided in the machine which helps in mixing the raw materials thoroughly , compressing them and extruding them out. There are different moulds to make different log sizes. The logs are then put in the sunlight to dry out the moisture, making them hard and sturdy. The machine can be operated on electricity, one horse power motor, or even manually. It is easy to operate, requires little maintenance and no hard labour. Even women can operate it efficiently.

A cylindrical hole in the centre is provided to facilitate easy drying and efficient combustion. The machines available are capable of making one log per minute of 3 in. by 3 in. and 3 feet long. Logs can also be cut into small pieces for use in choolas and havans. The slurry from biogas units can also be used for making logs, by mixing it with straw of any harvest residues.

Almost every village in India has a cremation ground. Every town certainly has two. If someone were to take a contract to supply the logs to them, they could earn lakhs for the gaushala and for themselves. Cows would stop dying of starvation and be treated with more respect.

Cowdung can also solve another very important problem. The trees of India are supposed to be planted by the forest department. They get crores of rupees every year to grow trees and then to plant them. Their success rate – according to their own figures – is 2% !!

One of the reasons (apart from the fact that they never grow plants in their nurseries, and pinch the money!) is because they grow the seedlings in  thick black plastic bags which they buy for Rs 4 each. This is expensive, but, even worse, these plants are usually planted along with the plastic by careless forest labour, resulting in 100% mortality. Maharashtra and Uttar Pradesh supposedly planted 1 crore trees each last year. Less than a few hundred have survived. Think of the waste of your tax money.

Another machine by the same maker exists, to make cow dung flowerpots of different sizes. These can be offered commercially and sold to the forest department for their nurseries, and to private nurseries. The pots give nutrition to the plants, withstand the rain and watering and can be planted in the soil along with their plants. We would, have a dramatic increase in trees and reverse climate change. Every state government should change their policy, so, if you are reading this, please cut it out and send it to the CMs and Forest secretaries. (To tell you the truth , I tried with one state. The CM agreed. I sent the machine. The local forest officers said it didn’t work. It turned out that the plastic sellers pay them a rupee per bag )

The logs and pot making machines can be purchased from:

Dip Technologies, 10-11 Umiya Estate, Near Bharat Party Plot, Rabari Colony, Amrai Wadi, Ahmedabad, Gujarat 380026

Ph: 8048018796.

Maneka Sanjay Gandhi
Pl. add: To join the animal welfare movement contact,

When cooking chicken, or meat, for one’s family

When cooking chicken, or meat, for one’s family, most people are very careful to wash and cook the flesh properly. Unfortunately, there are some things which any amount of washing, boiling or roasting cannot clean out – and those are drugs.

There is a cocktail of drugs in your meat and all of them are going to go into your body.

These drugs are a mainstay of meat production in many parts of the world, and Indian producers have adopted western practices of food production that keep profit far ahead of animal or human health. In 2018 India produced 4.3 million tonnes of buffalo (carabeef) and cattle (beef) – 1.5% higher than 2017.

Chicken meat increased from 1.9 million tonnes in 2013-14 to 3.46 million tonnes in 2016-17. Goat meat increased from 0.97 million tonnes in  2013-14 to 1.4 million tonnes in 2016-17. Sheep increased to 0.5 million tonnes. This means an estimated 238 crore chickens and 1.2 crore pigs were slaughtered for their meat in 2016-17. A grand total of over 10 million tonnes of meat.

How does a meat producer get so many crore animals to kill, and how does he get them to put on weight in the quickest possible time so that he can get more meat? How does he do this without spending money on feed? The answer is that he pumps drugs into these animals. One of the main drugs is Ractopamine. Ractopamine was approved by the FDA Sixteen years ago (2003).

Ractopamine is a beta agonist drug. Beta-agonists bind themselves to fat and muscle cells in the animals' body, reducing the metabolism of fat while increasing the size of muscle fibres. Consequently, less fat is produced and less fat is stored in the carcass. Muscle fibre size replaces some of the weight normally found from fat, and the total carcass contains a higher percentage of lean muscle. This makes the animal more muscular, reduces fat content and increases the profit per animal, because the same amount of food produces a much bigger animal with more meat on its bones.  

However, as much as 20% of Ractopamine can remain in the meat by the time it reaches our plates.

In fact, the residue in humans can be so high that it could even be detected in a dope test! Internationally acclaimed cyclist Alberto Contador failed a Tour de France anti-doping test in 2010 for levels of Clenbuterol (a drug of the family of Ractopamine) which he had gotten from eating meat.

Ractopamine is used in the USA but has been banned in the EU, China, Russia and 160 other countries for being dangerous to both animals and human consumers. Taiwan has in fact banned American beef imports because of Ractopamine usage. However, the drug is commonly given to animals in India.

In animals Ractopamine is known to cause reproductive dysfunction, hyperactivity, broken limbs, birth defects such as short limbs, missing or fused digits, open eyelids, enlarged hearts, stress, lameness and premature death. How could an animal, that is itself so sick, possibly give good quality meat?

In human medicine, beta-agonists are inhaled directly into lungs of asthma patients to relax muscles that constrict airways; they are routinely used on smooth muscle tissue through direct entry into the cardiopulmonary system, and pregnant women who are in premature labour have beta-agonists injected into their blood to relax the muscle tissue of the uterus, preventing premature births. 
But if eaten through food, Ractopamine (Optaflexx) has been linked to increased heart rates, high arterial blood pressure, chromosomal abnormalities, anxiety, intoxication, tremors, headaches, muscle spasms and many more serious effects. This poses a particular risk to children, or people with cardiovascular disease.

Considered even worse than Ractopamine is another alarming beta-agonist drug used in animal production to increase weight – Zilmax or Zilpaterol. Zilpaterol was approved by the FDA in 2006. Cattle and pig feeders use feed additives like Zilmax to increase the rate of weight gain without any additional feed. It can add many pounds of meat to a bull or buffalo. The Encyclopedia of Meat Science (Dikeman and Devine; 2004) reported Optaflexx© increased average daily gain by 15-25% with no additional feed intake. Slightly higher results are shown for Zilmax. An estimated 700 million pigs receive beta-agonist drugs, each producing six additional pounds of pork.

However, this comes with a trade off. Zilmax has been known to cause severe reactions in animals leading to painful hoof loss and, very commonly, death. Since the drug was introduced in 2007 in the US, several hundred cattle have unexpectedly died after being fed Zilmax. In fact, in just two years after Zilmax’s introduction, the number of cattle euthanized at meat production farms rose by 175% from previous years. The makers of Zilmax, Merck and Co., recruited animal welfare specialist, Dr. Temple Grandin, to help review the product in 2013. In an interview with Reuters, Dr. Grandin indicated there have been incidents of stiffness, soreness, and heat stress since the use of beta-agonists began.

Zilmax is considered to be about 125 times more potent and dangerous than Ractopamine, and this is likely the reason why side effects in Ractopamine studies are often overlooked when compared with the destructive power of Zilmax. 60% to 80% of feedlot cattle in the US are fed beta-agonists. America refuses to remove beta agonists from cattle feed : The reason? Stopping their use will result in each animal carcass being about 10-15 pounds less – a total of 0.5 billion pounds of beef, or about 1% to 1.5% of production. More corn will be needed to feed cattle to reach the same weight. This will raise the prices of the rest of the beef.

Another contaminant hiding in meat is Glyphosate. It is the active ingredient in Roundup (made by Monsanto) – one of the most widely used weed killers in India. In India the consumption of glyphosate was 148 million tonnes in 2014-15, the highest for any herbicide.

These crops are fed to animals and you eat the animal’s meat, along with it comes Glyphosate. Studies around the world have shown Glyphosate to cause cancer, genetic mutations and disrupt endocrine functions in human consumers. It is toxic to our DNA even when diluted to concentrations 450-times lower than what is allowed in agricultural use. This is not a drug to be taken lightly. The direct deaths of humans from pesticides have been estimated at 7000 in 2015 and increasing every year. Yet, no one has related the deaths from cancer from eating the same pesticides in meat. Glyphosate use is permitted only for one crop: tea. But it is sold by dealers all over India where no tea is grown. It is used also for cotton which is sold for cattle feed. And the more BT cotton is grown, the more glyphosate is used. A study in the Journal of the American Medical Association (JAMA) found that exposure to glyphosate in the US, where GM crops were introduced in the early 1990s, increased almost five times in a 23-year time span.

Animal meat producers use over 450 animal drugs, drug combinations and feed additives, to promote growth of animals and suppress the negative effects of confined and unhygienic conditions in animal factories. Apart from the ones above, synthetic hormones, such as zeranol, trenbolone acetate and melengestrol acetate, are commonly used. These have been shown to increase the risk of breast cancer and prostate cancer. In India it is also common to feed chickens with arsenic to help them get fatter faster and develop a better colour. This arsenic reaches your plate through chicken meat.

Are you eating meat or a dead body that, during its lifetime, bore little resemblance to the animal it was supposed to be? Do you eat food to be healthy or to get sick?

You need to want safer food for your family. The industry is demand-driven, so if people are unwilling to eat dirty chemical treated meat, producers will be forced to stop these practices.

Maneka Sanjay Gandhi
Pl. add: To join the animal welfare movement contact,

India was not always this cruel. Inspite of the culture of animal sacrifice and ritual hunts by tribals

India was not always this cruel. Inspite of the culture of animal sacrifice and ritual hunts by tribals, it was, by and large, a peaceful country where people lived together with animals and respected their lives. All this has changed in the last 50 years. Now animals are either a nuisance, or a commodity, and hurting them is no longer something one thinks about. What can you say about a country whose government says, happily, that 52% of our exports are meat, fish and leather. And close on their heels are eggs.

Till a few decades ago, most villages and communities has a gramadev: a god or goddess who looked after the area, had his/her own little temple and was regularly prayed to. Many of them represented, or looked after, animals and so did the villagers .

Bhramari is the goddess of bees and wasps who cling to her body. An avatar of Durga,  She is mentioned in the Devi Bhagvata Purana. Her main temples are in Trisrota, Jalpaiguri and in Nashik.

Arunasura meditated for thousands of years to Brahma. For the first ten thousand years, he lived by ingesting only dry leaves; for the second, he lived by drinking only drops of water; and, for the third, he lived by inhaling air alone. For the fourth ten thousand years, he did not consume anything. Light emitted from his body and began to burn the whole world. Lord Brahma appeared and granted him his wish : protection from all two- or four-legged creatures. Thinking himself invincible Arunasura assembled  an army of asuras to vanquish the gods. Indra trembled with fear and went with the Gods to Brahma, Vishnu and Shiva.

Arunasura took the moon, the sun and then attacked the abode of the gods, Mount Kailash. Shiva brought his army but was unable to defeat him. He called out to Parvati, and the Shakti grew tall, wielding a mace, trident, long sword and shield, in her four hands.  She closed her three eyes in concentration, summoning forth  six legged creatures - bees, hornets, wasps, termites and spiders from the skies. They emanated from her as Bhramari Devi and  both destroyed the asuras. They attacked Arunasura and ripped open each part of his body.

Scorpions are worshipped from time immemorial: seals with Scorpion images are discovered in Indus Valley, heaven is called ‘scorpion world’ (puth Thel Ulaku) in Tamil. In Urvasi, or Peacock Island, in the Brahmaputra river in Guwahati, the Devi in the Umananda temple is represented by a scorpion.

In Kandakoor village in Yadgir, Karnataka the villagers celebrate Nagapanchami as Chelina Jatre (festival of the scorpion). The villages worship the scorpion goddess Kondammai and play with live scorpions as well. Interestingly, there have been no cases of people being stung by these scorpions. People come  from nearby districts, and the states of Andhra Pradesh and Telangana, to be a part of this religious ceremony. Milk, coconut oil and sarees are offered to the Scorpion goddess.

Chelamma is a Scorpion Goddess of southern Karnataka. Followers believe that by praying at the Chelamma shrine a person will be guarded from scorpion bites. She is the goddess of the Kolaramma temple in Kolar. There is an ancient Hundi which is carved down into the ground and people have been putting coins into it for the last 1,000 years.

Gogaji, also known as Jahar Veer Gogga, Gugga Vir, Gugga Rana, is a folk warrior-hero deity venerated as a 'snake-god' worshipped in the villages of  Rajasthan, Himachal Pradesh, Uttarakhand, Punjab, Haryana and Jammu.

According to legend, Goga was born with the blessings of Guru Gorakhnath and was called Goga ji because of his service to cows. It is believed that he lived in the 12th Century and his kingdom was called Bagad Dedga, near Ganganagar. He was a member of the Chauhan clan.

Goga protects his followers from snakes, poisons and other evils. Although a Hindu, he has many Muslim devotees. His shrine is a one-room building with a minaret on each corner and a grave inside, marked by a  bamboo stick with peacock plumes, a coconut, some coloured threads and  a blue flag on the top.

His symbol, a black snake, is painted on a wall. Fairs are held at Gogamedi in Hanumangarh, Rajasthan. It is a common sight to see people with snakes lying around their necks. According to a folklore in and around his birthplace, Dadrewa, it is believed that if someone picks up even a stick from Johra (a barren land which has a sacred pond in Dadrewa), it turns into a snake.

In the Punjab region Guggaji  is worshiped in shrines known as marris. The shrines can range from ant holes to structures that resemble a Sikh Gurdwara, or a Mosque. People bring food offerings and also leave them in places where snakes reside.

Nagnachiya Ma, the snake goddess, is the kuldevi of the Rathore Rajput clan. Her upper half is a woman and her lower half is a snake. Her main temple is in village Nagana near Jodhpur. She was originally established by Rao Dhuhad under a Neem tree, which makes that tree also holy for the Rathores. She is also worshipped in Khakharechi in Gujarat, where the Rathores built a lake. In all villages where Rathores live they have a shrine of Nagnachiya Mata.

Manasa Devi, the folk goddess of snakes, is worshipped, mainly in Bengal and north-eastern India, for the prevention and cure of snakebite, smallpox and chicken pox, and for fertility and prosperity. She is also known as Vishahara (the destroyer of poison), Nityā (eternal) and Padmavati. 

Originally a tribal goddess, Manasa was accepted in the Hindu pantheon by the 14th century. Manasa is depicted as a woman covered with snakes, sitting on a lotus or a snake. Her canopy is the hoods of seven cobras. Sometimes, she is depicted with a child on her lap. She is often called "the one-eyed goddess" and, among the Hajong tribe of northeastern India, she is called Kānī Dīyāʊ (Blind Goddess)

The Puranas are the first scriptures to speak about her birth. Once, when serpents and reptiles had created chaos on the Earth, Kashyapa created the goddess Manasa from his mind (mana). Brahma made her the presiding deity of snakes and reptiles. In other myths she is the daughter of sage Kashyapa and Kadru, the mother of all Nāgas. Myths glorified her by describing that she saved Shiva after he drank the poison, and venerated her as the "remover of poison".

Generally, Manasa is worshipped without an image. A branch of a tree, an earthen pot, or an earthen snake image is worshiped as the goddess. In North Bengal her shrine is found in the courtyard of almost every agrarian household.

Manasa is also worshipped in Assam, and a kind of Oja-Pali (musical folk theatre) is dedicated to her. Manasa is ceremonially worshiped on Nag Panchami - a festival of snake worship in the Hindu month of Shravan (July–August). Bengali women observe a fast on this day and offer milk at snake holes. In South India people worship her at the Manasa Devi Temple in Mukkamala, West Godavari, Andhra Pradesh.

Bagalamukhi  is a  crane-headed goddess in Hindu legend, Bagala controls black magic, poisons and disguised forms of death. She rules over the perception which make us feel, at a distance, the death or misery of those we know. She incites men to torture one another. She revels in suffering. She wears yellow and her left hand carries torture instruments, while the right hand holds the tongues of adversaries. Her hair hang freely about her back and shoulders, and her tiara is sealed with a crescent moon, two small golden cranes, while a large white crane with outspread wings rests upon the crown of her head.
Her legend relates how an asura named Madan, ‘The Seducer’, once gained the boon of omniscient speech, whereby everything he said came to pass. Intoxicated with this power Madan began to use it to defeat all his opponents. The gods petitioned Bagalamukhi. Seizing Madan by his tongue she paralysed his power of speech. She is often evoked to win lawsuits, to gain power, to render opponents speechless, to block or paralyse enemies, and to increase eloquence, memory, and knowledge. 
The main  temple of Bagalamukhi is located in the Newar city of Patan, in the Kangra Valley, and in Datiya in Madhya Pradesh.

Airy, whose eyes are on his head, is the gramdeva of Kumaon and the protector of animals. His two attendants, Sau and Bhau, ride on dogs. His main temple is Byandhura, Champavat.

Chaumu is worshipped as the protector of animals in the Jhulaghat-Pancheshwar region. Bells and milk are offered. His main temples are in Chaupakhia in Pithoragar, and Chamdeval in Champavat.

There are hundreds more. If you know of any do send the details to me.

Maneka Sanjay Gandhi
Pl. add: To join the animal welfare movement contact,

Other countries celebrate their mythical animals.

Other countries celebrate their mythical animals. Garuda belongs to Indian mythology but is the national bird and symbol of Indonesia. The Phoenix or Homa is revered in Iran. Here are some we should know:

Byangoma/Byangomi are the legendary birds of Bengal. They look like hoopoes, are wise, strict and assist whom they consider deserving. They are born blind and need a few drops of blood from a donor to activate their sight. When they tell the future to someone, that person hears voices, a bird song and suddenly has an intuition about something which is to happen.

Gandaberunda is a two headed, long tailed mythological bird who possesses enough, immense, magical strength. The bird is depicted as clutching elephants in its talons and beaks. In the ancient coins of Madurai, it is shown holding a snake in its beak. In the Chennakesava temple there are depictions of a chain of destruction : A deer is eaten by a python who is destroyed by an elephant who is attacked by a lion who is destroyed by Shiva in his incarnation as Sharabha. Sharabha is then destroyed by Narasimha (man-lion) as Gandaberunda

The tale is like this : The demon Hiranyakashipu is killed by Vishnu who comes as Narasimha. But even after he was slain, Narasimha, who had tasted blood, did not change back his form to Vishnu. The gods grew scared of his raging form and they appealed to Shiva. Shiva turned himself into Sharabha – a combination of man, lion, bird – in order to subdue Narasimha. But Narasimha changed into Gandaberunda, with two heads, fearful rows of teeth, black in complexion, and with wide blazing wings, and fought with Shiva-Sharabha for eighteen days, killed him and then died in a massive explosion of energy.

Gandaberunda was first adopted by the Vijayanagara empire in 1510, and as the royal insignia of the Wodeyar rulers of Mysore 500 years ago. Coins from the rule of Achyuta Deva Raya are thought to be the first to use the Gandaberunda on currency. Found in the sculptures and bas- reliefs of many temples in the South of India, it is the official emblem of Karnataka.

The Homa bird, of Vedic times, lives and breeds in the air, lays eggs in the air, and, before the eggs reach the earth, they hatch and the baby bird flies upward to join its mother. They never touch the earth. Persian, Turkish and Sufi  poets praise them as divine birds, and birds of paradise. 

In Vedic literature there are references to birds bringing the divine Soma plant from the mountains. S and H have been interchanged in Greek and Persian: Hindus, eg. those living on the banks of the river Sindhu, are called Hindus. Six becomes Hexa in Greek. Perhaps the Soma bird is the mythical Homa bird. In Persian mythology it was believed that if this bird flew over someone’s head, and its shadow fell on him, he would become a mighty king. This belief made Tipu Sultan of Mysore create a golden throne with the Homa bird, in gold and jewels on the canopy .

The mythical Hansa or Swan/Goose represents purity, perfect union with the universe, divine knowledge. The Hansas, also called Aryannas, live in Manasasaras (Mansarovar) in the Himalayas. They don’t like rain, so they come to Earth when it rains in their abode ,and return as soon as rain begins here. They are the children of Dhritarashtri, who is the daughter of Kashyap and Tamra, according to the Valmiki Ramayana. The Hansas were first black and white, but they became pure white as a boon from Varuna the god, who once took their form to hide from Ravana. The gods had assembled for a havan and had to change into various bird forms when Ravana attacked them. The hansa eats pearls and separates milk from water from a mixture of both. The Hansas play an important role in the story of Nala and Damayanti.

In the Hindu epic Mahabharata, Navagunjara is a creature composed of nine different animals/birds. Navagunjara has the head of a rooster, and stands on three feet - those of an elephant, tiger, deer or horse, the fourth limb being a raised human arm carrying a lotus or a wheel. The beast has the neck of a peacock, the back or hump of a bull, the waist of a lion, and the tail of a serpent.

Navagunjara is a common motif in the Odisha Pata-Chitra style of painting. The creature is considered a form of Vishnu. Once, when Arjuna was meditating on a hill, Navagunjara appeared. Arjuna was terrified, as well as mesmerised, by the strange being, and raised his bow to shoot it. But he realised that Navagunjara was a manifestation of Vishnu, and dropped his weapons, bowing before the bird creature.

The Chakora is a legendary immortal partridge/crow pheasant that lives on moonbeams. On the full moon night, the Chakora cries passionately for the moon, shedding tears of unrequited love for the moon in all her glory shining high in the sky. In the Mahabharatam, when Kuchela was on his way to meet Krishna, he saw the Chakora. By the time he returned home after meeting him he was rich! The Chakora  is believed to bring good luck. The association of Chakora and Chandra, the moon god, has inspired a number of love stories in India.

The Chataka is a mythological cuckoo, who is unwilling to drink water found on earth, choosing to drink only fresh pure rain water as it falls from the sky. It has a shrill voice. The Chataka pleads with the clouds to bring in rain so that its thirst can be quenched. A black/yellow/white bird, smaller than the dove, it has a long tail. The long crest on its head is shaped like a bow with an arrow stretched tight on it. References to this bird are made in Kalidasa and Adi Shankaracharya.

The chataka and chakora depend on natural resources — rain water and moonlight, a lesson that nature needs to be preserved without destruction.

These are only very few of our mythological birds, but you need to tell your children about them.

Maneka Sanjay Gandhi
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When my husband died, I inherited his work table, a long wooden desk with huge drawers.

When my husband died, I inherited his work table, a long wooden desk with huge drawers. It has travelled with me from house to house and I kept everything of value in it : letters from my husband, wedding albums, unfinished manuscripts, pictures of my childhood and my son’s childhood, letters from my mother and mother in law.

When I moved into 14 Ashoka Road in 2002 , The British-built house had been the badly kept and was the office of the Communist Party for 30 years. I should have paid more attention to it, especially when I saw the fungus seeping in and termites eating the doors. But every time I called the government engineers in, they either replaced the doors or painted over the fungus.

I tried lots of old grandmother remedies : planting banana trees in the garden, as this is supposed to keep away termites, putting fresh cow dung patties in different places so that termites would be attracted and then, as they clambered on, we could get rid of all of them.

One day I decided to finish my book on garden plants. But I couldn’t get the drawers to open. When I called the carpenter in, we discovered everything had been eaten by termites – and I mean everything. In one stroke I lost all my treasures.

I cried. I had the house broken down from inside and de-termited room by room. It took 16 months.

So many people ask me questions about why nature invented mosquitoes, cockroaches or termites! Even though termites have robbed me of my most precious belongings, I acknowledge that they are more important to the world than I am.

Pests to homeowners, they are actually beneficial insects. They can digest tough plant fibres, or cellulose, because of the specialized bacteria in their guts. They break down tough fibres, they recycle dead trees back into the soil, contributing towards a rapid recycling and turn-over of minerals. When they tunnel through the soil they aerate and improve it, which helps tropical forests and agricultural lands grow faster as water and nutrients reach the plants and trees. Some species attack living trees, but these are trees that are weakened, or under stress, which release a chemical (kairomone) used by the termites to locate it.

Only a handful of the 3,000 or so known termite species are pests to people. The rest are soil engineers who create the ground under your feet and keep it healthy. Termites thrive by eating what others can’t or won’t: wood, dung, lichen, even dirt.


By poking holes as they dig through the ground, termites allow rain to soak deep into the soil, rather than running off or evaporating. Termites mix inorganic particles of sand, stone and clay with organic bits of leaf litter, discarded exoskeletons and the occasional dead animal, a blending that helps the soil retain nutrients and resist erosion.

The stickiness of a termite’s faeces gives body to the soil and prevents erosion. Bacteria in the termite’s gut are avid nitrogen fixers, able to extract the vital element from the air and convert it into fertilizer.

Termites, and the elaborate habitats they construct, are crucial to the health of deserts and semi-deserts, tropical and subtropical rain forests, warm, temperate woodlands. At least 126 species of termites (including wood feeding ones) feed on 18 species of mammal dung  and can quickly remove large amounts. As termites bring large quantities of dung below the soil surface and enrich soils with nutrients, dung feeding by termites is important in the functioning of tropical ecosystems.

Researchers at Princeton University report, in the journal Science, that termite mounds serve as oases in the desert, allowing the plants that surround them to persist on a fraction of the annual rainfall and to bounce back after a withering drought. Even when desertification starts to happen in the area, the vegetation on or around the mounds does so well that it will keep reseeding the environment. These mounds prevent fragile dry land from slipping into lifeless wasteland.

Termites have been historically widely eaten by people suffering from malnutrition due to protein deficiency, fed to animals, and used as medicine across the continents of Asia, South America and Africa. In fact, these insects are among the most commonly consumed insects on the planet, second only to grasshoppers. In a survey on the consumption of termites, held in Côte d’Ivoire, from 500 people surveyed, 97% consumed termites, demonstrating that such use is part of the reality of rural and urban populations in that country.

A. Vasconcellos, de Figueirêdo, I.S. Policarpo, and R.R. Nóbrega Alves have done a study on edible and medicinal termites. 45 termite species were recorded as being used by human populations in the human diet, or for livestock feeding, and nine species used as a therapeutic resource. As food or feed for animals they are eaten in 29 countries in Africa, Thailand, Indonesia, China, Malaysia, Mexico, Brazil, Venezuela and Columbia. Even Indians eat the Odontotermesfeae species of termite.

Zambia uses termites to combat child malnutrition, Somalia to suture wounds. Brazil uses termites for asthma, flu, bronchitis and as antifungal, India uses them for asthma, ulcers, body pain, rheumatism and the enhancement of lactation. Nigeria uses termites to stop sickness in pregnant women, soothsaying and to ward away ghosts!


Termites of the species Macrotermes have high levels of proteins and lipids and are abundant in Africa. They are known as “big termites”, and are considered one of the favourite foods, not only of humans but also of gorillas and chimpanzees and wild birds.

Their mounds, or termitaria, are also important to humans. For instance, researchers E.Arhin, M.C.Esoah and B.S.Berdie, have studied the Economic Importance of Termitaria in Mineral Exploration. Termites transport deep seated inorganic and organic material into their shelter. In areas where minerals are not immediately apparent, miners analyse the soil of termite mounds before choosing the area. Often gold has been found in the samples.

The mounds are vast, clean, well ventilated with cool circulating air - palaces built of tunnels and galleries of sand, clay and termite excretions. The mounds protect their builders from the sun that would desiccate them, the rain that would drown them, and their many predators. The mounds are refuges for plants, fungi and large herbivores, too. They are cooler in the heat of day and warmer at night. Antelopes often congregate around termite mounds to graze. Cheetahs come to remain cooler during the day. Elephants rub itchy backsides against them.

They are also fascinating insects. The oldest societies on this planet, almost 200 million years old, each colony has three distinct castes : the reproductives (queen and king), the soldiers, and  workers. The colony can consist of more than a million individuals. Their nest is located either underground, on a tree, or in a mound sticking out of the soil.

In almost all species, the workers and soldiers are blind. New reproductive termites are winged, and able to fly. These young kings and queens leave their home colony to find a new place to found their own colony. They break their wings off and settle down in their new home to raise their offspring.

Termites use chemical scents produced by chest glands to talk to one another. Each colony produces a distinct scent. Termites stay clean by grooming each other. Their good hygiene is important to their survival, as it keeps parasites and harmful bacteria under control within the colony.

Termite soldiers guard the nest at all times. When they sense danger they sound the alarm by banging their heads against the gallery walls to send warning vibrations throughout the colony. If workers set out to repair a hole in the mound, they will be surrounded by soldiers who protect them.

Termites are the ultimate model social citizens. They divide their labour and are altruistic and unselfish. In a new study of “panic escape” behaviour among termites as they seek to flee from danger, researchers at Louisiana State University Agricultural Center found that, unlike humans in a crowded theatre, or ants, termites do not panic.

They don’t run about, push and shove, climb over the fallen. They file into a single formation and follow the ones in front  in a unidirectional flow at a uniform speed and spacing. If one termite stumbles, or slows down, those behind stop and wait for it to right itself: No trampling allowed.

Unfortunately we build our homes from termite food — wood. And I am still heartbroken.

Maneka Sanjay Gandhi
Pl. add: To join the animal welfare movement contact,

Someone rescued a goat from the slaughterhouse and gave him to Sanjay Gandhi Animal Care Centre.

Someone rescued a goat from the slaughterhouse and gave him to Sanjay Gandhi Animal Care Centre. We allowed him to run free and soon he was the leader of a pack of dogs  who followed him everywhere at a respectful distance. When in repose he sat on the highest step – often a large window ledge - and they draped themselves round him.  When people gathered round to talk, while they were waiting for their animals outside the OPD, he would often join the humans . Once I made the mistake of rubbing him on his head as he stood in the group. He turned around, glared at me with his deep yellow eyes and then butted my hip. The staff told me he went looking for “murgas” like me to mistake him for a dog and caress him so that he could butt them.

Are goats as smart as dogs ?Until recently, scientists thought that only animals that had been bred as companions or pets - such as dogs, cats, and horses - were intelligent, or able to form bonds with humans. This allows us to eat all the other animals, or kill them for sport. Mutton, goat meat, is a common item on the Indian menu.

Now research proves that goats try to communicate with people in the same way that dogs and horses do.

In a series of experiments published in Biology Letters, researchers found that when goats had a problem that they couldn't solve alone, they would gaze at a person for help. Also that goats changed their actions in accordance with a person's behaviour.

Researchers of Queen Mary, University of London concluded "From our earlier research, we already know that goats are smarter than their reputation suggests, but these results show how they can communicate and interact with their human handlers even though they were not domesticated as pets or working animals."

To test goat communication skills, the researchers trained the animals to remove a lid from a box to receive a reward. The reward was then made inaccessible by making the lid removal harder. The reactions of the goats toward the experimenters — who were either facing the goats, or had their backs turned away — were recorded. The goats would gaze toward the forward-facing person more often in a similar way to dogs asking for a treat, and for longer periods of time, than they would with the people who had turned away, which suggests that the goats were aware of where the human was looking. In some instances, the goats would also approach the forward-facing person before returning to the box.

"Our results provide strong evidence for complex communication directed at humans and show similarities with animals bred to become pets or working animals, such as dogs and horses."

Researchers on goat intelligence – or the lack of it –conclude that goats are amongst the brightest ungulates on Earth. Scientists at the Institute of Agricultural Science in Switzerland, long suspected that goats might be more intelligent than they seem. For example, goats live in complex social groups; they are experts in getting at hard-to-reach foods (goats in Morocco, for example, climb the 30 foot Argan trees in search of tasty sprigs); they remember people, things, and skills, and they are picky eaters who can adeptly pick leaves off of thorn bushes, or seek out just the right sprig of grass.

In another experiment to judge their intelligence they  gave goats the “artificial fruit challenge”—a cognitive game originally developed for apes. Fruit was placed in a box which could only be reached by solving a puzzle. The goats had to use their teeth to pull on a rope to activate a lever, and then lift the lever up with their muzzle. Most of the goats could complete the task in four tries. The ones that failed did so because they tried to take a short cut and used their horns to pry open the box and they were disqualified.

The winning goats were given the same food box puzzle challenge after 10 hours to see how long it took them to solve it. All of them remembered how to solve the problem, and were able to access the fruit in less than a minute – showing an excellent long term memory.

Goat breeders say that goats have a calm and observational manner and can do the following :

Tell individual humans apart, even when they have changed clothes.

Remember at what time of day they are fed and complain if you're late.

Remember where the tastiest plants are, even if they have not been in that pasture for three months.

Follow an eye, or pointed finger, to a treat hidden in long grass

Learn simple tricks (stand on top of this stump, balance on your hind legs) indicated by hand gestures.

Respond individually to their names.

Remember which plant made them sick before, and never eat it again.

Plan routes to a desired destination. For example, if there is a stream between the goats and tasty food. they will go up and downstream looking for a way around the stream.

Bend a loose piece of wire outward from the fence until it is at the correct height to itch between the horns. 

Open a clip hook.

Turn a doorknob with the mouth.

Goats are fascinated by mirrors.

Like dogs and horses, goats are comfortable living outside of a flock.

Goats can learn unusual tasks, even choosing abstract symbols to request a drink of water. When they learn that a longer route will get them the food treat, they restrain their natural urge to go through an obviously shorter route to the visible food.  

London researchers found that goats recognized the voices of their close friends, and looked at their mates when they heard the sound of their bleat. If there is a less familiar goat present, when they heard an unknown bleat, they looked at the lesser-known individual, showing that they inferred this goat made the call. They are sensitive to herd-mates’ facial expressions, too. French goats paid more attention when they saw the photographed face of a familiar goat in an unpleasant situation than when they saw that of a relaxed, contented companion.

Goats are naturally curious and independent, often getting upto mischief and always looking for escape. On You tube you can see the oddest unexplainable places that goats have been found. In March 2016, a goat in Greece was found dangling 20 feet in the air from a power line by its horns, with seemingly no jumping-off points in sight. Local officials are still unsure of how it landed in the power line—and had to use a long ladder and rope to pull the goat to the ground. After being rescued, the goat ran off happily.

Security cameras in Colorado, caught goats vandalizing windows. The footage shows a goat walking up to a glass door, butting its head against the pane, and then running away after the glass shatters. It returns and does it to the next glass door. Just having fun.

The Kinder Goat Breeders Association sayx that the goat is as good a companion as a dog .

 “They are intelligent and affectionate and are easy to train, whether it’s for milking or something like cart-pulling. They love to be with their owners, so they make great companions for walking, hiking or even camping. They are natural comics and are great entertainment.”

Some pet goats are used as therapy goats. These goats accompany their humans to schools, assisted-living facilities and community centres. The Delta Society, an organization that tests and registers pets for therapy work, includes goats in their list of animals eligible for registration. To become a pet therapist, a goat must pass a test that shows it to be controllable, reliable and predictable. The goat must have good manners in public places, and have the social skills to behave with strangers.

We pick on the Nagas because they eat dogs. I find people who eat goats equally bizarre.

Maneka Sanjay Gandhi
Pl. add: To join the animal welfare movement contact,

This is my third article on the subject of business opportunities for vegans.

This is my third article on the subject of business opportunities for vegans. The first two were about creating and marketing products and some services. This is about vegan hotels and retreats.

Bed and Broccoli -  is a Vegan Bed & Breakfast in Australia. It offers vegan food, sauces, jams, preserves and chutneys, soaps, vegan cleaning products, and they are animal friendly. In fact they rescue abandoned animals themselves and all customers have the added experience of friendly dogs and cats. The owner explains that  “Being vegan and unable to find vegan accommodation is what inspired Bed and Broccoli to open for business.”

There are thousands of such small hotels across the world. There is a site for vegetarian hotels which was started by two Germans, to which I have recommended a truly beautiful Tibetan, one called Norbulinka where I stayed some years ago. I googled vegan hotels just now and got 12.40 crore  results. Right on top is and they are advertising the most exciting places, in areas where you believe they would only have seafood –  atolls in the Indian Ocean, the Maldives. Their food menu is delicious – enough to convert any carnivore! When you start one in India make sure you register it on their site.

You could also make a vegan nature retreat and offer not just a healthy way of eating, but workshops, meditation, fitness centres and spas, walks. You could sell oils, products not tested on animals, and food from there as well. No milk in any form, because then it is not vegan. You could even make it solar powered.

If you are vegan, you could offer your own rooms to just vegan travellers under the Airbnb scheme. It would be a relief to travellers not to worry about what they are getting fed in a homestay.

Another way to earn money is to hold vegan camps for children in the summer and winter holidays. The camps can be for two days, or a week, depending on the activities lined up. Mountaineering, trekking, walks even in the city. But, apart from their activities and the vegan food, it would do two things : it would allow vegan children to get to know each other and it would teach the science behind conscious living. Educational teaching with films on food choices, how to live healthily and how to respect the rest of the world, could make for a more thoughtful  child and gentler human society. and are two sites that might help you structure such a programme. Abroad, these camps have resulted in hundreds of children becoming vegan.

Youth Empowered Action Camp - - is a summer camp for youth 12-17 who want to make a difference in the world. YEA trains young activists and builds knowledge, skills, confidence and community with youth change-makers. YEA Camp serves all-vegan food, although being vegan is not a requirement to come to the camp. While this is an American organisation, I see no reason why an Indian one cannot be started.

Evolotus PR was created to serve socially beneficial clients, such as nonprofits, documentary films, animal advocacy campaigns, books, health/wellness and vegan products. Their mission is to help like-minded organizations and businesses tell their story and gain visibility to create a better, more sustainable and peaceful world. The owners explain “Getting media attention for these issues is a form of activism for us.”

Sweta Thakur  started a  public relations company, called the Graffiti Collaborative, in Bangalore. After making a success of it she realized that her heart was not in doodles and jingles for products and would-be stars, and more in changing the way we live. So she became vegan and oriented her agency to promote vegan companies and products. She came to see me some months ago and  this resulted in my ministry adding vegan shops to our national organic mela. Now she has a permanent vegan mela, called Wilderfest, which had its first opening in Bangalore and then at Selectcity Mall in Delhi with hundreds of products. Apart from that they do public relations for animal groups, documentary film festivals. It is possible to do what you believe. Unhappiness comes when you separate yourself from what you do : Jains selling gelatine for instance.

Vegan Edge Consulting - - operates worldwide and is a Business Development & Marketing agency working exclusively with vegan businesses & entrepreneurs. They offer Strategy & Planning, Branding & Marketing, Web Development & Graphic Design services. They also run several Vegan Facebook pages: Vegan Business Guide, Toronto Vegan Guide. Become A Vegan, and Vegan Maven. Why can’t a regular financial service in India start a wing like this?

Or, if you have money, and want to change the world, why not start a cruelty free angel investor fund. Or an ethical investor fund in which you tell your investors that you will only invest in companies that are environmentally sustainable and vegan. Cruelty Free Super is an Australian Superfund  and it is promoted through social media. It’s a vegan-friendly Superfund, investing in line with cruelty free principles. Lee Coates OBE, founded Ethical Money Pty Ltd in 2010. This innovative vegan business takes cruelty free principles to the heart of the animal unfriendly financial system.

This might be a doable idea – but with very little money to be earned. Start a Vegan Professionals Facebook group.

The idea that I like best – it appeals to the curious, searching-for-magic, part of me. Start a company called The Magic Vegan and people become members for mystery boxes. Every month I will get, as a member, a box full of amazing vegan products, from foods to creams to clothes and footwear, to whatever you can think of – from games to dyes, seeds, even coupons from vegan hotels. And the addresses of the companies would be given, so that if I liked the product I could buy directly from them. You would buy the products from them wholesale and retail them to me at the price you charge for the monthly membership.  If the idea worked, I could gift the TMV membership as birthday and wedding presents. Please somebody quickly start this!

As a vegan entrepreneur you can be bold, sophisticated and yet harm no one. You can use the beauty and bounty of the earth and leave it better for both animals and humans. Vegans commit themselves to learning , education, service to the community, fair trade, empathy and love – while making money. What more could you want?

Maneka Sanjay Gandhi
Pl. add: To join the animal welfare movement contact,

We are just so lucky that the 13,000 species of ants

We are just so lucky that the 13,000 species of ants, discovered till now, are small. Even if they were the size of cats, they would be the rulers of the universe by now, would have discovered ways to reach Mars, and colonise the moon, would have solved any mathematical or gravitational problems, would have built weapons without metal. They would have sailed the oceans and destroyed as many other species as possible. They would be in constant warfare, but their wars would not destroy the land around them, or foul the air and water.

I simply love ants. I find them exactly like human beings, little mini-mes. with all our awful instincts and yet deadly precision and efficiency with no waste.

I could go on forever about them, because I learn more every day. We have everything in common. They fight all the time as well. Like people, ants have often fought over food and territory. But ants began fighting with each other, or other nests of their own species, or other species, long before humans: at least 99 million years ago when dinosaurs ruled the earth, according to a fossil insect experts in the Department of Biological Sciences at Rutgers University-Newark published online in the journal Current Biology. Ants have been trapped in ancient Burmese amber while fighting to the death. These “hell ants” had mammoth like tusk-jaws which were used to impale prey - which, fortunately, modern ants don’t have. In Mark Moffett's Book, Adventures Among Ants, he writes about the territorial disputes between two huge colonies of Argentine ants in California. Along the front line literally millions of ants die every month in what is a never-ending struggle. Sounds like India and Pakistan. Even Charles Darwin wrote about human like conflicts between ants.

Here are some similarities:

* The Florida ant (Formica archboldi) decorates its nest with the skulls of its enemies, the trap jaw ants. But trap jaw ants are bigger, have stingers and mouths that close like bear-traps and have a special feature - they can catapult to freedom when attacked. How does the much smaller archboldi do it ?

A study published in the journal Insectes Sociaux reveals that F. archboldi possesses acid spraying nozzles (like machine guns)  and attacks its quarry with quick sprays of toxic acid. They cut off the heads of their victims and take them back as trophies. But first they hide themselves within the trapdoor ants by producing a waxy layer of scent that matches the smell of the trap door ant perfectly! Chemical cues are vital to ants. While ants have eyes, they rely on scents to  follow their nest mates to food, identify friend from foe.

* However, archboldi ants have their own problems. Polyergus ants kidnap and brainwash entire colonies of F. archboldi. In fact, they are known as pirate /kidnapper ants and their modus operandi is as follows : The kidnapper ant queen identifies an archboldi ant colony. She sneaks in, murders the queen, and then bathes in her blood. She takes her place, using this newly acquired scent to avoid detection and pumps out a bunch of eggs inside the archboldi nest. These hatch into polyergus workers who capture the rest of the nest.

* Researchers have documented the first known instance of insects moving prey by forming chains. Bluish Leptogenys ants drag huge millipedes in Phnom Kulen National Park, Cambodia. Each ant bites on a constriction on the abdomen of the ant ahead of it, while the first ant bites tight on the millipede's antenna. Walking backwards, the ants heave the millipede away. Other ants form chains too. Weaver ants and army ants build chains to sew nests and cross waters respectively. But the Leptogenys ants are the first insects known to move prey by making long chains. Some ants walk ahead of the chains clearing the path.

* The big-headed ant (Pheidole megacephala) colonies have soldier ants with disproportionately large heads and giant jaws which they use to attack other ants and cut up prey. According to the Biological Journal of the Linnean Society, big-headed ant soldiers grow larger when they encounter other ants that know how to fight back.

Big-headed ants are world travellers, hitching rides with humans to get around. Their arrival at a warm destination spells almost certain doom for native ants, spiders, beetles and other invertebrates.

Big-headed ants spread out, assembling multiple nests that cooperate on defence, reproduction, territorial expansion and food procurement. If their prey are not aggressive the ants remain the same size. But if they encounter competitors in the local area they can grow to three times their size. Genetic analysis shows that the size variation is not the result of long-term evolutionary change. It is simply a uniquely quick response (within 60 days) to a new environment.

* Trap jaw ants train to fight by holding antenna boxing bouts. These bouts also establish levels of dominance within the nest. Ants have a hierarchy of roles within the colony. Trap-jaw ant species engage in antennal "boxing," a quick fight involving striking one another with their antennae, to determine which of the worker ants stay in the nest and which go out to forage. Entomologists at the University of Illinois, whose findings are in the journal Insectes Sociaux,  counted how rapidly four species pummelled their opponents during antenna-boxing bouts. The speeds ranged from 19.5 strikes per second for Odontomachus rixosus, from Cambodia, to a blazing-fast 41.5 strikes per second for Odontomachus brunneus, of Florida. Trap-jaw ants are the fastest boxers ever recorded.

* Terrorists and Colbopsis Explodens ants from Borneo have the same suicidal strategies, according to the study published in the journal ZooKeys. When confronted by another insect, the ants actively burst their body walls and release a sticky, toxic substance that can repulse or even kill the enemy. The workers die in the attack as well.

* Army ants send out a huge raiding party that sweeps through the forest. If they find the swarm raid of another army ant nest they either ignore each other: the two huge swarm parties pass through each other almost as if the other did not exist. Or both colonies retreat in opposite directions, away from each other. But if they find another species of ants, like Leafcutter ants, they attack, even if it is very large colony. Soldiers of both species line up and engage in absolutely cataclysmic battles that go on for days before the army ants finally break through the defence and go down to the leaf-cutter nest and pillage the brood.

When army ants arrive the prey ant colony evacuates the nest. What they usually do is, they grab the babies and run out to a distance. There they stand and wait. After the army ants depart, the prey ants go back to the nest.

* Wars need backups in the form of medics to save the wounded. Megaponera analis, a small black ant species native to sub-Saharan Africa, wages war on termite nests. Attacking ants can have limbs ripped off by termites. Instead of leaving the hurt ants behind, other ants will carry them back home where they can heal and participate again in future raids. Once back at the nest, healthy ants attend to the wounded, licking their injuries for minutes at a time. This strikingly unusual behaviour raises the survival rate for injured ants from a mere 20 percent to 90 percent, according to research published in the journal Proceedings of the Royal Society. M. analis colonies aren't that large, and only a dozen or so baby ants are born each day. Losing one or two ants each day would be quite significant, so they find ways to reduce the mortality.

* In the United States, the South American fire ant armies are being beaten back by the armies of a new invader – the tawny Crazy Ant. In the journal Science, entomologists at the University of Texas explain why the smaller tawny crazy ants are winning.

Fire ants spew extremely toxic venom at other ants. Most ants just die. But the Crazy ants charge into the fray. The key to their success is their chemical defences. Once an ant is sprayed, it retreats from the battle and applies its own caustic venom, which acts like a healing salve, neutralizing the effect of the fire ant's toxic ammunition. And then they run back into the fight. This tactic is so effective that the fire ant populations are dying out.

Ants tend to separate the world in a rather simple way, into two classes: colony members and everybody else. Somewhat like humans.

Maneka Sanjay Gandhi
Pl. add: To join the animal welfare movement contact,

There are so many opportunities for vegans now.

There are so many opportunities for vegans now. All you need is perseverance and courage – but you need that for any business. Here are some more ideas of how to earn money and change the world:

You don’t have to sacrifice fashion for a more compassionate lifestyle. You can have both! Many high fashion elegant products are made from recycled polyester. Cruelty-free shoes, belts and wallets are sold in thousands of on and off line shops now, using only non-animal materials that are environmentally friendly - plant-based or man-made materials such as ultra suede, organic cotton, canvas, nylon, velvet, linen. Even the shoe glue has not been tested on animals, nor made of them.


You could start a weekly organic market. People for Animals did that for a little while and did very well. Now Delhi has three weekly organic markets and they sell everything from seeds, plants, vegetables and salads to oils and cheeses. You could add vegan cookbooks, vinegars and sauces, teas, pottery, perfume, soap, skincare, hair products, and have a vegan deli.  One day it will become a permanent market with an allotted space from the government, like the flower market. Sydney has a vegan festival every year and it is big, with people taking part from all over Australia  You could have it annually and call it the Cruelty Free Festival.


I need to shop at a vegan bakery, confectionery, and chocolatier; offering vegan sweets of every kind, including baked goods, chocolate truffles, fudge, caramels, toffee, brittle, peanut butter cups, marshmallows, peppermint crèmes, patties, brownies, toffee, cakes, cookies, meringues, muffins, donuts, cupcakes. Croissants, cheesecakes, marmalades and chutneys and elegant gift baskets. Vegan and gluten free works for me - ethical decadence! A sweet treat with no chemicals, no genetically modified organisms, and no animal products. But in order to do this, you need to source your ingredients responsibly and check every supplier thoroughly. Instead of palm oil use coconut and cocoa butter. For sweetener, use evaporated cane juice, coconut sugar, and pure maple sugar. Don’t forget the smoothies and fresh organic juices. And certify everything Non GMO.


You could have a niche shop that  just sells oils, milk and butter : olive oil, yerba mate, coconut, flax, chia, hemp and black sesame oils, cashew and shea butter, almond oil and milk, agave nectar, flax-milk, organic whole grain rice-milk, maple syrup, molasses, organic coconut sugar, stevia, xylitol, good sunflower oil. Add animal rights shirts, buttons. Enhance health through nutrition.


Surprise people by offering them a wide range of mock meats and cheeses: Chicken sandwiches, hotdogs, kebabs, steaks, burgers, mince pies, bacon, nuggets, sausages, mutton curries, fish fillets, chicken pot pie, French toast. Vegan cheese alternatives are sold online: Hazelnut-based Smoked Gouda, Chipotle Cheddar and Monterey Jack, Soy-based Feta Crumbles, Cashew-based Chia Cheese Sauce. This kind of food turns a lot of people, who are making a transition, into vegans. There are mock meats (like FRY) which are free from meat, fish, eggs, milk, nuts, cholesterol, hydrogenated fats, GM ingredients, artificial colours, flavours and preservatives.


If you have a café, be careful to use no plastic. Use unbleached, 100% cotton cloths for napkins. This eliminates the use of harmful chemicals, such as bleach, which is used in common laundering practices. Compost your scraps, or give them to animal shelters. Do not buy bone china. Wash the dishes with the most environmentally-friendly products. Print your books, labels, and menus on recycled paper with soy based ink. Use the waste vegetable oil to power your car, so you never have to buy petrol.

If I knew a shop with just vegan alcohols - beer and wine, that is what I would gift drinkers. Most commercial wines use fish, or farm animal products, to process the grapes - shrimp shells, bovine tissue (like hooves), eggs, dairy, sturgeon bladders called isinglass. However, smaller wineries can be vegan. You need to look on the Net and order from them.


You could make one product from your home and advertise it : peanut butter without palm oil and preservatives, for example, or energy bars made with dried fruit, nuts and spices. The Vegg LLC  is a manufacturer and wholesaler of a powdered vegan egg yolk, sold online. It’s a one person business owned by Rocky Shepherd. who invented the world’s first vegan egg yolk! You could get in touch with him and offer that to confectionaries.


Start a vegan cosmetics and skin care shop. Vegan cosmetics, plant derived with no animal oils, gelatine or bones in them, are in any case better for the face. Companies abroad sell cosmetic liquid and powder foundations, eye shadows, blushers, concealers, bronzers, lipsticks, lip balms and mascara. Not tested on animals, cruelty-free and harmful chemical-free products, they replace even beeswax with natural oils such as organic Jojoba oil. In order to do away with preservatives, local products are used. 100% natural  skin care products can be made without alcohol, parabens, fragrance, wax, dyes, toxic contaminants, sodium lauryl or laurethsulphate, petrochemicals, artificial colorants and perfumes, glycols, synthetic preservatives or additives, bulking agents, or hidden ingredients of any kind! Most soaps are made with animal fat. Palm oil is actually a drying agent and it doesn’t hydrate or help the skin. But commercial manufacturers use it because it is cheap. Likewise, shellac and lanolin are common ingredients which are no good for the skin but are commonly found, as they can be preserved for a long time. Vegan soaps use vegetable oil and natural fragrances, and handcraft each soap. These would be allergen free. So would shampoos, conditioners, liquid hand soaps, bar soaps, bath and shower gels, and body lotions.


It bothers me that we should feed one animal to another. So, don’t forget vegan pet food and supplements for cats and dogs. They exist. We just have to get them into India, or make them ourselves. Cats need taurine if they are to be vegan. But normal taurine is made from cow bile and that brings us back to square one. However it is possible to make synthetic taurine.

Since I became minister we use Gaunyle in the ministry. It has a very pleasant smell and does a good cleaning job . It is vegan and its base ingredient is cow urine, which is a disinfectant. It is possible to have dishwashing liquid, powdered and liquid laundry detergents, and all-purpose spray cleaner without harsh chemicals that have been tested on animals. There is a company, called Planet Inc., which develops and sells environmentally-friendly products which are plant based, hypoallergenic, and clean well. They are 100% biodegradable. Their certification requires three things: First, each ingredient must break down into basic minerals, carbon dioxide, and water, and a minimum of 70% of it must degrade within 28 days. Second, each ingredient must be able to degrade, even in worst-case conditions (for example, without oxygen). Third, no ingredient may harm aquatic life while it is degrading.

Maneka Sanjay Gandhi
Pl. add: To join the animal welfare movement contact,

We humans have always considered ourselves different from every other species on Earth.

We humans have always considered ourselves different from every other species on Earth. But, as time goes on, scientists repeatedly show that the traits we consider unique and based on a superior intelligence are found in most animals as well. Tool using, for instance, is done by insects, fish, crows and apes.

One of these is the trait of laterality. The term laterality refers to the primary use of the left or right hemispheres of the brain. The two halves of the animal brain are not exactly alike , and each hemisphere differs in function. The left hemisphere controls the right side of the body and the right hemisphere controls the left side.

Most people are right handed / right sided because it is thought that the left hemisphere makes the right side stronger. Also, in 90-92% of all humans, the left hemisphere controls language .

Are animals any different?

Despite the varied structures of animal brains, many mammals, birds, fish and invertebrates have the same trait of laterality. Many animals use their left eye and left ear (indicating right brain activation) more often than the right ones when investigating objects that are potentially frightening.

Left-handed people are more vulnerable to stress, as are left pawed dogs and many other animals.

Right-handed animals have better immunity.

A 1987 study by leading animal behaviour scientists, MacNeilage, Studdert-Kennedy and Lindblom, showed that macaque monkeys have a left-hand preference. For primates in general, a left-hand preference was observed for visually guided reaching movements and a right-hand preference for manipulating objects, acts that required dexterity.

In prosimians (non-ape primates like bush-babies, lemurs, etc), the right hand is used for major tasks, like grasping a branch after a leap, and the left is used for quick small movements, like catching insects.

Young horses prefer breathing with their right nostrils. Horses with a higher emotional content prefer looking with their left eye! Recent research in Applied Animal Behaviour Science, though, showed that about 53% of horses prefer to lead with the right leg, 40% with the left and 7% showed no preference. Racehorses use the same leg in their stride unless they are forced to change it while turning, injured, or fatigued.

Dogs prefer one paw to another – except when they are frightened by noise (Bransonn and Rogers, 2006). Trainers of guide dogs, in fact, test them for laterality, as the dog may be better at walking to the left, or the right, of their blind owner.

Cattle prefer viewing new things with their left eye (as do magpies, chicks, toads and fish) and familiar things with their right eye.

Bats show a left-hand bias for climbing or grasping.

Kangaroos use their left hand for things that require fine manipulation, but the right hand for behaviour that requires physical strength.

Most parrots favour one foot when grasping objects, usually the left.  

Rainbow fish were  made to examine their reflection in a mirror. Fish which looked with their right eye swam on the left side of the group. Conversely, fish that looked with their left eye swam on the right.  

The Zebra finch male views the female with his right eye when courting her (Workman & Andrew, 1986).

Emei Music frogs listen to positive signals (like a mating call) with their right ear, and with their left  to negative signals such as predatory attacks.

Humpback whales exhibit a 75% predilection for slapping their right flukes on the water surface.

Chickens show a right foot preference in scratching the ground in their search for food. This is coupled with a dominance of the right eye in tasks requiring them to perform visual discrimination learning, such as a search for food. Studies in the 1980s, by scientists Andrew, Mench, Rainey, Zappia and Rogers, have indicated that the right eye of a chicken learns to tell the difference between food grains and small pebbles faster than the left eye. On the other hand, the left eye is used for control of attack and copulation responses. Pigeons have similar right eye dominance, but since they do not use their feet to scratch the ground for food, they have not developed a complementary right footedness.

Even invertebrates, like snails, show laterality. Their shells spiral in either a clockwise or anticlockwise direction. This asymmetry, called ‘chirality’, means that snails can only mate with matching snails.

The presence of laterality in the brains of birds is particularly interesting, as humans had always believed that it could only be possible if there was a corpus callosum in the brain. Avian brains do not have a corpus callosum at all, but still display laterality.

In fact, there is similarity between the avian and human brain when it comes to laterality. The songs of  the song-bird species is also controlled by the left hemisphere. There is also similarity in the syntax of bird songs and human languages. Birds go one better, however, as the brains of birds have both hemispheres working to control singing/language, while humans only possess this ability in one hemisphere.

In the same way, as we humans can open a door with either hand equally, yet struggle to write legibly with our non-dominant hand, complexity of the task appears to be an important factor in the handedness of animals. Animals that do activities requiring significant levels of dexterity, show evidence of a preferred “handedness” .

Italian researchers, Quaranta, Siniscalchi and Vallortigara,  found that dogs wag their tails to the right when they see positive stimuli which they want to approach, and they wag to the left when confronted with something they would like to avoid. This suggests that, just as for people, the right and left halves of the brain do different jobs in controlling emotions.

There is some evidence to suggest that dogs and cats can be right- or left-pawed, although the ratio seems to be more evenly split than in humans. In one study 46% cats used only the right paw in reaching for food, 44% the left, and 10% were ambilateral. One study indicates that laterality in this species is strongly related to temperament. Individuals with stronger paw preferences are rated as more confident, affectionate, active, and friendly. A study at Queen's University Belfast went further, showing that preferences of left/right are based on gender, with 95% of female cats favouring the right paw and 95% of male cats favouring the left. "There is some suggestion that limb preference might be a useful indicator of vulnerability to stress. Ambilateral animals with no preference for one side or the other, and those that are more inclined to left-limb dominance, for example, seem more flighty and susceptible to poor welfare than those who lean more heavily towards right limb use," says Dr Wells of QU, Belfast. She adds: "We have discovered that left-limbed dogs, for example, are more pessimistic in their outlook than right-limbed dogs. From a pet owner's perspective, it might be useful to know if an animal is left or right limb dominant, as it may help them gauge how vulnerable that individual is to stressful situations."

Determining which side of the brain dominates the other could change the way domestic animals are bred, raised, and used, including predicting which puppies will make the best service dogs, and which racehorses will  race better on left or right curving tracks.

So, another myth of man’s superiority bites the dust.

Maneka Sanjay Gandhi
Pl. add: To join the animal welfare movement contact,

Vegans choose not to eat any animal products - no meat

Vegans choose not to eat any animal products - no meat, fish, dairy, eggs, honey or other animal derived ingredients. They avoid fur, leather and wool products, and products that have been tested on animals, such as body care, cosmetics and house hold cleaning goods, or products containing animal ingredients.

The Swedish Ambassador told me that when he gave dinners at his home in Stockholm, if the diners were for people above sixty, he would probably just get meat eaters, but if they were for people under forty, he would, in any gathering of six people, get two vegetarians/vegans.

My Ministry just concluded the fourth national organic mela. 450 stalls. It attracted many thousand people every day. This time we had a vegan section and a vegan food court. It did extremely well – specially the vegan pizzas where the basic cheese was made of cashew. I took my office staff there for lunch and we loved the food.

Someone I know has started an online vegan shopping mall and it has 800 items on it already. He told me that he has no dearth of offers from people who would like to invest in his start up. The problem he has is with finding staff who will promote this properly.

Since more and more people are turning vegan and vegetarian for health reasons, it makes sense to start a vegan business. I just met two entrepreneurs in Nagpur, young boys who have created delicious milk made from almonds, and are now looking for someone to help them bring it to the market.

All over the world vegan businesses are starting up. From Linda McCartney, who is one of the world’s top designers and only does vegan clothes, to Sonal in Gurgaon, who runs a flourishing ice cream business that doesn’t use milk.

For some years I was on the board of an English monthly called The Vegan. It is a very chatty magazine, interviews with stars who have become vegan, vegan events that take place daily in the UK, vegan recipes, and lots of ads from vegan companies. It is over 25 years old and is still making a profit.

Michael Ofei has, on a site called The Minimalist Vegan, listed 38 business ideas that, he believes, will do well and change the appetite of the buyer towards ethical living. I too believe that if the choices were available , people would gravitate towards more ethical ones : garments that were ethically sourced and made, for instance, or delicious vegan sweets and icecreams. I bought a packet of freshly made vegan marshmallows last week and finished them in less than ten minutes! 

While the demand for vegan products is now mainstream and rising, the problem is with the supply. We need to help shift the demand by increasing the supply. Here are some of Ofei’s ideas:

Food & Beverages: the obvious one is a vegan restaurant /cafe.

Vegan pizzerias with home delivery options.

Gelato Bar with dairy free ice cream.

Nut Cheese Deli.

A food truck specialising in vegan burgers.

A vegan alcoholic beverage retailer.

Vegan bakery (few people know that breads have egg and milk in them, and are sometimes meat)


Freelance illustrator who services vegan friendly small businesses.

Company accountant or bookkeeper for online vegan entrepreneurs.

Specialist in project managing organic and vegan shop fit-outs.

A social media manager for vegan businesses.

Offer copywriting services to help build the profile of vegan entrepreneurs.

An all vegan childcare centre with community veggie garden.

Vegan wedding blog producing amazing content and advertising ethical wedding brands and services.

A series of online courses teaching people how to cook different vegan cuisines at home. You can become a vegan party chef. Host vegan cooking workshops.

Develop a dating app that accurately connects vegan soulmates together.

Create a concierge service in the form of a mobile app that connects all of the local ethical trades people with vegan customers.


Online vegan shoe retailer.

Organic clothing line specialising in everyday garments like underwear, sweaters, socks.

Tailored vegan suits for men.

Create a makeup line that is vegan, fair trade, organic and eco friendly.

Build a vegan friendly and chemical free nail polish company.


Start an investment fund specifically for ethical businesses.

Become an angel investor for vegan businesses.

Here are some more  ideas of things to make :

Vegan pet food, vegan wine, body care, cosmetics,

Or go big and just open one vegan grocery store with everything in it.

Having a vegan business is great activism. It makes it easier for others to live vegan. So many carnivorous people I know say that they would change their ways partially if they could get vegan products easily and effortlessly. Make the market evolve. In the words of George Bernard Shaw, "Animals are my friends and I don't eat my friends."

It is not difficult to run a vegan business online. All over the world there are thousands of shops offering non leather shoes, boots, bags, belts wallets accessories. Food goodies includes mock meat and dairy products, along with home cleaners, toiletries, cosmetics, skin care, food such as chocolate, jams, chutney, pet care, general grocery items and household items.  When I say vegan stores, I mean those with earth sustaining products: no animal testing, no harsh chemicals, no palm oil (India is the largest importer of palm oil and, not only is it dangerous for health, it is grown by destroying millions of acres of forest and turning it into plantations. The Orangutan is one of the many species that now face extinction because of it ), and mostly locally sourced products so that fuel is not wasted in transport. Even the packaging is ethical and non plastic.

What are the items that should not be in vegan shops: T-Shirts that are made of BT Cotton (they should say ‘organic cotton”), vitamins and sweets that contain gelatine, palm oil as I said earlier, white sugar which is refined using bone, bone china, white paper or any white coloured product (bleach kills everything in the sea), chemical dyes of any kind (Rajasthan has lost most of its rivers due to these dyes. I went to see a river, near Udaipur, on my way to Sojat village which grows all the mehndi in India . The river was blood red and carcasses and the bones of animals and birds, who had drunk from it, littered its banks.) I certainly don’t agree with vegan shops that sell silver, gold and semi precious or precious stones, even if they make them into cute little animals. All these are mined on forest land, and millions of animals lose their lives in the process. Why not have amazing glass jewellery instead. Silk, wool, leather, fur, suede, feathers, coral, beewax, pearls, anything made of bone; definite no-nos

To run a credible vegan shop, one has to be very discerning and look at every ingredient of every item. It is difficult to find biscuits that do not have palm oil in them, for instance. But they do exist.

I have often said that the heart is a door. When it opens, it opens for all. Most vegan shops go out of their way to see that that not only are the products made of sustainable material, but also that they use less water and are not made in sweatshops (paying low wages for long hours of work to poor people). Some go even further and source products from democratic countries only (where do they find these ??)

Maneka Sanjay Gandhi
Pl. add: To join the animal welfare movement contact,

A friend of mine feeds the crows in Mumbai.

A friend of mine feeds the crows in Mumbai. He calls them by name and they come to feed. But while the birds listen to him, he, of course, can’t understand a single word they say. 

That is the siddhi I wish I had.

In mythology and medieval literature the language of the birds is considered divine, a language used by the birds to communicate with only the initiated.

Birds communicate with animals – ravens lead wolves to prey and then feed off the remains. The Greater Honeyguide bird leads bears to forest beehives and eats the leftovers.

In Norse mythology the power to understand bird language was considered the ultimate wisdom. The god Odin had two ravens, called Huginn and Muninn, who flew around the world and told Odin what happened among mortal men. The legendary king of Sweden, Dag the Wise, had a sparrow which flew around and brought back news to him. According to the Poetic Edda and the Völsunga saga , the 9th century Viking hero Sigurd was given this gift of understanding, and his life was saved as he listened to  birds discussing an enemy’s plans to kill him.

Jason was an ancient Greek mythological hero, a descendent of the messenger god Hermes. His quest for the Golden Fleece features in Greek literature. He assembled a band of heroes whose tales have been recounted for 3000 years now. They sailed in the ship Argo and were collectively called the Argonauts. The figurehead of Argo, Jason’s ship, was built of oak from the sacred grove at Dodona and could speak the language of birds.

In the Talmud of the Jews, King Solomon’s proverbial wisdom was due to his being granted the understanding of the language of birds by God. This carries over into the Quran where Suleiman (Solomon) and David both knew the language of birds. 

The Conference of the Birds is a beautiful Sufi poem written by the 12th Century Persian poet Attar of Nishapur. The story begins with a meeting of all of the world’s birds to decide who will be their sovereign. The hoopoe, the wisest of all, proposes finding the simurgh (a mythical, benevolent bird related to the Phoenix) to resolve the dilemma. The poem describes their journey and the moral learning they encounter along their way.

The concept of the hero being given the gift of understanding bird language. either by some magical transformation, or as a reward for a good deed in folk tales, extends across the world - including Welsh, Russian, German, Estonian, Greek and Romany.

In the Jewish Kabbalah astrology and alchemy, the language of the birds, also called the Green Language, is considered a secret and perfect language and the key to perfect knowledge. The language was supposed to have been scripted by the Egyptian bird headed god Thoth. The Egyptians considered hieroglyphic writing "the alphabet of the birds.”

The Raven in Native American Indian lore is the bearer of magic, and a harbinger of messages from the cosmos. Messages that are beyond space and time are nestled in the black wings of the raven and come to only those in the tribe who are worthy of the knowledge.

This ability to use grammar is the essence of language. It is not enough to know the meanings of words, the structures and rules by which words are put together have to be understood. The view has been that humans are unique in this ability. Now scientists have found that songbirds have the same ability. Like us they learn the language by imitating their elders. But as they practice to develop their ability, they  improvise and string together new songs and, over generations, these modified songs turn into new dialects. And, like us, they come hard-wired with ‘speech-centers’ in their brain that are dedicated to language processing.

An experiment from 2009, by Fehér and colleagues, took newly hatched songbirds of the zebra finch species and raised them in sound proof chambers. They did this during their critical period of language development. These birds were raised in a world without song. But when they got together these isolated birds began to develop their own songs. These songs were less musical than typical songbird song - they had irregular rhythms, the notes stuttered and sounded noisier. But, in time, the songs became more like the songs of the wild songbirds, even though none of these birds had ever heard wild songs. Which means they had an innate understanding of the structures/grammar of their language. That is that finches who have never head the birdsong of their elders still absorb many of these grammatical rules.

A study by Kentaro Abe and Dai Watanabe, published in Nature magazine, focused on a species of songbird called Bengalese finches. A song bird responds to a song with its own song (we call it song but it is normal conversation).

The researchers kept playing the same song and the bird lost interest after a while and did not respond. Then they altered it slightly and got a response ('who are you' became 'why are you', for instance.)

The researchers taught grammar to the birds  by inventing a set of grammatical rules, and generating 50 songs that obeyed these rules. They repeated these songs to the birds for an hour, like a schoolteacher drilling 50 sentences into a new pupil. They then waited 5 minutes, and played the birds a new song that either fit this grammatical rule or broke the rule. The birds responded to the correct grammatical sentences, whereas the ungrammatical sentences ruffled their feathers. The birds were able to assimilate the rules of this new grammar!

What is the biological driving force behind this talent for grammar? Our brains have specific regions that 'light up' when we listen to a grammatically invalid construction. A specific area of the brain known as Broca's region has the ability to understand and produce grammatical speech. Scientists claim to have identified regions in the finches' brains that do the same.

So, birds have a proper language. Alas, I have not received the gift of being able to understand it.

Maneka Sanjay Gandhi
Pl. add: To join the animal welfare movement contact,

This is for all those people who write to me complaining about the dogs on the streets.

This is for all those people who write to me complaining about the dogs on the streets. They always start their emails by saying they are great animal lovers and they have dogs of their own BUT we must do something about the “dog menace” in order for them, their children, and their dogs, to move freely without encountering “junglees”, “strays”, “ pi-dogs”.

While the government, and all the courts, have ordered sterilization of all dogs by all municipalities and district administrations, in reality less than a tenth of the country is doing it. Lack of vets, lack of money and, the most important, is lack of vision. The dog sterilization programme is controlled by the Ministry of Environment, who put out less than 50 lakhs a year for it, instead of the Ministry for Health which has been allocated more than Rs 300 crores. But the Ministry for Environment will not hand it over. And the Ministry for Health is not trying too hard because, as their secretary said to me “Our job is not to sterilize dogs”. Since this would come under the heading of rabies control, I asked why they were killing mosquitoes since that was not their job. Because, that was the only way to bring malaria under control. Exactly. Sterilizing and vaccinating dogs would remove rabies within 5 years.

It is difficult to educate bureaucrats, since the space where their brains should be is filled with ego and a limited logic that runs only on one narrow gauge track.

However, here is another way to deal with the dogs and cats on the road. Illegal breeders are breeding lakhs of pedigreed dogs who are unhealthy, inbred and found in every pet shop. It is now illegal for any pet shop to keep any animals without a registration, which is very strict, but our feet on the ground are so limited and so vulnerable to bribes that I am not sure how long it will take the authorities to apply the new laws.

So, here is what we can do:

America’s shelters have a kill policy. Abandoned animals in shelters are allowed to live 28 days and if they are not adopted, they are killed. Over the years a large number of no-kill shelters have come up. But the dogs live in cages for the rest of their lives, unless they are adopted.

In 2017 , California passed a law, A.B.485, that pet stores will only sell puppies, kittens and rabbits from shelters and rescue centres. Violators will be fined $ 500 and shut down. This effectively puts an end to commercial animal breeders and brokers, and to the terrible practice of illegal breeding. Just recently we had to rescue 11 dogs in the backyard of a doctor in Thane. They were starved, on the verge of death, eating their own faeces, but each had given birth to any number of puppies who had been sold by the doctor with forged certificates as to their foreign pedigree.

The pet trade in America predictably protested saying that “it would jeopardise  jobs”. (They were overruled). But in India the trade does not employ anyone. It is an illegal business which operates by taking a few dogs, tying them up, forcibly breeding them every six months and then putting them in illegal pet shops. It will put no one out of business.


Why not bring the same law into India. Almost every city now has an animal welfare group. Many of them have animal shelters. My shelter in Delhi, Sanjay Gandhi Animal Care Centre, gets  a minimum of ten throwaways a day. People who have bought pedigreed dogs, kept them badly, made them sick, tied them up the whole day and made them ferocious, and then they come to the hospital, pretend they have come for medicine /treatment and then, when they think no one is looking, they run off, leaving the dog behind in an alien, diseased, unfriendly surrounding. We take Rs 15,000 for each abandoned animal but, in order not to pay, these people – who have paid far more in buying the dogs, will tie them to the gate or even throw them over the wall.

Most of the abandoned dogs are Pomeranians and Spitzes. The others are Labradors, and the huge woolly Swiss ones that were originally smuggled into India. And, of course, lots of Vodafone pugs. We put the dogs into a special enclosure, in full view of the hundreds of visitors who come, so that they can adopt them. Some get homes. Others waste away with broken hearts, and the terror of being in an uncomfortable enclosure with fifty other dogs, till they die. My sister takes the most damaged ones home, and she has 17 in her tiny house. I have 24.  Once they recover and bounce back, we try and find homes for them.

So, if we made it compulsory for pet shops to only sell dogs and cats from shelters, we would be able to achieve two things: the abandoned foreign animals would find homes and the shelters would make a little money. The dogs/cats could be sterilized, vaccinated and made healthy before selling – unlike the pedigreed dogs/cats that come from breeders . They are sold without vaccinations and most of them die as puppies of distemper and parvo.

The other thing it would achieve is that pet shops will start selling the cutest Indian puppies supplied to them from shelters. No shelter will breed foreign dogs, so, , in the absence of formal retail outlets, the breeding of foreign dogs will go down. People who want dogs will take Indian dogs. People who like buying dogs will buy them from shops.

Please start campaigning in your states for this. We can make the world a much kinder place if we push for the right things.

Maneka Sanjay Gandhi
Pl. add: To join the animal welfare movement contact,

In 1990 I went to the dreadful Kolkata zoo.

In 1990 I went to the dreadful Kolkata zoo. They had imported a young female giraffe from Africa- a practice we need to ban. She was utterly beautiful with her shy long lashed eyes and graceful ballet legs. I named her Teesta – after the mysterious and spectacular river. The Kolkata zoo officials, and the Minister, promised that they were going to relocate the zoo to a large area where the animals would roam free. Forty years and at least 4,000 deaths later I am still waiting. Teesta is dead. The Kolkata zoo decided to relocate the giraffes to Odisha’s Nandankanan zoo. They loaded them into an open truck and, while they were swerving, the animals hit their heads on an electric pole and died.

While the world concentrates on lions, gorillas and elephants being decimated, the giraffe is almost extinct. In the last 15 years the population of giraffes has fallen by 40%. Now there are less than 80,000 left and they reduce every day. Soon, they will only be seen in zoos and then it’s over.

The main culprits in this case are the Americans. Conservation groups, like Center for Biological Diversity, Humane Society International, Humane Society of the United States,International Fund for Animal Welfare and the Natural Resources Defense Council, have been petitioning the government since the last two years to protect giraffes under the Endangered Species Act. No action has been taken.

What difference will it make to giraffes in Africa if America passes the Act? Because giraffes are losing their lives to tribal hunting and to souvenir hunters in America, who kill through Fedex- one giraffe is killed for a carving to be made on its bone. On average, the U.S. imports about one giraffe hunting trophy a day, and the country has imported 21,402 bone carvings, 3,008 skin pieces and 3,744 miscellaneous hunting trophies from giraffes over the last few years . Giraffe bones are now the new ivory and the USA is heavily implicated in the trade with its large market for giraffe parts. Once China gets into it as well- then giraffes will be gone in six months.

Africa now has fewer giraffes than elephants. The International Union for the Conservation of Nature elevated the threat level to giraffes from “least concern” to “vulnerable” on its “ Red List of Threatened Species” in 2016.

Giraffes are the tallest mammals on Earth. Their legs alone are taller than many humans. They can run at 35 miles an hour – but who can run fast enough to dodge a hunter’s bullet?

They are found in the dry savannas of Africa, where they roam on the open plains and sparse woodlands. They eat acacia leaves from the trees – their necks are far too short to reach the ground, but long enough to reach the tree tops.. Their long blue tongues help them pull down 45 kg of leaves and twigs daily. Their height, and eyesight, makes it easy for them to spot predators, like lions and hyenas, from far away. Their kicks are strong and sometimes lethal. They bellow, snort, hiss and make flute like sounds.

Giraffes are social animals and roam around in groups of females and calves led by an adult male. Giraffes can live till 40. The age can be found in the skin spots. The darker the spots, the older the giraffe.

Female giraffes give birth standing up. Newborns fall 6 feet to the ground but within 30 minutes they are standing, and hours later they're able to run with their mothers.

The gestation period for a giraffe is 457 days, which is about 15 months. Generally, only a single baby is born. A female giraffe averages around five calves in her lifetime About 50 per cent of all giraffe calves do not survive their first year. This percentage of infant mortality goes up, depending on the number of lions in the area. Recent studies show the death of 82% of young calves in lion rich areas.

Giraffes used to be distributed throughout North and West Africa, including the Sahara, and along the Nile. Today giraffes are only found in sub-Saharan Africa. From herds of 20-30 animals in the 90s, their average herd now contains fewer than six individuals.

According to the International Union for the Conservation of Nature (IUCN) the creatures are undergoing a "silent extinction". A mass extinction of giraffes will disrupt ecosystems in Africa, with the lions next.

In the war torn areas of northern Kenya, Somalia, Ethiopia and South Sudan the giraffe is seen as a large animal whose meat can feed a large number of people – and all it costs is a single bullet. The giraffe is dispersed over 21 countries, in state-owned national parks, private and communal lands. Out of nine subspecies fewer than 300 “West African giraffes” survive in Niger and less than 700 “Rothschild’s giraffes” are dispersed between Uganda and Kenya, according to a report by wildlife experts at Elephant Without Borders. Kenya is down from 30,000 mammals in the 1990s to 5,500 today.

The statistics of their survival now go from the species increasing in southern Africa over the last three decades, to decreasing by 95% in East Africa. The success in keeping giraffe numbers high in Southern Africa has much to do with the management of the wildlife areas.

In Tanzania the belief is that consuming giraffe brains and bone marrow could be a cure for HIV -  “freshly severed heads and giraffe bones can fetch prices of up to $140 per piece.”

Giraffe is a part of bush meat in a number of rural African communities. Their skin is used for clothing, shoes, bags, belts, hats and covers for drums. Their hair makes jewellery, thread for sewing or stringing beads. Their tails are used to swish flies away and were originally symbols of authority.

Many African governments have restrictions on hunting, bans on hunting in National Parks, introduction of license systems, but people continue to hunt wildlife illegally. And American tourists pay local poachers to do the hunting and send them the parts through couriers, like the Minnesota dentist who had Cecil, the iconic and protected lion in Zimbabwe, killed in 2015 and the head shipped to him. The US is the largest importer of trophies in the world.

As human populations grow, and increase agricultural activities expand settlements, and construct roads, the giraffe is losing its acacia trees, which are its main source of food. They face the risk of collisions with vehicles and power lines. But the species is mainly threatened by “trophy” hunters who travel to Africa to shoot their big-game quarry. These hunters overwhelmingly come from the US. In August pictures emerged of a 12-year-old girl from Utah posing with her rifle beside the slumped body of a dead giraffe. “In the past few years, several gruesome images of trophy hunters next to slain giraffe bodies have caused outrage, bringing this senseless killing to light,” said Masha Kalinina, international trade policy specialist with Humane Society International.

Giraffes are one of the most iconic animals in the world, but the clock is now ticking for their survival.

America’s government must realize the importance of banning giraffe trophies. An endangered species listing would place heavy restrictions on any American hunter wishing to travel to Africa and bring back a slaughtered giraffe.

ABCD books for children have all got G for giraffe. How will we explain to a child in ten years time what a giraffe was?

Maneka Sanjay Gandhi
Pl. add: To join the animal welfare movement contact,

Dr. Madan Mohan Bajaj is not an animal welfare activist.

Dr. Madan Mohan Bajaj is not an animal welfare activist. He doesn’t try to stop cruelty, nor does he protest or go to court. He is the Director General of International Scientific Research & Welfare Organisation, and Chief of the Medical Physics, Immunophysics, Nuclear Biophysics and Biomedical Engineering Research Laboratory of the Department of Physics and Astrophysics of the University of Delhi, where he has been teaching since1968.

Author of more than 300 research papers, he is a fellow of Indian Society of Genetics & Plant Breeding , Indian Academy of Medical Physics, American Chemical Society, Physical Society of Japan, Japan Society for Medical Electronics and Biomedical Engineering, Bangladesh Physical Society, Physical Society of Nepal, Asian Physical Society, Indian Society for Cancer Chemotherapy, Indian Society for Cancer Research, Mathematical Association of India, Society of Physiologists and Pharmacologists of India. He had been the Secretary of the Indian Academy of Medical Physics and the Chairman of several symposia organised by the Department of Atomic Energy, Government of India.

Dr. Bajaj has guided 18 Ph.D. students, 8 M.Phil. students & helped 2 D.Sc. students. Dr. Bajaj has co-authored 15 scientific books.

He is  the founder of the Mahatma Gandhi School for the Children of Leprous Families.

In short, he is a hardcore scientist and a humanitarian.
He has co-authored a book, with other well known physicists, putting forward a new and interesting point of view. It is called “Etiology of Earthquakes, A New Approach, by M M Bajaj, Ibrahim and Vijayraj Singh; Publishers: H. B. Prakashan, Indore". It is based on a research thesis presented in June 1995 at an international scientist conference held in Sudal, Russia.

So far, predicting earthquakes is almost impossible, since humans still do not know the reason for them. The authors claim that the concentrated creation of pain and fear caused by the non stop killing of animals/birds and fish is what creates earthquakes. They claim that pain creates actual physical waves.

Of course the theory will be dismissed by geologists, who guard their domains jealously. And, of course, it will be laughed at by other scientists. But remember this : driverless cars, cordless telephones, meat made by the multiplication of cells, sea waves that generate electricity, and a million other common things, were once laughed at theories. Uri Geller, who is world famous because he uses the power of his mind to bend spoons, is now one of many who can do the same. Schools to develop mind power have sprung up all over the world, from Russia to Italy, and I have seen some of them. In India we have so many Swamis who cure diseases, and change destinies, by concentrating on them. How does one explain the power of thought? The closest thing to a rational explanation I got was from the film called Lucy made by Luc Bresson in 2014. What we called coincidence – when we think of someone and they call in a few minutes - is also called synchronicity. It is a concept first introduced by the legendary analytical psychologist Carl Jung, which holds that events are "meaningful coincidences" if they occur with no causal relationship yet seem to be meaningfully related. Jung used the concept in arguing for the existence of the paranormal, but added "with our present resources it is impossible to explain Extra Sensory Perception".

Does the mind generate waves of energy? The story goes that when Swami Vivekananda approached Chicago, he pointed at a particular area in the distance which, according to him, had a thick black cloud of sadness on it. It was the stockyard / slaughterhouse, the largest in America, where cattle were brought to be killed. Was the miasma caused by the waves of despair and suffering?

Jung is not the only scientist of world acclaim who believes in what is now called “the paranormal” (or what will be the new “normal” in a few years) Albert Einstein, the father of modern science, also propagated the EPW, or Einsteinian Pain Waves Theory, in the realm of geology.

The BIS (Bajaj-Ibrahim-Singh) Theory claims to be a development on the EPW of Einstein. It argues, on the basis of the evidence the authors have gathered, that it is possible to correlate the cause of earthquakes  with the concentrated genocide of animals.

Why and when do earthquakes happen? No one knows. So this theory is as good as any. Maybe future seismology scientists will “ prove” what the Rishis have been saying for centuries – that the universal mind is the most powerful instrument of all.

The book collates the reports from different parts of the world where earthquakes have taken place, and where millions of animals have been butchered in, or near, high risk seismic zones.

The Einstein pain wave theory says that while primary and secondary waves move quickly, pain waves build up pressure over a period of time and then, when they reach flash point, the crust of the earth breaks and reacts with an earthquake.

The book claims to have studied the complex role of nociceptive waves: in a sentient body, intense chemical (e.g., chili powder in the eyes), mechanical (e.g., cutting, crushing), or thermal (heat and cold), stimulation of sensory nerve cells, called nociceptors, produces a signal that travels along a chain of nerve fibres via the spinal cord to the brain, resulting in the experience of pain. Nociceptors require a minimum intensity of stimulation before they trigger a signal to the nervous system. Once this threshold is reached a signal is passed along.

The authors claim that the same kind of pain waves are generated and passed along the crust of the earth by the immense noise and tension generated by animals on the verge of being butchered. These waves result in cracks in the crust in a certain direction, or seismic anisotropy.

Acoustic anisotropy, or the effect on the crust caused by sound, is what, the authors are claiming, causes earthquakes. While low frequency resonances are hardly felt by people, earthquakes high on the Richter scale originate due to the slaughter of millions of animals daily for years together.
The authors say that sound waves put great stress on rock. The daily butchering of thousands of animals continually, for several years, generates acoustic anisotropy due to the Einsteinian Pain Waves (EPW) emitted by dying animals. The book claims that since the EPW travel a great distance with time, abattoirs of one country may lead to havoc in another country.

Their theory is that large-scale abattoir activity is the causative agent for major earthquakes. The authors have given the examples of the Latur (Khillari) earthquake, earthquakes of Utterkashi, Assam. In the US, the earthquakes of Northridge (1994), Long Beach (California – 1933), Landers (California -1992), San Francisco (1906), New Madrid (Missouri – 1811-12), have been mentioned. Russia's Neftegorsk (1995) finds a major mention. Kanto (1923), Nobi (1891), Kita-Tango (1927), Sankiru Tsunami (1933), Shizuoka (1935), Tonankal (1944), Nankai (1948), Fukui (1948), Off-Tokachi (1952), Kjta-Mino (1961), Nigata (1964), Off-Tokachi (1968), Kobe (1995), in Japan, the massive slaughter at Gadhimai and the Nepal earthquake have all been described to demonstrate a pattern.

Could this be possible? Why not? For years Einstein’s theory of gravitational waves, propounded in1916, was laughed at by scientists. A hundred years later, when instruments had been developed, in February 2016 US scientists announced that they had detected, heard, and measured gravitational waves, a landmark scientific discovery that is important in furthering our understanding of the universe.

Gravitational waves are faint ripples in the fabric of space-time, created by massive movements in the universe, such as two black holes colliding, or massive stars exploding. The signal, that the Laser Interferometer Gravitational-wave Observatory (LIGO) caught, was produced by two merging black holes. Since gravitational waves are not absorbed, or reflected, by matter, they carry information on the motion of objects in the universe.

All through history there have been scientists who have given concepts which were unknown and immeasurable at the time. In the 16th Century, Giordano Bruno claimed that the sun was just another star and there were many worlds in the universe. He was burnt alive. Donald Trump still thinks that global warming is a myth.

Here is a common example from basic physics to help understand the possible destructive power of pain waves. An object 'A' has a natural frequency at which it vibrates freely. If another object 'B', in proximity to 'A', vibrates at the frequency equal to the natural frequency of 'A', then 'A' starts vibrating with much greater energy. This phenomenon is called Resonance and can be potentially destructive for 'A'. The theory of Resonance can be extended to pain waves, which could trigger the tectonic plates to vibrate, resulting in severe earthquakes.  

The Tacoma Narrow bridge in US was the first documented bridge to have collapsed (in 1940) because of this resonance effect. It was found that, due to a design fault, the natural frequency of the bridge matched the frequency of airflow, which resulted in its destruction when the entire bridge started vibrating because of the air flowing over it. 

If a tiny vibration, at a specific frequency, can lead a bridge to vibrate as a whole, why can’t the pain wave, originating from an animal being slaughtered, lead to a similar destructive outcome such as an earthquake? The pain of an animal being slaughtered is a sudden release of a huge amount of life energy, probably a form of energy that we can’t measure as of now.

Who knows when we will learn the technology which can measure collective pain and the frequencies at which it can cause mass destruction? Remember the Spanish proverb, “Toma lo quequieras y pagaporello, dice Dios” (“Take what you want and pay for it, says God.”)

Maneka Sanjay Gandhi
Pl. add: To join the animal welfare movement contact,

Sometime ago I wrote about arsenic being deliberately added

Sometime ago I wrote about arsenic being deliberately added to chicken feed and the harm it did to the human body. There is another source of arsenic which is not added deliberately but, nonetheless, is found in large quantities - in seafood and shellfish.

Arsenic is an odourless, tasteless element that is used in wood preservatives, fertilizers, animal feed, and other industrial and agricultural applications. Like lead, mercury, and other heavy metals, arsenic can persist in soil for years after it is applied to crops. Arsenic is found in two forms: organic, which is considered less harmful, and inorganic, which is considered very harmful.

The key organic arsenic compounds that can be routinely found in food include monomethylarsonic acid (MMAsV), Dimethylearsonic acid (DMAsV ), arsenobetaine, arsenocholine, arsenosugars, and arsenolipids.

Seafood and seafood products contain high levels of arsenic compounds. It is mainly found as arsenobetaine. DMAsV or MMAsV can be found in various types of fin fish, crabs, and molluscs. Arsenocholine, which is mainly found in shrimp, is chemically similar to arsenobetaine. Arsenosugars and arsenolipids have recently been identified in marine molluscs. The current biological exposure index in the US of 35 µg/L total urinary arsenic may easily be exceeded by a healthy person eating a seafood meal. In Indians there are no standards, but our marine life contains far more arsenic than is safe to eat. Arsenic is present in all seafood, but there are higher amounts in bivalves [clams, oysters, scallops, mussels], crustaceans [crabs, lobsters], and cold water and bottom feeding finfish and seaweed/kelp, specially Hijiki seaweed which is the most commonly used in Japanese/Chinese food.

Arsenobetaine is considered nontoxic because it is organic. But then so was arsenic in the form of Roxarsone given to chickens to make them get fatter faster and look redder. It was proven in 2011 to be deadly because it changed from organic to inorganic (which is toxic) in the chicken’s body and got even more toxic when it was cooked.

Calcium, and other supplements made from seafood, may also contain high amounts of arsenic.

Concerns about the adverse effects of chronic arsenic exposure have focused on contaminated drinking water and airborne workplace exposures; the risks of naturally occurring arsenic in foods have received less attention. About 90% of the arsenic in US diets comes from seafood. This has not been taken seriously as it was considered that only a small proportion occurs in inorganic forms; the great majority consists of complex organic compounds that have been regarded as non-toxic. However, recent studies of seafood have documented that this arsenic becomes carcinogenic in rodents. Borak and Hosgood have analysed the risk of seafood arsenic on humans and found it substantial.

Research done by analytical chemists at the University of Graz in Austria, in 2013, found that certain forms of arsenic, which appear in seafood and are thought to be harmless, might actually be toxic. Even more troubling, the researchers found that while arsenic mostly passes right through some people, it lingers inside others for an extended period.

Francesconi and colleagues at the University created organic arsenic that they fed to six volunteers. The researchers had originally wanted to test 50 people, but medical ethics concerns limited the size of the study. Over the next four days, testing of urine and blood showed that four of the six participants excreted into their urine at least 85 percent and as much as 95 percent of the arsenic they ingested, with most of it coming out in the first day. Of the remaining two volunteers, one excreted just 15 percent, and the other eliminated less than 4 percent of the arsenic she had swallowed.

What happened to the non excreted arsenic? Obviously, it was being stored by the body- and that is not good news. 2 out of 6 people is a very high percentage.

Results also showed that, over the course of digestion, the synthetic organic arsenic broke down into potentially toxic forms. This finding raises new concerns about levels of organic arsenic in seafood.

At very high levels, arsenic can be fatal. At lower levels, arsenic can cause nausea and vomiting and decrease the amount of red and white blood cells produced by the body. It causes abnormal heart rhythms, may damage blood vessels, and causes a pins and needles sensation in the hands and feet.

What happens to people when they are exposed to low levels of arsenic over a long period of time?  Arsenic is associated with skin, bladder, and lung cancers, says Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health in Baltimore. Chronic low level poisoning leads to heart disease, lung damage and breathing problems. Long-term exposure to arsenic causes skin discoloration that looks like freckles, or small moles, on the hands, feet, or trunk. Skin lesions start about ten years after first exposure. White lines appear on the nails and pigmentation on the arms and upper chest. This is accompanied by hair fall, conjunctivitis, corneal ulceration. There is an increased risk of diabetes.

For children and pregnant women, the risks are heightened. “The more we learn about arsenic’s additional effects on the developing brain, the more concerned I am. Getting exposed to a toxicant like arsenic in-utero, or during early childhood, can cause damage that may not appear until decades later,” says Michael Waalkes, at the Division of the National Toxicology Program. He is one of the authors of a June 2012 report, funded in part by the National Institutes of Health, that concluded early life exposure to arsenic produces a wide range of cancers and other diseases.

Arsenic is known to affect thyroid activity, leading to increased levels of thyroid stimulating hormone (TSH). This hormone is released from the pituitary gland. It stimulates the thyroid to capture iodine from the blood, which is needed to produce essential enzymes for the body’s health. However, a number of studies have shown that increased arsenic consumption disrupts the functioning of the thyroid. In a recent study, published in the Journal of Trace Elements in Medicine and Biology, the scientists focused on arsenic in seafood.

38 healthy young men and women, between 20-40 in age, were selected to eat 150 gms of salmon, cod, or mussels, for 14 days. Another group ate 150 gms of potatoes. Before and after this eating regimen, the subjects had blood samples taken in order to measure arsenic, iodine and selenium – all chemicals indicative of thyroid activity. Included in the blood analysis were the enzymes that reflect the exact levels of thyroid activity.

After 14 days of seafood consumption, the subjects had a 20-60% rise in arsenic levels in their bodies. And the increased arsenic in the plasma did, in fact, cause hikes in thyroid activity as well as TSH levels.

Arsenic not only is a potent human carcinogen but it can set up children for other health problems in later life. The Environmental Protection Agency assumes there is actually no “safe” level of exposure to inorganic arsenic. WHO considers arsenic as one of the ten major public health concerns. It is ranked by the International Agency for Research on Cancer (IARC) as one of more than 100 substances that are Group 1 carcinogens. Two forms of organic arsenic, called DMA and MMA,  found in seafood, have also been labelled by the same agency as “possibly carcinogenic to humans”.

A study has been done, by Lorenzana, Yeow, Colman, Chappell & Choudhary, on what percent of inorganic arsenic exists in seafood round the world. This is their finding: “...the Data from the worldwide literature indicate the percent of inorganic arsenic in marine/estuarine finfish does not exceed 7.3% and in shellfish can reach 25% in organisms from uncontaminated areas. However, percentages can be much higher in organisms from contaminated areas and in seaweed. For freshwater finfish the average percent inorganic arsenic is generally 10%, but ranges up to nearly 30%."

Should you be worried about the fish, shellfish and seaweed you eat? You should. But in India neither the government nor the public ever worry. It has taken us thirty or more years to even develop a test for formalin which is used in all fish. We just eat and die. And life goes on.

Maneka Sanjay Gandhi
Pl. add: To join the animal welfare movement contact,

For me, food is at the core of every religion because

For me, food is at the core of every religion because it signifies the most important commandment of the universe: those shalt not harm. People who eat meat cause vast amounts of suffering, not just to the animals but to the planet itself. The five most amazing vegetarians in the world, in my opinion, were the Holy Prophet Mohammad, Jesus, the Buddha, Rumi and Mahatma Gandhi. How sad that all their followers eat vast amounts of meat while mouthing the empty phrases of their religious books. 

You should know about Jalal al-Din Muhammad Balkhi known simply as Rumi, a 13th century (1207-1273) Muslim poet, jurist, theologian and Sufi mystic, born in Balkh (in Iran then and now in Afghanistan) and died in Konya, now in Turkey. Known as Maulana and Maulawi (master), he is regarded as one of the greatest Sufi spiritual masters and poets, famous for his epic Mas̄navī-yi Maʿnavī (“Spiritual Couplets”), which widely influenced mystical thought and literature throughout the Muslim world . Upon his death, his followers, and his son, founded the Mevlevi Order, also known as the Order of the Whirling Dervishes.

Rumi’s influence has spread across nations and ethnic divisions. Iranians, Tajiks, Turks, Greeks, Pashtuns, Muslims of different nationalities. His poems have been widely translated into most of the world's languages and have influenced literature hugely, specially Persian, Turkish, Urdu and Pashto.

Sufism, or Tasawwuf, is the inward mystic philosophy, the spiritual dimension/discipline of Islam. It considers the Holy Prophet Muhammad as the perfect being who exemplifies the morality of God. Sufis belong to different orders, congregations, formed around a grand master. These strive for perfection of worship. According to William Chittick, "In a broad sense, Sufism can be described as the interiorization, and intensification of Islamic faith and practice." Sufism is perceived as a peaceful and apolitical form of Islam, particularly suited for interreligious dialogue and intercultural harmonisation in pluralist societies; a symbol of tolerance and humanism -flexible and non-violent. 

While Sufis strictly observe Islamic law, they are ascetics, firm in their practice of Dhikr, the remembrance of God. Classical Sufi scholars have defined Tasawwuf as "a science whose objective is the reparation of the heart and turning it away from all else but God". Sufis believe that by pledging allegiance to Muhammad spiritually they may connect with God. "intensive devotion, pious abstemiousness and pondering the divine mysteries" is the Sufi way, the “science of purifying the heart". Existing in both Sunni and Shia Islam, Sufism is not a sect, but a method of approaching, or a way of understanding, the religion, which "through simultaneously fulfilling the obligatory religious duties" and finding a "way and a means of striking a root through the 'narrow gate' in the depth of the soul out into the domain of the pure unimpressionable Spirit which itself opens out on to the Divinity." 

While all Muslims believe that they are on the pathway to Allah and hope to become close to God in Paradise—after death and after the Last Judgment —Sufis also believe that it is possible to draw closer to God and embrace the divine presence in this life through “repentance from sin, the purging of contemptible qualities and evil traits of character, and adornment with virtues and good character.”


Devotion to Muhammad is an exceptionally strong practice within Sufism.  Rumi attributes his self-control and abstinence from worldly desires as qualities attained by him through the guidance of Muhammad. Rumi states, "I 'sewed' my two eyes shut from [desires for] this world and the next – this I learned from Muhammad." 

Dhikr is the remembrance of Allah commanded in the Qur'anan for all Muslims through a specific devotional act, such as the repetition of divine names and supplications from Hadith literature and the Quran.  Ritualized dhikr ceremonies of the Sufis include " recitation, singing (the most well known being Qawwali music),instrumental music , dance, incense, meditation, ecstacy, and trance."

Sufi whirling originated and is still practised by the Sufi Dervishes of the Mevlevi order. It is a dance through which dervishes aim to reach the source of all perfection. This is sought through abandoning one's egos , personal desires, listening to the music, focusing on God , and spinning one's body in repetitive circles, seen as a symbolic imitation of planets in the Solar System orbiting the sun.

At the age of 12, Rumi, born in a Muslim meat-eating world, wrote this quatrain  and became a vegetarian till he died.

'Shadeed-az-kwa nee ast munazin/Ya rafeer ul-qist amnazeer/Choon ke ast shadaaz raftam ke azdaan/Wahen ul-khirama, za dizt'un bu'azir'? (I have existence and I value it so much/So have all the beings on earth and they too, try to preserve it/ Then, how can I kill even the tiniest creature/Just to satiate my palate?).

Rumi believed that all lives were sacred: Taa'shif nifaak b'astz sang (Even a seemingly lifeless stone has a degree of consciousness; respect it). Rumi was a staunch vegetarian and shunned even milk and milk products (Sheer mun-haraam nuzt: To me, even milk is forbidden). He even refrained from sacrificing animal/s as an Islamic ritual on Eid-Al-Adah (Bakrid). 

Rumi says in Turkish, 'Ye'k dez charinda-ul-insaan rish'h'aaz'(Look at all animals as you look at humans). This is of paramount importance. This creates sensitivity that further blossoms into universal empathy. The sanctity of every life is to be saved and preserved: 'Kahin nish shudam el-fazeer-un-nisaar.'

 Rumi  writes that what we eat, directly influences our thinking. If we consume an animal, its blood and gore will make us act like a slaughterer: 'Un qasaab, gosht-e-zakaaf'.

“We began as mineral. We emerged into plant life, and into the animal state , and then into being human, and always we have forgotten our former states, except in early Spring when we slightly recall being green again” Rumi, Selected poems, Penguin UK.

When Rumi died his body was interred and a shrine, the Yeşil Türbe (Green Tomb), was erected over his place of burial. His epitaph reads:

When we are dead, seek not our tomb in the earth, but find it in the hearts of men.

Rumi believed passionately in the use of music, poetry and dance as a path to reach God. It was from these ideas that the practice of whirling dervishes developed into a ritual form. In the Mevlevi tradition, worship “represents a mystical journey of spiritual ascent through mind and love to the Perfect One. In this journey, the seeker symbolically turns towards the truth, grows through love, abandons the ego, finds the truth and arrives at the Perfect. The seeker then returns from this spiritual journey, with greater maturity, to love and to be of service to the whole of creation without discrimination.” And that includes animals. There is a belief, expressed by chroniclers, that much of his poetry was composed in a state of ecstasy, induced by the music of the flute or the drum, the sound of the water mill in Meram, where Rūmī went with his disciples to enjoy nature. He found in nature the reflection of the radiant beauty, and felt flowers and birds partaking in his love. Mewlâna Jalâluddîn Rumi says, "All loves are a bridge to Divine love. Yet, those who have not had a taste of it do not know!"

The Mewlewī order issues an invitation to people of all backgrounds:

“Come , Come,

Whoever you are

Wanderer, idolater, worshipper of fire

Come even though you have broken your vows a thousand times

Come, and come yet again

Ours is not a caravan of despair.”

I would repeat this invitation to all of you who eat the flesh of animals. Stop killing them, treat them with love and respect as another form of God and see how your happiness increases and the world changes around you.


Maneka Sanjay Gandhi
Pl. add: To join the animal welfare movement contact,

We have guests for dinner.

“We have guests for dinner. Wife, please make them delicious chicken curry with arsenic in it. No? Then let’s take them out to have tandoori chicken – with arsenic.”

These are not lines from the latest Bollywood murder mystery script. This is reality. Arsenic is that deadly element which has killed many a character in plays, movies and novels. What is hidden is the arsenic in our daily consumption.

Arsenic is of two kinds – organic and inorganic. Inorganic arsenic compounds are much more harmful for humans than the organic kind (which is also harmful). They react with the cells in the body, displace elements from the cells, and change the cells' function. For example, cells use phosphate for energy generation and signaling, but one form of arsenic, known as arsenate, can imitate and replace the phosphate in the cell. This impairs the ability of the cell to generate energy and communicate with other cells. It changes the functioning of 200 + enzymes. Which means that it becomes a deadly poison. The toxicity of arsenic has been described as far back as 1500 BC in the Ebers Papyrus.

Acute arsenic poisoning can lead to vomiting, abdominal pain, watery diarrhoea containing blood, cardiac problems, destruction of red blood cells, vertigo, delirium, shock, coma and death.

But it is the long-term exposure of low amounts of arsenic you should really worry about. (The rest of the world has banned arsenic as a chemical to prevent the insect infestation of wood used in building. However it is still used in India for wood preservation.) We are exposed to it through milk, apple juice and wine (the FDA found high levels of inorganic arsenic in 83 brands of wine). But most of all, it is present in the many types of meat that we consume, especially fish, shellfish and chicken. Low doses of arsenic cause far less severe symptoms. But that doesn’t mean that the body is not being slowly and systematically destroyed by chronic poisoning, even if the compound is weakly toxic. Arsenic is related to Vitamin A deficiency, heart disease, stroke, chronic respiratory diseases, diabetes, lung, bladder and skin cancers and kidney / liver disease. Long-term exposure to arsenic can lead to skin changes (darkening or discoloration, redness, swelling and skin bumps that resemble corns or warts). Whitish lines may appear in the fingernails. Both sensory and motor nerve defects can develop. Other problems are lactic acidosis. Arsenic blocks potassium going into the cells and low potassium increases the risk of experiencing a life-threatening heart rhythm problem, neurological disturbances, high blood pressure, central nervous system dysfunction, anaemia. Epidemiological studies have suggested a correlation between chronic consumption of arsenic and the incidence of Type 2-diabetes. Pregnant women who eat arsenic may have babies with low birth weight and size. Early signs are headaches, confusion and drowsiness.

You are eating it every time you eat chicken.

Since the 1940s, chickens have been fed arsenic to promote growth and weight gain with lower feed. It means that you can feed the battery cage chicken less food and the chicken will grow just as big. This saves money for the poultry owner. The drug Roxarsone and Nitarsone makes the chickens grow bigger faster and gives their unhealthy and diseased grey battery cage skin an artificial pink colour to make them look healthy.

The makers of Roxarsone, Nitarsone and the American Food and Drug Administration justified and allowed its use on the grounds that the arsenic used was organic. However, they were proved wrong by a 2011 study at Johns Hopkins Center for a Livable Future which analyzed hundreds of chicken breasts sold in grocery stores in 10 cities across the USA. The study showed that Roxarsone turned immediately into carcinogenic inorganic arsenic in chicken bodies. Further, when this chicken was killed and cooked, the levels of inorganic arsenic increased to dangerous levels. According to a 2006 Institute for Agriculture and Trade Policy, 70 percent of the 8.7 million chickens, bred for the food supply, ate feed containing Roxarsone. Johns Hopkins immediately asked the FDA to protect public health by withdrawing its approvals of all arsenic-based drugs, and  Congress to pass legislation to permanently ban all arsenic-based drugs from food animal production.

Some US poultries voluntarily removed it in broiler production in the US (no ban has been put). After growing concerns about cancer, Pfizer announced, in 2011, that they were not going to market it in the US any more. However the company continues to sell Roxarsone and Nitarsone abroad. While animal feed, with arsenic-containing compounds, was always banned in the 25 countries of Europe, UK, Japan. Many countries in Asia, Canada and Australia continue to allow it in animal feed.

Roxarsone and Nitarsone  are used massively by Indian poultries. In fact, a simple search for arsenic based farm feed throws up 22,300 sellers and distributors across the country. You can look it up under poultry and animal feed, broiler feed, broiler growth promoter. One Roxarsone ad reads “Established in the year 2010, we are able to offer a wide range of products such as Poultry Feed Additive and Wood Preservative. We have a huge clientele based across the world. Some of our major clients are from the countries like Latin America, Middle East, South America, South/West Europe, South East Asia, Central America, Australia, Malaysia & Indian Local Market.”

More and more people are consuming chicken now, without realizing the presence of deadly arsenic inside it. As per the Global Agricultural Information Network, the consumption of processed chicken in India is rising at 15-20% per year. Statistics of the Indian Department of Animal Husbandry, Dairying and Fisheries show that an estimated 238 crore chickens were slaughtered in 2016-17 in India.

A study conducted in Kolkata, by the West Bengal University of Fishery and Animal Sciences, showed the dangerously high level of arsenic in chicken, mutton and egg samples. The study covered poultry and other farms in eight villages in the Deganga block of North 24-Parganas. It showed that poultry products from the area contained five times more arsenic than the permissible levels. 60% of Kolkata’s chicken and egg supply came from North 24-Parganas. “We found that broiler chicken produced in the poultry farms had an arsenic content of 0.77 ppm and eggs had an average arsenic content of 0.38 ppm. Both are much higher than the permissible limit. The authorities need to crack down on the poultry farms immediately," said the senior researcher at WBUFAS. 
It is not just chicken eaters who are at risk, but each one of us. Chicken faeces are commonly used as fertilizer on croplands. The bacteria present in chicken litter, and in the soil, converts the excreted organic arsenic into its inorganic form. Research from the University of Alberta, published in Science of the Total Environment, found that arsenic from the feed transferred easily from chicken bodies to poultry litter. Because poultry litter is commonly used to fertilize soil, it can lead to increased concentration of arsenic in plants grown in soil fertilized with chicken manure, generating public health issues (Rutherford et al., 2003). 70-90 percent of arsenic in poultry litter becomes water soluble, meaning, it can readily migrate through soils and into underlying groundwater. Poultry litter containing arsenic is also fed as a protein source to beef cattle. So, the legal practice of feeding arsenic to poultry can add to the arsenic contamination of other foods as well.

Arsenic use promotes antibiotic resistance. Infectious disease concerns are heightened by the fact that poultry producers routinely use feed additives that include both antibiotics and arsenic components. Doctors, and the entire medical fraternity, need to take a lead in this campaign demanding poultry raised without the use of arsenic. The FSSAI and the Drug Controller must withdraw its approval of arsenic feed additives as an unnecessary public health risk. Europe shows us it is possible to raise poultry without arsenic.

The only possible method for control is to ban farm feeds and other products with arsenic. This should cover not just the hugely popular Roxarsone and Nitarsone but Arsanilic Acid, Carbarsone and other related compounds. Ensuring compliance to such a ban is possible through stringent monitoring standards, by regularly testing chicken meat and eggs and inspecting pharmaceutical factories.  There cannot be negotiation on how much, or which kind, of arsenic humans can consume, when we need not consume arsenic at all.

Maneka Sanjay Gandhi
Pl. add: To join the animal welfare movement contact,

A long time ago I realized what McDonald’s and KFC

A long time ago I realized what McDonald’s and KFC had understood quite a while back; that, for an average person, the gratification of his tastebuds – if only for ten minutes- was more important than saving the world, being compassionate, stopping global warming or even looking after his own health. So I mentally gave up on trying to make everyone vegetarian – even though I point out the health hazards, week after week.

Thank God I saved my mind from despair. Instead of diminishing, FAO has estimated that the worldwide demand for meat will rise and rise – an increase of 76% by 2050. 76% more animals taking up 76% more space, more water, more grain, more dredging of an already overfished ocean, finding more species to eat – like insects. A world of pain and hunger, at the brink of destruction.

About 20 years ago Linda McCartney tried to change the world by inventing and promoting simulated meat by making plants taste like it. It had no effect.  It remained a charming curiosity and it was eaten by vegetarians who wanted to explore the world of meat. Even though companies, like Impossible Foods and Beyond Meat, have used biology to identify the molecules that give meats their flavours and textures ( eg. protein myoglobin, which gives meat its colour) and reproduced them exactly using non animals, this becomes just another dish on the table.

So nothing has excited me more in the last 5 years than the knowledge that real meat is being made by scientists and entrepreneurs without using animals.

The first disruption of the world, as we knew it, came with the computer, the email, all the artificial intelligence gadgets. I cannot even remember the world without the cell phone. This changing of the world was due to just a handful of dreamers who went on to become billionaires – though that was never their intention.

The second disruption will come with the replacing of animals for meat with Clean Meat. Meat made from the multiplication of meat cells in meat serum.

And, wonderfully enough, the giants of the First Disruption have invested their billions into creating this Second Disruption. Microsoft, Virgin, Google, Facebook… are some of the companies. And even more importantly, millions are being poured in by the largest Meat selling companies in the world, Tyson Foods and Cargill – who see this as an inevitable future and want to get in at the beginning.

Imagine a world without violence. A study done in America, on which were the most violent and unsafe areas in the county, showed that these were the kilometres around slaughterhouses. In India a survey done last month showed that the least liveable city in India is Rampur, the city of slaughterhouses and knives. Imagine a world without slaughterhouses, with no animals grown forcibly and killed viciously.

Imagine a world where animals are out of animal husbandry and yet there is meat for all. The answer is cultured meat. No waste, no disposal of offal, no sickening smells and terrifying screams, no overloaded trucks carrying dying animals, no calves being separated from their crying mothers, no mafia of butchers.

Imagine a world where you could eat all the meat you wanted without getting sick from all the diseases that the dead body carried, the antibiotics, the hormones.

Imagine blue skies and fresh breezes and no water shortage and plenty of forests to bring the rains on time. Imagine a world that was not heating up at this pace bringing drought and floods and tsunamis with it.

How far away is this dreamlike future? It is upon us: I will see it in my time. It is called the Clean Meat future.

In 2013 the first meatless burger was made (paid for by Google cofounder Sergey Brin). In 2018 hundreds of start up companies have been able to make this cellular multiplication, and companies like Memphis meats have been able to make varieties of duck and chicken that are the real thing. Now the only problem is of economics and scale. But that will also happen. After all, the first laptop probably cost a million dollars. As did the light bulb.

Why do I say that the future is upon us? Because the US Food and Drug Administration has decided to make rules and standards for companies growing meat in labs, not farm factories. No hooves, fins ,feathers. No anuses and eyes to throw away. Just edible meat. In Maryland in July 2018, the FDA  and Department of Agriculture convened the first public hearing to discuss the regulation of food grown. Hundreds of people attended .The World Bank has convened a meeting of Clean Meat entrepreneurs to explain their vision at a meeting of international economists at the headquarters of the World Bank.

When we used horses for transport, we didn’t love the horse. We simply wanted to get from one place to another quickly. And if we had to put up with feeding it and cleaning up the excrement and housing it, we resigned ourselves to doing it. But when the car came and manure and care was unnecessary, we switched quickly and horses are now kept for religious tourism. Likewise, no one loves the slaughterhouse, the bloodied rivers, the greenhouses gases, the huge environmental damage. But they want the mutton, beef, pork, chicken, milk and eggs.

While everything has changed, including the way in which we irrigate and grow plants, meat production today is the same as it was 20,000 years ago. How inefficient is the energy ratio: 11 kilos of grain has to be fed to get one kilo of meat. 60 ,000 litres of water is needed for one cow/buffalo. Thousands of people starve because there is no cheap grain. Every 7th kilo of meat in Europe is created from Indian grain. Look at our own levels of malnutrition and water shortage. There can be no humanity, no good governance, while we continue to eat and export meat. It is the largest way in which we affect the lives of our people. Cultured meat will change all that, freeing up grain and making it cheaper, making water available, making land available for the poorest . One company called BlueNalu has started cellular aquaculture and, once it comes on the market, you can have fish without formalin , human faeces and chemical dyes that make it look fresh. Modern Meadows is working on creating real leather without animal skin.

The tissue culture journey has been complicated. Finding the correct cells that multiply and are flexible. Creating appropriate bioreactors, which mimic the animal’s temperature, so that meat growing can become a village industry. But top scientists and cell biologists have left their well paying jobs and have applied their expertise. Many people involved are Indians. Memphis Meats is founded and headed by Dr Uma Valeti, a heart surgeon. The milk-without-cows of Perfect Day foods are both Indians, Ryan Pandya and Perumal Gandhi.

Animals will not disappear. Cells will have to be collected from them and then put into a bioreactor. Nutrient culture serum will have to be collected. But they will be a small fraction of what they are now.

It is time the Indian government got into this. If the process is patented then it will not be economically viable. So we need to have open source research that makes the science available to all. Big marketers in India, like Future Foods, have already shown huge interest, and many American companies are in India looking for partners. But we need to have those Nehruvian “temples of science” under ICAR ( Indian Council of Agricultural Research) , CCMB (Centre for Cellular and Molecular Biology) get off their hammocks, where they have been sleeping for many years, and actually do research that will change the face of the Indian economy.

I am going to be writing more on this. Watch this space. And imbibe my excitement!!

Maneka Sanjay Gandhi
Pl. add: To join the animal welfare movement contact,

In the last two months there has been a major crisis

In the last two months there has been a major crisis in Punjab -on the front page of every local paper. Paneer, the state dish, has disappeared from the market. For the uninitiated, Paneer is an un-aged, fresh, non-melting cheese made by curdling milk with a vegetable-derived acid, such as lemon juice/lactic acid/citric acid/tartaric acid/alum or sour whey. It is eaten all over North India (and, alas ,has spread its tentacles into the south as well), but Punjab is its home and every house feels compelled to eat and serve it. Personally, I have find it disgusting and I would rather starve than eat it – and I frequently do that when travelling in planes where vegetarians are only given the paneer option.

For years I have been cautioning people not to eat milk, or any of its products. Here is another reason why.

Because it is not paneer. Unless you make it in your own house and with milk that you have taken from trusted sources – since most milk is not milk.

Let’s start with the math and then the empirical evidence.

According to government data, India produces roughly 15 crore tonnes of milk annually. If all of it were only to be used to make paneer, India would produce 7 lakh tonnes. Obviously that is not possible, since only a small percentage of this is turned into paneer. But 5 lakh tonnes of paneer are sold annually. So where do they come from?

They come from an odious mixture of maida, palm oil, baking powder, old discarded skimmed milk, detergent, bicarbonate of soda and Suphuric Acid. The same sulfuric acid that is found in lead-acid batteries, metal cleaners, drain cleaners and anti-rust products. The same sulphuric acid that is thrown on women. This is boiled till it becomes a semi solid product. Then it is poured into vessels , flattened  and left for a few hours. Finally it is cut into 5 kg bricks of “paneer” and sold.  The residue is secretly drained into illegal bore wells within the premises, polluting underground water for miles around. On an average 5 kilos of “paneer” cost the maker Rs 30 or Rs 150 . This is sold for Rs 150-200 a kilo wholesale and Rs 300+ retail.

This is the modus operandi : the factory owners make the paneer in dirty shanties in industrial areas and sell the products to ghost “dairies” owned by themselves, or to “legitimate” dairies which have a few standing cows/buffaloes, and perhaps even extract some milk from them. The dairies then sell them to prominent sweetshops and bakeries. Most of the paneer factories work at night, dispatch the product at dawn and then  shut up for the rest of the day. In order to avoid being stopped at tolls, or be inspected, the paneer is often brought in the dicky of a car/SUV, instead of a tempo.

Just as the forest is cut with the active collusion of the forest department, the spurious food industry is run by food inspectors and the dairy department. Every now and then a Minister orders raids. Some people go to jail, the food item disappears, and then everything comes back to normal. According to the factory owners, the local health officer charged Rs 5000 a month on “principle” and Rs 10,000 – Rs 15,000 to clear each food sample from the lab. It is extraordinary that a small state like Punjab should have so many spurious factories. None of them are near dairies – which itself should have sounded a warning bell a long time ago. Most of them are in industrial areas, or in small villages. While dozens of people have been sent to jail, not a single health official has had any action taken against him.

Throughout August 2018, there has been a statewise  “crackdown” over a thousand spurious milk product/paneer factories in Punjab (out of many thousand). Chilling centres, creameries, milk establishments in remote areas, interception of tankers at  toll barriers : all these have revealed acids and illegal colouring agents. Even the dairies that were legitimately making paneer were found to be so unhygienic – unwashed workers, rusted implements – that the paneer is unsafe to eat.

Paneer has vanished in the market – which means most, or all, of it was spurious. Most sweetmeats made from it have vanished from the mithai shops. Shopkeepers and “dairy” owners have refused all bulk orders.

Here are some examples to show you how large this illegal industry is :

* The Mohali health department raided a paneer manufacturing unit in Ballomajra Village, Mohali. 20.6 quintals of spurious  paneer, 33 quintals of skimmed milk powder , sulphuric acid and other chemicals were found. The owner has been supplying this paneer daily to  restaurants and dhabas at Chandigarh, Pinjore, Kalka, Rajpura and Panchkula, and some local colonies. While the factory owners claimed that they made cheese, ghee, butter and other dairy products from 5,000 litres of milk collected daily from Lehragaga in Sangrur village, no dairy was found. The owner had no licence for any food product. The premises were filthy

* A raid by a joint team of the health department, food safety department, dairy development department and police, on two factories at Khokh Village, Nabha, Patiala, turned up 8 quintal spurious milk, 12 quintal fake paneer, skimmed milk and boxes of caustic soda.

*A raid at Gonsawal village, Amritsar has  led to the seizure of 58 bags of 25 kg each of skimmed low quality milk powder, 20 kg paneer and 30 kg adulterated milk.

*A raid on a dairy on Ram Tirath Road, Amritsar, found 74 bags of skimmed milk powder, 35 kg of paneer, and 150 of kg adulterated milk.  

* Paneer and khoya manufacturing units at Neem Wala Mor village in Barnala, Fatehgarh Sahib district's Chandila village, Pathankot, Gurdaspur, found huge quantities of fake paneer and khoya. Sweetshops in Mansa were found selling quintals of fake patisa made from this paneer.

* A food safety team raided paneer manufacturing units in Samrala and 
Baghapurana, Ludhiana and found 3 quintals of spurious paneer, 90 litres of palm oil, 39 empty Palm oil tins of 15 litres each, and 17 bags of 25 kg each of skimmed milk powder.

* In Rajpura, Patiala district, a vehicle carrying 160 kg of fake paneer, coming from Narwana, in Jind district of Haryana, was intercepted by the food safety team. The vehicle was bound for a Dairy in Rajpura. The Narwana owner confessed that he sold spurious paneer at Rs 160 /kg to the dairy who further sold it.

* A raid in village Sangatpur Bhonki yielded 90 kg paneer, 1,400 kg milk, 18 empty bags of 25 kg Skimmed Milk Powder(SMP), 2 full bags of SMP were found.

* At Boor Majra, Ropar, 12 quintal  paneer were found. The hygiene conditions of the dairy were very poor and the dairy owners did not possess any licence.

* The Jalandhar Food Team intercepted a car delivering paneer to a sweetshop in Adampur. The car was carrying paneer in rear storage and on the back seat. While the paneer was being inspected the driver fled with the car .

* A vehicle carrying 300 kgs of spurious Khoya Burfi, Milk Cake, Ladoo, Patisa was intercepted at Jandiala Road, Tarntaran.

* The shop of a khoya barfi supplier at Jaito, Faridkot was inspected and 1.5 Quintals of spurious barfi and dhoda sweets were found.  The khoya burfi was brought from Fazilka and dhoda burfi from village Daria in Chandigarh and then resold to small shops. 

* Checking and sampling at a sweetshop at Garhshankar revealed approximately 100 kg of adulterated khoya.

Is Punjab the only place where this is happening? Of course not. The entire country is awash with spurious paneer, and almost every week there is a report from some local TV channel or newspaper about an illegal factory.

Here are some samples in the last month:

* News 24: A Mahindra pickup was found with 120 kilos of spurious paneer going to Dehradun from Panipat. The bill of lading said it was plywood.

* Bansal News: a  raid in Morena, Madhya Pradesh delivered 1,500 kilos of fake paneer. The factory is in an industrial area, and filthy, cockroach ridden with paneer was being made and thrown on the floor. It has been raided several times. The owner hides out for a few days and then restarts the business. 

* NNI:  A raid in a Mathura paneer factory shows dirty vats, dirty handlers, rusted implements. The place is full of milk powder and refined oil. The owner runs as soon as he sees the police. The paneer is supplied to Delhi.

* TOI Bangalore: Paneer made of urea and chemicals has flooded the market. 5 tonnes of adulterated paneer, brought from Dharmapur in Tamil Nadu, sent to the chemical lab for testing was reported to be full of chemicals and not fit for human consumption. Police said 100 tonnes of chemical paneer arrives in vans from Tamil Nadu every month. Salem milk/paneer is the common name for fake dairy products.

* Patna: Raids found that even posh hotels and big sweet shops were selling fake or adulterated paneer which contained corn starch mixed with chemicals, urea and maida. They buy at Rs 40-50 a kg and sell at Rs 300 a kg. A report by the food safety wing of the health department has revealed that 95% of the samples of paneer, collected from 60 shops and eateries in the city, have been found to be adulterated. Starch is added to cottage cheese to increase its quantity. When questioned, the team said that they only had the ability to look for starch adulteration as they were not competent to check for acids and chemicals in paneer, and their lab in Agamkuan was shut!!

How do you make out real from fake paneer? Pure paneer is soft in texture. Synthetic one is rubbery. Pure has a milky taste. Synthetic has a bland /no taste. Put a drop of iodine solution on raw paneer. If it changes colour to blue black it is spurious.

A few months ago, a young woman went to her doctor

A few months ago, a young woman went to her doctor in New York. Her toenails had gradually blackened over six months and fallen off. No one in her family had abnormal toenails and she had no diseases, no injuries, nor a family history of nail disorders. During the tests it was discovered that she had had a fish pedicure six months ago.  The fish had caused injury to the nail matrix, which is the nail growth centre. This led to a nasty case of onychomadesis, in which the nail plates that make up the toenail halt production and separate, causing her nails to fall off. The condition can cause deep grooves to run horizontally across the nails, or large gaps where there is no nail. The case has been. reported in JAMA Dermatology.

This is not the only problem fish pedicures have caused.

Fish pedicures have transmitted Staphylococcus aureus and mycobacteriosis infections.

Staphylococcus aureus is a bacterium which is a common cause of infections, that range from minor skin infections, such as pimples, boils, cellutitis, folliculitis, carbuncles, and abscesses, to life-threatening diseases such as pneumonia, meningitis, osteomvelitis, endocarditis, toxic shock syndrome, bacteremia, and sepsis. An estimated 20% to 30% of the human population are long-term carriers of S. aureus. It can cause skin and soft-tissue infections, particularly when the skin has been breached. It can spread through contact with pus from an infected wound, skin-to-skin contact with an infected person, and contact with objects used by an infected person.

S. aureus can lie dormant in the body for years. Once symptoms begin to show, if untreated, the disease can be deadly. Once the bacteria have entered the bloodstream, they can infect various organs. Without antibiotic treatment, S. aureus bacteremia has a fatality rate around 80%. With antibiotic treatment, case fatality rates range from 15% to 50% depending on the age and health of the patient – but the bacterium is now almost antibiotic resistant.

Mycobacteriosis is a chronic disease that occurs in fish reared under intensive conditions. Temperatures between 25 ̊C and 35 ̊C are ideal for the bacteria.

In the last decade there has been a steady increase in the frequency of Mycobacterium marinum infections in cultured fish, and human cases associated with fish aquaria have been seen all over the world. In fish, transmission can occur by consumption of contaminated feed, aquatic detritus, or entry via injuries, skin abrasions or external parasites. In humans, breaks in the skin serve as an entry point for the organism during contact with contaminated water sources, or infected fish and injury from fish fins or bites. 

Mycobacteriosis infection most commonly manifests as a skin disease. Lesions tend to be noticed two to four weeks after exposure to the mycobacterium. The lesions swell and develop into ulcers which persist for months. In some instances, infection spreads to the lymph nodes. The skin, kidney, and liver are the main body parts affected in both fish and humans.

Diagnosis can be difficult and is often delayed, and by then the infection has spread, causing considerable damage to tendons and bone. Deep infections typically require both antibiotic and surgical treatment. Skin lesions can be chronic and leave scarring. Deep infections can lead to the loss of joint mobility, and severe cases may need  amputation.

I had written about the dangers of fish pedicures two years ago, but India has still got dozens of parlours offering the service. I have just returned from Goa where the main tourist areas have small shady shacks advertising fish pedicures.

During a fish pedicure, people immerse their feet in a tub of water that contains small fish called Garra rufa. These fish supposedly pull out dead skin from the customer’s feet, exfoliating them as the customer relaxes and enjoys the tickle.  These fish are specially grown in tanks and they are imported into India.

This is a typical case of “ aa bail mujhe maar” - inviting a problem when you have none.

These little fish are not doctors, cosmetologists or inanimate loofahs. They eat human flesh because they are starved of their normal diet, which is plankton or vegetable matter. The fish themselves are so mistreated by this unhealthy diet that outbreaks of systemic bacterial infections in the animals are common, causing abnormal eye protrusions and haemorrhaging around the gills, mouth, and abdomen.

They carry bacteria responsible for a variety of dangerous tissue infections and the tubs in which you put your feet are a fertile breeding ground. They excrete like all living beings, and this excreta is what you put your feet into. Government warnings across the world have warned people that fish pedicures may even cause Hepatitis C and HIV.

Since they are not cosmetic surgeons, their biting results in bumpy uneven skin, and some areas are bitten deep enough to draw blood. Their nibbling of human feet could spread harmful microbes from one spa guest's feet to the next. The hot water tub that you place your feet in is re-used, as are the fish and fungi, and disease-causing bacteria have been detected at fish pedicure spas. The mouths of the living fish cannot be cleaned or sterilized. The fish tanks are also not cleaned very often, or the water altered frequently enough. Obviously, all this increases the risk of spreading infection. These are the reasons that fish spas have been banned in many countries.

In  2011 and 2012, the Fish Health Directorate of Great Britain intercepted five different shipments of Garra rufa fish  from Indonesia, bound for U.K. spas, and tested them for bacteria. They found that all the fish carried a number of harmful bacteria, including Aeromonas spp, Vibrio vulnificus, Vibrio cholerae and Streptococcus agalactiae, which can cause skin and soft-tissue infections. The strains were resistant to most antimicrobial medications, including tetracycline,  gentamicin, neomycin and streptomycin. V. vulnificus can cause wound infections and primary septicaemia, resulting in high mortality rates, especially among persons with liver disease, diabetes, or impaired immune function. S. agalactiae is a common cause of skin and soft tissue infections, especially in older adults and those with chronic diseases such as diabetes mellitus .

The findings appear in Emerging Infectious Diseases, a journal published by the federal Centers for Disease Control and Prevention in Atlanta, which has been monitoring health effects associated with fish pedicures. In 2014, researchers from Italy reported cases of customers developing foot infections caused by the Staphylococcus aureus bacterium. Since then infections have been reported in Great Britain, according to the Health Protection Agency.

In the absence of any regulation in India, shady shops have sprung up online which sell garra rufa fish. No one knows how they have been able to import them . I saw an ad of a Mumbai shop, Pedifish, which sells “fish spa” fish at Rs 8, and Rs 40 for grarra rufa hybrids. They take orders of a minimum of 1000 “pieces” – which shows you how little they know, or care, about fish.

If you want to clean your feet use a pumice stone not a live fish.

Maneka Sanjay Gandhi
Pl. add: To join the animal welfare movement contact,

Meat is consumed on a massive scale across the world, with billions of animals

Meat is consumed on a massive scale across the world, with billions of animals killed every year. India is both, a large producer and consumer of meat and many other animal products. In fact, with 7.0 million tonnes of meat produced in 2015-16, India ranks 5th in the world. During this government’s tenure meat export has gone up by 25%, so we are probably 4th.  With regard to milk, we are at the number one position in the world, having produced 18.5% of the world’s milk in 2015-16.

Since we are producing so much meat, India has become a global centre for meat related products such as cheese, yoghurt, sausages, nuggets etc. While governments think this is a great economic success, it has major repercussions on the environment and public health. The environment repercussions are killing the whole planet – because the business of meat and milk causes global warming. In the meantime, the public health risk, from the large scale production of animal products, is so great that we will probably all look forward to the deaths caused by global warming. Famine, cyclones, tornadoes, tsunamis, lack of water, will probably come as a relief.

Let’s start from the beginning. When the consumption of meat and milk was much less, it was a cottage industry. Village herders kept small groups of animals, drove them into grazing areas (and the forest) and then killed them locally. Now, at this scale of millions of tonnes, meat and milk obviously comes from animals which are being bred industrially. These breeders are not traditional farmers or small scale enterprises that one would imagine. These are massive corporations who have set up shop in almost every part of our country. More and more local producers are either being bought out, or are adopting, the western industrial method of animal production. Most of our meat exporters are in partnership with Middle Eastern or Chinese corporations – either openly or covertly.

The production of meat is increasing every year. In India, the export of beef alone has gone from 0.31 million tons in 1999-2001 to 1.56 million tonnes in 2016. This figure is expected to increase steadily with India, climbing from the position of third largest beef exporter in the world to number one. Government statistics show that the production of pork in India has also increased by 21% between 2015-16 and 2016-17.

As the cattle farming industry grows every year, the techniques to extract the largest possible profit are also becoming more sophisticated. This system follows the basic format of more animals, faster growth and shorter meat-to-market time. Large numbers of animals are bred in one facility, where they are fed grains and pumped with growth promoters before being slaughtered for meat.

This is where the concept of ‘feed conversion efficiency’ (FCE) comes in. This is the amount of input needed to produce a unit of meat. A simple economic logic of input and output – devoid of consideration for either the animal or the consumer.

Based on this logic, cattle farms use a variety of hormones on their animals so that they can grow bigger faster and provide the most possible profit in the least possible time. These hormones are usually of two types – ‘classic’ steroid sex hormones such as oestradiol-17β, testosterone and progesterone, or synthetic hormones. These hormones are either administered to animals orally, or through the use of external implants on their bodies. All this is done with no thought of what will happen to the health of the consumer.

In the 1950s, hormone usage in cattle started gaining popularity in the USA and UK, with DES (diethylstilboestrol) and hexoestrol being administered to cattle. Meat traders realized that these hormones resulted in 10-15% increase in their weight, improvements in feed conversion efficiency (FCE) – meaning, they could feed them less and still get the same weight, and so hormone additions became common very rapidly. India adopted these practices without even looking at the ramifications on the health of people eating this hormone-drenched meat.

Today, a common hormone in use is melengestrol acetate (MGA). This is a type of progesterone that is used as an animal feed additive to improve FCE, increase weight, and suppress oestrus (menstruation) in beef heifers. Research conducted by TJ Smith and KE Nachman, from the Johns Hopkins Center for a Liveable Future at the John Hopkins University in USA, has shown that rats fed MGA have shown mammary and endometrial hyperplasia – signs of cancer. Today, gynaecologists will tell you that thousands of young girls in India have endometriosis and cysts in their ovaries. Where did these problems come from? Other observational studies of MGA’s effect on wildcats have also shown mammary carcinogenicity. Despite these findings, MGA continues to be used.

Another popular hormone used by the cattle industry is Zeranol, a synthetic non-steroidal oestrogen. It is approved for use as a growth promoter in livestock in the USA and Canada, but is banned in the European Union. Zeranol is known to increase cancer cell proliferation in already existing breast cancer. Consumption of meat coming from Zeranol-implanted cattle is considered a risk factor for breast cancer.

Diethylstilbestrol (DES) is a synthetic non-steroidal oestrogen still commonly used as a growth promoter in cattle. However, various reports suggest that it has mutagenic, carcinogenic and teratogenic properties. A teratogen is any agent that can disturb the development of an embryo or foetus. Teratogens may cause a birth defect in the child, or even halt the pregnancy outright. It was banned as a growth stimulant for food producing animals in the USA in 1979, and in 1981 in the EU. It is used in India.

Trenbolone acetate (TBA) is another synthetic steroid used to increase the weight and FCE of animals for food. It is either administered alone, or in combination with oestrogen and other chemicals. It has been shown to improve the FCE in castrated cattle by over 25%. Some TBA is converted into 17beta-trenbolone, which has been shown to induce prostate cancer cell proliferation.

These hormones, and others, when administered to animals, stay in their tissues for an extended period of time. Humans then consume these animal tissues as meat, also consuming all these hormones.

You may not want to believe this – and most meat eaters would rather die than stop eating it - but this is the truth of most meat production in our country and the world. The priorities of meat corporations is unambiguous: money comes first.

There are better and safer alternatives to increasing the profit returns in animal factories. Feeding animals well, and keeping them healthy, will improve their weight naturally. However, this brings the profits down and will not show the quick and cheap results as hormones can.

If the companies do not want to adopt better methods, it is our job to make sure that they are forced to do so. The industry is demand-driven by you, so if people show their unwillingness to eat hormone treated meat, the producers will be forced to stop this practice.

This is what happened in the EU, and this is what can happen in India, if people are aware and active enough. In the meantime, start putting pressure on that useless government regulator – the FSSAI.

Maneka Sanjay Gandhi
Pl. add: To join the animal welfare movement contact,

We may pride ourselves that we have 26,000 elephants

We may pride ourselves that we have 26,000 elephants – but we avoid saying that these are what is left of a several lakh population of elephants, and that it decreases every year. We have only about a thousand tuskers, so the gene pool is very diluted. The worst is that we have 3,500 elephants in captivity.

An elephant is emotionally, exactly like a human being. He/ she cries, mourns, protects children by encircling them and distracting them by giving them something to eat and play with, has close bonds with family, respects elders, loves playing in the water, is joyful and angry. The elephant is a wild being whose intelligence is as great as ours and whose extra sensory perception is perhaps much greater. Such an animal, a being who dreams and aspires, cannot be tamed. He/she can be subdued with whips and chains and blindings and starvation, but the spirit remains wild. The kraals of Tamil Nadu are famous – you put a elephant into a tight enclosure and then you keep beating it for months till it can barely stand. Then – if it recovers - you chain it for life and sell it to a temple, or to a professional beggar.

Have you seen the films made on the temple elephants of Kerala and the Rajasthan fort of Amer? Watch them. You will never be the same again. Most of the elephants climbing the Amer Fort daily, in the desert heat on the tarred roads with tourists on their backs, are blind. Every night their mahouts – alcoholic to a man - burn their feet with welding machines so that their foot bones are exposed. The elephants that were shown in the film died in 3 years – all of them young or middle aged. There are over 550 elephants in private ownership in Kerala . About 200+ are killed every year.  They have a ritual in Kerala that when an elephant comes into Musth, it is tied with heavy chains for months. Then, after the Musth, it is thrashed for 48 hours with heavy sticks, by 4-6 mahouts together, in order to subdue him before the chains are taken off. Many elephants have died of the beatings which are relentless and vicious.  

No mahout has ever been jailed. In fact, a woman, who was known for her vicious treatment while capturing wild elephants in Assam, was actually awarded for her work. The fact that her husband was in the environment ministry, at the time when a secret film showing her beating an elephant to death, kept her from any punishment. No temple has ever had its elephants confiscated, even when it kills more than half of them. At the moment there is one elephant that has had its face beaten in by its mahout. She stands there suffering,  with no one to rescue her. When I spoke to the Chief Wildlife Warden, his answer was that they had rescued one elephant some months ago and they could not keep doing this. This is the story of Karnataka and Tamil Nadu as well. There are 40 elephants in Karnataka and 40 in Tamilnadu in the temples. They live alone, tethered permanently outside the temple premises. Most of them suffer from tuberculosis. Why do these temples keep them? To earn money from tourist festivals and begging.

No forest officers, or doctors, are trained in elephant management or elephant medicine.

What is a common way of killing an elephant and claiming insurance? You make the elephant walk on rusted nails. She gets gangrene and dies in agony, and you collect the money. Or, you wrap heavy iron chains round her and push her into the water to drown.

Are temples the only culprits? Delhi had 23 elephants rented out daily, to advertise products to walk the streets with heavy wooden banners on their sides. They eat on the move – plucking the leaves of pipal trees. Of these, only 6 remain. The rest have been mowed down by vehicles. The six were ordered to be removed from Delhi 4 years ago. The Chief Wildlife Warden will not do so because the owners earn money and will do “anything” to stop the elephants from being moved. Two elephants were struck by a truck some years ago. One was killed outright. The other broke her legs and ribs. The owner abandoned her in the middle of the road and ran away. She was taken at private expense to an elephant sanctuary in Mathura and nursed back to health. As soon as she was well the owner claimed her back, even though he had no papers for ownership and should have been in jail.

Circuses have been forbidden to keep elephants. But several of them still keep them, and they are dragged from district to district. Zoos have been banned from keeping elephants. 64 still remain in state zoos that refuse to surrender them. The single government rescue centre, made by Haryana twenty years ago, lies empty, because the government will not allocate any money to keep a single suffering confiscated animal. Maharajas of Kuchnahipurand Talukdars, who own a little land, keep elephants and rent them out for weddings and elections.

Recent investigations have found that the people who hold the elephants captive do so illegally- without a valid ownership certificate from the authorities, or any other documents as required by the law.

A sample of 1,545 elephants, covering 13 different states and 6 different management regimes, has shown that only 44% of captive elephants have ownership certificates, and only 48% of those captive elephants have been implanted with microchips (Baskaran et al, 2011). This is  corroborated by the findings of the Animal Welfare Board of India (AWBI).

I have not understood how any of these groups, or individuals, can keep elephants. When the Wildlife (Protection) Act, 1972, was passed it clearly said that the elephants that were already owned could stay with their owners. But not a single new elephant could be added. But the elephants in custody now are all young.  They were not even born in 1972. How can they be allowed to be kept? But for that we need to understand the fence eating the grass –the forest department.

In this dark, dark scenario there are a few rays of light. The Sonpur mela in Bihar has been banned from displaying elephants for sale. It was the main selling market in India. While it may have no effect on the illegal trade, now poachers, buyers and sellers will have to be even more secretive, instead of openly flouting the law.

The second may go down in the history of elephant welfare, and also be the turning point for animals in India. The High Court of Uttarakhand, under his Lordship Justice Rajiv Sharma, has passed two landmark judgments that usher in a paradigm shift in the way we treat animals.

 The judgments have -

1. Conferred personhood on all non-human animals in the State of Uttarakhand; not just alleviating them from the status of being 'property' but also affording them rights.

2. Prohibited the commercial use of elephants in the State


However, it is not just the elephants in captivity that ensure cruelty. Our elephants in the wild are not safe either. Shrinking habitats, in the garb of mindless development, are resulting in a constant conflict between man and animal. Reports of brutal attacks on elephant herds, that wander into human settlements, are on the rise. See the heart-breaking images of helpless calves being chased, with handmade fire-bombs. Illegally installed electric fences with enough voltage to kill the largest land mammal, and irresponsibly laid railway lines in forest areas and elephant corridors, are all contributing to diminishing their population. The railways do their own share of decimating them. In the last ten years more than 500 elephants have been killed, simply because the train would not slow down on seeing a herd crossing the track. Nor do the railways listen to advice on how to handle the crossings –– developing underpasses, installation of animal detection systems, getting rid of steep embankments, continuous whistling and slowing down in recognized elephant corridors.

This is a major crisis. 26,000 today, from 30,000 last year, means they will be gone in twenty years. The report Gaja, submitted by the Elephant Task Force constituted by the MOEF, has recommended that elephants be phased out of all commercial use, including logging.

At least 20 rescue & rehabilitation centres must be established, and the elephants in private ownership must be re-homed on priority. Sustainable development plans must take into consideration the natural habitats, ensuring that we protect our elephant herds on the ground and not just on paper. There are 101 identified elephant corridors. None of them have been secured by the government. We have fragmented their habitat, and allowed illegal villages who deny them any right of way. We even had an Environment Minister who stated that elephants must be killed as revenge for every human that is hurt by them – even if the human is in the wrong.

India prides itself on its compassion. In actual fact we show none to any beings, including our own species. The elephant is an example of our own viciousness and shortsightedness. When the elephant finally goes, we will lose over 100 varieties of trees and bushes whose seeds are spread by its dung. God knows what else we will lose – apart from our souls.

Maneka Sanjay Gandhi
Pl. add: To join the animal welfare movement contact,

When I was young, India was flooded

When I was young, India was flooded with comic books of Archie, Superman and War. The two central pages and the back advertised things for sale in America: party treats, Halloween costumes. The maximum space was given to advertising seahorses for aquaria. For one dollar you could get 6 sea horses who were “magical”. They would make you gasp with their tricks. Millions of seahorses lost their lives to these advertisements before people realized that the chances of seahorses surviving in a home aquarium were nil. 

From then to now, seahorses continue to be poached and killed in different ways, even though all 40 species are endangered and some close to extinction. India has 5, the Spiny, Great, Yellow, Hedgehog and Three Spot Seahorse. UK has two, but they have not been seen for the last two years and may be extinct.

The Seahorse is indeed magical in its uniqueness. Seahorses are fish with heads shaped like tiny horses. Their size varies from half an inch to 14 inches. They inhabit mainly tropical and temperate coastal waters, living in coral reefs, mangroves, sea grass beds and estuaries. 
Unlike most other fish, seahorses have an exo-skeleton. Their bodies are made up of hard, external, bony plates that are fused together with a fleshy covering. They do not have scales. They also have a neck and a snout that points down. They breathe through gills and have a swim bladder. They have a long, snake-like, tail. This allows them to grip onto sea-grasses and corals, preventing them from being washed away by strong currents. Seahorses live in shallow, weedy areas. In winter they move into deeper waters.

They are poor swimmers. They propel themselves by using a small fin on their back that flutters up to 35 times per second. Fins located near the back of the head are used for steering. They swim upright and avoid predators by mimicking the colour of nearby plants, and they can change colour very quickly. They eat small crustaceans, like shrimps. Since they have no teeth and no stomach, food passes through their digestive systems so quickly that they must eat almost constantly to stay alive. They can consume 3,000 or more brine shrimp per day. Their long, thin snouts probe into small nooks and, when they find it, they vacuum it up through their snouts which can expand if their prey is larger than the snout. Their eyes are as remarkable as the rest of them. They work independently. This means they can look forwards and backwards at the same time. This is particularly useful as they hunt for food by sight.

Seahorses pair for life. They meet daily to reinforce their pair bonding with an elaborate courtship display. As they approach each other, they change colour. The male circles around the female and the pair often spiral around an object with their tails linked together. Then the female goes back to her territory.

The male is the only male creature who can actually get pregnant. The female transfers her eggs to the male, which he self-fertilises in his pouch. The number of eggs can vary: from 50-150 for smaller species, to 1500 for larger species. The babies are born in 14 – 28 days in the pouch. Giving birth can be a long process, with contractions lasting up to 12 hours.

Baby seahorses are on their own as soon as they are born. They hatch after 45 days in the brood pouch. They float together in small groups, clinging to each other using their tails. They must find food and hide from predators as soon as they’re born. They spend the first two to three weeks of their lives drifting along in the plankton layer of the ocean. Less than one in a thousand will survive long enough to become an adult due to predators.

Will you ever see a seahorse? Probably not. They are expected to be gone in another 20 years. Eight species are severely endangered, and  the Cape Seahorse of South Africa will disappear in the next two years due to water pollution and development. India’s hedgehog seahorse and the flat faced seahorse are also expected to be gone in five years. Habitat degradation and destruction due to coastal development,  marine pollution, coral reef destruction, and land-based deforestation. Deforestation leads to increased siltation in surrounding marine waters, suffocating sea grass beds and killing coral reefs.

But none of the above is as bad as the commercial reasons that are killing them.

The first reason is the same for all wild animals across the world : the Chinese nonsensical native medicine (TCM). This takes 150 MILLION seahorses from the wild annually for “growth” and aphrodisiacs. Seahorses have high levels of collagen, which Chinese women use as a substitute for Botox .

The Curio Trade takes approximately ten million seahorses from the wild. Along with shells and starfish they are sold as souvenirs and jewellery after being left to die in the sun so that their dried bodies are intact. Dried seahorses range from 600 – 3000 dollars per kilo, almost the weight of gold. For instance, in UK alone, the Seahorse Trust says that seahorses, corals, pipefish baby sharks and crocodiles, brought in from Asia, are sold in hundreds of beach shops as mementoes – even though they are banned for sale in the UK. It is illegal to kill, take or disturb seahorses in British waters, so they are imported from abroad. The majority of seahorses, found for sale in the UK, come from the Far East and some are sold here for as little as a few pounds. The import and export of seahorses has been controlled under CITES, an international treaty that protects trading in wildlife, since 2004, but countries like Indonesia, Japan, Norway and South Korea chose to opt out of the trade rules set by CITES. Sites like ebay are selling seahorses openly – and illegally.

The aquarium trade takes an estimated ten million seahorses from the wild. Less than .01 % survive more than two weeks. The aquarium trade is exclusively driven by North America (thanks to generations growing up on Archie comics). In Maharashtra, seahorses are sold openly in  unlicensed aquarium shops.

The second big reason seahorses are dying out is because of the trawlers. They are a by-catch in the shrimp trawl and other fisheries off of Florida, Mexico, Central America, and South America.

In India, millions are being killed every day in Tamil Nadu alone. Tamil fishermen drop heavy nets from their trawlers that go deep into the ocean. Every living creature in the area is caught. Brought out of the water, they die. The fishermen choose what they want to sell and all the rest – the tiny fish, seahorses and sea cucumbers (both protected by  law) – are mashed and sold to the poultry industry to be fed to chickens, to the aquarium industry as pet food or to be made into oils. They are sold for next to nothing (Rs 2- Rs 4 per kg). This kind of bottom trawling is wreaking havoc in the Gulf of Mannar and the Palk Strait by destroying the habitat as well. So we are destroying our waters, marine resources and all our species to feed chickens? Does this make sense?

The State fisheries department has no records of the trawlers, or what they catch. They have no record, or knowledge, about which species are caught, or even what species actually exist in the waters of Tamil Nadu.  This became obvious when researchers from the University of Columbia, Canada did an investigation.

No checks have ever been made on what the trawlers bring in, even though nothing is hidden. In Tuticorin and Rameshwaram, for instance, the researchers said that mounds of marine life, brought in by different vessels, is strewn all over the beaches.

Project Seahorse did an undercover investigation in India and found not just the illegal sale of the fishing “by-catch”, but that India is also illegally exporting seahorses by mislabelling them. Till 2000 the Marine Products Export Development Authority MPEDA was exporting 4 million seahorses a year. Then it became illegal under the Wildlife Protection Act. But the export is still going on from Chennai.  The Forest officials take no interest in marine wildlife and know nothing about wild sea species, even though the Act comes under them. Not a single raid has ever been conducted on illegal exporters of seahorses, even though they are well known.

Seahorses are an important part of the marine world, and saving them is an imperative. They serve as flagship species for a wide range of marine conservation issues. Are we going to sit back and let seahorses become the dinosaurs of our generation?

You can make a difference by:

1. Refusing to buy seahorse souvenirs and wild caught seahorses for aquarium. You should also report to me all shops that are selling these.

2. Promote re-aforestation along coastlines.

3. One of the more effective ways is to make those areas into wildlife reserves and allow the ecosystem to return to its natural state. Marine reserves are very important.

4. You need to help change by bring public pressure on the government. Current fishing practices and laws have to be changed. MPEDA and the Forest Departments must start patrolling.

5. Sea horse cultivation must take the place of taking them from the wild. Captive breeding projects are being done abroad, why not in India?

Maneka Sanjay Gandhi
Pl. add: To join the animal welfare movement contact,

Is someone known to you going “crazy”?

Is someone known to you going “crazy”? Suspicious, swings from being extremely happy to morose, hyperactive, insomniac, angry without reason. Check to see how much meat he is eating. Specially pre-packaged or restaurant meat, like ham, sausages, hot dogs, dried beef or turkey jerky, salami.

Cohort studies follow groups of individuals over time to investigate the causes of disease, establishing links between risk factors and outcomes. Many major findings about the health effects of lifestyle come from cohort studies. Johns Hopkins, founded in 1876 in Baltimore, is America's first research university and its research is considered world class. A  detailed cohort study  done by Johns Hopkins, evaluating diet in people with mania, has been published in the journal Molecular Psychiatry.

Mania is a serious state of abnormally elevated arousal characterised by lack of inhibitions, racing thoughts, diminished need for sleep. It ranges from euphoric to irritable and,  as the mania intensifies, violence or extreme anxiety. Fancy, irrational ideas, delusions, disorientation, incoherence, catatonia and finally death.

What is it caused by? Genetics, drugs, certain diseases like multiple sclerosis, hormone imbalances, have been the standard diagnosis. But experts have veered to the opinion that  it could also be food.

Johns Hopkins scientists studied diet and its role in a cohort of individuals with mania and other psychiatric disorders, as well as individuals without them. They found that a history of eating nitrated dry cured meat was strongly and independently associated with mania.

The study done by scientists at John Hopkins Medicine was led by Dr. Robert Yolken, a professor of Neurovirology. Yolken was originally interested in studying the effect foods may have on mental illness, and conducted a demographic study of 1,101 people, both with and without mental disorders, from 2007 to 2017. It was from that pool of data that Yolken noticed the association between mania and nitrate consumption.

It was found that people who had been in hospital for mania were about 3.5 times as likely to have eaten nitrates, as people who were with no history of a serious mental disorder.

The addition of chemical nitrogen compounds in the form of sodium nitrite, or potassium nitrate, is used to preserve processed meats, preventing decay and bacterial growth, adding colour and reducing oxidation.

This is called “curing” meats. They are commonly found in processed meat products such as hot dogs, beef jerky, ham, sausages and salami. Nitrates have been linked to cancer and neurodegenerative disease as well

Once the scientists had isolated nitrates, they experimented on rats. They found that the feeding of meat preparations with added nitrate to rats, resulted in hyperactivity and irregular sleep, reminiscent of human mania, within two weeks. These rats also showed changes in their intestinal microbiota, as well as changes in their brain pathways, similar to what is seen in humans with bipolar disorder. These changes were not seen in the group of rats whose food did not contain any nitrates.

The rats, who were fed the meat daily, were given an amount equivalent of what a typical person would eat: one hot dog per day. "We tried to make sure the amount of nitrate used in the experiment was in the range of what people might reasonably be eating," says Yolken.

Experts are increasingly of the belief that, in addition to genetic circumstances, diet plays a role in causing mental health issues. The theory, according to Johns Hopkins researchers, is that gut bacteria may be one contributing cause to mania and other brain disorders – which would mean that people with mania could reduce their problem by changing their diet. Dr Yolkien surmises that the reason is probably inflammation of the gut.

Nitrates in food are linked with cancer, which is in turn linked with inflammation. Other studies have shown that people who have manic episodes show signs of inflammation in their bodies.

A previous study from Yolken’s group showed that mania patients are less likely to be re-hospitalized if they are given probiotics, which can affect gut bacteria. “There’s growing evidence that germs in the intestines can influence the brain,” Yolken said. That evidence includes a 2016 study which found that people with migraine headaches have higher levels of a bacterium that causes the absorption of nitrates. Nitrogen compounds affect the bacteria in the gut. The changed bacteria now allows for a larger amount of nitrates to be digested, causing their blood vessels to dilate more than usual and cause intense pain in the form of a migraine.

In another study done, by Djordjevic VV, Stojanovic et al (2010), on plasma nitrite/nitrate concentrations in 40 patients with schizophrenia and 36 persons without it, it was discovered that the schizophrenics had a significantly higher concentration, almost double. And women had higher levels than men.

Another study, done by Dr Valerie Taylor of the Women’s College Hospital in Toronto, showed that people with severe  bipolar problems improved after antibiotics were given to flush out their gut bacteria – a clear connection between gut bacteria and mental health issues

What Johns Hopkins has proven through science, a parent instinctively knows – that food can impact on their child’s behaviour and mood. Sugar can cause bouts of hyperactivity, depression, cognitive delay and sleep problems. Any form of milk can make a child irritable, cranky or aggressive. Artificial colouring has been linked to ADHD, anxiety, hyperactivity, and headaches in children. Because artificial colouring is found in many sugary foods, parents often blame behavioural changes on sugar. Artificial colouring is also often hidden in unexpected foods, like bread and yogurt. Avoid products with yellow No. 5, red No. 40, and blue No. 1 if you’re concerned about your child’s mood swings. Preservatives like nitrates, nitrites, sodium benzoate (found in children's juice products) cause behavioural problems in children. Monosodium glutamate (MSG) is a flavour enhancer that also causes mood and behaviour changes, including headaches and hyperactivity. If you notice behaviour changes, or mood swings, in your child, consider keeping a food journal. Track what they eat and when they exhibit “bad” behaviour.

Preventing mania could be as simple as not eating processed meat – or any meat at all.

Maneka Sanjay Gandhi
Pl. add: To join the animal welfare movement contact,

Every few years the Chinese fixate upon an animal

Every few years the Chinese fixate upon an animal and come to the conclusion that its parts will cure everything from acne to cancer. It doesn’t matter where the animal is; it could be the Totoaba, a fish found only in one lake in Mexico, which is almost totally decimated because the Chinese wanted its swim bladder. It could be the hair from the nose of a rhino (one species of the rhino has become completely extinct this year and there are a few hundred left of the other), the pancreas of the Indian bear, the pangolin whose scales are used by the Chinese to cure "excessive nervousness and hysterical crying in children, women possessed by devils and ogres, malarial fever and deafness". The Chinese have finished entire species in dozens of countries including India. India’s tiger and shark poaching is due to their greed for their parts. Africa’s elephants are almost gone and Australia loses millions of native birds to Chinese fetishes for keeping caged birds. Dried abalone, a status food that can sell for more than $90 per pound in China, forms the nucleus of a criminal economy worth millions each year in South Africa, with documented links to money laundering and the drug trade. There are virtually no animals left in their own country and their greedy, uncaring fingers pull out animals from the most environmentally conscious nations.

Now it is the turn of the donkey. Donkey hide gelatine, obtained by soaking and stewing the skin of a donkey, is used as a new ingredient in “old” Chinese medicine. It is called ejiao. The gelatine is sold in 3-4 inch rectangular or square blocks. It is hard and brittle, brown and shiny, translucent and slightly sweet – as dried glue is.

It is supposed to enrich the blood (whatever that means), strengthen bones, and cure dizziness, anaemia, palpitations, insomnia, cancer, and prevent miscarriages, stop bleeding and dry coughs, help the liver lung and kidneys, fatigue, chronic diarrhoea, phobias, obsessions, compulsions and excessive anxiety. The Chinese also eat donkey glue as a snack bar mixed with nuts and seeds. It's called Gu Yuan Gao. Ejiao is made into liqueurs. Put into creams it is used for leg ulcers or anti aging, rosy cheeks and glossy skin.

According to a 1723 account, by the French Jesuit Dominique Parrenin, ejiao was only made for the emperor’s court from the skin of a freshly killed well-nourished black donkey. Since black donkeys were, even then, in short supply a large amount of "fake" ejiao was also manufactured, using skins from mules, horses, camels, pigs, and  even old shoes. Since what it was supposed to cure was equally vague, I am sure it worked well.

The earliest known historical record of ejiao gelatine is in the ancient Chinese medical document entitled Shen Nong's Materia Medica, made during the Qin (221 BC - 206 BC) and Han (206 BC - 220 AD) dynasties. In that document, ejiao is made from any animal skin. The Pharmacopoeia of the People's Republic of China (the 1990, 1995 and 2000 editions), however, refer to donkey-hide gelatine as the only certified ejiao product. And businessmen picked this up. In the 1990s ejiao was rebranded as a consumer item and beauty product, causing sales — and demand for donkey skins — to skyrocket.

Millions of donkeys were immediately killed in China. Their population took a steep dive. Donkey hides became rare and expensive - up to £300 per kilo. There were also restrictions on importing animal hides from outside the country. So, first the manufacturers got the Chinese government to lift the restrictions. And then they went hunting across the world, starting with Mongolia, Afghanistan, Africa and South America.

In ten years donkey prices began to rise steeply around the world. African countries found they had no donkeys left. Uganda, Tanzania, Botswana, Niger, Burkina Faso, Mali, and Senegal have banned donkey exports to China. Has it stopped donkeys being killed? Nope. Donkey skins have become a hot commodity on the black market, and wildlife traffickers have moved in. Agents of the Chinese go from village to village, steal animals at night and strip their skins off on the spot. In November 2017, eyewitness footage showing baby donkeys being bludgeoned to death with sledgehammers, or killed by having their throats cut.

Has India escaped this illegal poaching? When was the last time you saw a donkey? At last count we were down by 40% of our donkeys – a massacre of over 3 million - in just the last two years. In fact, the wildlife mafia, that used to supply tiger skins and parts, has switched to donkeys. Sales of ejiao in China rose from 6.4 billion yuan in 2008 to 342.2 billion yuan in 2016. China's donkey population has dropped from 11m in 1990 to 1m today. At least 2-3 million donkey hides are brought into China every year . And their demand is 10 million skins.

With the decimation of the donkey, many rural communities in Africa and South America have lost their livelihoods for a product no one needs. The price of donkeys has risen steeply  in some countries, making them unaffordable for people who use them to take goods to market, cultivate land, and fetch water. The cost of a donkey in Burkina Faso, for example, has increased from £60 in 2014 to £108 in 2016. In Niger, the price has climbed from $34 to $145. In Kenya, the prices are even higher.

Entire criminal mafias have emerged in many countries. Illegal, or “bush” slaughter, which frequently involves stolen donkeys, has been reported in Egypt, South Africa and Tanzania, Brazil, Mexico and Peru. The stolen donkeys are mostly working animals, which means their owners then have no transport and can't get to market, fetch water or get children to school. Africa has been badly hit because the animals are such an important part of life for transport and farming - particularly in poorer communities. Their steep cost makes it impossible for the owners to replace a stolen donkey. In Egypt, one of China’s main suppliers, the cost of buying a donkey has increased from £17 to £170.When Niger banned donkey skin export the Chinese moved to Nigeria where the prices have gone up from 15,000 Naira per donkey to 75,000 Naira.

Unfortunately, Kenya has started three large donkey slaughterhouses. While their own population is almost done (number of donkeys have fallen by 70% and is now about 5 lakh), donkeys are being smuggled in from countries that have banned their slaughter, or export of donkey hides – South Africa, Uganda, Tanzania, Botswana, Mali, Senegal, Burkina Faso, Niger (which lost 80,000 donkeys in just 9 months), for instance. A firm in Zimbabwe has been caught for buying thousands of illegal skins from Botswana and shipping them to China via Mozambique. Now Ethiopia, which had the largest population of donkeys in the world, has started slaughterhouses for the Chinese as well. Chinese buyers monitor the process in both countries - making sure everything is properly packed and prepared. Each donkey hide produces 1 kilo of ejiao.

The Chinese pay $48 per skin, making it very lucrative  to break all the laws.  South Africa allows the export of a maximum of 7,300 donkey skins a year. Yet, when the police investigated just one firm, they found they had exported 15,000 in less than a year. Firms in Nigeria, Chad and Cameroon are openly advertising donkey skins – as well as pangolins whose international trade is forbidden. The Chinese buy both from the same firms.

Efforts are on by the Chinese to start donkey slaughterhouses in Pakistan and Australia.

Even though the Chinese know that most of these skins are from the black market, on January 1, 2017 the Chinese government brought down import duties on donkey hide from 5% to 2%. Dong EE-Jiao is the largest company in China and handled 7 lakh donkey hides in 2014, increasing to one million in 2018. Its profits were $295 million in 2016.

Ten years ago there were approximately 44 million donkeys spread over Asia, Africa and South America. Ten years from now , they will be down to less than a million. As of today, countries that have counted their donkeys report this : Botswana down by 70%. Kyrgyzstan and India, down by 40%, Columbia and Brazil down by 15%.

Why have the Chinese been allowed to carry out this genocide?

Maneka Sanjay Gandhi
Pl. add: To join the animal welfare movement contact,

A study conducted by Princeton University says that

A study conducted by Princeton University says that there has been a 36%  rise in antibiotic use in all countries over the last 10 years – except in India, which has seen a rise of 62% and is now the largest consumer of antibiotics in the world.

If these antibiotics were simply being taken by Indian people, then a public campaign and regulations for doctors could stop it. But 70% of these antibiotics are being fed to sick chickens, who are then fed to Indians. This is an extremely dangerous situation.

When one is consistently exposed to an antibiotic over a period of time, the body develops a resistance to it. If the person has been eating it in chicken frequently, then when he really falls sick, the antibiotic he takes will have no effect on him. What his body now has is the “ superbug”, an infection that cannot be removed by an antibiotic. A person can die of a common cold and cough.

It is predicted that in a few years antibiotic resistant bacteria will have killed 1 crore people around the world and 47 lakh individuals will be from Asia. In India most antibiotics have stopped working on people. New antibiotics are needed to provide a cure, but new ones are not easy to discover. Only two new antibiotics have been approved for use in the past 10 years, and one of these – ceftaroline – has already started facing the problem of resistance in the first year of its use.

Doctors are falling back on antibiotics that were used and discarded fifty years ago, because they may have cured one problem but they created another. Now the medical community is going to “last resort” drugs - drugs that would otherwise not be recommended are now being seen as viable alternatives, as people have not yet developed resistance to them. One such antibiotic is colistin. Colistin, or polymyxin E, is an antibiotic produced by certain strains of the bacteria Paenibacillus polymyxa. Colistin is very effective against most Gram-negative bacilli. But it is no angel.

Colistin was introduced in the market in 1959 but was abandoned in the early 1980s due to undesirable effects, such as kidney failure and neurological toxicity. Respiratory arrest has also been seen after intramuscular administration of colistin. It can lead to temporary neurological disturbances such as numbness, tingling of the extremities, itching of the skin, dizziness, and slurring of speech.

Colistin is referred to as a ‘last mile drug’, to be used very judiciously only on patients in extremely critical conditions. There is nothing more powerful available at the moment to fight infection. Extreme care must be also taken so people don’t develop resistance to this antibiotic, leaving us with no available alternative.

Unfortunately, that is exactly what is happening.  Studies done in Indian hospitals in Delhi and Pune have shown that 5% of patients admitted after outbreaks of severe bacterial infection are resistant to colistin. How have they developed this resistance? A recent example from China can help demonstrate:

In 2015, Timothy Walsh, Professor of Medical Microbiology at Cardiff University and his team discovered a colistin-resistant gene in Chinese pigs. This discovery created panic in the global medical community, as this gene (mcr-1) was capable of creating widespread untreatable infections. It was found that rampant use of colistin in Chinese livestock farming had caused the spread of mcr-1. Shockingly, the gene was found in bacteria from animals and humans in more than 30 countries where Chinese pigs had been exported for consumption.

This is what has happened in India as well. When colistin fell out of favour for human use in the 1980s, the companies manufacturing it started selling it to piggeries in China and poultries in India. Colistin was banned for animal use in the West, so the companies targeted Asia, and tonnes of colistin were shipped to India, Vietnam, South Korea and Russia every year for veterinary use.

Five pharmaceutical companies in India are openly advertising products containing colistin as a growth promoter for animals. Two companies are manufacturing colistin locally. We are importing over 150 tonnes of it every year.

Indian poultry farms are using colistin and going completely unchecked. Why? Because they keep their chickens so badly in small battery cages  – as reported in the Law Commission report on poultries – that they need antibiotics to prevent them from dying before they can be killed. And, as the chickens become resistant to gentle antibiotics, the poultry owners are using more and more dangerous drugs to keep them alive. It is also used to promote the faster growth of chickens so they can be killed sooner, increasing profits. Poultries are increasing the number of chickens they ram into the same space, to make more money. As sickness and resistance increases in the flock, more and more antibiotics are being used. Already Indians are indirectly ingesting the largest amount of antibiotics. This is predicted to increase 5 times by 2030. Owing to the risky nature of colistin itself, combined with its indiscriminate use by the poultry industry, we are heading for a disaster.

Not just chicken (and pig) eaters are now found with colistin resistant genes, colistin finds a number of ways to reach us. Colistin resistant bacteria transfer through the air from these farms and through workers at these poultries. Flies, that sit on the faeces of chicken, carry the bacteria with them for long distances. Colistin in the faeces spreads into the soil and surrounding water bodies, thus seeping into agricultural produce, grown in the area, as well as the water supply.

None of you are complaining, so government takes no action. No raids are done on poultries. No companies selling banned drugs are shut down. Three Ministries are responsible for this huge disaster that is already upon us : the Ministry for Animal Husbandry whose inspectors are corrupt and lazy and treat poultries as a second source of income, the Health Ministry  who is doing nothing to check colistin use and the Environment Ministry which does nothing anyway.

So, colistin is hitting you in two ways : its regular use destroys the kidneys and makes your body toxic. So you have symptoms you cannot explain: skin that itches and fainting spells which are incorrectly attributed to anaemia.  And when you fall sick, you cannot use colistin because you are immune to its beneficial effects. This puts a large part of our population at direct risk, as it rules out the use of the only antibiotic left in the doctor’s armoury.

With a population density like ours, even one person catching an antibiotic-resistant infection can lead to an epidemic. We are on the cusp of a public health disaster. The slow way is to generate awareness among consumers about the dangers of colistin. But what can they do?  The government needs to act.

Poultry farms need to be ordered to immediately stop the use of colistin and all other antibiotics in their production systems. China has banned colistin use. In fact, England’s chief medical officer has called for a worldwide ban on the use of every antibiotic as a growth promoter in poultry.  Antibiotics as growth promoters were banned in the E.U. in 2006, and made illegal in the U.S. in 2017. India has refused to do it, since profit making is more important than public interest.

Maneka Sanjay Gandhi
Pl. add: To join the animal welfare movement contact,

A few days ago someone wrote to me from Mumbai

A few days ago someone wrote to me from Mumbai saying they lived next to a person who kept cats in his flat. They complained about the smell. I sent a team to the gentleman’s flat, thinking that he was that dreadful human subspecies- the hoarder. A person who piles on animals because he is mentally unsound and starves them to death while being a nuisance to everyone around. But he wasn’t. A sensible person who is regarded with great respect by everyone – including the woman who complained – he takes in animals that are hurt or ill. He nurses them back to health and releases them, gets them adopted or keeps them if they are crippled. All the cats were sterilized, clean and healthy. But there was a strong smell. The complainant was apologetic but she said she could not live with it.

This is the third or fourth case that has come to me from Mumbai about cat smells. Two sisters kept cats and this so infuriated the landlady, who lived next door, that she came in at night, destroyed their apartment while they were away at work and threw out the cats. They were left homeless. The landlady has to now give almost a crore in damages.

Cat urine odour is a problem. Let’s look at reasons and solutions. If you know anyone who has a problem, you could send this to them.

Cats do not hunt, eat or sleep in groups like dogs. They mark territories and avoid each other whenever possible. They have no systems for deciding face-to-face disputes, so, to avoid them, they communicate indirectly by leaving messages – one of which is urine marking. What area belongs to them and over what period of time, whether they want mates.

If their world is predictable, there are no conflicts, they are neutered and they don’t need a mate, cats have little reason to mark and probably will not. But, if they want a mate, or are distressed about something, they’ll deal with their distress by marking territory.

How do you make out urine marking?

Urine marks are usually sprayed on vertical surfaces. The cat backs up to a vertical object. like the side of a chair, a wall, or a stereo speaker, stands with his body erect and his tail straight up in the air, and sprays urine onto the surface. The urine smells pungent because it contains extra communication chemicals.

The more cats who live in a home, the more likely it is that at least one of them will urine mark.

This behaviour can be triggered by any change: new people, getting another animal,  remodelling the kitchen, changing work hours, having a baby, even a new coat.

A cat is not challenged by another cat, he is stressed by his inability to deal with the intrusion. If a cat is prevented from avoiding the other cat, he will become increasingly stressed and mark often.

First, neuter all the cats. The best way to minimize conflict is to divide the food, water, litter boxes, in different places across the house, so no two of them are near each other.

Conflict can often be reduced simply by providing more perching areas so that all cats can have a place away from the others. Creating space can be as easy as clearing window sills or shelves, or purchasing multiperch cat trees.

The second problem is how to make sure the cats use litterboxes to urinate /defecate, rather than do it all over the house. Buy them from a pet shop.  If the litter box is unclean then cats, being very fastidious, will not use it and then the whole house is used like a bathroom. Scoop the box daily. Dump out the litter, wash the box with soap and warm water (no ammonia-based cleaners), dry it and put fresh litter in. Try a litter deodorizer that can be either sprinkled or sprayed on the litter itself daily. Kitchen baking soda is non-toxic. Carbon litter box liners are helpful in bringing down such odours.

The rule is one litter box per cat, plus one. If you have one cat, you need two boxes. If you have four cats, you need five boxes. Keep the boxes in different locations in your home. Don’t put a box in a small enclosed area, like a tiny bathroom, closet or under the stair cupboard. which will concentrate the smells and make the cat feel trapped. A larger, well-ventilated area is best in a quiet area, away from your cat’s food, or anything that can startle your cat while he’s using the box.

At least 10% of all cats develop elimination problems. Some stop using the box altogether. Some only use their boxes for urination, or defecation, but not for both. Still others eliminate both in and out of their boxes. If your cat isn’t comfortable with her litter box, or can’t easily access it, she won’t use it.

Investigate possible medical issues like diabetes, kidney diseases, or urinary tract infections, that might cause her to eliminate outside of her box:

Other reasons: The box is too small for her. It has a hood or liner that makes her uncomfortable. The litter is too deep. Cats prefer one to two inches of litter. Cats who have grown accustomed to a certain litter, dislike the smell of another. Old cats, or cats with physical limitations, may have a difficult time using certain types of litter boxes, such as top-entry boxes, or with high sides.

The majority of cats prefer large boxes that they can enter easily. Plastic storage containers make excellent litter boxes. Most cats prefer clumping, unscented litter. Offer different types of litter in boxes placed side-by-side to allow your cat to show you her preference.

Some cats just like certain places, like carpets or bedding. Make these areas less appealing to stand on by putting rubber mats, plastic sheets, tin foil, or double-sided sticky tape.

If your cat has experienced some kind of frightening, or upsetting, event while using her litter box, she could associate that event with the litter box and avoid going near it. If she is afraid she will run into the box and leave again very quickly, sometimes before she’s finished eliminating. Or eliminate nearby, but not inside her box. In order for your cat to learn new pleasant associations, move the litter box to a new location, or add a few litter boxes in different locations. Pick locations with multiple escape routes so that your cat can quickly leave her litter box if she suddenly feels anxious.

Vary the litter. Use a finer or coarser texture. Leave treats and toys for her to find in the area leading to her box. Don’t put her food bowl next to the box because cats usually don’t like to eliminate close to their food.

Incorporate the use of sprays or diffusers that deliver a synthetic pheromone that has been shown to have some effect in relieving stress in cats.

Reduce the chances of your cat peeing at inappropriate areas: When your cat pees outside her litter box, instead of yelling or punishing her, immediately place her into the litter box. Do this every time she pees outside and pat her on the back when she pees in the litter box..

Despite all this, if the cat is urinating at places other than the litter box:

a)  Blot up as much of the urine as possible with a cloth towel. Don't rub the stain. If it's dry, pour cold water on the stain, and blot. Avoid detergents with ammonia as this encourages your cat to mark the spot again. Make a water and vinegar solution for both old and new stains. 1 1/2 cups of warm water and a 1/2 cup of vinegar. Pour this concoction over the stain and soak for about 3 to 5 minutes.. After the water and vinegar solution is dry, sprinkle the area with baking soda (a lot). Let the mixture dry for a few hours. Once the spot is dry, vacuum the excess baking soda. If the stain is tough, repeat the entire process again.

b)  Mix 3/4 cup of three percent hydrogen peroxide with 1 teaspoon of dish detergent. Sprinkle this solution over the baking soda and test a small spot, because sometimes peroxide can discolour fabrics. Work the baking soda into the fabric or carpet. Let the mixture dry. Vacuum after a few hours.

c)  Make a Spray Bottle:

a. 5 oz Baking soda

b. 1 teaspoon White vinegar

c. 1 teaspoon Hydrogen Peroxide

d. Half a teaspoon of Orange essential oil.

Mix the ingredients in a bowl and put them in a spray bottle. Shake the spray bottle, spray the solution on the affected area and let it dry. The powdered dried solution can be vacuumed later. Repeat until you witness results. 

d) Mix 1 cup of baking soda with six drops of an essential oil of lemon or any other citrus fruit. Sprinkle the mixture on the dry affected area and leave it overnight. Vacuum the area in the morning and the odour will be gone for good.

e) For walls and cement flooring, wash the area with an ammonia free cleaner and wipe it clean with fresh water. Mix ten portions of water to one portion of bleach solution and put it in a spray bottle. Keep yourself well protected by using gloves and keeping the area ventilated. Spray this mixture on the walls and flooring and let it sit for thirty seconds or so. Wipe it off with a clean damp cloth.

f) Wrap a couple of charcoal pieces into a newspaper and place them in the affected areas of the house, and keep the house well ventilated. Let them be for a few hours and the odour will disappear.

h) Non-toxic air fresheners are available from pet and health stores..

i) Plants, like spider plants, are  effective at filtering ammonia from the air and removing bad odours.

j) Enzymatic cleansers, designed to neutralize pet odours, can be found at most pet stores.

k) Before washing your clothes, rinse the pee area with cold water. Add 1/4 cup of apple cider vinegar to the detergent. Dry in the sun.

l) If cats pee on potted plants, place a couple of orange peels on the soil. Cats hate the smell of oranges.

m) To cleanse the air in a room, leave an open cup of vinegar to neutralize any bad smells.

Maneka Sanjay Gandhi
Pl. add: To join the animal welfare movement contact,

Formaldehyde is a chemical which

Formaldehyde is a chemical which, when mixed with water and turned into a paste, is used for embalming dead bodies and preventing the decay of dead cells. When a human body is given to  a professional funeral parlour, for instance, the blood is taken out and formaldehyde is injected so that the deceased looks normal before being buried. People who hunt, or have pets, often have the dead bodies of the animal “stuffed” by taxidermists and kept in their houses. Labs and teaching institutions do the same with cadavers.

It is used in commerce as formalin.

Formalin is a saturated solution of formaldehyde gas in water. It contains 37%-40%   formaldehyde gas with a stabilizer.  The most common stabilizer is 10-12% methanol. Methanol is also toxic for humans.

As it is a strong disinfectant and tissue hardener, it is used for preserving biological and anatomical specimens. It is also used as an antiseptic in sterilising surgical instruments.

Can formaldehyde/formalin cause cancer?

As far back as 1980, laboratory studies showed that even sniffing formaldehyde could cause nasal cancer in rats. In 1987, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) classified formaldehyde as a probable human carcinogen. Now the International Agency for Research on Cancer (IARC) has classified formaldehyde as a human carcinogen.

Since the 1980s, the National Cancer Institute (NCI), a component of the National Institutes of Health (NIH), has conducted studies to determine whether there is an association between exposure to formaldehyde and an increase in the risk of cancer. The long-term effects of formaldehyde exposure have been evaluated in epidemiologic studies (studies that attempt to uncover the patterns and causes of disease in groups of people).

NCI surveys of professionals who are exposed to formaldehyde in their work, such as anatomists, embalmers and funeral industry workers, have seen that these individuals are at an increased risk of leukaemia and brain cancer compared with the general population. The study, which looked at funeral industry workers who had died between 1960 and 1986, showed that those who had performed the most embalming, and those with the highest estimated formaldehyde exposure, had the greatest risk of myeloid leukaemia.

An additional 10 years of data on the same workers were used in a follow-up study published in 2009. This analysis showed a possible link between formaldehyde exposure and cancers of the blood and lymphatic systems. Earlier analysis of the NCI study found increased lung cancer deaths among industrial workers compared with the general U.S. population.

A study of 11,039 textile workers, performed by the National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health (NIOSH), also found an association between the duration of exposure to formaldehyde and leukaemia deaths. Several studies have found an association between formaldehyde exposure and nasopharyngeal cancer.

Research done by Dr. Martin H. Fischer of Rush Medical College, Chicago on the toxic effects of formaldehyde and formalin on humans ( ) shows:

1. The inhalation of formaldehyde gas in even small quantities is followed by bronchitis and pneumonia. Pneumonia is due to the inhalation of the gas and not to secondary infection. Pneumonia and bronchitis are found in all animals after an injection of formalin.

2. Formalin belongs to that rare group of poisons which is capable of producing death suddenly when swallowed.

3. The introduction of formalin into the stomach is followed by the production of gastritis which varies greatly in character. The duodenum and small intestine may also get inflamed.

4. Even a very dilute ( 1-1000 parts) injection of formalin causes inflammation of the stomach lining . Once in the abdomen, formalin exercises a destructive action upon all organs (pancreas, liver, peritoneal fat, fallopian tubes, etc.) with which it comes in contact and causes inflammation in these organs.

5. The injection of formalin into the muscles produces myositis or inflammation of the muscles.

 6. When formalin is dropped into the conjunctival sac a painful inflammation of the iris follows and may be severe enough to destroy the eye.

7. Formalin, in whatever way introduced into the body, is absorbed and capable of producing lesions in the respiratory organs.

8. Changes in the liver after absorption of formalin consist of mild or severe cloudy swelling. Necrosis may result.

 9. The injection of formalin, or the inhalation of  formaldehyde, produces cloudy swelling of the kidneys. Necrosis may result.

10. Animals subjected to chronic poisoning with formalin develop fibrinous peritonitis, associated with marked eosinophilia. Peritonitis is the inflammation of the peritoneum, the lining of the inner wall of the abdomen and cover of the abdominal organs. Symptoms may include severe pain, swelling of the abdomen, fever, or weight loss.

Why am I telling you this? Because in June 2018 authorities found 9,600 kg of fish, preserved in formalin, being exported to the rest of India at the border check post of Arayankavu in Kollam district. Raids followed. 6,000 kg of fish were found laced with formalin in 8 trucks in Palakkad. 14,000 kg of formalin prawns were found entering Kerala from Andhra Pradesh. Instead of burning them, officials returned the trucks to A.P. and they were probably rerouted by the factory owners  to another state. The state food safety department officials intercepted a cargo of chemical-laced fish from Tuticorin in neighbouring Tamil Nadu. The fish, that arrived in two vehicles, included 7,000 kg of prawns and 2,600 kg of other species.

The citizens of Kerala eat 2,500 tonnes of fish every day. 60 % comes from local sources and the rest from other states. The Central Institute of Fisheries Technology (CIFT) in Kochi has found 63.9 milligrams of formalin in every kilo of fish and 4.1 milligrams in every kg of shrimp.

The office of the Food Safety Commissioner has its hands full. Thousands of kilos of formalin fish and seafood are coming in and out of Kerala every day. They have issued a health warning that says fish vendors have been found to be selling fish products, including crustaceans, treated with formalin. In the last month 28,000 kg of adulterated fish have been destroyed.

Is this a new practice? No. Formalin has been used for many years now to give the appearance of freshness to weeks old fish. First it used to be used when fish moved interstate. Now it is used on all fish which move a mile. Why are the authorities cracking down on it now? Because, while they have been aware of it for years, only now has the CIFT developed a kit to detect ammonia and formalin!

Does this happen only in Kerala?

The fisheries department in Punjab sounded an alert 15 years ago saying that all fish coming from Delhi was contaminated and specifically naming the Pangasius or Basa catfish. The then health minister of Delhi, Dr A.K. Walia, said he was unaware of it and did not take any action at all. Every day about 30-50 tonnes of fish arrive at Ghazipur Fish market from Orissa, Gujarat and Andhra Pradesh. No checks have yet been done. But whenever a truck has been checked in other states the Basa fish, farmed and exported from A.P., has been found adulterated. It takes a week for the trucks from A.P to reach North India. Between September and March, Punjab consumes nearly 250 tonnes of Basa fish every day, mainly eaten by very poor farm labourers from other states.

As far North East as Nagaland the practice is so prevalent that a notification had to be issued this year prohibiting the sale of formalin-laced fresh fish products. So far the Kohima district administration has seized four vehicles. Nagaland Food Safety Commissioner has prohibited the storage, distribution, and sale of fresh fish products treated with formalin or ammonia, with a fine of Rs 10 lakh for any violations. This includes crabs, lobsters and prawns. Assam has put a ban on all fish entering it, after they found  formalin in all the fish. Odisha has issued an order to collect fish samples from all markets after they found  formalin from the Unit IV fish market on July 13th. Maharashtra is bringing in laws to regulate the fishing industry which will now make it mandatory for all fish sellers to get licences, and which lays down norms on prohibited preservatives. There is currently no law about sale/purchase/transport/storage/use of preservatives and where fish should be dried. 

Fish sale has increased by 5.6% in the last year alone. You will find that the sale of formalin has increased by ten times that amount. Which means a similar increase  in abdominal pain, vomiting, unconsciousness and cancer.

If you want to test the fish you buy, get a kit from the CIFT. Remove the strip and rub it on the fish. If it turns blue, you are eating formalin.


Maneka Sanjay Gandhi
Pl. add: To join the animal welfare movement contact,

The Environment Ministry is increasingly seen as a Ministry

The Environment Ministry is increasingly seen as a Ministry that understands nothing about the environment, wild life, water preservation, pollution control. Almost every decision that comes out of it is a destructive one, and it works on the basis of politics rather than science.

Every vested interest in India has understood this and is trying to take advantage. Every local animal / environmental officer has, by now, lost interest in his duties and takes/gives orders that are bad in law and environment. This makes me so frightened for India.

The Chief Wildlife Warden of Andaman and Nicobar islands, the man who is supposed to be protecting the wild animals on the islands, has actually written – the first time in India’s history that a CWW has done so – to the Ministry of Environment, asking to kill the salt water crocodiles on the grounds that a few tourists have been attacked.

Salt water crocodiles are severely endangered and have been given the highest protection in the Act – Schedule I of the Wildlife Protection Act 1972. This Tarun Coomar wants this protection removed so that he can kill them.

One interesting aside is that crocodile skin sells for lakhs. It is smuggled outside the country and sold to make handbags and shoes. Many requests for “culling” have usually got this background and, no doubt, someone is doing business there as well.

Why do I say this? Because the proposal has no basis in science or fact. The Chief Wildlife Warden is lying through his teeth.

Records reveal that only 23 attacks by salt water crocodiles have taken place  in the last 13 years, and none of them have been in a single place. They are spread out over the vast archipelago.

In truth, the tourism industry wants the land to build hotels and take over the beaches. So the LG and the CWW  take on the role of “ facilitation agents”.  Even the figures they have given, of the number of Salties, are far more than what actually exist (and that too, without a head count). Field biologists state that the numbers, being published by the administration at Andaman and Nicobar islands, have been falsely stated at 1,700 . There are only about 500 individuals. Are these 500 crocs, spread out and so vital to the survival of the inhabitants of the ocean, going to be killed so  hoteliers can destroy the coast?  

Here is the proof of  “ facilitation” . The “Expert Committee” set up by the local administration to find a “solution” to these rare crocodile attacks has no scientific people on it, no field researchers, no environmentalists. But one of the members is the head of  the Andaman Association of Tour Operators. This is his statement “The fear has impacted both the tourism and fisheries industries, which are our main source of revenue” said M. Vinod. “Can you imagine a tourist visiting an island destination and not going onto the beach and indulging in water sports?” And if an entire species has to be wiped out so that a tourist can go water skiing, so be it ?

Saltwater crocodiles are millions of years old. They are the largest of all living reptiles and can reach 7 metres in length.  They are found in small groups in South-east Asia, Northern Australia. In India they are native to the Sunderbans, Bhitarkarnika in Odisha, and  the mangrove forests of the Andaman and Nicobar islands. They swim long distances. Though they spend much of their time in the water, they must come ashore to warm up in the sun and to nest. 

Females lay about 50 eggs at a time, of which only one or two survive even though the mother looks after the nest carefully. Overheating, flooding and predation by lizards, dogs and feral pigs claim a high proportion of victims. Once they have reached maturity their only enemies are each other and humans.

Before the Act was made in 1972,  they were poached for their skin, meat and as trophies. The species was reduced to 31 individuals when the Government of India launched a special conservation effort in 1975 , Project Crocodile, and they were given ‘Schedule 1’ protection . 

While the preservation of the species, in the Andaman and Nicobar islands, is counted as a success story, the fact is that salt water crocodiles have taken decades to even reach these small numbers. It has taken almost 45 years to grow to about 500 animals. Now, if killing takes place (and if my suspicions are right, they will kill 300 and then claim they have killed 30) they will never revive again, because the gene pool is already stretched, they are all related to each other and, as hotels and tourists fill up the beaches, more and more eggs will be lost.

The move has attracted international concern. There is a great deal of literature on how to deal with man-crocodile conflict, and wildlife agencies are happy to provide the information – except that the local government doesn’t want to know.

This is what can be done easily to protect humans and salties:


a.   Make a thorough study to conduct a risk assessment in the areas where crocodile-human conflicts have occurred.

b.   Geo-tag the crocodiles to understand, and/or track their movement patterns.

c.   Create safe swimming zones, creating exclusive crocodile zone (wilderness areas where crocodiles take precedence),

d.   Identify rogue crocodiles and put them into captive animal shelters (tourists pay to watch crocodiles as in Australia),

e.   Coexistence zone (where people can be helped with enclosures, fish disposal areas, etc.) and exclusive tourist zone, where there is proper netting for people to swim with regular patrolling and monitoring.

f.     Put up warning signs at crocodile conflict zones.

g.   Raise awareness among local communities, so that they do not see crocodiles as a threat, and secure and monitor tourist bathing areas on a regular basis.

Every year, from 1986, there is no more than one attack annually – if you go by government figures from 1986.  But  the number of tourists has increased enormously - from 4,30,000 in 2016 to 5,00,000 in 2017. This has led to unplanned and haphazard growth and  increased activity along the coastline. Most attacks occur in narrow creeks near which human and crocodile populations overlap. Even after a number of warning signs, tourists invade restricted areas. No attempt has been made to regulate tourist behaviour. Beaches abroad have life guards. We have none in the islands. We don’t even have wildlife rangers to patrol the crocodile areas.  And these crocodile areas are shrinking rapidly, with  human settlements increasingly taking over the crocodile's land.

Most importantly, the attacks take place in the monsoon season which is the breeding season. This clearly shows that there is human encroachment on crocodile territory when a croc is at its most defensive, with males vying for females. Crocodiles are not human hunters.

Local tourist operators claim that there are far more crocodile sightings in human areas round the coast. The dumping of untreated kitchen waste, including raw chicken, fish and meat, by hotels and eateries that have mushroomed along the coast, has never been as rampant as it is now. Such practices  draw the creatures. Has the local administration done anything to restrict this?  Illegal slaughterhouses throw blood and offal straight into the waters. This will draw more crocodiles around the area.

Culling is going to have no effect on the human crocodile conflict. Crocodiles are territorial. If an adult male is killed, the vacant area will fill up with other adult males.

Salties are an important check on rodent populations, which are actually dangerous  on an island ecosystem and have been brought in by ships. They also prevent illnesses spreading through insects. For example, river blindness among humans was caused by slaughter of crocs, whose young fed on snails which harboured the parasite responsible for the malady.

Salties prevent overpopulation of fish species in coastal regions and wetlands, which is pivotal in keeping these aquatic ecosystems healthy and balanced. Reduction of crocodiles in the Nile has led to great losses in the fishing industry, as there has been a boom in the population of the carnivorous fish and disease carrying fish, which were kept under control by crocs.

Salties play a role in clearing dead animals/fish/offal, keeping the area clean and disease free.  

Crocodile excrement fertilizes the coastal land and waters. The nutrient content of their faeces feeds the invertebrates and the fish. This allows smaller aquatic organisms to thrive. Only when these organisms thrive the bigger fishes can live. Crocodile excreta also helps in the growth of healthy corals.

Down-listing the animal under the Wildlife Protection Act, 1972, and removing the safeguards of a Schedule I species, will severely jeopardize the fate of this species across the country, as it could open up the flood gates for other states (like Sundarbans in West Bengal, Bhitarkarnika in Orissa) to seek permission for culling of salt water crocodiles on similar grounds, depending on which crocodile skin traders have moved in, and how much they pay the local officers.

Maneka Sanjay Gandhi
Pl. add: To join the animal welfare movement contact,

A restaurant in Lokhandwala, Mumbai  has a large cage at the entrance with two pygmy monkeys in it.

A restaurant in Lokhandwala, Mumbai  has a large cage at the entrance with two pygmy monkeys in it. I sent a member of the state animal welfare board to arrest the owners. The forest department refused to help saying there was no law to confiscate foreign monkeys or arrest the owners. These smugglers will continue to display these severely endangered monkeys till I find a way to shut them down.

Last month a “pet fair” took place in Pune. It displayed exotic birds, fish and pedigreed dogs. It had no permissions and yet the police and the forest department took no action. Why? Because they claim there is no law that protects foreign species in India. The smugglers who ran the fair looked on smugly as animal activists cried themselves hoarse. The new Chairman of the Animal Welfare Board had given them permission – which has never been given before – to hold the "exhibition".  As long as they did not sell foreign animals they could display them. So they secretly sold the animals in black. 

Three months ago a person’s house was raided in Bangalore. He was found with three ball pythons. The forest department refused to register a case saying there was no law which covered foreign snakes. The man absconded with the snakes and released them in the open, while the inspectors were still arguing.  So, now you have exotic snakes in the wilds in Bangalore. In Uttar Pradesh a man recently died of snake bite – from an African pit viper brought illegally into this country as a pet and then released when the owner got bored.

Go to a normal illegal petshop – illegal because no shops in this country are licensed to sell animals. You will find dozens of exotic species. From macaws to snakes and snails and spiders. Look at the Net – hundreds of exotic fish, birds, animals, are for sale. Macaws from Bolivia, Argentina and Mexico, fish and  turtles from all over the world, fox squirrels, ferrets, frogs, snakes, sharks, monkeys, lizards and iguanas. One businessman in Chennai was found with two chimpanzees in his garage.

How did these get into India? There is a direct nexus between smugglers and our Indian customs departments. They come in containers from Singapore and pass easily through customs at the ports, specially Kolkata, Mumbai and Chennai. The smaller animals come even through airports. Bangalore is notorious for its customs officers. One woman officer from the Northeast was caught running an illegal smuggling ring herself, in which her partner would go to Thailand, pick up animals and bring them in, on the days she was on duty. After I complained, she was removed from there but still holds her job somewhere and is probably doing the same thing.

The fault is with the Ministry for Environment, which ceased to exist as a functioning body 20 years ago and is now just another dead body whose officials go abroad once a week to waste India’s money. The Wildlife Crime Bureau, which was invented to fight these kinds of crime, has repeatedly asked the Ministry to amend the laws and put the smuggling/sale/buying of exotic species as a criminal offence. They do nothing. In order to delay any action, and perhaps protect smugglers, they keep making committees to review the Wildlife Protection Act 1972. (During Jairam’s time, no matter how he poses as a great environmentalist, he refused to take action and stop illegal bird markets on the written “recommendation” of 22 large criminal smugglers who protested, some from jail itself, that it would hamper their right to earn money !). Dr Manmohan Singh put Sunita Narain, who took years and did nothing of any value. 15 years have passed and now another committee has been made under Dr Rajesh Gopal.  He himself says that it will go nowhere .

In the meantime smuggling and transactions of foreign species worth 8-10 crores take place EVERY DAY. You can go to jail for keeping a rosy ringed parakeet or a myna in your house. Not if you keep Cockatiels, African Grey Parrots or Lorikeets.

All these exotic species, that are smuggled into India, are endangered species of which there are only a few thousand left. They are banned for capture in their own countries and are on the prohibited list of CITES. The International Union for Conservation of Nature ( IUCN) lists all of them as endangered species. The Military Macaw is found only in a few miles of forest between Argentina and Mexico. Even the Lovebirds are little parrots brought in from Australia. They die en route in the thousands. The rest last less than a year, as they cannot take any temperature variations and no form of cold. Yet you continue to buy them. Australia has put them on the endangered species list and no one in that country can buy them. But China and India are swallowing them wholesale. Some buy to keep them for a few months till they die . Others buy out of pity and "release" them. Thousands of miles away from home, they die in foreign skies.

According to a correspondent who posed as a buyer in 2013 : In Mumbai, Mausam Patel’s Baba Aquarium proudly sells soft-shelled turtles. "This is imported from China. We can ship them to any part of India" he said. This turtle pair costs Rs. 4,000. When asked about legalities of importing these turtles, he said, "Importing requires permission. That we have ways to deal with. Once they reach India, There's no problem." S.Siva, has posted more than 40 different types of macaws on his website for sale. Some of them include Yellow Collar macaw, Scarlet Blue Gold and Blue Gold macaws. “Each pair of macaws costs 2 lakh. While openly advertised, the trade is entirely in black.”

A reporter from The Sunday Guardian recently contacted an online seller who openly displayed pictures of exotic wild animals - iguanas, chameleons, snakes, monitor lizards, spiders - and guaranteed home delivery after half payment. In fact, if you joined his club, you would get one exotic wild animal every month. The price of an iguana is about Rs 18,000, while a Tarantula costs Rs 16,000. Chameleons are sold at a price of Rs 12,000.

The Zoological Survey of India, the Central Zoo Authority, the wildlife department of each state, the Wildlife Crime Control Bureau, sit by and watch silently. No action is taken on this massive criminal activity because the Ministry for Environment and Forests will not make rules.

In Delhi, the Capital of India where all the lawmakers live, you can get anything easily. We have one Chief Wildlife Warden whose entire office consists of two inspectors and none of them will stir out of their offices no matter what the crisis. I can pick up any exotic species I want – from Tarantula spiders, black squirrels, rattlesnakes from the American desert, any kind of wild cat, turtle or emu. There is a person in Mehrauli, who partners a politician, who sells these from his basement. When he was raided, the forest department refused to arrest him on the grounds that all these were exotic.

“This trade in wild animals, their articles, trophies cured/uncured etc., is in complete violation of national and international guidelines such as CITES and legislations such as the Wildlife Protection Act, 1972 and Prevention of Cruelty to Animals Act, 1960 etc.

None of the dealers have any licences, permits - and they don’t need them because all the authorities look the other way using the loophole in the Wildlife Act 1972.

We have signed the CITES treaty but we still don’t have an office 40 years later and the Customs people, who are raking in the money, refuse to learn or apply it. The Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora (CITES) makes the trade of foreign birds and animals illegal, but the forest departments and Customs are blasé about it. Their attitude is that India signs treaties  because it looks good. Honouring them is irrelevant as the world is happy simply when the treaty is signed.

We need rules on exotic species and we need them NOW. We need a strong CITES division. We need to catch and sack corrupt customs officers. We need to strengthen the Wildlife Crime Control Bureau. There are three nations that are destroying all the species of the world by encouraging and allowing foreign species to come into their countries: America, China and India.

Maneka Sanjay Gandhi
Pl. add: To join the animal welfare movement contact,

Imagine a new human mother who has a viral infection.

Imagine a new human mother who has a viral infection. Would any doctor allow her own baby to drink her milk? Of course not. When you drink milk, have you ever thought of the health of the cow that this milk came from? 

According to veterinary studies, one of the most common diseases that cattle have is parainfluenza3, a viral disease. The PI3 virus infects the upper respiratory mucosa. While fatalities are rare, they predispose the animal to other recurrent infections. How many cows have you seen with a runny nose? Probably none because no one looks at cows? But if you go to the commercial dairies around India you will see the classic respiratory signs of cough, fever, discharge from nose and eyes, increased respiratory rate and difficult breathing. There is no specific anti-PI3 therapy. Medicines are given for the secondary bacterial infections that follow. All the while, milking goes on.

Does this happen only in India? No, studies done by Reisinger et al.  Bakos and Dinter, Abinanti et al. , and Gale and King,  confirm the virus in cattle in their own countries. In Japan, Inaba etc. have shown that the virus is widely disseminated among cattle in Japan. These results are not very different from those reported by Hoerlein et al.  in the United States and Bakos and Dinter in Sweden.

Now, come to the next step : scientists have found the virus not just in nasal discharges but in milk. In studies done by Inaba, the virus was isolated not only from nasal secretions but also from the milk of naturally infected cattle. At one farm the virus was recovered from milk in 14 of 58 cows (24%), while nasal secretions were positive for virus in 14 of 50 animals (28%). This finding suggests that milk also plays a role as the source of infection. The virus invades the mammary glands, multiplies there and is excreted in milk. 

Is the virus zoonotic? Probably. So, when you drink milk, you stand a strong chance of getting your runny nose/fever and cough from it.

Is that the only danger lurking in milk?

Mastitis is an inflammation of the mammary gland and udder tissue, and is a major pandemic disease of dairy cattle. Milk-secreting tissues and various ducts throughout the udder can be damaged by bacterial toxins. Severe acute cases can be fatal, but even in cows that recover there are changes in the secretion of milk from the mammary glands.

Mastitis can be kept away if the milkers use good hygiene, good housing management, and good nutrition to promote cow/buffalo health. Is there a single animal in the dairy industry in India that is kept properly? Inspections of all the dairy nagars (land that has been given to cattle owners for the purpose of providing milk) across India show that cows stand knee deep in slush which is a combination of their own excreta, urine and water from the sewage pipe; most of them have runny noses and fever and almost all have mastitis brought on by bad, fermented, old hay, both used as bedding and food, the humidity and the filthy hands that push and pull at their teats twice a day. Most of them have sores on their teats and bellow with pain during the milking. No dairy inspector has ever been to these cattle sheds, and they are so easily bribed that their money is sent home – the same way as the vets attached to slaughterhouses get their monthly payments. Mastitic cows need specialized handling, Veterinary care and medicines and clean surroundings. This costs the owner too much, so he takes out milk till the day it becomes obvious that there is far too much blood in it. And then he sells the cow for slaughter.

Abroad, the milk is sometimes thrown away when it is discovered to be contaminated with parainfluenza and the bacteria from mastitis. In India we check for neither.  

Mastitis is a scourge in every country and there is no vaccine for it. Abroad, entire herds are killed. It has made no difference to the spread of this disease.

The most obvious symptoms of clinical mastitis are abnormalities in the udder, such as swelling, heat, hardness, redness, pain and fever, sunken eyes, diarrhoea and lack of appetite. The milk is watery with flakes, clots, or pus.

The changes in milk constituents are caused by infection-fighting white blood cells attempting to eliminate the infective organisms, which may further be responsible for producing toxins which damage the milk-producing glands within the udder. There are changes in the protein composition in milk, with low quality blood serums leaching into it; casein, an important protein found in healthy milk, is significantly reduced in mastitic cows. An important complication is that casein is closely linked with calcium levels in milk production.

The pH of milk, normally around 6.6, can increase to 6.8 or 6.9 in mastitic cows. The presence of blood enzymes in milk from mastitic cows can affect the taste, and its ability to be made into other dairy products such as cheese or yoghurt.

An important paper, which should be sent to every government division in charge of dairy inspection, is called  “Public health hazard due to mastitis in dairy cows “ by K. G Abdel Hameed , G Sender , Korwin-Kossakowska  of South Valley University, Qena, Egypt and Polish Academy of Sciences Institute of Genetics and Animal Breeding, Jastrzębiec,  Poland.

Milk from cows with mastitis, mixed into bulk milk, enters the food chain and poses a threat to human health. Milk and other dairy products are infected with Staphylococcus aureus and  Streptococcus agalactiae – both the most common agents for mastitic infections.

704 mixed milk samples were collected from 275 cows kept in two herds in 2004/2005. One herd was kept very well and the other not so well, but not badly.  The animals were milked twice a day and the milk mixed. The quality of milk was found within European standards as per their tests. The samples were analysed for the presence of S. aureus, Str. agalactiae and other mastitis-causing organisms. 16.6% contained S. aureus and 1.4 % contained Str. Agalactiae.  4.7% contained Str. dysgalactiae, 2.9% contained Escherichia coli and 14.7% contained other mastitis-causing organisms. Both herds were afflicted equally by sub-clinical mastitis attributed to S. aureus.

This is good milk. Find a single herd in India that is kept even semi-well.

If the cow has severe clinical mastitis, abnormalities of milk are easily seen and this milk normally would not enter the food chain. But when milk of cows with sub-clinical mastitis, i.e. with no visible changes, is mixed into bulk milk, it enters the food chain and can be dangerous to humans. Milk and other dairy products are frequently infected with S. aureus which cause nausea, vomiting and abdominal cramps, when ingested by humans and are responsible for staphylococcal food poisoning outbreaks [Kluytmans et al. 1997]. These toxins cannot be destroyed by heating or drying [National Mastitis Council 1996]. Str. agalactiae is considered a major cause of elevated Somatic ( pus) cell count (SCC) in milk. As SCC rise because of mastitis, milk quality decreases due to the drop in lactose and casein. In humans, Str. agalactiae has been described as a common reason for invasive infections in babies, but it also causes infections and mortality in adults, specially diabetics, pregnant and post-partum women, and immunocompromised patients [Schuchat 2001, Lerner et al. 1977].

Another public health concern are the antibiotic residues in milk due to extensive use of antibiotics in the treatment and control of the disease. The careless use of antibiotics, often done even without consulting doctors, results in residues in foods which can lead to severe reactions in people allergic to antibiotics and, at low levels, can cause the development of antibiotic-resistant strains of bacteria.

In fact, when clinical mastitis is detected, the cow is given an intramammary infusion of antibiotic, and her milk must be kept out of the food supply. Selling milk contaminated with antibiotics can lead the producer abroad to lose his permit. Not so in India where there are no permits to begin with.

Should you be drinking this milk, no matter what label the company has?

Maneka Sanjay Gandhi
Pl. add: To join the animal welfare movement contact,

In an earlier article I talked about the miraculous effects of Panchgavya on crops.

In an earlier article I talked about the miraculous effects of Panchgavya on crops. Dr K. Natarajan, who has written the book after years of experimenting with it, has also written a chapter on its effects on animals. After the studies on plants, his team started on animals and humans. For those who did not read the previous piece, this is how to make it.

Panchgavya consists of five products from the cow : dung, urine, milk, curd and ghee. Dr Natarajan has added some more ingredients. So this is what his panchgavya recipe is :

Fresh cow dung 5 kg, cow urine 3 litres, cow milk 2 litres, cow ghee ½ kg, cow curd 2 litres, sugarcane juice 3 litres, tender coconut water 3 litres, 12 ripe bananas and toddy, or grape juice, 2 litres.  This gets you 20 litres of panchgavya.

Take a wide mouthed mud pot, concrete tank or plastic can. No metal containers. Put in fresh dung and ghee first and mix twice daily for 3 days. On the 4th day add the rest of the ingredients and stir twice daily for 15 days. After the 18th day keep in the shade and cover with a mesh to prevent flies. If you don’t have sugarcane juice, add 500 gms of jaggery dissolved in 3 litres of water. If you don’t have toddy, put 2 litres of tender coconut water in a closed plastic container for 10 days. It will ferment and become toddy. This panchgavya can be kept for six months, and when it becomes thick, water can be added to keep it liquid.

Typically, Dr Natarajan, being a scientist and not an animal welfare person, did his experiments with animals grown for meat and milk, and worked in factory farms that grow these animals commercially.

Pigs were fed panchgavya mixed with drinking water at the rate of 10 ml to 50 ml per pig. They became healthy and disease free and (I do not approve of this) the owners reduced the feed with no effect on their well being. The same things happened for goats and sheep who were given 10-20 ml daily.

Chickens were given 1 ml per bird per day and became disease free. They laid bigger eggs for longer periods, and the weight gain in broilers was impressive. They did not need antibiotics or growth hormones.

Panchgavya was applied daily, mixed with fresh cow dung, in fish ponds. It increased the growth of algae, weeds and small worms, increasing the food for the fish. However, fresh water had to be added at regular intervals to the pond, as the growth of weeds/algae decreased the oxygen available for the fish. In ten months each fish grew to 2-3 kg and the mortality of fingerlings decreased.  

According to Dr Natarajan, he did not want to give panchgavya to the cows, as it was part of their own excreta. However, his team mixed it in the feeding trough, with animal feed, and water at the rate of 100 ml per day per cow. The cows became healthier with increased milk which had an increased fat content. Problems, like retained placentas, mastitis and foot and mouth disease, disappeared and the skins of the cows became glossier.

Some farmers spray urea on paddy straw (hay) before storing . These farmers in Tamil Nadu, where storing is known as “staking”, store the paddy straw in layers and spray urea on each layer before putting the next one on, till a height of 10 feet. It is then covered with palm leaves to protect from the rain. Instead of the urea, Natarajan’s team sprayed a 3% solution of panchgavya, layer after layer and allowed the stored hay to ferment. The cows were given a choice of which hay to eat. They always chose the sprayed hay to the unsprayed/ urea sprayed hay. The stored hay can be kept upto a year.

Dr Natarajan has recommended another veterinary product that can be made at home.

Gomati Sangeevi (Herbal antibiotic).

Add 300 grams of fresh neem bark (after discarding the dried outer layer), 200 gms of green leaves of the jackfruit, to  5 litres of water and boil in a mud pot till it is reduced to 2.5 litres. After filtering, the red concoction can be used as oral medication for cattle. Cattle should be given 500 ml at one time on appearance of symptoms and repeated if the symptoms persist. 500 ml as a onetime dose to be given to other animals in the vicinity as a onetime measure. Calves get half the dose.

According to Dr Natarajan panchgavya is an elixir of many microorganisms, bacteria, fungi, proteins, carbohydrates, fats, amino acids, vitamins, enzymes, unknown growth promoting agents, micronutrients, antioxidants and immunity enhancers. When taken orally by animals it stimulates the immune system and produces antibodies, acting like a vaccine. It is especially helpful in digesting and curing constipation.

He has also experimented on dogs but, alas, no findings have been recorded. His number is 09443358379 for anyone who is interested in learning about panchgavya.

Maneka Sanjay Gandhi
Pl. add: To join the animal welfare movement contact,

I checked into an ayurvedic centre in Haryana for a week.

I checked into an ayurvedic centre in Haryana for a week. Clean, spartan and strict, it was the ideal place for me…. Except for the flies. I was covered with oil or mud for the better part of the day and showered three times but it seemed to me that I had become a target for all the flies of the district. No one else seemed to have a problem. But walking, sleeping, being massaged or eating, I was brushing away the House Fly, Musca domestica, and its more ubiquitous cousin the Bush Fly, Musca Vetutissima.

Why do flies sit on humans? It is so energy expensive for them. They are brushed away a thousand times, swatted, hurt, killed. Why don’t they sit on animals, or furniture? (They do sit on animals, but only those that are hurt and cannot defend themselves.) Since the common housefly doesn’t have any interest in sucking blood, (feeding on open wounds is a different story), you think they’d fly away from humans. After all, we’re a lot larger and more intimidating swatters.

The Fly has a very soft, fleshy, sponge-like mouth and when it lands on you and touches your skin, it won't bite, it will suck up secretions on the skin.  It is interested in sweat, proteins, carbohydrates, salts, sugars and other chemicals and pieces of dead skin that keep flaking off. This type of fly also gets its nutrients from sitting around the eyes of livestock. It is hard to get it from anywhere else on hairy animals, which is also why they land more often on human skin which is comparatively less hairy.

Here are some reasons why they land on humans:

* They are attracted to carbon dioxide which human beings breathe out.

* They are attracted to the heat of the warm body, to sweat and salt, and the more the person sweats the more flies they attract.

* Flies feed on dead cells and open wounds .

* Oil is an important food for flies . Oily hair  is an attractant.  

* Less hairy skin gives the fly spaces to vomit. A fly vomits on solid food to liquefy it. The house flies taste with their feet so if there is food on the skin, and space to liquefy it,  they will land there.

* Some body-odours are more attractive to flies than others. This is apart from the quantity of carbon dioxide that is emitted.

Houseflies are scavengers .The human body, like some of their favourite food sources -- faeces, food and rotting flesh -- radiates a sense of warmth and nourishment. With a voracious appetite, aided by an excellent sense of smell and a pair of complex eyes that covers half its head, the fly lands on us because it is  constantly on the hunt for a warm place to eat, defecate, vomit and lay eggs.

In order to make the area in and around your home a “no fly” zone take basic preventative measures. If you have a dog make sure you do not leave its faeces out in the open, as dog faeces serves as both buffet and egg depository. Don’t leave food out for too long, pay special attention to kitchen utensils and surfaces, empty your garbage cans regularly and keep an eye out for organic rotting matter. Don’t leave food in pet bowls after they have eaten. Wipe down trash cans from the outside as well. Net all the windows and shut the doors. Check for cracks and holes (particularly around window screens) that they might be using. Unhygienic rubbish tips are a prime fly-breeding site, but if garbage is covered by a layer of soil, preferably daily, this can be avoided.

But why are certain people singled out?

Could it be the scent in the soap or shampoo? Apparently, sweet fruity smells attract flies because they like sugar. Maybe your skin, mouth and nostrils are moister than others. It is also claimed that flies and gnats migrate to the taller persons in a group. You don’t have to sweat a lot - just more so than the rest of the people in your house to make it more likely for them to land on you.

Fruit flies are slightly smaller than the common house fly. They are not interested in human smells but in yeast, so they are attracted to things that are fermenting and  can ferment, like sugar, fruit and, of course, actual yeast. So, if you drink alcohol and hang around with people who don’t, or if you use grooming products with alcohol in them, you will attract fruit flies. Don’t eat fruit outside? Switch your soap if it is fruit smelling. But apart from swatting and waiting for winter , there is little you can do.

Blowflies, also known as bottle flies, have metallic green or blue bodies, are large, and make a buzzing sound when they come near. They are really a nuisance for me because they lay their eggs on animals, and my hospitals get thousands of animal patients every week suffering from maggot infestation. There are other flies as well: the Drain fly found in sewage beds whose wings are densely covered in hair and held tent–like over the body when at rest;  the Flesh Fly, whose three-striped body looks like a chequer board, lays its eggs on decaying meat or fish or animal flesh.

Swatting a fly is so difficult. Their eyes allow them to see all around and they have a sixth sense about danger. According to the California Institute of Technology flies fly within 100 milliseconds of recognizing a threat.

Flies have been around since before humans. In the Biblical plague of Egypt, flies represent death and decay. The Philistine God Beelzebub's name, (often equated with Satan), means Lord of the Flies. In Greek mythology Zeus sent a fly to bite Pegasus, the winged horse, causing his rider Bellerophon to fall back to earth when he was attempting to fly to Mount Olympus the home of the gods. In the Red Indian Navajo religion Big Fly is an important spirit.

Many scientists have tried to find out how to use flies constructively. Suggestions range from mass rearing them and using them on animal manure garbage dumps. (Flies are recyclers. They eat scraps and then excrete and turn it into a substance plants can use). Or harvesting their maggots and feeding them to animals. Both these ideas seem insane to me.

Ogden Nash's poem sums up our irritation with this being "God in His wisdom made the fly / And then forgot to tell us why.” Perhaps to keep human populations down by spreading diseases that range from dysentery to typhoid and cholera. During the Second World War the Japanese, under Shiro Ishii, used special Yagi bombs on China. The bombs contained flies coated with cholera bacteria. The bombs thrown in Baoshan in 1942 and Shandong in 1943 killed over 4 lakh people.

Anyway now that I am back, my fly demons seem to have lessened. So maybe it was the oil.

Maneka Sanjay Gandhi
Pl. add: To join the animal welfare movement contact,

A recent book I have picked up, from the The Other India Bookshop

A recent book I have picked up, from the The Other India Bookshop, is a manual on Panchgavya by Dr. K. Natarajan.

Dr. Natarajan has studied the effects of panchgavya for decades and has used it across India to treat plants, animals and human beings. He says that the basic preparation should be fine tuned for maximum efficiency. He has already won the  prestigious Srishti award for his bio pesticide (ease of preparation and lack of side effects)  and has made excellent immunity boosters for cattle. He has two herbal medicines for diabetes and arthritis.

Panchgavya has come a long way from 1998, when it was innovated by scientists for the first time. Now students have their PhDs and M.Phils for scientific research in "itr". Thousands of farmers use it daily. The manual is extremely interesting. It not only gives detail of what panchgavya is, and how to make it, but it gives the names and details of how it is used in different places all over India, and empirical evidence on the difference it makes immediately to the soil and to the body.

India has gone through a deeply troubled phase in agriculture. For centuries, we ate organic, good, seasonal food and fruit. Then, in 1960 the government was enamoured of the idea of doubling everything overnight. In the “Green Revolution” pesticides and chemicals were introduced and pushed through all the publicity media and scientific institutions. In ten years most of the food we ate had disappeared and was replaced by standardized, low level, unhealthy grains. As the years went on the ground became soaked with chemicals and urea, and had become so thirsty that we started overusing water, and then electricity, simply for irrigation. By 2000 India realized that, while we were importing millions of tonnes of poisons to put on the land, nothing had increased except cancer. The Green Revolution had failed totally and farmers were in despair. Very slowly, farmers started to go back to what they knew best – organic farming. Tiny steps were taken to replace chemical fertilizers, pesticides and fungicides, with organic manure. But nothing was available to replace growth promoting hormones and immunity boosters, and to bring sustained higher productivity. So farmers, and some scientists, started experimenting with medicines mentioned in the Vrikshayurveda, and panchgavya was the result.

Panchgavya for farmers consists of five products from the cow: dung, urine, milk, curd and ghee. These, which when mixed appropriately, have excellent, almost miraculous, results. Dr. Natarajan has added some more ingredients. So, this is what his panchgavya recipe is:

Fresh cow dung, 5 kg; cow urine, 3 litres; cow milk, 2 litres; cow ghee, ½ kg; cow curd, 2 litres; sugarcane juice, 3 litres; tender coconut water, 3 litres; 12 ripe bananas, and toddy or grape juice, 2 litres. This gets you 20 litres of panchgavya.

Take a wide mouthed mud pot, concrete tank, or plastic can. No metal containers. Put fresh dung and ghee in first and mix twice daily for 3 days. On the 4th day add the rest of the ingredients and stir, twice daily, for 15 days. After the 18th day keep in the shade, and cover with a mesh to prevent flies. If you don’t have sugarcane juice add 500 gms of jiggery dissolved in 3 litres of water. If you don’t have toddy, put 2 litres of tender coconut water in a closed plastic container for 10 days. It will ferment and become toddy.

This panchgavya can be kept for six months and, when it becomes thick, water can be added to keep it liquid. It contains all the nutrients necessary for plant growth, and these have been verified by labs and farmers across the country.

Add three litres to every 100 litres of water, filter, and spray it on all crops. It can also be used through drip or flow irrigation.

It should be used to drench seeds in for 20-30 minutes before planting. Then it is sprayed 20 days after planting, and after every 15 days in the pre flower phase, once in 10 days at the flowering stage and once when the pod matures.

This is the effect it has on some fruits (the details of others are given in the book).

Mango: dense flowering fruit every year instead of alternate years, flavour and aroma enhanced.

Lime: flowering round the year, plump fruit with strong aroma. Shelf life extended by 10 days

Guava: bigger, tastier. Shelf life extended by 5 days.

Banana: bunch size becomes uniform and harvesting can be done a month earlier.

Turmeric: yield enhanced by 22% with extra long fingers. Reduced pest and disease.

Jasmine: Continuous flowering throughout the year . Exceptional aroma.

Vegetables: Yield enhanced by 18 % and doubled in cucumber. Extended shelf life and strong flavours.

Paddy: 300 grains per earhead. Harvest advanced by 15 days. Percentage of broken rice reduced during milling. Grain weight increases by 20%.

Panchgavya has been investigated on sugarcane, mustard,  groundnut, jowar,  bajra, ragi , maize, wheat, sunflower and coconut . In all of these, panchgavya acted as a growth stimulant and pest inhibitor.

Plants sprayed with panchgavya produce bigger leaves, sturdy side shoots from the trunk, and the roots are profuse, dense and go deep, making the plant take the maximum nutrients and water. A thin oily film  forms on the leaves and stems, reducing evaporation of water and allowing the plants to withstand long dry periods. Irrigation can be reduced by 30%.

Normally, yield falls when the farmer moves from chemical to organic farming, and this is the main reason why farmers fear the shift. If he uses panchgavya , the yield remains the same, the first year itself. The harvest is advanced by 15 days in all the crops.

Panchgavya increases shelf life, so selling and storing becomes easier.

I would suggest that you cut this out and share the information with the farmers you know. Let them try this out on a small part of their farms and see if it works. If it does, it will definitely make them richer and the consumers of their produce, healthier. Or, try it on your garden and the trees outside your house.

Get the book. Contact Dr. Natarajan at 09443358379.

Maneka Sanjay Gandhi
Pl. add: To join the animal welfare movement contact,

Millions of animals are torn open every year in laboratories because people

Millions of animals are torn open every year in laboratories because people – and those in government- feel safer knowing that almost everything that reaches us has been tested on an animal before. 

The point is – does it make you safer? Imagine inventing a medicine for a bird. It is only tested on birds. Could it be given to a dog ? Then why should medicine tested on a rat be given to a human?

The human body is extremely complex. Humans differ from other animals anatomically, genetically and metabolically, meaning data derived from animals cannot be extrapolated to humans with sufficient accuracy. When a drug, or other medical treatment, is developed, it must be tested in an entire living system. Using another species is using the wrong system. These basic differences, when applied to an entire biological system become even greater. Even when genetically modified, there is no single animal model that can accurately mimic the complex human situation. There are far too many unknown variables that cannot all be accounted for. Dr John McArdle, head of critical care in Hartford Hospital says: ‘Historically, vivisection has been much like a slot machine. If researchers pull the experimentation lever often enough, eventually some benefits will result by pure chance.’ Pre-clinical testing needs to be conducted in such a way that eliminates the risk of species differences.  Good, relevant, and efficient science is what we must ask for, because we get medicines faster and cheaper. How could drugs, or products, tried out on animal bodies possibly be predictors of their effect on human bodies?

Each year, more than 100 million animals—including mice, rats, frogs, dogs, cats, rabbits, hamsters, guinea pigs, monkeys, fish, and birds—are killed in just U.S. laboratories for curiosity-driven experimentation, and chemical, drug, food, and cosmetics testing. Multiply this with every country including India, Nepal and Bangladesh.(India, by the way, has not got a single patent from any testing till date, nor discovered any cure to any disease. That doesn’t stop the government from earmarking 100 acres in Telengana to be used to grow animals for testing).

While scientists may gloss over their lakhs of failures, the factual history clearly shows that animal testing is not much more than a trial and error method. Throughout history, all experiments on animals for human benefit have failed miserably. They have taught us close to nothing about how certain drugs interact with human bodies, and have led to two possible outcomes – either humans are exposed to dangers not predicted in animals, or we are left wanting of important medical breakthroughs because they do not pass at the stage of animal testing.

Look at some statistics from the American Federal Agency for Food and Drug Administration. The Agency has officially stated that 90% drugs demonstrated to be successful in animal tests have failed at the stage of human trials. This means that despite animal tests, in almost all cases, humans have been exposed to drugs with huge potential risks to their health. This not only questions the efficacy and the fundamental argument for using animals, but critically raises the question about all the drugs that failed in animals which might have worked in humans. How many discarded cures exist that might have worked for cancer?

One of the most well-remembered examples of this is the Thalidomide disaster in the 1950s and ‘60s. Thalidomide was an over-the-counter drug that had been proven to be safe during animal testing and was marketed as a sleeping and anti nausea pill. Within a year thousands of babies (I personally know one victim in Delhi), delivered by women who had taken the drug, were born with severe defects such as missing or shortened limbs. These deformities were linked back to Thalidomide, and the drug was banned.

There are many such examples – Clioquinol, an anti-diarrheal drug was shown to be effective in rats, cats, dogs and rabbits, but caused blindness and paralysis when tried on humans; Methysergide, a medicine for headaches, caused the scarring of hearts, kidneys and abdominal blood vessels in humans despite having been demonstrably safe during animal tests. The list is endless.

On the other side of the coin, failed animal tests can also leave us bereft of potential discoveries leading to major medical progress. For example, positive pressure ventilation is an essential technique used to keep a patient’s lungs from collapsing during surgery. This technique was discarded initially as it had not worked on animals. When it was tried directly on humans it became a major scientific breakthrough.

The cage ball valve, used in heart surgery, has a similar story. Didn't work in animals but works on humans. Albert Sabin, the inventor of the polio vaccine, publicly stated that work on the vaccine was long delayed because of misleading experimental models of the disease in monkeys.

Here are statements made by medical and scientific professionals:

Regarding Fleming’s use of penicillin in a human patient, after finding it ineffective in rabbits and dangerous to guinea pigs and hamsters: “How fortunate we didn’t have these animal tests …for penicillin would probably never have been granted a license, and possibly the whole field of antibiotics might never have been realized.” – Howard Florey, co-discoverer and manufacturer of penicillin.

“Uncritical reliance on the results of animal tests can be dangerously misleading and has cost the health and lives of tens of thousands of humans.” – Handbook of Laboratory Animal Science.

In fact, most major discoveries that have come about without any animal testing involved. Heart pacemakers were never tested on monkeys. They were derived from experiments made to keep the electrical activity of the heart going during surgery on humans. Similarly, cardiac catherization for diagnostic purposes was only tested on a human body. Even the technique of bypass surgery was discovered by using a portion of a human’s vein to replace obstructed segments. Anti-foaming agents, that are used to stop blood from bubbling when oxygen is added, were developed to initially stop milk from foaming and were adapted to use in open heart surgery. The technique of cardiopulmonary resuscitation was devised by practicing on human cadavers. Anaesthesia was only first tried out on humans to show its success.

This is not to say that we should indiscriminately start testing on humans. There are new technologies that give far better predictive results than animal testing, such as  microfluidic chips and microdosing. These techniques analyse the effects of drugs on an entire human living system, eliminating error caused by species differences, and resulting in data that is relevant to humans. Systematic reviews, conducted in the areas of toxicity testing and biomedical research, have shown that alternatives are far more predictive of human outcomes than data obtained from animals.

In the past, much research has been based on animals because we didn’t know any better. Today we are far more aware of the dangers of extrapolating from one species to another and we have scientific research methods – mass spectrometry, genome mapping, innovative imaging techniques and highly developed computer models capable of simulating parts of the human body as mathematical equations and three-dimensional graphical models.

Terminally ill patients don’t care whether a cancer drug works on a mouse, or that some disease can be cured in another species. Such claims only taunt them with false hope. They need real cures based on real science – not misleading and antiquated animal experiments. According to the Scientific American magazine “To the 2.6 million people around the world afflicted with multiple sclerosis, medicine has offered more frustration than comfort. Time after time, researchers have discovered new ways to cure laboratory rats of experimental induced encephalomyelitis, the murine model of MS, only to face obstacles in bringing the treatment to humans.”

Not only are the new techniques more accurate. They are much cheaper. A non-genotoxic cancer risk test on an animal costs about $700,000, whereas the same test done in using an in-vitro method costs only $22,000.

However, despite these facts and available alternatives, the myth of the necessity of animal testing continues. This is perpetuated by those who profit from it, and also by those who have been conditioned into thinking it is true. It is time to start raising questions to the so-called ‘expert’ scientific community and policy makers. Why are we wasting billions of rupees killing millions of animals in testing when it isn’t leading to any medical advancement? Whose money is it? Whose health is it?

Maneka Sanjay Gandhi
Pl. add: To join the animal welfare movement contact,

Claudius Galenus, known as Galen, was a Greek physician/surgeon  in the

Claudius Galenus, known as Galen, was a Greek physician/surgeon  in the Roman empire who was physician to several Roman emperors. He, unfortunately, influenced the development of various scientific disciplines, including anatomy, physiology, pathology, pharmacology and neurology, in European medical science for 1300 years, till proper scientists found that everything he said was “incorrect” or rubbish.

Galen's anatomical reports, based mainly on dissection of monkeys and pigs, remained uncontested until 1543, when printed descriptions and illustrations of human dissections were published in the seminal work De Humani Corporis Fabrica by Andreas Vesalius, who had conducted dissection on human cadavers which turned out to be completely different. Galen's theory of the circulatory system remained unchallenged until ca. 1242, when Ibn al-Nafis published his book Sharh Tashrih al-Qanun li’ Ibn Sina (Commentary on Anatomy in Avicenna's Canon), in which he reported his discovery of pulmonary circulation, proving Galen completely wrong.

Galen's principal interest was in human anatomy, but Roman law had prohibited the dissection of human cadavers. Because of this restriction, Galen performed anatomical dissections on living and dead animals, as he believed that these were the same as humans.  His anatomical experiments on animal models led him to propound on the circulatory, nervous, respiratory systems and other structures-  all of which turned out to be entirely incorrect. Galen killed thousands of people using the theories deduced from killing thousands of animals.

Unfortunately, while all these theories, gleaned from killing animals, were proved wrong, his legacy of testing on animals remains prevalent till today, even though it has been proven again and again that animal-based experiments have not contributed to science, but rather have hindered scientific and medical progress. As a matter of fact, most of the major life saving devices and procedures came without anything to do with animals. Take the heart, for example:

Dogs’ coronary arteries differ from humans. They have smaller connections with one another and the left coronary artery dominates, while in the human the right artery dominates. The conduction system has a different pattern of blood supply. Dogs’ blood coagulates differently from humans. Their reaction to shock is different. After massive blood loss, a dog’s intestines are congested, while in the human we see pallor and ischemia (lack of blood supply). But we continue to experiment on dogs.

Here is a list of major discoveries made without animal experimentation:


Ether was discovered by Valerius Cordus in 1540, when he mixed alcohol and sulphuric acid. Called “sweet oil of vitriol”, Medical students used ether to get high in “ether frolics”. Dr. Crawford Long, a surgeon, noticed that people with bruises who had taken ether were insensitive to pain. He tried it on a patient during surgery.

HYPOTHERMIA- (cooling the body before surgery)-

In 1757 observation of persons exposed to cold for long periods showed that they could survive, and was written about by the Swedish Academy of Sciences. In 1798 Dr. James Currie had human volunteers take prolonged baths in cold water. He discovered that their heart rate was reduced. This information is now used to reduce the heart rate in patients before surgery.

POSITIVE PRESSURE VENTILATION- (blowing air into the lungs during surgery)-

Dr. Ferdinand Sauerbrach created positive pressure ventilation to keep the lungs from collapsing during surgery, but withdrew the technique when it proved harmful to animals. In 1891 American surgeon George Fell decided to use it anyway, and used it successfully.


Dr. Jack Gibbon tested it on cats, then humans. The humans died. Then other doctors perfected it while using it on human patients. Dr. Anthony Andreason created the low flow theory – that less blood would have to be used than the amount in the body, by observing that war injured soldiers could survive on less blood than originally thought.


Grew out of ventricular septal defect surgery. To prevent deaths during heart surgery, due to stoppage of electrical activity, the pacemaker was developed to keep the electrical activity going and to keep the heart from giving out.


The cage ball valve was almost withheld from human patients because it killed dogs in the lab. Drs. A. Starr and L. Edwards found that it worked on humans.


In 1667, Jean Dennis transfused blood from animals to humans and killed people. Blood typing was discovered by an American scientist without animal experiments, and that led to successful blood transfusions.

CARDIAC CATHERIZATION- (for diagnostic purposes)-

First used by Dr. Forsmann on himself. He put a catheter through his own arm and advanced the tip to his heart, observing it through a fluoroscope.


In 1961, in France, Dr. Kunlin used a portion of a person’s vein to replace obstructed segments. This gave birth to bypass surgery for different parts of the body.

CALCIUM ANTAGONISTS- (used to treat high blood pressure)-

It was discovered to lower the blood pressure when given to patients to reduce heart pain (angina).


C. Walton Lillehei developed it through learning what happened to patients during surgery when the heart lung machine was used and complications arose. He decided to use the disposable sheet oxygenator, so that blood would not become contaminated.

ANTI-FOAMING AGENTS- (used to stop blood from bubbling when oxygen is put into it)-

Was developed to stop milk from foaming, and adapted to use in open heart surgery.

COARCTATION OF THE AORTA- (twisting of the aorta that prevented blood flow)-

Clarence Crafford put a clamp on the ruptured aorta and discovered that he could still perform surgery on the aorta without the patient dying. He discovered this by accident on a patient.

MITRAL STENOSIS- (defective heart valve)-

Dr. Henry S. Souttar, London Hospital, 1925, put his forefinger through the heart’s mitral valve and widened it. In 1949 Dr. Dwight E. Harking decided to use that same technique which is called finger fracture angioplasty.

BLUE BABIES- (Fallot’s Tetrology – Four heart defects that lead to blue baby syndrome)-

Dr. R. C. Brock of Guy’s Hospital developed a technique of surgery to overcome this problem, without any animal experiments (British Medical Journal 6/12/48). Another technique was developed by British surgeons N. R. Barrett and Raymond Daley of St. Thomas Hospital (British Medical Journal 4/23/49).


Kouwenhoven, Jude and Knickerbocker devised this technique through practice on cadavers.


Dr. Paul Zoll used this technique (electric shock) as early as 1956.


Brown and Mac Millan, Toronto, began investigating arrhythmia disorders directly on patients. Converted an old encephalogram to an electrocardiogram to monitor heart rhythm disorders.


Dr. Thomas Lewis, Great Britain --- “The most essential information, the profound effects which digitalis is capable of exerting in auricular fibrillation, could not have been won through observation on the frog or normal mammal, but only, as it was won, by observation on patients.”

Maneka Sanjay Gandhi
Pl. add: To join the animal welfare movement contact,

Research has revealed that there is a colony of cockroaches on the moon

Research has revealed that there is a colony of cockroaches on the moon, the descendants of the cockroach that went in Apollo 11. You don’t believe me? Didn’t you read it in the papers?  A magazine article? On WhatsApp? It is probably true, otherwise why would so many people write about it.

That is how the human mind works. When a person hears the same information several times, no matter how absurd it is, the mind starts convincing us of its truthfulness. WhatsApp forwards are a classic example of this, where, if misinformation is circulated a number of times, it takes on the status of truth. This is called the illusory truth effect.

Researchers, led by Liza Fazio at Vanderbilt University, have shown that when one hears something for the second or third time, the brain responds faster to it. This faster response is wrongly considered by the person to be a signal for the information being true. Gord Pennycook, a psychologist at Yale University, studies the spread of misinformation, and has shown through experiments that when participants were told something and then told the same thing the next day their familiarity with the news led them to rate it as being true. The frustrating truth about the illusory truth effect is that it happens to us unthinkingly. Even people who are knowledgeable about topics can fall prey to it, specially if it is reinforced by an equally lazy “mentor” type like a teacher/doctor/parent. In 2015, Fazio and co-authors published a paper that found that prior knowledge about a topic doesn’t inoculate you to the effect.

The illusory truth effect has been studied for decades. Typically, experimenters in these studies ask participants to rate a series of trivia statements as true or false. Hours, weeks, or even months later, the experimenters bring the participants back again for a quiz. On that second visit, some of the statements are new and some are repeats. And it’s here that the effect shows itself: Participants are reliably more likely to rate statements they’ve seen before as being true — regardless of whether they are. When you’re hearing something for the second or third time, your brain becomes faster to respond to it. “And your brain misattributes that fluency as a signal for it being true,” says Fazio “The more you hear something, the more you’ll have this gut-level feeling that maybe it’s true.”

People often pass on information without validating its source. The internet is full of amazing seeds that make you lose weight immediately, miracle hair oils and, of course, cancer cures. Studies have shown that fake information tends to circulate much faster than real information, and is remembered and believed by people for a longer period of time. This is especially true when the information encountered is in line with our beliefs or desires. E.g. immigrants are the cause of all social and economic issues, women are bad drivers, the British are responsible for all of India’s problems, drugs must be tested on animals before being ready for human consumption and so on.

Does that last one sound familiar? Many of you might be thinking “But of course drugs have to be tested on animals. Scientists have been doing so for 100 years, so it must be necessary.”

While we expect politicians to tell lies, no one exaggerates and twists truth as much as the so called scientist. 100 years later we are no closer to even discovering what causes cancer – much less what cures it. But tests on over 50 million animals go on annually and, in order to justify this , things are periodically put into the papers that a cure is just round the corner. We have not even been able to deal with teenage acne, rheumatoid arthritis, diabetes, obesity, Alzheimer's – all of which are on the rise – but scientific misinformation goes on to keep us from questioning the huge amounts of money given by governments and charities to pay salaries.

Animals are completely different from humans –anatomically, genetically and metabolically – even their basic cellular structures. So, even if a particular medicine or procedure is effective or safe on an animal, it may have adverse effects on humans. Even more importantly, human diseases occur naturally, while experiments on animals involve an artificial re-creation of the disease in the animal, which is inevitably inaccurate. Giving a rat diabetes, by destroying its pancreas and then injecting it with drugs to see its effect on the disease, has no bearing at all on the human condition. Rats have been genetically modified to be cancer ridden. Not one experiment on them has shown the way forward to curing the disease in humans.

Data derived from testing on animals cannot be accurately extrapolated to humans. The American Federal Agency for Food and Drug Administration has confirmed that nine out of ten drugs, shown to be successful in animal tests, have failed in human trials. E.g. a drug named Cylert was passed through animal tests and proposed to treat Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder. However, when administered to children it had disastrous effects, causing liver failure in 13 children, 11 of whom either died or had to undergo liver transplants. Vaccines tested on animals pass the tests. The same vaccines given to children in India have caused so many recent deaths.

Clearly, animal testing is not just a waste of time and money, it also has the potential of huge damage to humans.

The flipside is equally dangerous – there are drugs that fail animal testing but could potentially be very useful for humans. E.g. the path-breaking drug penicillin was found to be ineffective on rats and rabbits and had a deadly effect on guinea pigs and hamsters. Scientists were discarding it. However, since passing animal testing was not considered mandatory at that time, it was tested directly on humans and opened up the entire field of antibiotics for human welfare. Because the scientists are so stubborn about animal testing, there may be a number of potential cures that have never reached us.

Despite common sense telling us that a rat is not a monkey is not a human, animal testing has been mandatory for decades and is allowed, even encouraged, by non scientific people who falsely believe it to be useful. This is a real life example of the illusory truth effect.

New technologies have now been developed, which are more effective ways of predicting effects on humans. We have mass spectrometry, genome mapping, innovative imaging techniques and highly developed computer models capable of simulating parts of the human body, to name just a few. In-vitro experiments, using human blood and tissue to determine toxicity. have 2-3 times more accurate results than animal testing. Research on humans, such as clinical studies by analyzing a patient’s condition and responses to treatments, provide vital information, and have given us treatments for childhood leukaemia, thyroid disease, current HIV and AIDS therapies and many more. Similarly, autopsies have given critical information about human bodies and their interaction with a variety of drugs and procedures.

Even though we encounter new and valid information, we continue supporting the pointless practice of animal testing, under the false belief that it is useful to medical research. Scientists, universities and big pharmaceutical companies have been perpetuating this belief systematically for years, as it helps them accumulate huge research funding and cover up their inaction and inefficiency. Companies that earn millions selling harmful products like cigarettes, sugar, colas, genetically modified foods, polluting cars etc., benefit by influencing research and hiding the real effects of their products on people by saying that their products are safe based on ‘successful’ animal tests.

This age, more than any other, is, on one hand, victim to an overload of information, giving us little time to go into details. On the other, it is easy to expose fraud which has been posing as science. I would encourage you to read up on the failure and potential disasters of animal testing, because it is not about the animal’s life: it is about yours.

Maneka Sanjay Gandhi
Pl. add: To join the animal welfare movement contact,

When you buy German cars you have given your consent to them for all the monkeys

When you buy German cars you have given your consent to them for all the monkeys and humans they have maimed and killed. It has now been discovered that German automakers funded studies that had humans and monkeys inhaling diesel fumes. Volkswagen, BMW and Daimler have been exposed in a report published by the New York Times, and various German papers, about a 2014 study carried out by the  European Research Group on Environment and Health in the Transport Sector (EUGT)- a group owned by the car industries - with the aim of defending the use of diesel which had been classified in 2012 as carcinogenic. The animal experiments were done at the Lovelace Respiratory Research Institute (LRRI) in New Mexico, and the human ones in Aachen University Hospital, Germany, where the health effects of toxic "short-term nitrogen dioxide inhalation by healthy people" were studied. Nitrogen dioxide is a gas found in diesel fumes. The University Hospital has apologized saying that the experiments were done “to optimize safety for truck drivers, mechanics and welders.” Monkeys were put into airtight chambers and they had to inhale the exhaust of the cars, for hours, till they died. German Environment Minister, Barbara Hendricks, said later, she was "horrified" by the news. Volkswagen has promised an inquiry into the scandal and has asked for “forgiveness for this bad behavior and for poor judgment.” BMW  and Daimler, which owns Mercedes Benz, while agreeing that they commissioned the studies, claim they did not know animals had been used." Daimler said  it was "shocked by the extent of those studies and the way they were carried out." Such an experiment was abhorrent and superfluous. "We are convinced that the scientific methods chosen at the time were wrong. Germany's Green party has promised to take up this matter with the administration of Chancellor Angela Merkel. When tests on animals and people showed the opposite of what they wanted, these car industries put a software device to cheat pollution tests about their emissions.

The Dutch are probably the only people not scandalized. Dutch researchers have been performing tests "for years" on humans and animals to study the effects of diesel fumes. The Dutch National Institute for Public Health (RIVM) "is involved in research in which volunteers are exposed to diluted emissions from a diesel engine" for hours and this includes people who are sick and those with heart problems. Dutch researcher Nicole Janssen told the Dutch daily NRC that between 2010 and 2015 a large research project into air pollution was carried out. "I myself have carried out tests for the RIVM. With mice, rats, and occasionally with people," says toxicology professor, Paul Borm.

Practically every industry has experimented with animals – even when it is not necessary. The sugar industry used  a trade group called the Sugar Research Foundation in the 1960s, funded a research project on animals to disprove the allegation that there was a connection between sugar and heart health. Thousands of animals were fed only sugar and then dissected to see what the impact was on their hearts. But when the research indicated that sugar might promote not only heart disease but also bladder cancer, the industry group ended the study and never published the results. So the animals suffered and died needlessly. The same sugar industry then employed scientists to prove that artificial sweeteners were carcinogenic, and these were banned on shaky evidence. Again hundreds of animals were killed. The tobacco industry did the same, making thousands of animals smoke cigarettes, or be exposed to cigarette fumes, in order to try and prove that cigarette smoking was not injurious to health.

Industries that make a fool of people into buying what they do not need, or what is bad for their health, use animal suffering to manipulate science.  The industry that uses animals the most is the cosmetic / beauty industry. And the biggest experimenters on animals are L'Oreal, Estee Lauder, Procter & Gamble, Clorox, Johnson & Johnson, S.C.Johnson, Colgate-Palmolive, Reckitt Benckiser, Church & Dwight, Unilever, and Dial/Henkel. What is even more frightening is that companies that experiment on animals buy small niche companies that don’t experiment on animals, and then use those as a cover to hide their own malevolence. For instance, The Body Shop is frequented by customers who want to make an anti – animal testing statement. But The Body Shop is owned by L’Oreal which has the worst ethics when it comes to animal testing, and is making no effort to change its policies. Tiny brands, like Burt’s Bees (owned by Clorox) and Tom’s of Maine (owner: Colgate-Palmolive), are touted as cruelty free.

These are some of  the face and hair brands that test on animals: Almay, Artistry (Amway), Avon, Bobbi Brown, Burberry, Calvin Klein, Chanel, Clinique, CoverGirl, Dior, Estee Lauder, Flirt, Givenchy, Guerlain, Helena Rubinstein, L’Oreal, Lancôme, MAC, Mary Kay, Max Factor, Maybelline, Rimmel, Revlon, Shiseido, Tom Ford, Yves Saint Laurent, Avene, Bain de Soleil, Bioderma, Biotherm, Bliss, Clarins, Clean & Clear, Clearasil, Garnier, Kiehl’s, L’Occitane, La Mer, Mederma, Neutrogena, Nivea, Noxzema, Oriflame, Ponds, Vaseline, Vichy, Walgreens, Yves Rocher, Clairol, Fekkai, Head & Shoulders, Herbal Essences, Kerastase, Natural Instincts, Nexxus, Nice ‘n Easy, Pantene, Sunsilk, TRESemmé, Vidal Sasson, Dial, Dove, Ivory, Johnson’s, Lux, Wella.

One would have thought that razors and hair remover companies would not need to experiment on animals, but these companies still slice and dice animals to see whether their razors are sharp enough: Bic Corporation, Braun, Gillette Co., Nair, Schiek, Veet.

So do these brands: Band-Aid, Pampers, Savlon, Vaseline, Vicks.

And so do these sanitary napkin companies. Which towel absorbs the most blood. Test on cutting an animal and then seeing the blood: Always, Carefree, Femfresh, Stayfree.

These are only a few. None of them needs to test on animals, as none of the animal tests are reliable. In fact, statistics show that 90% of all animal tests are rejected. So why do companies test on animals? I will tell you next time. But first, why do you buy products that are tested on animals? Stop any that are on this list – including your next foreign luxury car .

Maneka Sanjay Gandhi
Pl. add: To join the animal welfare movement contact,

When I bite into a bar of chocolate, I think of calories.

When I bite into a bar of chocolate, I think of calories. I don’t think of rat hair and faeces. But perhaps I should.

The American Food and Drug Authority, the regulatory body for food standards in the United States, publishes something called the Defect Levels Handbook. This sets permissible limits for “natural or unavoidable defects in foods that present no health hazards for humans”. The contents of these ‘natural and unavoidable’ defects is probably to protect manufacturers from being sued.

          The FDA Handbook allows the average chocolate bar (about 100 grams) to have one rodent hair in it. This 100 grams is also allowed to contain up to 60 insect fragments. Legally.

Insects – either whole, body parts, larvae or mites – are the most common permissible defect, allowed in 71 foods. You will find them in peanut butter, paprika, oregano, cinnamon, bay leaves and many more foods. Oregano can have up to 300 insect fragments, with ground oregano allowed up to 1250 fragments. Tomato juice is allowed to have 10 fruit fly eggs or one maggot for every 100 grams. About 20 maggots or 75 mites are permissible in 15 grams of dried mushrooms. 5% of a can of cherries can also contain maggots.

In figs, interestingly, the FDA specifically only allows insect heads – up to 13 heads for every 100 grams of fig paste. Why only heads? God knows! (Because the FDA probably doesn’t).

However, what the FDA does know quite clearly, is the number of insects and rodent hairs that would make the perfect combination in food. It allows every 100 grams of peanut butter to have up to 30 insect fragments and one rodent hair. 50 grams of cinnamon is allowed 400 insect fragments and 10 rodent hairs. Paprika can contain 75 insect fragments and 11 rodents hairs for every 25 grams.

          Cinnamon, paprika, oregano, thyme, sesame seeds (til), fennel seeds (saunf), ginger and other spices often contain another ingredient – animal or mammal excreta. FDA allows about 20 milligrams of this in 1 kilogram of cocoa beans.  ‘mammalian excreta’ is another name for mouse faeces. Every kg of wheat is allowed to have an average of 9 faeces pellets. Even popcorn can have 1 pellet per subsample (the FDA handbook does not define the size of the subsample).

          Mould, a type of fungus is also a commonly permitted contaminant in most fruit, vegetables, butters and jams. Up to 20% of paprika is allowed to be mouldy. 5% of a packet of bay leaves (tej patta) and 3% of a can of frozen peaches is also allowed to have mould in it. Blackcurrant jam is high on the list, with 74% of it permissibly mouldy. Low levels of mould are also allowed in tomato ketchup, tomato juice and canned tomatoes.

If all this weren’t enough, the FDA handbook also has a provision for the presence of ‘foreign matter’ in select foods. This includes objects such as stones, sticks, jute bags and even cigarette butts! This , strangely enough, fits into “natural or unavoidable defects in foods that present no health hazards for humans”.

If you are appalled by the low quality demanded of American packaged food, let us shift the focus to our own country. The Indian version of the FDA is the FSSAI – Food Safety and Standards Authority of India. It follows similar standards but makes them so confusing that no one bothers to read them. Instead of putting them out clearly in one handbook, it hides them in different rules for different foods.

When describing permissible food defects, FSSAI uses a term called ‘extraneous matter’. This is defined as “any matter contained in an article of food which may be carried from the raw materials, packaging materials or process systems used for its manufacture or which is added to it, but such matter does not render such article of food unsafe”.

FSSAI does not clearly define permitted contaminants in one handbook or document. It is, however, hidden in the fine print of their numerous rules and regulations.

For instance, FSSAI requires de-shelled peanuts to only be ‘practically’ free from matter such as stones, dirt, clay etc. Further, 5% of the total packet is permitted to be damaged. 2% of most dry fruits and nuts can permissibly be ‘damaged or discoloured’ which includes damage by insects.

With dry apricots, FSSAI states that they should be free from living insects, but goes on to allow a ‘reasonable’ amount of insect debris, vegetable matter and other objectionable matter. Up to 3% of supari can also be damaged by mould and insects.

A packet of wheat flour (atta) can contain up to 2% ash. Paushtik atta (which means healthy or nourishing) can have a little more ash – 2.75%. Whole grains of wheat, maize, jawar, bajra, rice and most lentils including chana, rajma, moong, masur, urad etc. are permitted 1% extraneous matter, which includes 0.1% impurities of animal origin. These essentials, which every household in our country consumes on a daily basis, is allowed to contain metallic pieces, sand, gravel, dirt, pebbles, stones, lumps of earth, clay, mud and animal faeces and hair.

Sugar, refined sugar, bura and misri are permitted to have 0.1% extraneous matter, while this is permitted up to 2% in the case of jaggery. If you were impressed by this accuracy, honey, on the other hand, only needs to be visually inspected to ensure that it is free from mould, dirt, scum, the fragments of bees and other insects etc.

Similarly, one of India’s favourites – tea – is required by FSSAI to only be free from living insects, moulds, dead insects, insect fragments and rodent contamination which are “visible to the naked eye.”

FSSAI also allows most types of salt and spices, such as jeera, elaichi, laung, dalchini, red chillies, haldi, black pepper, dhania, methi etc., to contain 1-2% extraneous matter. This includes dust, dirt, stones and lumps of earth. One official told me that some years ago, when India needed dals immediately, they imported them from Burma.  The dal came full of stones. Instead of making a fuss, the FSAAI  checked with their ministry and simply changed the rules to allow more stones.

So the quality of food is decided by corporations and regulatory bodies created to protect them. Who protects the consumer?

Maneka Sanjay Gandhi
Pl. add: To join the animal welfare movement contact,

Every country is replete with innovations in policy:

Every country is replete with innovations in policy: things that make life better for everyone. If we had a team in Niti Ayog, whose only job was to look through the Net and find these new strategies, then they could pass them on to the ministries.

Perhaps the most important decision that was made in any country in 2017 was that the British government made CCTVs mandatory in all slaughter houses. Millions of animals are treated terribly before they are killed. I made a film on the way animals were treated in the Idgah slaughterhouse in Delhi . The judge fainted and the slaughterhouse closed down. But there are 15,000 more that behave as badly. Animals are kicked, punched, beaten, burnt with cigarettes, given electric shocks, even sexually molested before they are cut. Thousands of lactating mother buffaloes are cut illegally. And, before they are cut, their teats are cut first so that there is evidence for the importer that the meat came from a pregnant, or lactating, animal. Little babies are cut , dragged by their tails and jumped on so that their ribs and legs break. Human children aged 4 cut goats with razor blades, letting them bleed to death in piles. Pigs are beaten to death routinely, as the sellers believe this makes the meat softer. In one video, taken in a slaughter in Kerala , iron rods were used to kill calves . They were hit several times and then the rods were inserted into their throats. I showed the film to the CM and he immediately ordered an “enquiry”. Under new rules, CCTV will be mandatory in abattoirs in the UK – a good first step to prevent the very worst cases of abuse. This should be made mandatory in India as well.

Here is a new way of dealing with the overflow of dogs and cats on the street. We have a law that orders sterilization of all dogs. Few municipalities do it – even the ones that do it , do it in fits and starts, allowing litters to be born and starting the process over and over again. In the meantime, the breeding of dogs has been made illegal, but pedigreed dogs are sold in the thousands by illegal breeders and are found in every pet shop . If we could get rid of the foreign pedigreed dog market, we could find all our Indian dogs homes.

In 2017, California passed a law, A.B.485, that pet stores will only sell puppies, kittens and rabbits from shelters and rescue centres. Violators will be fined $ 500 and shut down. This effectively puts an end to commercial animal breeders and brokers, and to the terrible practice of puppy mills which house animals in overcrowded and unsanitary conditions without adequate food, water, socialization or veterinary care.

California is the first state to pass such legislation, though it is following dozens of its own cities and jurisdictions, which have passed similar measures on a smaller scale.

The pet trade has predictably protested, saying that “ it would jeopardise jobs”. But since here  it does not employ anyone, and is a messy business which operates by a person buying a few dogs and multiplying them  in his own house without any standards being adhered to and then putting them in illegal pet shops, it will put no one out of business.

In any case, how will it make a difference whether the dogs come from breeders or shelters? People who like paying money for buying dogs, because they think they get “better” animals, will do it anyway. The shops will continue to be in business. 70% of all dogs that are sold by breeders suffer from incurable illnesses, and 30% die in the first week of parvo or distemper. If the dogs are from shelters then they are bound to be disease free.

The American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals  had this to say “By cutting off the puppy mill pipeline that moves cruelly bred animals from across the country into California pet stores, A.B. 485 will also help prevent California consumers from being duped into purchases that contribute to unconscionable animal ‘production’ and suffering.” 

In another development, Trip Advisor, which is one of the largest travel sites in the world and its booking service Viator, will no longer sell tickets to hundreds of attractions where travellers come into contact with wild animals, or endangered species, held in captivity. The attractions include elephant rides, swimming-with-dolphin experiences and the petting of endangered species like tigers, circuses with animals etc.

The decision has been applauded by all wildlife preservation groups, which say dolphins and elephants held in captivity for entertainment purposes suffer severe physical and psychological damage. TripAdvisor also announced the creation of a wildlife tourism education portal, in partnership with leading animal protection organizations, that will inform the site’s users, who review attractions, and general visitors about animal welfare issues so that they can make more informed choices about their holidays. I hope this means that no tourists come for those dreadful elephant based festivals in Kerala, where every year we lose elephants who run amok because of their suffering and sometimes people are killed as well. I also hope that the Pushkar mela goes unattended since it stopped being a mela many years ago and is now just a market where camels are sold for illegal slaughter to a mafia group of U.P. smugglers.

Last October, Oxford University’s Wildlife Conservation Research Unit released a study on wildlife tourism. Among its many findings was that between two million and four million tourists per year pay visit attractions that are considered harmful to animal welfare. Animal welfare groups are hoping these changes – TripAdvisor has 350 million visitors a month -create a ripple effect throughout the travel booking industry. TripAdvisor and Expedia already do not allow bookings that involve killing or injuring captive animals for blood sport, like Spanish bullfighting for example, but TripAdvisor has gone one step ahead for more commonly seen animal amusements.  

Scotland, Ireland, Romania and Guatemala have banned circuses with animal acts. India had banned most in 1990 when I was Minister for Environment but, even now, several circuses are using elephants and others use horses, dogs and birds. The Central Zoo Authority is closing them down one after another.

Maneka Sanjay Gandhi
Pl. add: To join the animal welfare movement contact,

The medical use of Ketamine Hydrochloride is as an anaesthetic

The medical use of Ketamine Hydrochloride is as an anaesthetic used in medical procedures, or surgery. It is a white crystal that can be used as a recreational hallucinogenic anaesthetic (and is used for date rape). It is banned in this country for open sale as it is a party drug. Unfortunately, the veterinary hospitals have suffered as a result of this recent ban, because we now have to use much more expensive anaesthetics when we operate on animals.

Like all drugs it has major side effects. An allergy to it may result in tightness in the chest or throat, trouble breathing, swallowing, or talking, hoarseness or swelling of the mouth, face, lips, tongue, or throat. Sometimes it can cause a loss of appetite and nausea. It can cause urinary tract damage from the kidney to the bladder.

It induces a dream-like feeling, jerky muscle movements, drowsiness, confusion, unusual thoughts. The effects don’t last long, but until they wear off, ketamine can cause a loss of feeling in the body and paralysis of the muscles. It can also lead you to experiencing a distortion of reality, giving you a floating or detached feeling, as if the mind and body have been separated, with some people feeling incapable of moving. It causes  headaches, confusion, agitation, panic attacks, and impairment in short and long term memory. Frequent use is sometimes associated with the development of depression. Studies show that frequent anaesthesia drugs in young children may lead to long-term brain problems. This may also happen in unborn babies if the mother ingests ketamine during the third trimester of pregnancy.

Ketamine can be injected, mixed into a drink, or snorted up the nose. And now you can eat it in your chicken as well.

Consumer groups in America have filed a case against the third largest chicken company (with a sale of more than 2.8 billion dollars), after the U.S. Department of Agriculture Food Safety and Inspection Service (FSIS) scrutinized 69 poultries and found 82 “unconfirmed residues” in the chicken, including ketamine, antibiotics, pesticides and growth hormones in the chicken. The company sold its chicken – as most poultries do – as 100% natural . The company not only sells chicken under its own label but supplies to different distributors who sell under different labels, and thousands of stand alone restaurants . And now India is allowing the import of this chicken.

No one knows why the poultries were using ketamine. Was it to sedate the animals before slaughter or before live transport?  Was it to make the consumer feel “high” or “satiated” after eating the chicken?

These are the same poultries that refused to reduce antibiotic use because “ raising chickens without antibiotics would lead to a high number of chicken deaths”. So, they admit that their chickens are so badly kept in filthy, inhumane, factory farm conditions  that they are in a permanent state of illness that needs antibiotics. All over the world consumers are becoming resistant to antibiotics. Normal infections have escalated into a new world of superbugs that doctors have no tools to fight. All investigations show antibiotics, used on animals bred for slaughter, as the main culprits. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s 2013’s  report links two of 18 antibiotic-resistant bacterium to the use of antibiotics in animals.

Ketamine wasn't the only problematic substance found in the chicken: What were the other 82 "unconfirmed residues" -

Eleven antibiotics were found; chloramphenicol, a powerful antibiotic that can trigger bone marrow suppression in humans, prohibited for use in animals that will become food; amoxicillin, known as a "medically important for humans" not approved in poultry. Desethylene ciprofloxacin, a "medically important antibiotic for humans"; Prednisone, a steroid; Ketoprofen, an anti–inflammatory drug; Butorphanol, an opioid analgesic, The pesticides Abamectin and Emamectin were detected. Two substances, banned in chicken production, included the synthetic growth hormones Melengestrol acetate and Ractopamine. Three instances of penicillin residue were detected, for which the residue regulatory limit is zero. Consumers eating the chickens are also eating steroids, recreational and anti inflammatory drugs and prohibited antibiotics. All these can make people very sick.

This is far from the first time unlabeled human drugs have been found in meat. The New York Times reported  that most chicken feather-meal samples, examined in one study, contained Tylenol, one-third contained the antihistamine Benadryl, and samples from China actually contained Prozac and the antihistamine Hydroxyzine. The FDA has caught  many hatcheries injecting antibiotics directly into chicken eggs. The largest poultry seller in the US was caught injecting eggs with the antibiotic gentamicin.

In 2013 the FDA issued new antibiotic regulations. Has it made any difference to the use of antibiotics in chickens?


Antibiotic use is on the rise. They are simply relabelled. “Growth promoters” (meaning antibiotics and hormones) has been removed from labels, but the drugs are still routinely used for the new indication of "disease prevention."

Even after the guidance was published, a Reuters investigation found all the poultry factory farm companies using antibiotics, hormones and pesticides pervasively, completely ignoring the regulators. Records showed the antibiotics bacitracin and Monensin are added "to every ration fed to a flock grown early this year."  Also caught red-handed using antibiotics, was the fried restaurant chain that is so popular in India.

But antibiotics are the least of the unlabeled drugs and chemicals lurking in chicken. According  to the Associated Press, U.S. chickens continue to be fed with inorganic arsenic to produce quicker weight gain with less food and enhanced colour. This arsenic goes into the human body.

The effects of ketamine are more pronounced when eaten with alcohol. So, people who eat chicken nuggets while drinking may have a trance like confused reaction that is not caused by the alcohol alone.


Most people do not realize that big pharmaceutical companies all have a veterinary division in which they make hormones, antibiotics etc. for animals raised for food. They never advertise this. And until a crisis happens the media do not report it. But the danger to human beings is acute.

Maneka Sanjay Gandhi
Pl. add: To join the animal welfare movement contact,

The world is getting hotter. The gap between the need and availability of freshwater is widening every day.

The world is getting hotter. The gap between the need and availability of freshwater is widening every day.

Despite finding ourselves in such a situation, we continue to propagate practices that waste trillions of litres of water every day. One of these, which I have been focusing on, is the humungous wastage of water in the meat industry. I have given you the statistics of the water that goes into the production of beef and poultry. Now come to pork.

Pigs need vast amounts of water to drink and wallow in. The average water footprint of pig meat globally is 5,988 litres/kg, meaning that much water is used to produce 1 kilo of pork on our plates. The production of pork uses five to twenty times more water than the production of grains and cereals (1500-2000 litres/kg), potatoes (387 litres/kg) and tomatoes (214 litres/kg).

Despite this, pork production is being increased in India. As per statistics of the Indian Department of Animal Husbandry, Dairying and Fishing, the production of pork in India has increased by 21% (81,250 tonnes) between 2015-16 and 2016-17. In 2017, an estimated 1.2 crore pigs were slaughtered in India. The import of pork has also been increasing annually by about 11% since 2010.

More Indian producers have adopted the western industrial method of animal production. This is the format of more animals, faster growth and shorter meat-to-market time. Large numbers of animals are bred in one facility, where they are fed grains and pumped with growth promoters, before being slaughtered for their meat. These industrial systems use more water than traditional grazing systems, thus increasing the stress on local water resources.

An increasing number of live pigs are being imported into India, as they are larger than local pigs and produce more meat. These pigs can weigh up to 300 kgs and yield about 180 kgs of pork per animal. If the average global water footprint of pork is 5,988 litres/kg, it takes about 10-11 lakh litres of water to raise a single such pig for its meat.

The largest proportion of water, about 67% or 7 lakh litres, is spent in growing food for breeding one pig. Pigs have a high feed conversion ratio, which is the amount of food needed by the animal in order to be ready for killing. Pigs are generally given concentrated feed, which again takes a particularly large amount of water and land to produce.

On-farm water use in piggeries is estimated at 33% of the total water footprint, or about 3.5 lakh litres per pig. Pigs drink an average of 25 litres of water a day, depending on the weather and their size. Pigs require upto 75 litres of water per day for drinking and washing down. This requirement goes up even more if the pig is diseased, the feed is insufficient, the sow is lactating, or if the environmental temperature is high.

Water is also used in maintaining the farms and cages where pigs are kept in preparation for slaughter. As part of the slaughter process, pigs are usually stunned electrically, then cut to bleed to death, after which they are scalded in large amounts of extremely hot water to remove their hair and skin.

After scalding, the animals are immediately chilled to maintain the quality of their meat, which also involves large amounts of water. The removal of internal organs again requires water for cleaning purposes, as does the cutting stage. This combined ‘service water’ use is estimated to be about 85,000 litres per pig. More water is used in post-farm activities, which include the stages of pork processing, packaging, distribution and consumer use.

Apart from direct use, it is important to recognize that the production of pigs, right from the feed growing stage till their packaging, pollutes innumerable litres of water with fertilizers, antibiotics, organic and inorganic matter from the pig farm and so on. Not enough care is given to the treatment and disposal of water from piggeries to help reduce the water pollution in the surrounding area. This water pollution is included in the total water footprint of pork.

What you are eating is not pork chops but vast amounts of water. While I cannot convince everybody to turn vegan, I think it’s only fair for each of us to consider just how much meat we consume every day, and how much we could cut down on. Even one less pork chop, can save more than 900 litres of water.

Let us learn from Cape Town.

Cape Town in South Africa is a rich city of 4.5 million people. It has run out of water. Severe restrictions have been put on every resident. From February 2018 not more than 50 litres, for bathing, eating, washing etc, is allowed per person. Water for flushing, showers, gardens, carwashes, are banned. On June 4th 2018, or Day Zero, all municipal water will stop and be rerouted to 149 emergency pickup points, and people will have to queue for 25 litres every day. Water supply will only be maintained in hospitals.

Cape Town is a test case for what happens when climate change, extreme inequality, and political dysfunction collide. It is a forerunner for the cities of India.

Cape Town has highways, shopping malls, restaurants, slaughterhouses, high-rises. As the water diminished, no attempt was made to stop the large water guzzlers – the meat production industry, the bottled water/cola manufacturers. Cape Town’s water comes from six dams. Rainfall patterns have changed due to global warming. Most of the dams are now in desertified areas. Theewaterskloof Dam, the biggest feeder, is currently at 12.5 percent of its capacity.

By February 2018 the agricultural sector has incurred R14 billion (US$1.17 billion) in losses due to water shortage. Capetown farms, which contribute 23 per cent of South Africa’s agricultural output and are the main employer in rural areas, are closing down orchards, fields and vineyards. Livestock herds have been slaughtered, fruit trees felled. So far 37,000 jobs have gone, and an estimated 50,000 have been pushed below the poverty line due to job losses, and inflation due to increases in the price of food. 

Tourism is in sharp decline. Businesses are relocating, so other jobs are disappearing. Families that can, are leaving the city. A breakdown in the sanitary system is leading to an outbreak of disease and civil unrest. The army has been put on alert.

Is this the first time that a large modern city has run out of water? In 2008 Barcelona came close. Sao Paulo, the large city in the Western hemisphere is almost there, three years ago supplies ran so low that  the pipes sucked up mud and the flow of water to homes was cut to twice a week The government of Indonesia is considering evacuation of parts of Jakarta, which has run out of potable water. Melbourne, in Australia, says its water could run out in a decade – and even London has warned that demand is close to capacity and the city faces future supply problems. Military strategists talk of water, not oil, as the potential trigger for 21st Century conflicts, while the United Nations has warned water scarcity could displace 700 million people by 2030.

The Earth has run out of miracles where water is concerned. It is time for politicians and administrators to take stock of how much water we have and when will the Earth come to Ground Zero. I predict ten years. In India, Hyderabad will be the first.

While policy changes will happen only when we reach crisis point, it is our personal choices that can have the most significant and immediate impact. Water is life. You mustn’t play with water. Cutting back on meat is the first solution.

Maneka Sanjay Gandhi
Pl. add: To join the animal welfare movement contact,

So many companies test on animals. Even those that don’t need to do so.

So many companies test on animals. Even those that don’t need to do so. For instance, perfume companies by now have isolated all the ingredients needed to make a perfume. It is simply a matter of mixing them. But they continue to spray the perfume in rabbits’ eyes, slice their skins open and rub it in, and other terrible tests. This is done by perfumers like Aramis, Balenciaga, Bvlgari, Cacharel, Donna Karan, Dunhill Fragrances, Elizabeth Arden, Gucci Fragrances, Hugo Boss, Jo Malone, Lacoste Fragrances, Marc Jacobs Fragrances, Michael Kors, Missoni, Ralph Lauren Fragrances, Tommy Hilfiger, and Kenzo.

Toothpaste companies make animals eat their products to see after how many toothpastes the animal dies. Does it prove anything ? Has any human ever eaten five toothpaste tubes of goo? Or even one? But Aquafresh, Close-up, Colgate, Crest, Listerine, Mentadent, Pearl Drops, Sensodyne, Signal, Old Spice, Right Guard, continue to test.

The animal testing and experimentation industry is everywhere. It is secretive, pervasive and profitable. Most of you don’t even know that the products that you buy have so much suffering in them. But why this needless exploitation of animals in research, product testing and education? India used to buy over 1 crore frogs a year for school dissection. When the government banned this, it made no difference to the quality of education. Kerala teachers insisted that they should kill something, so, for years the frog suppliers turned into cockroach suppliers, until one chief minister stopped this as well. Zoology teachers insisted on the killing of 1000 + animals during the course of 3 years. When it was stopped, the teaching improved – but every now and then some zoology teacher will insist on trying to restart this. Ask the suppliers of animals where the nexus is, and they will point their fingers at the teacher. Rabbits used to be tested in the making of injections – even though these are machine made. When then government banned it, the same injections continue to be made. The government pesticide council has ordered that the testing of animals till they die is to be stopped. This will have no impact on the pesticides at all. Thousands of soaps and perfumes do not test on animals, and they are just as good. It has been found that 90% of the medicines tested on animals have failed . So why does this carry on?

It is a well entrenched business mafia that continues to insist on animals being experimented on. It hides in the garb of science. It is an international, government-sanctioned and -funded, multi-billion rupee business. To give you one example: Raids done by my organization ten years ago found a dealer in Agra who had over 20,000 dead animals in his house as specimens. He was a retired forest officer. Most of them were wild protected species; crocodiles, snakes, bats, every kind of mammal. The police found, through his computer, that he was selling to certain labs in Delhi University. When the wildlife department passed laws saying that no school/college will keep specimens, it was the illegal buyers in this list (who are teachers) that took delegations to ministers to protest.

One researcher in JNU killed a rat a day for over 10 years to prove that when rats were asleep, they were not awake. His salary was huge and he lived rent free at the university as a scientist. There are thousands like him. India has a CPCSEA committee that regulates the experiments on animals . I created this body and it was supposed to stop duplicative and unnecessary experiments. It has gone into the hands of people who pass every kind of experiment for a fee. If they stopped an experiment, the researcher would lose his grant, so it is easier to split the money in advance.

It is simple to get grants for experimenting on animals. Governments, and private research centres, give them. For instance, in America 47 % of the grants given by the National Institutes of Health (NIH) have an animal research-based component. In 2015, this came to well over $10 billion in funding for projects that included animal experimentation. So, scientists band together and professional lobbying organizations craft, and market, sophisticated campaigns to defend and promote even more animal research.

Who benefits?  The salaries of researchers and technicians, who carry out animal experiments, provide financial incentives. Universities and other academic institutions profit from the percentage of “overhead” that they receive from the grants for animal experiments from the government. Unthinking politicians and clever bureaucrats allow laws mandating the testing of pharmaceuticals, chemicals, drugs, to assess safety and efficacy. The defence ministry allows testing of guns and gases on animals, the carmakers allow diesel testing on animals, the ministry of agriculture allows it for pesticides, the Consumer Product Safety Councils allow it for products, and FSSAI allows it for foods. Everyone benefits – except the millions of animals that suffer and die needlessly.

Who else benefits? NGOs posing as charities that raise billions of dollars from well-meaning people, hoping to find cures for virtually every human disease —even when animal models for human diseases fail to predict what is safe or effective for people after decades of funding.

Animal breeders profit handsomely from breeding and genetically engineering animals, from mice to primates. Recent prices quoted from one animal supply company’s catalogue identified White Rabbits as high as $352 each, Beagles from China for $1,049 and some primates costing more than $8,000 each.

Suppliers, of food, cages and equipment related to animal-model research, have a lucrative business. Veterinarians, employed to supposedly care for research animals, are paid highly to ignore the suffering and give their stamps of approval.

Pharmaceutical companies fuel the animal research “machine” by conducting animal studies before moving to the real research on human beings. If the humans suffer or die – as they often do, the company protects itself legally by saying that trials did OK on animals. These corporate giants use animal studies as a legal safety net by telling courts that they did what the law requires—prove the safety of a drug in animals—and therefore are not liable when a drug harms a human.

Even the media profits from the “publish or perish” mentality within the scientific community to justify animal research by using the results of animal tests to announce “medical miracles,” which help them sell more journals, newspapers and increase TV ratings. On an average there are three stories a week on how testing on rats has shown every kind of cure – from miracle hair growth by using an oil used for cooking fast food, to a cancer cure. Two days later this is forgotten and the cure is never heard of again.

Government is made largely of politicians and bureaucrats who go with the flow. This government endorsed a proposal made by the last: to put Rs 200 crores into 100 acres of land in Telengana to grow animals for research. If I asked them for the same money for better sanitary towels, the answer would be that it is a waste of money.

Anyone opposing experimentation wilts under opposition from these businesses. I have faced it many times. At the moment I am trying to get capsules made vegetarian. The entire gelatine industry is opposing this. So, media articles come out regularly, from so called independent journalists, saying that vegetarian capsules are bad and expensive. The committee to regulate this is full of industry people. It will happen – but it will take me and you some time to wade through the vested interests. The government mandated a red /green dot (veg/nonveg) on household products. Immediately the “beauty council”, which is a conglomerate of companies who produce everything from soap to house cleaners, went to court and got a stay. It has been four years now and not once has it come up in court !!! So you can imagine how many people have been “influenced”.

Some animal tests take months or years to conduct and analyze (e.g., 4-5 years in the case of rodent cancer studies), at a cost of hundreds of thousands—and sometimes millions—of dollars per chemical examined. The inefficiency, and exorbitant costs associated with animal testing, makes it impossible for regulators to take up the potential effects of 100,000+ chemicals currently in commerce worldwide, or the more than 1 million combinations of these chemicals to which humans are exposed to every day.

In contrast, computer modelling techniques are lightning-fast, and many cell-based in vitro methods are much more accurate —all at a much lower cost than animal tests. 

It is time we looked at smarter science that is human-relevant and can provide safer and more effective solutions to human health needs. This investment, in better more humane science promises, rather than in animal testing, will pay huge dividends in smarter, better solutions for people and animals.

Maneka Sanjay Gandhi
Pl. add: To join the animal welfare movement contact,

California has a very interesting political system.

California has a very interesting political system. This allows organisations and individuals to bypass politicians and put potential laws directly to a vote by the general population – as long as they can get enough signatures to support the measure in the first place. This makes sense to me, because, in India, we are at the mercy of politicians who will rarely do anything in public interest, or even think about issues that affect people adversely and need to be corrected. Instead, they will come up with grandiose schemes that never get implemented and, even if they did, are so poorly conceived that they destroy far more – the damming and linking of rivers, the MNREGA scheme, the badly conceived feeding of children which has led to widespread malnourishment, the giving of forests to supposed tribals without verification, the lack of maintenance of heritage and complete ignorance of the value of museums, the lack of a trained teaching system for farmers, and using a defunct system called Krishi Vigyan Kendras, which do nothing and never did… I can think of a million things. The reckless import and use of pesticides and urea is top of my list, along with the export of meat, as that is destroying the country’s forests and water systems. The slaughterhouse export trade is run by NRIs and foreign nationals who loot India. Also on my list is the agriculture ministry’s refusal to even see that animals / fish / birds, grown for meat that are kept badly, injected with hormones, pesticides and antibiotics and eaten by humans, will make the human population ill– as we can see in the steeply rising statistics of people who are going to hospital every day.

So many people campaigned for NOTA on the ballot paper – None Of The Above. It has resulted in nothing. No one makes the trek to a booth to not vote. They stay at home if they don’t like any of the candidates. There is a movement, that comes in fits and starts, on the right to recall an elected person. This will result in mayhem if it ever happens, because anyone who loses an election will spend a lot of money getting signatures. Then there is the movement that women should get one third of the seats by law. None of these movements actually will bring about change to make governance participatory.

What is needed is what California is doing.  Even if we go halfway and take the route, that if an issue can generate enough interest through people signing a minimum of a mandated X votes , then it deserves to be put into Parliament, or the state assembly, and voted on. Let us see where our elected representatives stand on the matter.

At the moment California voters are on the street for an issue we have been fighting here for some years, both in the ministries and courts; which is, to Change the factory farm system so that animals, grown for meat, are not caged for their entire lives.

Is this an issue for just “animal lovers” as we are called? No. It is an issue of health that should be understood and pushed with your local MLA, MP and municipal chairman. Birds, pigs, cattle – especially poultry – are stuffed into small cages. They cannot even raise their wings, so small is the space and so large the number of birds in each cage. To prevent them from fighting for space, owners of poultries cut off their beaks and toes without anaesthesia. They cannot stand without pain but there is no space to sit. They stand in their own faeces, covered with mites that suck their blood. They get very, very sick immediately and are then kept alive with antibiotics, hormones and pesticides. All these go into the meat when the bird is killed and has created major sickness in humans, starting with the superbug which is untreatable, and going on to cancer, epilepsy, kidney failure and every other major disease. This could all be prevented if the birds were allowed to roam freely in the sun with natural food (instead of spoilt grain, cardboard, the dead bodies of fellow chickens and marble mixed with veterinary drugs), given fresh sources of water and allowed to live naturally before being killed. It takes the same space that the poultry now has .

The same problem is with piggeries. The pig is an intelligent and emotional animal and locking her up in a small crate and feeding her badly with only disgusting restaurant waste, inseminating her forcibly and then taking away the babies, makes her very sick. She gets worms, serious illnesses, and all these are passed on to the consumer of pork. Veal is from baby calves who are locked into tight crates so that they cannot move and then starved to death so that they become anaemicand their meat turns white. They are killed in six weeks.

In California, hundreds of volunteers are on the street going from door to door collecting signatures from the mandatory 3,65,000 signatures. They have, by law, a finite time to collect the signatures . Some of them eat meat – they simply don’t want to be sick from it.  The new law, if it comes into being, will ban the sale of all eggs, pork or veal from a caged animal – if campaigners can get enough signatures. If passed, it would be the most progressive farm animal welfare law and the most progressive human health law in the world.

The new measure would ban cages of any kind for hens, gestation crates for mother pigs, so narrow they can’t turn around, and veal crates for calves, which restrict movement for their entire lives. By the end of 2019 all hens would have to be cage-free – living, at minimum, on an open barn floor or in an indoor aviary with multiple levels for birds to go up and down.

It would have national implications, applying not just to in-state famers but to any farmer doing business with the world’s sixth largest economy.

The deadline is May 1st and they have 2 lakh signatures so far.

This is history in the making. It will put California ahead of the European Union, which banned battery cages for poultry in 2012 across Europe– and even cage-free leaders such as Germany and the Netherlands..

In 2008 California passed Proposition 2 in 2008 which banned battery cages and said animals must have space to turn around, lie down and stretch their limbs. In 2016,  Massachusetts made history with the first sales ban on products from confined animals, which passed by a landslide 78%. California is now working to top that .

And India?? Sigh!! Committee after committee has been formed from BIS to FSSAI, the Health ministry, the Drug Controller of India. Each one agrees that something has to be done. But they pass it on to another committee. There is no political will and, in the absence of a clear order, no bureaucrat will move. On top of that there are lobbies of slaughterhouses that will pay bureaucrats and politicians not to change the filthy unhealthy status quo. I wish politicians would put human health on the top of their agenda – everything else would fall into place.

Maneka Sanjay Gandhi
Pl. add: To join the animal welfare movement contact,

An interesting scientific experiment took place last year. Two reasons.

An interesting scientific experiment took place last year. Two reasons.  One is because it is about the air expelled from the anuses of living beings, popularly known as farting. The other, because the scientists investigating asked the public to send them information through a twitter handle called #doesitfart. The information has been printed in a book with the same name. 

Fart, also known as flatulence, describes gas generated or held in the stomach or intestines and expelled through the anus. The scientific study of farts is called flatology Those who have the talent to fart at will are known as flatulists (or comedians).

Few people, and even less scientists, have been brave enough to even talk about this issue. It is usually a matter for pre-teenage boys’ jokes. But the study of the diet and digestive systems of animals is an important part of understanding how they survive and even how they affect climate change.

The data gathering mission was spearheaded by Daniella Rabaiotti, a Ph.D student at the University College of London, a member of  the Zoological Society of London, and environmental researcher. She was asked whether snakes fart, and wrote asking a colleague, David Steen, a biologist at Auburn University. “Snakes sometimes discharge faeces and musk as a defensive strategy, and this is often accompanied by what I would consider classic fart noises,” he said. Rabaiotti decided to make a large study of different animals. From there #DoesItFart was born.

Hundreds of biologists, researchers, wildlife enthusiasts and laypersons have written in from all over the world. Nick Caruso, a PhD student at the University of Alabama, created a spreadsheet. Each entry was submitted to researchers to verify.

Here are some interesting details about gastric gases and how they are discharged out of the posterior portal:

Guinea pigs produce clouds of brown mist that “stink to high heaven.” Lions fart and so do Orangutans. Bobcats are supposed to be the smelliest with their “squirrel-based farts” (I doubt that they would be smellier than the person who sits next to you on a plane or in a closed car) They are in close competition with woodlice who excrete ammonia. The dog and the cat also emit gases (and often take the blame for their owner’s bad stomachs).

Here are some of the entries: “Do chimpanzees fart? Yes. “Worst when eating figs. So loud and frequent we locate them in forest occasionally by following the farts; Even worse when eating Cynometra seeds!” wrote University of Kent evolutionary anthropology Ph.D Adriana Lowe. Bats do, according to David Bennett, a PhD at Queen Mary University of London. And the bigger they are, the harder they honk.
Tapirs? Most mammals pass wind and some insects as well. Birds do not pass gas, They don’t have the same gas-producing bacteria in their gut that are found in mammals and other farting animals, and food passes quickly through a bird’s digestive system, which leaves no time for a build-up. Marine invertebrates such as oysters, whelks, salamanders, mussels and crabs do not fart either. The Pogonophoran Worm, the Jellyfish, Corals and Sea Anemones cannot fart as they lack anuses. If we count air coming out of the siphons of squid/octopus/cuttlefish as farting, yes, they do. Frogs can, and do, fart quite often and rather pungently. Rats can fart but they can’t burp. Turtles fart, and their farts smell incredibly bad.

It’s not only interesting which animals fart, but how they do. This is what the spread sheets say-

"The copperhead snake elicits a small squeak, so small that you think you may be mistaken, until it hits you. Very dry with a slight hint of stalemusk. The orangutan does it often and happily. The millipede emissions are of the silent but deadly variety (methane and hydrogen sulfide. Whereas most animals that fart have soft, fleshy derrières, millipedes have hard valves that probably act as silencers !)" Seal farts smell like lutefisk which is a Nordic dish made of lye that can drive anyone else out of the house. The Burmese Python "Thick and meaty? If it were a colour it would be brownish-yellow." "Spotted Hyenas are especially bad after eating camel intestines."

Herrings communicate with each other by expelling air through their anuses producing pulses of sound that is too high for their predators to hear. 
Honey badgers emit smelly, suffocating secretions and gas from their anal glands, which they then use to mustard-bomb unsuspecting bee hives. This causes the bees to flee their homes and leave the honey behind for the honey badger.

Some snakes, like the Sonoran Coral Snake, also weaponize their farts and use them to scare off unsuspecting predators.

The gases vary in different species. Most farts contain hydrogen, carbon dioxide, nitrogen and sulphurous gases (with the latter responsible for much of the smell), but scientists are concerned about another common component, methane, since it is a potent greenhouse gas. According to a paper published in the latest issue of the Journal of Experimental Biology, nearly 30 percent of Earth's methane emissions originate from plant eating animals grown for meat. According to the EPA, cows are among the top methane makers. Cows release an estimated 551 to over 1,100 pounds of methane per day. Goats produce a lot of methane in their stool, farts, belches and even breath. In 2015, an airplane in Singapore was forced to make an emergency landing when the smell of goat farts was mistaken for smoke in the cargo hold. The flight was diverted, inspected and delayed for hours, according to the Daily Mail. NASA's Goddard Institute for Space Science determined that a pig emits about 3.3 pounds of methane per year and a sheep produces 18 pounds of methane. A horse can produce 45.5 pounds of methane gas per year, but amounts vary. A lactating mare, for example, only releases 34 percent of the methane released by a lactating dairy cow. While elephants are not ruminant animals, they do produce an incredible amount of gas, however. According to the International Elephant Foundation, a car "could travel 20 miles on the amount of methane produced by one elephant in a single day."

Each adult person emits about a third of a pound of methane per year, according to the Goddard study. That is a fraction of what cows produce. The United Nations, however, estimates that there are at least 7 billion people on the planet now, so total methane output stacks up by sheer numbers alone.

Termites may be tiny, but they are mighty methane emitters. While an individual termite cannot produce much gas, a study published in the Journal of Environmental Science and Technology, from Tamil Nadu Agricultural University, determines that termites contribute methane "that accounts for at least 5% of all global emissions." Other researchers say that the percentage is much higher. According to Rentokil the pesticide company, cockroaches release more methane in relation to their body size than any other creature they’ve ever had to deal with.

A methyl mercaptan gas leak at a Dupont facility in Texas killed people . Farts contain not just methyl mercaptan, but other asphyxiants like flammable methane, nitrogen and dimethyl sulphides. The amounts depend on your diet. However, since each fart has only 110 millilitres of gas you cannot make a homemade weapon

Have fun! At least it’s a novel way to introduce children to serious science.

Maneka Sanjay Gandhi
Pl. add: To join the animal welfare movement contact,

Personally I find the thought, of eating an egg, revolting.

Personally I find the thought, of eating an egg, revolting. It is the period blood of a hen and, if you break the egg and expose it to air for a few minutes, it will smell the same as the blood on a sanitary towel. Why would I want to add cholesterol to my daily diet?

But eggs are used in so many things that, even if you don’t eat them directly, you probably will be ingesting them in some form.

Egg shells are powdered and used for fortification of breads and confectioneries, fruit drinks, crackers, condiments. If you see “fortified” on any of these – or glazing on bread – know that this is egg.

Egg membrane protein is used as an ingredient in many cosmetics as a softener. Egg yolks are used in shampoos and conditioners and, sometimes, soaps. Cholesterol, lecithin, and some of the egg’s fatty acids, are used in skin care products, such as revitalizes, make-up foundations and even lipstick.

Louis-Désiré Blanquart-Évrard invented a process using albumen, in 1850, for photographic printing in the 19th century. Paper was laid on a mixture of albumen and salt. When it dried, it made a glossy coated paper. It was so popular that commercial producers of paper kept chickens on site!

Painters used eggs as binders for applying pigments. The pigment colour was produced by ground-up materials found in nature—everything, from lapis lazuli to the tiny bodies of scale insects, was crushed and mixed with egg yolk to produce egg tempera. Egg albumen is still used by artists as a binder for pigments, as an ingredient of waterproof glue, and as a varnish

Avidin is a protein of egg white. It is extensively used in biotechnological applications, particularly in medical diagnostics, as in the Elisa test.

Lysozyme, an enzyme found in egg white, is used for the ripening of certain European-type cheeses. Lysozyme inhibits the growth of Clostridium tyrobutyricum - a bacterium which can be present as a contaminant in milk. A more recent use of lysozyme is in wine preparation as a substitute for sulphites. Lysozyme is used in processed foods to extend the shelf life by inhibiting or destroying spore forming organisms.

Lysozyme is used as an antimicrobial agent in pharmaceutical products.

Liposomes, fatty droplets found in eggs, are used as a controlled delivery mechanism for various drugs. Immunoglobulin yolk (IGY), a simple egg-yolk protein, is used as an anti-human-rotavirus (HRV) antibody in food products.

Shell-membrane protein is being used experimentally to grow human skin connective tissue cells for severe-burn victims and, in Japan, is being used in cosmetics (Antigen specific immunoglobulins (IgYs) from eggs are planned to be used for preventing dental caries: candies, chocolates and gums containing anti-Streptococcus mutans (a bacteria involved in tooth decay) from eggs have been used in Japan.

Ovotransferrin or Conalbumin is another protein of egg white which has been used to remove iron from drinking water. Ovalbumin is the predominant protein in egg white and is utilized in the diagnostic industry.

For more than forty years, fertile eggs have been used as a culture medium for the influenza virus to produce vaccines. The influenza virus is injected into the developing embryo. For three days it multiplies in the egg. The egg is then broken, the fluid extracted and the virus used as vaccine. Egg yolk is added to agar cultures to grow microorganisms bred in laboratories. Fertile eggs are used to preserve bull semen for artificial insemination.

Egg white has been used in the manufacture of edible packing films, for ingredients in the food, chemical and pharmaceutical industries

It is eggs in food that are the biggest problem for a vegetarian. Pastas and bread, confectionary - most of them have egg in them. In fact, make sure you buy unglazed bread. Sponge cakes, meringues or soufflés have whisked egg white. Eggs bind loose crumbly ingredients together, so they are used in patties, croquettes, fritters and fillings. Whipped egg is used as a thickening agent in pie fillings, custard sauces and baked custard. Mayonnaise is made of egg yolk. Pastries use egg white in the crusts. Eggs are put in commercial ice creams, baby food, sauces and dairy products . Egg powders are a key ingredient in meat production (sausages, hamburgers, hams) as well as vegetarian preparations (soya sausages, hamburgers).

Avoiding eggs and meat has become a minefield. Irresponsible and insensitive, so called scientists work with egg industries to find newer ways to use their product. Tall claims are made, but the amount of suffering that is caused is unimaginable. For instance, work is underway to genetically alter chickens so that they produce eggs containing a large quantity of human serum albumin  (HSA), a protein used in saline drips in hospitals. Currently the protein is taken from human blood plasma. Using transgenic chicken, research is also being done by commercial companies to produce egg antibodies to combat hepatitis and cancer.

It has been claimed by the egg industry itself that the content of the egg can be changed by simply changing the diet of the hen. This is what they say: "With adjustments to the diets of the laying hen the profile of fatty acids, fat-soluble vitamins, and minerals such as iodine, fluorine, manganese, and B vitamins, can be changed. Using a flax-based diet or rapeseed or fish oils in the feed, eggs can be enriched with omega-3 and omega-6 fatty acids. Vitamin E in eggs can be added as well as iodine levels. Research is being done to add conjugated linoleic acids (CLAs)."

If this is true, then the rubbish fed to hens in India – cardboard, powdered granite, dead mashed bodies of other hens, pesticides like fipronil, to name a few ingredients , must have had the effect of making eggs almost valueless or dangerous to health. Our FSSAI should investigate the quality of eggs on the market.

Maneka Sanjay Gandhi
Pl. add: To join the animal welfare movement contact,

Last year I went to the house of the head of a group of Jains in Nagpur.

Last year I went to the house of the head of a group of Jains in Nagpur. Along the way I was told how religious his family was, how they all ate before sunset and no root vegetables. I entered the main living room. The huge rug I was stepping on was made of patches sewn together of horse-skin. Young horses are killed for their skin in the United States and the skin stripped off. The skins of different colours are patched together and  made into carpets for rich and senseless people. My host kept insisting it was fake until I showed him the leathery skin the hair was attached to.

Something like that has been exposed in England recently. People buy coats with fur linings  and fur lined boots for their children, keyrings and hairclips with colourful bobbles, shoes with pompoms, soft toys. The buyers believe that since the items are cheap and colourful, the fur is acrylic.

Not true.

An investigation by Humane Society International (HIS)has found that a large number of items are not fake or faux fur, but real fur.

HIS found many shops with no-fur policies selling fur items.  Fluffy “faux fur” clips sold by Boots were made from mink; pompom keyrings from Tesco and gloves from Fat Face were made of rabbit fur. Urban Outfitters was selling sweaters with real fur labelled as “faux.”  Missguided was found to have cat fur lining their shoes. Real fur was being sold as fake at House Of Fraser, Lily Lulu, Amazon and ASOS, labelled as faux fur. Neiman Marcus was called out for selling three pairs of boots touted as being made with fake fur, except it was real. When a buyer took home a “faux fur” pompom keyring from TK Maxx, she grew suspicious.  The retailer reassuring her that the pom-pom had “been investigated by our internal trading standards department” and that they had “been assured that this item is in fact faux fur”. HIS revealed that the pom-pom had actually been made with rabbit fur. Investigators found that TK Maxx was selling jackets made of fox fur. Mink fur earrings, rabbit fur shoes with pompoms and keychains, fox fur hats, fox fur trims and chinchilla fur scarves, were all on sale, advertised as faux fur by Amazon, Boohoo, Miss Bardo, Not On The High Street and Etsy, and through Groupon. Last year, HSUS filed an enforcement petition to the Federal Trade Commission; Neiman Marcus, Kohl’s and Nordstrom were among the 17 retailers named in the report for selling garments that were falsely advertised or labelled as faux fur. Forever 21 has also been the subject of an investigation by ‘Good Morning Britain’.

All these shops had advertised a strict No Fur policy.

Most consumers believe that since pompoms and trims/linings are so cheap, they cannot be fur. The truth is that the appalling conditions that animals suffer on fur farms mean real fur can be produced and sold more cheaply than faux fur.

The life of an animal is worth nothing when the animal is badly kept, hardly fed, forcibly made to reproduce and killed within a few months. Fur farms have millions of animals kept in small wire cages, and Poland, China, France, Finland follow no rules in the sheer viciousness and cruelty of their operations. As writer Tansy Hoskins said in The Guardian, "Fur farms involve 75 million animals kept in tiny cages, many of which become infected with disease, suffer horrific injuries and go mad from grief and stress." They are denied the chance to run free, are often fed on waste, and receive little veterinary care. Animals, that would usually spend hours cleaning themselves in the wild, are left in filthy conditions, and often end up mutilated. It all ends with a brutal death: electrocution, gassing, or even skinning alive. PETA has released an exposé narrated by Paloma Faith containing footage taken on hundreds of supposedly "high welfare" fur farms in Europe, all showing animals who have been driven insane by the cruelty. We've seen foxes with skinless paws forced to live beside their decomposing cage-mates, and minks with untreated wounds, one so severe that his brain was visible. Countless animals have resorted to self-mutilation and cannibalism.

These are just some of the stomach-churning scenes that are documented time and time again. You can see these dreadful farms exposed by undercover operatives on the You Tube. In China, the world's largest exporter of fur, you can see cats, rabbits and dogs being skinned alive. An investigation, earlier this year into fur farms in Finland, revealed foxes who have been reared to be grossly obese – some weighing roughly five times what they would in nature –struggling to breathe, let alone stand up. Larger bodies mean more fur and therefore greater profits.

The skins of coyotes, chinchilla, mink, foxes, rabbits, raccoons, dogs and cats are sold at dirt cheap rates. Consumers want faux fur to look like the real thing – but they don’t want real fur. So the retailers sell the hair of these dead bodies as fake!  Fur is no longer just full length mink coats, or fox scarves. It is more deceptive – dyed bright colours, turned into cute pompoms or as trim on hoods or shoes. Often sold for under £10, it is sneaked into accessories. Among the items HSI found for sale are £5 pom pom keychains made from rabbit fur; a parka with raccoon dog fur trim for £35; and a knitted hat with a marmot fur bobble for £3.50. Since there is no legal requirement to label animal fur in all products, this cheats consumers. People expect real fur to come in the form of full mink coats or fox fur scarves. What they don’t expect is that it will be dyed bright colours, fashioned into pompoms or trims, attached to accessories like hats, gloves and shoes, sold at very cheap price and, of course, mislabelled as faux.

Ironically, premium-grade faux fur is expensive. So the easy alternative for sewing factories is to use real fur, as it is cheaper to buy small scraps of real fur than lengths of high quality faux fur.

If retailers like Boots and Tesco can tell lies, selling real fur as faux fur, consumers have to become their own fur detectives.

Here are some tips to all those Indians who will be going abroad to shop.

Look at the tips: The tips, of the hairs in real fur, taper and have pointed ends, whereas the hairs on faux fur are blunt. Hairs on real fur will also be different lengths, while faux fur tends to be more uniform. Hold up the hair against a white surface.

Look at the base: Part the hair to see how it is attached. Animal fur has a leathery backing because it’s attached to the animal’s skin, whereas faux fur will have a material woven backing. Real fur is often completely smooth at the base. Like human skin.

Burn it: Perhaps not in the shop. Try it on something you already own. Trim a few hairs and set fire to them. Real animal fur singes and smells like human hair burning. Faux fur melts in a sticky way, cooling to form hard plastic balls, and will probably smell plasticky. If it smells like burnt paper, burns like paper and become a light, fluffy gray ash, this means the faux fur is cotton, linen or rayon based.

Don’t look at the price : Real fur is cheaper than fake. Smaller bits of fur and fur trims are cheap as they are the discards of dead animals, so don't let the relatively low price of a garment fool you.

Do not buy anything with “fake fur” online : EU regulations state that “textile products” containing fur should be labelled as containing “non-textile parts of animal origin”. However, online products are exempt from that requirement as are footwear and accessories. And although it is illegal to mislead consumers (by claiming that a real fur product is faux fur) retailers are very rarely prosecuted, with most instances being put down to “honest mistakes”.

Feel the fur. Fur feels very soft to the touch, falls in a smooth and sleek line, passes through your fingers as if you're petting a cat. Faux fur feels coarse and rough to touch, can be sticky to touch in humid weather, and  might have the same feel as a stuffed toy animal. It might stick to your hands if it's made out of a plasticky material (only works if your hands are sweaty).

Stick a pin into the item (through the fur and its lining). If it goes through easily, this suggests it is faux fur because the pin is sliding through a synthetic base. If it is hard to push through, or resists completely, it is likely to be real fur, as you're trying to push through the leather lining to which the fur remains attached.

Why are you buying fake fur? There is nothing elegant or humane about stealing the skin of another being – or even pretending to do so. Buying something that has real fur in it, even if it’s “mostly” faux, means one more animal was skinned alive, or anally electrocuted, for the sake of “fashion.”

Maneka Sanjay Gandhi
Pl. add: To join the animal welfare movement contact,

Is it possible to be vegan in a world which is now totally dependent on truly useless things made from animals?

Is it possible to be vegan in a world which is now totally dependent on truly useless things made from animals? I asked myself this question when handed a toothpick on an airline meal. To think that a living, breathing, magnificent tree, lord of the rain, home to thousands of other beings, has been chopped to gouge out waste from my teeth, makes me very sick.

Every vegetarian is careful about checking that their food does not contain any animal products. Some will not even eat in restaurants where meat is served. However, we fail to look at the other ways in which we are eating and using animal products in our daily lives. For instance, the company Vanras has100% vegetarian stamped below its plates (as against bone china plates made from bone)! Ever thought about checking a shampoo bottle for a ‘100% vegetarian’ stamp?

Animal glands and organs are frequently found in daily-use products. These include endocrine glands, brains, livers, lungs, pituitary glands, pancreas, stomachs, kidneys, ovaries. Brains, nervous systems and spinal cords are a source of cholesterol. These are used as emulsifiers in cosmetics and for the synthesis of vitamin D3. Duodenum substances, taken from the digestive tracts of cows and pigs, are added to vitamin tablets and some medicines. The ovaries of pregnant sows are a source of extracting progesterone and estrogen to treat reproduction related problems in women. Heparin, which is used to thin blood and delay clotting during surgery or transplants, is extracted from the liver, lungs and lining of the small intestines of pigs and cattle. Insulin, used for diabetes injections, is taken from the pancreas of pigs and cows. According to the Diabetes Forecast magazine more than two tonnes of pig pancreas were needed to extract eight ounces of purified insulin. Prednisone and cortisone are extracted from animal bile produced by the gall bladder. Ground liver from cows, pigs is mixed with acidified hot water and turned into liver extract which is used by the pharmaceutical industry as a source of Vitamin B 12 and a nutritional supplement. Glucogen, extracted from the pancreas, is used to increase blood sugar in alcoholics. Melatonin, extracted from animal pineal glands, is being evaluated for the treatment of insomnia. Bile, from cattle and pigs, is sold either dry or in liquid form and is used for the treatment of indigestion, constipation and liver disorders.

The list is endless. Adrenaline is made from the adrenal glands of pigs, cattle and sheep.  Hyaluronic, acid used in cosmetics, comes from the fluids round animal joints.

 Even the perfume industry uses animal organs. Musk, which forms the essence of high end perfumes, is made from the musk pouch of the Himalayan Musk Deer. The deer is killed and the dried gland is cut into small pieces and soaked in alcohol. Castoreum is a paste that is taken from a gland found between the pelvis and tail of a killed beaver. In perfumery, castoreum has been used as the leather scent, evocative of fine leather upholstery, or in classic leather-themed perfumes. So, when the upholstery of your new Mercedes smells of leather, it may be a dead beaver’s glands. The anal glands of the African civet cat give out a rich smelling secretion when it is beaten, so the animals are caged and brutalised for years by perfume manufacturers. These days civet paste from farmed animals in Ethiopia are imported into Europe and the United States, traditionally shipped in the horns of zebu cattle. Each dried horn holds about five hundred grams of paste, the amount one civet can produce over a period of about four years. In India, I caught the priests of Tirupati temple holding civets illegally in cages , beating them to extract paste which was sold to devotees for Rs 500+ to put on the Devi. Ambergris comes from the digestive system of the sperm whale and is used as a fixative for perfumes. Though it is illegal, many whales are murdered for it.

Many moisturisers contain cerebrosides and arachidonic acid.  Cerebrosides are fatty acids and sugars found in the covering of nerves and brain tissue of animals. Arachidonic acid is found in the liver, brain, glands and fat, of animals and used in skin creams. Lecithin, from animal tissues, is used in lipsticks, eye creams, hand creams, lotions, soaps, shampoos and other cosmetics.

Oleic Acid, taken from animal fats and oils, is used in the production of nail polish, soap, creams, lipsticks, permanent wave solutions and a number of skin products. You may have read/heard the names keratin and provitamin B-5 in a number of shampoo and conditioner advertisements – both come from animals. Keratin is a protein that comes from the ground-up horns, hooves, feathers, quills and hair of various animals. Oleyl alcohol is extracted from fish and used for softening fabrics and as a detergent,

Shark liver oil, known as squalene, is used in lubricating cream, lotion, lip balm, sunscreen and hair dye. Collagen, taken from the cells of fish, is used in a number of anti-aging creams and masks. Even animal placenta is widely used to make skin creams, shampoos and face masks.

Chitosan, extracted from shrimp and crabs, has a wide range of applications in the cosmetic and pharmaceutical industries as a preservative. Rennet, which is extracted from the inside of a goat, calf or sheep’s stomach, is used to make cheese. Lipase, from the tongue glands of calves, kids and lambs, is used for the same thing and in cosmetics. So is pepsin which comes from a pig’s stomach.

Knowledge is needed before one can stop being a predator on this planet. When something is advertised as “natural sources” it usually means animal sources.

Maneka Sanjay Gandhi
Pl. add: To join the animal welfare movement contact,

Organic farming for me is as important as animal welfare.

Organic farming for me is as important as animal welfare. Both save thousands of species and make the world a better place for humans. When I became minister for Women and Children, we started a new project: we hold an annual Mela in Delhi Haat, the best location, for 15 days, in which 300 women organic farmers are called from all over India to sell their produce. This year we sold Rs 2 crore worth. We also send 50 women to a huge organic mela in Ahmedabad organized by Srishthi and now we are preparing for one in Mumbai in February.

I also make sure that one or more women organic farmers, or groups, get the highest award for women in India, the Nari Shakti award. In 2016 the best exhibition I went to was one of wandering pastoral tribes in India and the NGOs that conserve their cultural forms, camels and their milk. The best exhibition I went to this year was a huge organic one in Noida which had more than 700 companies, institutions, NGOs and individuals taking part. It was organized by OFAI which is headquartered in Goa and headed by Dr Claude Alvares. I bought a beautiful pair of earrings for my sister made of red ratti (used to weigh gold at one point) and white Vaijayanti seeds made by a farmer’s wife. The Sikkim pavilion was the most impressive and the Chief Minister of Sikkim should get a Bharat Ratna for the work he has done to make the whole state organic. There were hundreds of varieties of rice, including one that you don’t have to boil, just simply pour hot water on. I saw vegetables that I have never seen before – huge long, white, aubergines (baingan), every variety of kaddu , cucumber and chilli. I saw red potatoes and at least 50 varieties of rajma ranging from white to purple. When I ate the lunch thali of village vegetables, I thought I’d died and gone to Food Heaven!

I would like you to know these women, who have changed thousands of lives by simply collecting old seeds of long forgotten vegetable varieties.

The Vanastree Malnad Garden and Seed Savers Collective in Sirsi, Karnataka is run by women. They have documented 120 varieties of vegetables, from the tiny sparrow ladies fingers (bhindi) to old varieties of sugarcane. All these are heritage seeds . You can get in touch with them at

Annadana is a Karnataka NGO started by Sangita Sharma. For the last few years it has been practicing and teaching sustainable farm practices and conserving over 200 old vegetable seeds. She realized that seed corporations and agricultural institutes were blasting seeds with toxins, chemicals and pesticides, contaminating all food. So she decided to start collecting, growing and distributing seeds to farmers. So far she has distributed 3 lakh free seed packets to marginal farmers and is selling them at a low cost to garden enthusiasts. She has a training programme, called Seed to Seed, on soil health management. Her core group now is 18 farmers who teach. You can contact them at

Niranjana Maru is from Wardha and has formed an NGO called Chetana Vikas. They have a demonstration farm of trees, grasses, tubers and fodder  and concentrate on wasteland regeneration through teaching a mixed cropping system to local farmers. You can write to her at

Sabarmati Tiki is the daughter of Prof Radhamohan who bought degraded land in Nayagarh and, despite people calling his mission impossible, decided to regenerate it. He named the farm “Sambhav” or “Possible”. Sabarmati and her team grow 314 traditional rice varieties at the farm and distribute the seeds to farmers in Orissa. Contact her at

Pebble Garden is a land regeneration project started by Deepika Kundaji on 7 acres of laterite soil which was severely eroded with no topsoil. She and her partner set out to bring the old forest back, created water bodies, built up the soil by putting organic mulch  and neighbourhood kitchen waste. Today the land grows 80 varieties of vegetables, herbs and medicinal plants, many of which are endangered and never seen in markets. The seeds of these plants are shared with other farmers and seed savers. Contact her at

Mohinee Bhiste comes from Raigarh, Nainital and is part of a network of women farmers called Jan Prerna Sangathan. In 2009 she and her friends started exploring traditional seeds. They have made a bank of seeds of local wheat, millet, maize, barley and vegetables, where farmers can take freely provided they return double the quantity after the harvest. You can contact them at 09568254945.

And who can forget the contribution of Dr Vandana Shiva, who has been writing and working for non violent farming and biodiversity since 1984. She has been actively involved in conserving 5,000 crop varieties, among them 3,000 kinds of rice, 150 kinds of wheat, 150 kinds of rajma and the rest vegetables and pulses. They have their own seed bank of 45 acres in Sherpur, Uttarakhand. I buy a lot of my monthly rations from Navdanya. You can contact her at

This year for Diwali, I didn’t give useless mithai / statues / ganeshes / dates or badams as gifts. I filled baskets of organic grains, pulses, jams, pickles, brought from small organic farmers from all over India, and gave these. Needless to say each recipient was more than happy. After all, each one of us likes to eat well and the taste of organic wild rice, for instance, is  incredible! We also like to feel safe – that our food is not giving us cancer. And we can only do that if we go forward to insisting on nonchemical, non-poisonous food. If you know any farmers, try to make them switch. As starter gifts, you can buy seeds from these women and give them to farmers.

Two Hindi proverbs say : kathiya gehu kargi dhan, jo bove vah chatur kisan. Farmers who grow Kathiya wheat and Kargi rice (both organic old varieties) are clever (because both can grow in dry, rain fed, conditions.

Kodau kare bhale mein chote, chote bade bhartev pet: Kodo, a millet, may be small in size but it feeds everyone from children to the elderly under adverse conditions.

Shamika Mone has written a Source Book on India’s Organic Seeds . You should definitely buy it from OFAI, Mapusa, Goa

Maneka Sanjay Gandhi
Pl. add: To join the animal welfare movement contact,




While carbon dioxide is often painted as the main criminal in climate change, a far more deadly, and less talked about gas, is methane. UN’s Intergovernmental Panel for Climate Change estimates that methane accounts for approximately 16% of total greenhouse gas emissions. Despite a relatively smaller portion, methane is much more harmful for climate change.

Methane is a super-insulating gas – making the earth much warmer than carbon dioxide can. It is more potent than carbon dioxide in capturing the sun’s radioactive force and traps more heat in the atmosphere. Scientists have calculated that its ‘global warming potential’ may be 28 times more than that of carbon dioxide.

Carbon dioxide emissions have not increased since 2013. Yet the temperature in 2017 has gone up by another 1 % .  The reason is a startling rise in the emission of methane. In the early 2000s, methane concentration in the atmosphere was rising annually at about 0.5 parts per billion (ppb). In 2007 methane started rising rapidly, and in recent years it has spiked to annual increases of 9.9 ppb and 12.5 ppb. The current atmospheric concentration is 1,853 ppb.

Methane is not produced in by factories or cars. It is produced by meat eaters. Animals reared for meat and milk are the major contributors of the gas-  chickens, cows, goats, sheep, pigs. All plant eating animals emit methane gas in the form of burps and gas through the anus.  The Journal of Animal Science says that cows produce between 250 and 500 litres of methane gas every day – which is huge.

Every year the number of animals, kept for killing by humans, rises. In 2017, 70 BILLION animals were killed for food. With huge numbers of cattle being reared for meat and dairy, methane production has gone up exponentially. Recent estimates show that the livestock industry alone annually produces a quantity of methane which equals 2.2 billion tonnes of carbon dioxide.

India, China and Brazil together are the top producers of meat and dairy. Brazil and India are in the top three largest exporters of beef in the world. India is also the largest producer of milk in the whole world. More milk is produced in India than all the European Union countries combined. Between the three of us we create 70% of the methane being released into the air (the other methane producers are coal and rice, and China and India are number one in both) .

The sheer number of animals is destroying the planet as we know it. You eat meat and a tsunami destroys parts of the Philippines. You eat meat and a cyclone hits Sri Lanka or Tamil Nadu. The connections have to be made.

But I come back to the point of this article. If the sheer numbers of cattle were not enough, there is another factor that is creasing the amount of methane that the cattle emit: antibiotics.

Most meat/milk producing animals are grown in huge factory farms . You can call them dairies and ranches but they are holding prisons for animals. The animals are overcrowded, badly fed, treated with the utmost violence. As a result, most of them – from chicken to cattle – are ill. The cattle industry grows every year, and the techniques to extract the largest possible profit are also becoming more sophisticated. It is common practice to regularly inject cattle with antibiotics, specially tetracycline, to help them grow larger, gain weight quicker, and mitigate diseases they have picked up through bad sanitation and  food in the factory farm. Livestock animals are fed 80% of the world’s antibiotics.

There are a number of problems with this – it builds antibiotic resistance in animals and humans consuming the meat or dairy. But my purpose in this article is different. The problem with antibiotics most relevant to our discussion is the fact that they increase the level of methane emissions from cattle.

Research conducted at the University of Colorado in Boulders shows that antibiotic treatment more than DOUBLES the methane production of the animal. If a cow is producing 500 litres, it now produces 1000 litres of methane every day. The study indicates that tetracycline treatment reduces the natural bacteria in the stomach of cows and encourages the growth of methanogenic archaea – methane producing microbes – in the intestinal tract, altering the balance permanently.

The dung of cows treated with tetracycline had a different microbial balance, leading to the production of nearly 50-80% more methane than the dung of non-treated cows. Both the dung and burps of antibiotic-fed cows have been observed to have high methane content.

On one hand the world is looking for ways to reduce methane production by promoting renewable sources of energy, introducing energy efficient devices, setting safety parameters for landfills, checking natural gas leaks and finding ways to reduce coal.

On the other hand we are feeding increasing amounts of antibiotics to cattle, dangerously increasing their levels of methane emission. More than 1.4 billion cows are being bred globally to feed humans. Animal agriculture as a whole, which includes over 10 billion animals, now contributes 20% of the total greenhouse gas emissions in the world.

Millions of dollars are being spent by researchers in New Zealand on developing a vaccine to help reduce the burping of cows! German scientists are breeding a genetically modified cow who will produce less methane. Why not consider the simple option of keeping cattle better, improving the feed and holding conditions in factory farms so that antibiotics are not needed or used. The methane emissions will immediately come down by half.  

The problem is that the meat and dairy industry want to increase their profits TODAY. Less money spent on welfare of the animals and more spent on cheap antibiotics that keep them alive till they are killed makes more money today. They would much rather put money into a genetically modified cow who is bigger and fatter with bigger teats and shorter legs .

A 2006 United Nations report indicates that more greenhouse gases are produced by raising cattle than cars and trucks combined.

The core of the problem lies in the fact that we have allowed businessmen to get away with enormous cruelty for almost a century now. Naturally this will start to affect us as well , if you believe in the law of Karma.

Removing antibiotic usage from the animal rearing industry will reduce methane. But it can only be done if the cattle themselves are well treated, allowed to roam free, given good food. The best way to remove methane is, of course, to stop eating meat. And the demand reduces, so will the supply.

Methane stays in the atmosphere for a much shorter time than carbon dioxide. If we were to stop producing it, it would disappear from the atmosphere in 4-9 years and global warming would come to a halt. It all depends on what you eat and how little you care about your own survival.

Maneka Sanjay Gandhi
Pl. add: To join the animal welfare movement contact,

If you were an alien that dropped in on the planet and you heard that most people

If you were an alien that dropped in on the planet and you heard that most people on the planet had access to less than a bucket of water a day, because other people used ridiculous amounts of water to grow, feed, clean and kill animals so that they could eat them – when they didn’t need to – what would you say? In the cult book, Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy by Douglas Adams, the Universe has decided that Planet Earth must be flattened and removed to make way for a highway. We don’t have to wait for the universe to kill us – we are doing this to ourselves every day.

The meat industry uses a third of the world’s freshwater directly or indirectly. The global production of meat is moving towards doubling, from 229 million metric tons in the year 2000 to a projected 465 million metric tons by 2050. The burden on this planet’s water resources is already unsustainable. To understand the gravity of this situation, consider this fact – if every country in the world were to follow the high meat consumption patterns of America, the world would have already run out of water in the year 2000.  However with India and China becoming increasingly non vegetarian, we are going to run out of water in another 25 years – and many of you will be alive to see this.

40 billion animals are killed every year. The largest number of victims of this annual massacre are chickens, so while they are smaller than cattle, they make up in sheer numbers.

Poultry is a booming industry in India, with chicken meat being projected to the masses as a cheap and nutritious food. One kg of chicken in India can be bought for as less as Rs 100, which is sometimes cheaper than even dal! For some reason it is seen as aspirational – with families declaring their status by eating chicken, rather than beef or mutton, as they climb the social ladder. Foreign fast food chains are popularizing it – except, what you eat in most of them is not chicken but a kind of pink slime which is architecturally made to look like chicken. The Global Agricultural Information Network says that the consumption of processed chicken in India is rising rapidly at 15-20% per year. In 2017 chicken production increased by 7%, reaching 4.5 million tonnes. According to the Indian Department of Animal Husbandry, Dairying and Fisheries, an estimated 238 crore chickens were slaughtered for their meat in 2016-17 in India. About 70% of this poultry production is controlled by large companies, which run hatcheries, feed mills and slaughter facilities – using huge amounts of water at every stage of production.

Water is used for producing the grain feed for chickens, for their drinking, maintenance of their surroundings, for killing and cleaning the birds and then processing their meat. Poultry creates a huge amount of water pollution at different stages of production, so that water cannot be recycled, used for crops, or drunk. It is full of antibiotics and pesticides and creates a massive health problem if anything is grown with it. These two factors combined – water used and water polluted – create the high water footprint of poultry.

238 crore birds  means more than double the population of India. If each simply took one litre a day, even then it means 238 crore litres daily – more than is available to the humans in all the villages of North India. But it is NOT one litre a day, or 365 litres a year. It is far, far more.

Poultry birds consume corn, soybean meal, pearl millet, broken wheat and broken rice – mostly concentrates, which are grown with artificial irrigation. On an average, the production of one kilogram of these concentrates requires 1000 litres of water. If poultry birds were being fed the natural way, by being allowed to graze, the concentrates required would be 40%, but the modern industrial poultry confines them to small cages where they have to be fed 70% concentrates in the bird feed. Since most farms use chemical fertilizers to expedite the growth of feed, they pollute many more litres of water in the process, adding to the water footprint.

In a poultry facility with 1000 birds, approximately 400 litres of water is  used daily for drinking purposes. Modern broiler houses, which have cramped cages with birds in spaces that they cannot even raise their wings, need cooling systems to keep the hot, irritable birds alive. These cooling methods utilize large amounts of water during hot weather. More water is also used in clearing the excreta and shed feathers of the birds, and cleaning the area.

Birds are stunned in huge electric water baths before being killed. These use a large amount of water and have to be changed frequently as the birds defecate and urinate as they die. Their bodies are dipped into boiling water for the process of scalding – to help remove feathers. After this, the body is again dipped in cold water to maintain the quality of its skin.

Thousands of litres of water go into evisceration – the removal of the internal organs of the bird, to make it ready for consumption. Water is used in the cleaning and sanitation of equipment and facilities, and for cooling the compressors and pumps. Just the processing of the dead body is estimated to take 35 litres per bird. Multiply 238 crores by that.

The wastewater let out from these processing plants contains pollutants and suspended matter. This is usually not treated properly before being let out, and it pollutes the water in the surrounding areas making it unfit for any other use.

On an average, an estimated 4,325 litres of water goes into the production of just one kilogram of chicken meat. When you eat a kg of chicken, you are drinking 4325 litres – more than one village gets in Uttar Pradesh in a week. This compares to 322 litres for one kg of vegetables, 962 litres for one kg of fruit and 1,644 litres for a kg of cereals and grains.

India has the best vegetarian food in the world, the largest array of vegetables and grains. Pulses and soya are good alternative sources of protein, which require much less water. One gram of protein from chicken uses 34 litres of water for its production. The same gram of protein from pulses uses only 19 litres of water.

India is not in a position to be indulging in water wastage for this kind of luxury. Water shortage, drought and famine are a present reality for us. Richer countries are importing virtual water from us in the form of chicken and eggs, but it will be developing countries like ours that will first see the effects of a world without water.

No, you cannot do what Israel is doing: using machines to turn the ocean water into drinking water. The oceans are being rapidly drained of fish and already there are a large number of dead zones in the ocean where nothing grows – you can look these up on Google. The water is dead and no one can use it for anything. If you want to turn into an environmentalist and humanitarian, don’t do anything more than stop eating meat.

Maneka Sanjay Gandhi
Pl. add: To join the animal welfare movement contact,

I’ve heard many people suggest that fish is much healthier than red meat and chicken.

I’ve heard many people suggest that fish is much healthier than red meat and chicken. Non-vegetarians are encouraged to make the move to fish and seafood. Some time ago I published a chart which showed that, calorie for calorie, fish was heavier than meat, and its fat content was higher. Also much higher are the pesticides, PCBs (the most carcinogenic of all chemicals) and human faeces content (as shown by the Indian Institute of Oceanography).

Breeding fish for human consumption, or aquaculture, is a fast-growing industry around the world. In India, fish production has increased by 11-fold .We have become the second largest producer of fish in the world, after China. In 2015-16, an estimated 10.4 million tonne of fish was produced in our country, making up about 6.4% of the world’s total production. India is the highest exporter of fish exports and our exports of fish and related products are increasing at over 14% annually – twice the pace of other countries.

Fish farms, encouraged by the government‘s policy of Blue Revolution, are popping in all parts of the country, breeding both freshwater and saltwater fish. As the oceans and rivers lose their fish, 40% of commercial fish now come from aquaculture.

How do these farms operate? There are no vets, no training systems to the villages that change their community ponds to privately managed fish farms. The villager, who is given the pond, is never educated about the anatomy of the fish, what it feeds on in the wild and what it can digest, its diseases, sanitation of the pond, maximum stocking numbers etc. All that is desired from him is that he grow the most and the largest fish quickly. The result is that fish growers feed the animals badly (many of them feed them human faeces only) and rely on unnatural methods, such as chemically formulated feeds, antifungals, agrochemicals and antibiotics. Formalin and malachite green are chemicals used as disinfectants in the ponds. They are known to be toxic, but no one has banned them in India.

Fish are living beings and require the same thing as we do to stay well - wholesome, natural, pesticide free, non-poisonous food and water. In the absence of that, they fall ill. Antibiotic use has increased substantially in fish farms and hatcheries to overcome the sanitary shortcomings and the resultant bacterial infections.

Fish are usually bred in filthy tanks or net cages. The overcrowding, and the inability to recognise and isolate diseased fish (after all there are NO fish vets in our country), encourages the quick spread of disease. In order to control and prevent this, prophylactic antibiotics are administered either by treating the water, or mixing in  the food, or giving them injections. All scientific reviews across the world have shown that this leads to elevated levels of antibiotic residues, antibiotic resistant bacteria, persistent organic pollutants, metals, parasites and virus in aqua-cultured fish and shellfish

Many antibiotics administered to the fish stay in their systems till they are killed. Some antibiotics are non-biodegradable and remain in the water for months. When fish die, they are mashed and thrown into the water to feed other fish. Unconsumed food and fish faeces fall to the bottom of the water body and leach into the ground.  Commercial ponds for fish are almost never drained or cleaned. When one batch of fish is taken out and killed, the antibiotics in the water affect the next batch of fish in the same tanks.

Two things result : the fish become immune to particular antibiotics and so more and more intense combinations have to be tried out on them to keep them alive. These transfer through their meat to the eater. But the vegetarian falls prey as well. The water leaches onto the land that grows vegetables and grains. Those coastal aquaculture farms in Orissa send the contaminated water out into the sea. The antibiotics are washed out to distant places and eaten by other fish including shellfish. So, even people selling wild fish to consumers are selling contaminated dead bodies.

Many antibiotics used to treat fish are also used for the treatment of human diseases. Oxytetracycline, sulfamerazin, flumequine, sarafloxacin, erythromycin and ormethoprim, for example, are used to treat bacterial infections, skin ulcers, diarrhoea, septicaemia, kidney disease etc. in salmon, catfish, trout and other commercially-raised fish. In regulated countries, like Italy, investigations show that trout and seabass have concentrations of antibiotics between 250 to 600 milligrams per kg. In India which is entirely unregulated, the concentrations will be much higher.

Till today, nowhere in the world and least of all in India are there any standard disease prevention and treatment regulations for aquaculture. Since there are no antibiotics specifically designed for fish, human antibiotics are used. In the United States, it is estimated that 150 pounds of antibiotics are put into every acre of pond. Norway uses natural structures like fjords for salmon farming and from there the antibiotics spread into the ocean.

When humans eat antibiotically infested meat, then their bodies become resistant to these medicines. A team of British and Irish scientists has documented that fish pathogens, such as Aeromonas, can transmit their antibiotic resistance to human pathogens such as E.coli. E.coli and salmonella bacteria are now resistant to trimethoprim, sulphonamide and streptomycin – all previous front runners in combating these two infections that take an increasing number of human lives every year – and the reason is fish . Scientists have demonstrated that the bacterium that was responsible for the Latin American epidemic of cholera in 1992 was antibiotic resistant as a result of heavy use in the Ecuadorian shrimp industry.

The use of quinolones has been restricted for use in aquaculture-industrialised countries because they are vital for human infections. They are not biodegradable and remain in the ground for years. However, quinolone use is totally unrestricted in India, China and Chile. For example, in Chile 10-12 metric tonnes  of quinolones are used for humans and 110 tonnes are used in aquaculture annually. In China and India quinolone resistance has emerged as an important  public health problem.

Apart from building drug resistance, the consumption of antibiotics has other serious repercussions on humans. It alters the flora in our bodies, creating the risk of bacterial infections. (In layman terms, when you take antibiotics over a period of time, do you not notice the change in faeces? This shows that the flora in your intestines has changed and digestion is different). Humans become vulnerable to allergies. These remain undiagnosed because you are unaware of the antibiotics that you have been eating. Over a period these make the body vulnerable to major diseases like cancer. For example, the residue of chloramphenicol in food can result in aplastic anaemia, leading to serious bone marrow diseases. Nitrofuran antibiotics are known to cause cancer.

We are all vulnerable to the fish farm antibiotic epidemic that is being inflicted on us in the name of money. You will eat them directly through fish or fish products. You will drink them in the water that comes from underground sources that have been contaminated with discarded water from the fish ponds. You could irrigate your crops with water not knowing that it has been the recipient of antibiotic rich fish water. This water may also be consumed by other animal species, the meat or milk of which humans then consume. Antibiotics affect all the flora and fauna around the fish farms and alter the ecosystem. Nobody is safe anymore. First you eat the fish. Then it eats you.

 The World Wildlife Fund Salmon Aquaculture Dialogue commissioned a report on chemical use in salmon farming across the world. The committee of expert scientists found “…this use of large scale antibiotics can only be explained by excessive prophylactic (preventive) use. This is in general the result of shortcomings in rearing methods and hygienic conditions that favour animal stress, opportunistic infections and their dissemination.”

It is time that we understand what we are doing in the name of boosting the economy. There is no point making money if most of it is going to create hospitals to treat "untreatable" disease.

If we are going to continue with this unsustainable blue revolution (the Green revolution has been an unqualified disaster. No pests were eliminated and the ground is now contaminated beyond repair. Each farmer is in debt due to his utter dependence on pesticide, fertilizer and huge amounts of water) we need to get the fundamentals right. Instead of trying to reach goals of More, Bigger, Faster, we need to put our attention on how to make sanitary conditions better, stop the overcrowding, create fish veterinarians and inspectors, ban antibiotics. Until this is done, stop eating fish, and the next time you hear someone rave about how fish is  healthy, share this with them.

Maneka Sanjay Gandhi
Pl. add: To join the animal welfare movement contact,

Recently the Hyderabad based Muslim seminary Jamia Nizamia, started in 1876

Recently the Hyderabad based Muslim seminary Jamia Nizamia, started in 1876, issued a ban on Muslims eating prawn, shrimp, and crabs, calling them Makruh Tahrim (abominable)
According to Islam, there are three categories of food : Halal (allowed) , Haram (prohibited, Makruh (strictly to be avoided as abominable)

Most Muslims eat meat, every kind. In fact the religion defines itself by the eating of meat – even though the Holy Prophet was a vegetarian. However, most Muslims have no idea of what they are allowed to eat. The maximum they know is that butchery is divided into two – Muslims eat Halaal and non-Muslims eat Jhatka. (It is another matter that the animals slaughtered in India are neither halaal nor jhatka and make a mockery of both religions) If you have Muslim acquaintances, you could pass this on to them.

There are four categories of food -

1.  Halal - lawful.

A halal slaughter involves a sharp knife. The animal should not see before it is slaughtered; the animal must be well rested and fed before slaughtering, and the slaughtering may not take place in front of other animals.  The jugular vein of the neck should be cut in order to drain all the blood of the live animal and the butcher should invoke Allah's name saying "Bismillah" in order to take the animal's life to meet the lawful need of food. Only vegetarian animals are allowed to be killed. Birds that eat seeds and vegetables are permitted. Birds that eat forbidden items like insects are only permitted if insects are not a major part of their diet. Insects such as Locusts are permitted, all others forbidden. Fruits and Vegetables must be inspected before eating to see that they have no insects. Fish killed by removal from water, or by a blow, are permitted. Shellfish are forbidden. Cheeses coagulated with acid or vegetable enzymes are permitted. Grains are permitted, provided they have not been prepared using animal fats or other forbidden ingredients. Vinegar which is not made from fermenting alcohol is permitted.

2.  Haram - forbidden, unlawful.

Haram is an Arabic term meaning "forbidden".

Acts that are haram are prohibited in the religious texts of the Quran and the Sunnah. If something is considered haram, it remains prohibited no matter how good the intention is, or how honourable the purpose is. 

In Islamic law, dietary prohibitions are said to help with the understanding of divine will.

Muslims are prohibited from consuming flowing blood. Meats that are considered haram, such as pork, dog, cat, monkey, or any other haram animals, can only be considered lawful in emergencies when a person is facing starvation and his life has to be saved through the consumption of this meat. However, these meats are NOT considered a necessity or permissible if his society possesses excess food. All carnivores with fangs such as lions, tigers, wolves, dogs, cats are haram. All birds with talons such as  hawks, falcons, vultures, eagles are haram. Domesticated donkeys are haram. Animals which are commanded to kill such as mice, scorpions, snakes, are haram. In fact all reptiles, amphibians (frogs) and rodents are haram. Any animal that has died before being slaughtered in the Islamic manner, or has not been properly slaughtered, is haram. Animals that are slaughtered in the name of anyone but Allah are prohibited.

Intoxicants, or Khamr, are prohibited in Islam. The Prophet forbade the trading, export, import, gifting of intoxicants, even with non-Muslims. It is not permissible for a Muslim to work in, or own, a place that sells intoxicants. This is not just alcohol but intoxicants, such as tobacco, paan, dokha, and khat. A Muslim is not even allowed to sit at a table where alcohol is being served. Heroin, cocaine, marijuana, and any other substances which cause intoxication, are also forbidden.

Nutmeg, asafoetida, vanilla extract and gelatine are also forbidden, either due to being intoxicants containing alcohol (vanilla extract) or other forbidden items such as pig parts (gelatine). This actually rules out most confectionary, as it contains nutmeg, vanilla extract and gelatine.

Anything made from a human part is haram. (But all commercial biscuits use melted human hair called L Cysteine. And most of the world’s supply comes from the Hindu temple of Tirupati where the hair has been consecrated to the Hindu goddess).

Carnivorous animals, birds of prey and land animals without external ears (i.e. snakes, reptiles, worms, insects etc.)  Since all birds eat insects as the larger part of their diet , this  should technically rule out all of them including chickens. But only Muslims run roadside chicken shops. Foods contaminated with blood or by-products, or any of the above products, is illegal.

3.   Mashbooh, Mushtabahat - questionable or doubtful.

There is a grey area called mushbooh. If one does not know the Halal or Haram status of a particular food or drink it should not be consumed.

4.   Makrooh - inappropriate, distasteful or offensive.

Although makruh actions are less severe than haram, it is recommended to avoid performing them. This will give a Muslim a better chance of reaping Allah's rewards.

Makruh food, determined by the Quran, states that man should only eat pure food, and anything that is impure is regarded as makruh. This includes food that is spoiled or rotten. Into this comes now prawn , shrimp, crabs – all of which are carrion eaters.

So, a Muslim should look out for :

Soup stock made of bones as these are likely to have pig in them, unless specially stated. Any cosmetic (lipstick etc.), or food dye of a pink/red colour as these are usually made from crushed and dried female insects called Cochineal beetles. Lard, which is usually fat from swine  and is used in pastry. Gelatine, which is obtained by boiling the bones, and other waste parts of animals, and forms the basis of most sweets and jelly.

I am not even going into the emulsifiers used in food like Diglycerides and others (E470 to E483) which can be obtained from pork, or non-halal sources, or magnesium stearate which is used in medicine tablets. Even digestives have pepsin: a digestive enzyme made from pig stomachs.

Maneka Sanjay Gandhi
Pl. add: To join the animal welfare movement contact,

When was the last time you saw or even heard a frog ?

When was the last time you saw or even heard a frog ? Twenty years ago. One of the reasons why we have so many mosquitoes is because we have killed off their main predators – the frogs. For many years we exported millions of frogs' legs to France, cut from living frogs. By the time the government banned it, the creatures were already in steep decline. Then came the pesticide onslaught, the drying up of wetlands, water contamination, the invasion of human settlements into the Western Ghats and they are almost gone. In the 1950’s gynaecologists would inject African Clawed frogs with a pregnant woman’s urine and if she was pregnant the frog would ovulate and produce eggs in a day. Between the 1940s and 1970s, hospitals imported the frogs in great numbers. Toads from the Bufo genus were also used, which led to the term "Bufo test." Millions died.
Is there any creature left that is not misused by the human? The Waxy Monkey Tree Frog of South America has, on its back, a substance called Dermorphin, 40 times more potent than morphine in blocking pain and creating a feeling of euphoria. The mafia in the racehorse industry use it to prod their horses into going faster, inspite of the severe whipping by their jockeys. The blood of 30 horses, tested recently in the US, showed this illegal substance.

A hundred years ago scientists, experimenting with skin grafts for humans, used to cut patches off living frogs and try to graft them onto human wounds. Not one worked but imagine the agony that this little creature went through.

Pilibhit was full of frogs. They crossed the road to mate and we would often stop the cars and wait for the suitors to cross before we proceeded. Once I found my security guard, a six foot warrior from Haryana frozen after a meeting. He pointed trembling at his feet. A frog sat comfortably on his shoe.

No more. I haven’t seen a frog in the last three years.

Frogs cannot survive climate change of any kind. Their eggs have no shells and are extremely vulnerable  to sunrays which cause mutations. Amphibians are considered important indicators of ecosystem health because their porous, absorbent skin makes them highly susceptible to pollution and climate change. Many frog and amphibian species around the world have suffered die-offs in recent years because of a lethal fungus that infects their skin and spreads quickly between geographic areas. The chytrid fungus is worse than the bubonic plague. Unfortunately, the pet industry (and earlier the medical industry)– which has done more to destroy entire species than any other – took the African Clawed Frog  in the 1970s all over the globe. This frog carries the deadly fungal infection chytridiomycosis which has wiped out frogs everywhere. In a recent report on the sharp decline of the frogs in the US, researchers found that frogs have been disappearing from their habitats at the rate of 3.7 % a year.

You will be sorry your children never saw them. They are remarkably wonderful beings, both clever and beautiful. India and South America have the most and we are still discovering new species every few months. India has tiny purple ones that fit on your thumb. For sheer cuteness, our show-stealer might be the "foot-flagging frog," that sticks out its back foot and waves it like a hitchhiker to tell females he is available. They are smart, with beautiful colours and scientists have just discovered that many of them speak a proper language.

Even a developing frog embryo in its jellylike mass is a clever being. If a predator comes, the red eyed tree frog embryo detects the threat simply from the vibration and drops out of its egg  to safety within a few seconds – even though the official hatching is still a few days away. The embryo knows the difference between the vibration of a raindrop, a leaf and a snake, wasp or fungus ! His mother has chosen a strategic spot – a leaf that overhangs water so as the frog hatches it can go straight in as a tadpole.

The frog is a fascinating parent. Male Darwin frogs in Chile swallow their children in the tadpole stage, incubate them in their vocal sacs and then spit out as fully formed froglets. These unique creatures are now vanishing because Chile’s forests are being cut down at an alarming rate to supply the wood/paper industry. One of the two species has not been seen since 1980 and is marked as extinct. The other is less than 2000. Another unique species of Australian frog – last seen in 1985 and now declared extinct- were gastric brooders. The female swallowed fertilized eggs, turned her stomach into a uterus and gave birth to froglets through the mouth. Timber harvesting and the chytrid fungus are the culprits again. This phenomenal reproduction will never evolve again in any species.

The first frog, who lived 70 million years ago, was a predatory creature known as the devil frog. Called  Beelzebufo ampinga (after the devil Beezelbub!), he lived in what is now Africa, and had  a massive globular head, sharp teeth, spiky flanges protruding from the back of its skull and plate-like armour down its back. The frog's spiked body armour may have helped it fend off the dinosaurs and crocodiles that prowled during that time. He hunted by hiding and pouncing on small mammals.

The mass extinction that wiped out the dinosaurs paved the way for frogs to explode in numbers and diversify. According to the American Museum of Natural History, which is updated in real time, as of April 2015, there are 6,482 species in the Anura order (frogs and toads). But for each species that we discover – and we discover them every year– several are wiped out. Even the ones we discover have only a few representatives left. Just enough for the universe to show us what we are losing.

Maneka Sanjay Gandhi
Pl. add: To join the animal welfare movement contact,

In today’s newspapers I read that doctors in the US have advised that men who want

In today’s newspapers I read that doctors in the US have advised that men who want children should freeze their  sperm before they are 25, as one in 6 men become infertile very quickly. In a previous article, I had discussed the studies that prove animal fats are related to decline in semen quantity and quality. While this may have seemed like enough reason for men to stay away from meat and dairy, there are still more compelling factors.

Fat-soluble oestrogen – the primary female sex hormone – is present in very high concentration in dairy and other animal products like eggs. In fact, milk and dairy products are the largest source of dietary oestrogen for humans. They account for 60-70% of the estrogens consumed. This has a ‘feminizing’ effect on men. Studies have shown that men who consume more milk and dairy products have higher levels of estradiol, a ‘female’ hormone. This can lower the body’s production of testosterone – the primary male sex hormone – with the effect of raising voice pitches, increasing male breasts and erectile dysfunction.

Modern dairy farming practice is even worse for men. Over 75% of commercial milk originates from pregnant cows – a time when their oestrogen levels are markedly high. With years of genetic tampering, cows and buffaloes now give milk throughout their pregnancy. Further, most milk producers make their animals pregnant within a couple of days of their giving birth, to maximize production. The cow is thus pretty much always pregnant, producing oestrogen high milk through the year. There was a time when 3 litres of milk in a native cow was considered excellent. Now, the cow/buffalo owner aims for up to 15 litres a day, and abroad this goes up to 24 litres per day. This is far from natural.

The whey of milk from non-pregnant cows has about 30 pg/mL of estrone sulphate – a natural steroid found in oestrogen. This increases to 151 pg/mL during early pregnancy and goes up to 1000 pg/mL at the last stages of the pregnancy. Milk particularly holds high levels of steroids from oestrogen, twice as much as is found even in the plasma of the animal (which means her milk is worse than her meat for men).  The average range of healthy estradiol levels in men is usually 10 to 40 pg/mL. Estradiol  is a steroid, an oestrogen, and the primary female sex hormone. It is used to treat symptoms of menopause such as hot flashes, and vaginal dryness, burning and irritation.

The increased oestrogen levels in pregnant cows are essential to sustain the new life in their wombs and when they are young. However, most calves of dairy cows are separated from the mothers soon after their birth and bottle fed with powdered milk, or the milk that is considered unfit for humans. The milk, along with its high oestrogen content intended for the growth of the baby in the womb and the baby calf, is diverted to humans instead.

Meat is another major source of oestrogen in our diet. This is more prominent in modern animal farming practice, where it is common to give cattle food, injections or subcutaneous implants of oestrogen, often in combination with other hormones. This encourages early maturity of animals, increases their weight faster so that slaughterhouses can kill them sooner, thus increasing production and profits.

Xenoestrogens – chemicals with demasculinizing, or feminizing effects, are found in animal fat and cannot be removed by washing and cooking. Through consumption, these accumulate in human fat.

A study by Maruyama et al. in 2010 shows that dairy food intake has also been related to decreased secretion of LH, FSH and testosterone in men. LH and FSH work together to regulate the development of the sex glands and sperm production. Both together stimulate the production of testosterone. A Japanese study conducted with men and pre-pubertal boys, found that drinking cow's milk resulted in increased serum oestrogen and progesterone levels. This increase suppressed GnRH secretion from the brain, in turn resulting in lowered testosterone secretion in the men and boys. The study found the intake of milk, and other dairy products, is associated with higher levels of estrone, estriol and pregnanediol in boys . Excess oestrogen can delay attainment of puberty in the case of boys, and speed it up for girls.

In 2013, Afeiche et al., at the University of Rocehster, conducted a study with young, physically active men as subjects. It was found that the more these men consumed dairy food, the lesser the number of their sperm and the lower was this sperm’s activity. A study done in 2014 by Schisterman et al. came to the same conclusion.

As males grow older, there is a reduction in the amount of testosterone produced by the testes, while estradiol levels continue to remain high. While a certain level of estradiol is necessary for vascular health, excess levels can have a negative impact. Excess oestrogen can manifest itself in symptoms such as developing breasts, excess abdominal weight, tiredness, loss of muscles mass and emotional disturbances.

In a study conducted in the USA with approx. 40,000 men visiting a sperm lab, it was found that an increase in semen quality was associated with a decrease in mortality, pointing to the fact that semen quality may therefore be an important marker of overall male health. This is not to be taken lightly. Apart from the ‘feminizing’ effect that dairy and meat can have on men, they also increase the chances of testicular and other kinds of cancer, due to increased levels of oestrogen.

Studies show that high level of oestrogen can increase the risk of heart disease. Conversely, there are numerous studies indicating that higher testosterone levels can drastically reduce the risk of cardiovascular disease among men.

If you are worried that giving up milk will affect calcium intake, think again. Green leafy vegetables not only contain more calcium than milk, this calcium is also absorbed much more easily into our bodies through vegetable consumption.

So, if you find that your body looks less and less like that of a male, and you have a problem sexually, stop consuming extra oestrogen.  This means cutting out animal fats, such as milk, milk products, eggs and meat, from the diet. Cruciferous vegetables, like broccoli and cauliflower, contain indole-3-carbinole, which is effective in reducing the oestrogen levels in the body. Other effective foods are mushrooms, pomegranate, red grapes, seeds (flax, sesame etc.), whole grains (wheat, oats, millet, barley, rice etc.) and green tea. So go on. Make the change.

PS: Scientists in the journal Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences have found that the pesticide atrazine can turn male frogs into females. The atrazine levels experimented with were what the frogs would experience in environments where the pesticide is used, and below levels that are considered safe for drinking water. Scientists compared this atrazine-exposed group with male frogs reared in atrazine-free water. At the end of the experiment, all frogs in the atrazine-free group remained male, while 10 percent of the frogs exposed to atrazine were completely feminized — they had female anatomy, including ovaries. Frogs exposed to atrazine also had reduced testosterone levels, decreased fertility, and showed less mating behaviour.

Atrazine is used commonly in India, specially on corn (bhutta). It is banned in Europe. Since atrazine interferes with the production of the sex hormone oestrogen, present in people and frogs, the findings could have implications for humans as well.

Maneka Sanjay Gandhi
Pl. add: To join the animal welfare movement contact,

A hundred years from now, if scientists have their way, many humans will be partly pig and baboon.

A hundred years from now, if scientists have their way, many humans will be partly pig and baboon. I mean really, not metaphorically.

Scientists are working on transplanting entire hearts, liver, kidneys, pancreas and lungs from animals to humans. The increasing demand for organs, tissues, and cells, and the dearth of available human organs, have focused scientific interest in taking organs from animals . The term for the transplanting of organs from one species to another is called xenotransplantation and so far it has not worked at all. However entire corporations are at work, slicing and dicing animals so that one day humans can be part pig and part baboon.

The arguments, in favour of animal to human organ transplantation, is that these organs would be available whenever required, instead of making patients wait for  months. An immediate transplantation would perhaps result in improved survival. Instead of waiting for a dead human, whose organs are already slightly damaged, the organs could be taken from healthy animals under anaesthesia.

The pig has become the animal of choice for most companies. Thousands of pigs are being killed to use in human bodies. But, before they get to humans, scientists first transplant their organs into the bodies of baboons to see if they can go into a different species.

Why baboons?  Humans and baboons have 90 percent of their DNA in common, so the captive animal becomes a stand in for a human. Why pigs ? Their organs are of the same size as humans.

Which is the ideal animal species for organ transplants. The animal should have the same sort of anatomy, so that the organ can function well in humans. He should not have any disease that can be transmitted to humans. He should be immune to human diseases. He should have no genes that affect human immune systems. He should be inexpensive to breed and keep and have lots of babies every year. And he should be an animal that humans don’t mind killing.

There is no such animal.

Primates may be somewhat alike in anatomy, but they give and get human infections easily. They don’t breed quick enough and humans ( except scientists) don’t like killing them.

The pig has large litters several times a year and is cheap to feed. The problem is that its blood and all its genetics are far too different. The pig is an entirely different species . It has been 80 million years since the pig and human diverged on the evolutionary scale.  Is it possible to “outwit evolution.”

Not so far. Millions of killed animals later scientists are no further along. The very basic aim – to replace a baboon’s heart with a pig heart – has still not been achieved.

Organ transplants fail because each mammalian species has a system and blood unique to itself  and its immune system is built to reject foreign organs. As soon as human blood is sent through pig organs, the antibodies in the human blood cells are activated against pig cells. Companies are working to add human thrombomodulin protein to pig cells to make them seem more human, so that human cells are less likely to reject them. Through microinjection techniques, and in vitro fertilization, five human genes have been added to the pigs' livers, kidneys and hearts.

The pig has a galactose oligosaccharide enzyme, Gal, which humans don’t. When a pig organ or cells are transplanted into a human, this enzyme causes immediate rejection. Scientists have genetically created a pig that "almost" doesn’t have Gal. However, clinical testing has not finished. The genetically manipulated pigs are called GalSafe pigs.

Unfortunately for the scientists, pigs also have retroviruses in the genome of every porcine cell. These will inevitably be transferred with the donor tissues. This is a grave potential risk, as retroviruses don’t create illnesses in their natural hosts but are devastating to humans. The scientists have discovered a retrovirus in the pig called PERV. Research – published in the journal Science – shows that Perv can make their way from pigs into humans. Opponents of xenotransplantation fear that these viruses, when introduced into a human system, might cause epidemics of diseases for which we have no immunity and no cure.

Large commercial companies like eGenesis claim that they have removed these threatening viruses from the animals' DNA. They have cut out genes and blasted the rest to eradicate all Perv activity to make Perv free piglets.

Scientists say major obstacles remain. “Even if organs from these  gene-edited pigs could be safely used to overcome virus transmission, there remain formidable obstacles in overcoming immunological rejection and the physiological incompatibility of pig organs in humans.”

Experts in these fields worry that transgenic pig organs, whose organs are no longer completely porcine genetically, may be even more susceptible to viral infections. The humans that get these genetically modified organs would have to be on immunosuppressants for the rest of their lives. While xenotransplantation may theoretically increase the survival time, it is unclear whether the negative impact on the human’ quality of life would be worth it.

The risk of getting and transmitting disease to the recipient and to society cannot be accurately estimated. What impact will it have on the human race, should a new zoonotic infection be introduced, for which we have no cure? Ebola and Aids have killed millions.

If, in the distant future, a pig organ is ever ready for use on a human, these questions arise:

Should the members of a community therefore be consulted if there were any xeno-transplantation donees in their region?  Someone will go to court demanding that, in the greater interest of society a person with an animal organ in their body should be restricted from having physical relationships and socialising, to prevent the possible risk to the wider public from zoonosis. This may result into temporary detentions at home – something written into the contract before consenting to xenotransplantation.

How would a patient give an informed consent to the future restrictions of one’s liberty. Would he not challenge the legality of any such agreements later. They could reasonably argue that they have agreed to the restrictions under duress because of a lack of viable alternatives to xenotransplants.

Even if they were available, the treatment would be immensely expensive. Production of a pathogen free donor organ would involve rearing animals in strictly controlled environments. This means huge costs in developing a sustainable work force to provide transplantation and post-transplant surveillance of the patient.  Insurance providers may not cover expenses of a xenotransplant. Public health care providers may decline to provide this treatment, as it may not be cost effective. Only the very rich will be able to afford it with serious implications for fairness. If public health authorities were to fund expensive interventions like xenotransplantation, other routine treatments of greater medical benefits to society may be jeopardised.

Religions like Islam and Judaism feel that pigs are ‘ritually unclean’. They may therefore not approve of people who have pig organs. Would these recipients be socially acceptable?

The ethical view is that animals have rights similar to those considered appropriate for humans. Is the prolonged  suffering, in the form of constant physical manipulation, isolation and death of an animal, moral? Sheep that have been genetically modified to grow more wool are born blind with legs so weak that they cannot move. What are the physical consequences in a genetically modified pig  .

Wouldn’t it be easier to find a way to grow human organs, rather than killing animals, or modifying them, to become more huma ? Three-D technologies have come in. Meat cells have been successful multiplied to make non-animal meat hamburgers. Grow the person’s own organs and tissues and then use them for auto-transplantation.

In this amazing world of ours, a human will eat and drink the wrong things, not exercise, abuse his body and spray pesticides everywhere. When his organs start failing he will look for women, poor people and now animals, to give him organs so that he can live to carouse some more.

I am totally against this massive slaughter that is going on in the name of scientists getting jobs and pretending to work for the benefit of human kind. Why not go into a brave new world without any moral barriers and raise humans for the purpose of harvesting their organs. 


Maneka Sanjay Gandhi
Pl. add: To join the animal welfare movement contact,

All living beings require vitamins, essential micronutrients, and these should come through the diet

All living beings require vitamins, essential micronutrients, and these should come through the diet. An extra dose of vitamin has very little nutritional benefit if you are already healthy, but if you are deficient in any vitamin you will require supplements so that your cells and tissues can grow properly. Vitamins facilitate the chemical reactions that produce among other things, skin, bone and muscle. If there is serious deficiency in one or more of these nutrients, you may develop a deficiency disease. Even minor deficiencies may cause permanent damage. Some well known illnesses connected with vitamin deficiencies are beriberi, pellagra, scurvy and rickets.

In 1910 Vitamin B 1(thiamine) was discovered by Japanese scientist Umataro Suzuki and its food source was rice bran. In 1913 Vitamin A (retinol) followed and its food source was considered cod liver oil. Between 1920 and 1948 all the other vitamins were isolated. The last one was Vitamin B 12 (cobalamin) and its source was liver, eggs and any other animal products.

In the 1930s the first commercial yeast-extract vitamin B complex and semi-synthetic vitamin C supplement tablets started being sold.  From then to now, the consumption of vitamins and multi-vitamins has become a common practice in many households. Thirteen vitamins are recognized at present and each one has a particular function. Some function as antioxidants, others, especially in the B group, help enzymes to work.

Vitamins are classified as A, B (including B1 Thiamine, B2 riboflavin, B3 Niacin, B5, B6 (Pyridoxin), B7 Biotin, B9, B12 (Cobalamin), C, D, E and K. As supplements become an integral part of our lives, it is important to know where they come from. The B group has other common names which are on the packaging labels : (thiamine, riboflavin, niacin, pantothenic acid, biotin, vitamin B-6, vitamin B-12 and folate).

Most Indians would be surprised to know how many vitamins are derived from animals and are not vegetarian. Product descriptions are not always honest. While the law directs manufacturers to display the contents of their products, it is not mandatory for them to display the source of these ingredients. Many vitamin supplements are not vegetarian.

Whether or not one opts to continue consuming these vitamins is a personal choice, but you must be aware of their animal content.

Vitamins tablets or capsules usually contain additives that aid in the manufacturing process, or the way the vitamin is digested by the body. These are some of them :

Gelatine is the most commonly used animal ingredient in vitamin supplements. It forms the basis of most capsule shells and is also used in the coating and filling of tablets. Gelatine is derived from boiling hooves, stomach, and other tissue linings, of pigs, cows and goats.

Other components of fillers and lubricants, on the coating of vitamin supplements, are magnesium stearate and caprylic acid. Magnesium stearate is derived from stearic acid, which is a fatty acid found in pigs, chicken, cows, fish, milk and butter. Caprylic acid comes from the milk of goats, cows and sheep.

Many tablets are coated with colours to make them look attractive. Many of these colours are animal based. A commonly used red food dye is made from carmine, which comes from the dead bodies of scale insects similar to beetles.

Lanolin is another animal sourced material used to manufacture vitamin D supplements. It is obtained from wool-bearing animals. (D3 is also made from fish oils. This is dangerous because it may have a hidden mercury content). Vegan vitamin D3 supplements, sourced from algae, are a viable alternative. Or, stand in the sun.

Another common ingredient is cod liver oil, which is used as a source of vitamin A and vitamin D. This comes from oils extracted from the liver of cod fish. Vitamin B12 (cobalamin) is often derived from organ meats, especially liver, from lamb, veal, beef, and turkey, fish eggs, clams, mackerel and crab meat. So are Vitamins B 2, B 3, B 5 , B 6, B 7.

Omega-3 supplements usually use products based on fish, fish oil, eggs, meat etc..

Duodenum substances are used in many vitamins to help in the absorption of vital nutrients. These are derived from the digestive tracts of cows and pigs.

Lipase is an ingredient used in digestive enzyme supplements. This comes from the tongues of calves and lambs. Pepsin, which is sometimes included, comes from the stomach lining of pigs. Bone meal is used as a source of calcium in some vitamin supplements. This is basically crushed animal bones.

Calcium supplement tablets have glycerine, which can be extracted from soy or palm but is usually taken from animal tallow (animal fat) . Cholecalciferol, used in all vitamin supplements, is extracted from sheep wool.

Do not listen to people who tell you that some vitamins have to be from meat/dairy extracts. There is no vitamin which is exclusively found in non-vegetarian food. Each vitamin has plant based alternatives.

Vegetable cellulose caps are an alternative for gelatine. Stearates used as fillers and lubricants on coating can be derived from palm oil, rather than animals. There are also vegetable sources of caprylic acid which come from coconut or palm oil.

Alternative sources of Vitamin D include yeast extract ergosterol, algae and, of course, exposing skin to sunshine. Cyanocobalamin, which comes from soy, can be used for Vitamin B12 supplements. Kiwifruit seed oil, chia seed, fig seed oil, hemp, flax and black raspberry are good sources of Omega-3.Vitamin A can be made from carotene.

There are ways to derive lipase from oilseed and cereal seed for use in digestive enzyme supplements. Crushed animal bones, used for calcium, can be replaced by a number of vegetarian sources, including calcium carbonate, kale, mustard greens, soy, broccoli, leeks, spinach, beets, vegetable compost, plant mulch, dolomite and clay.

Despite these vegetable ingredients being available, the hugely profitable health supplement industry often chooses to use animal based products because they are easily available, from slaughterhouses, and cheap.

Apart from plant alternatives, almost all commercially sold vitamin supplements can also be made from synthetic vitamins. There are no chemical differences between vitamins produced synthetically and those derived from plant or animal sources. Synthetic production is becoming more popular, as, such vitamin tablets are easier to produce and found to be even more cost effective than animal products.

More funds need to be channelled, into the R&D of plant alternatives, for use in vitamin supplements. We need to chart a path away from the unnecessary violent methods of producing vitamin supplements. An increase in the consumer demand for plant based supplements will push the industry in a better direction. There are many multivitamin brands that come from animals, or use animals, in their production. Some of these are : Inlife Multivitamin, Centrum, Herbalife, Healthvit, Muscle Pharm Armour V, Revital, Univita, Amway Nutralite, Opti-Men, Muscle Tech Platinum Multi Vit Supplement among others. You need to write and ask the company.

Vitamin supplements don’t promote health, or prevent disease. They simply treat deficiency. As much as possible, we should rather eat a variety of more whole foods directly. This is more sensible, not to say healthier, than trying to derive micronutrients from these same foods and consuming those in tablets.

Maneka Sanjay Gandhi
Pl. add: To join the animal welfare movement contact,

The first known xenotransplantation was done by the god Shiva.

The first known xenotransplantation was done by the god Shiva. Daksha, the father in law of Shiva, organized a yagna. He insulted Shiva and his daughter. Sati, Shiva’s wife, immolated herself in protest. Daksha’s head was cut off and burnt.  Later, when Shiva forgave him, he was brought back to life but with a ram’s head. The more famous decapitation was that of Ganesha. Shiva cut off the head of a baby elephant and transplanted it on to his son’s neck.

For the last 300 years doctors have been trying to replicate this miracle. The process is called xenotransplantation, or the transplanting of non-human organs or cells into a human body.

Thousands of animals have died in the process. And each attempt has been a failure. But that doesn’t stop scientists from trying. After all, animal life is cheap and, in the name of science, one can do anything.

In the 17th century, Jean Baptiste Denis started the practice of blood transfusion from animals to humans. Everyone died and xenotransfusion was banned in France for a number of years. In the 19th century, skin grafts became relatively popular between various animal species and humans. The fact that many of the species used as donors—sheep, rabbits, dogs, cats, rats, chickens, and pigeons—had hair, feathers, or fur, growing from the skin, did not deter the surgeons involved. The ideal graft was from frogs, which were sometimes skinned alive. None of the grafts were successful.

In the 20th century, the French experimental surgeon, Alexis Carrel, developed surgical techniques for joining blood vessels, which enabled organ transplantation to be carried out successfully for the first time. For this work he was awarded the Nobel Prize in 1912. He developed an interest in cross-species transplantation and his techniques became a reason for more people to experiment on animals.

A few years later, Serge Voronoff , a Russian émigré working in Paris,  developed an interest in reversing the effects of aging in elderly men who had lost their “zest for life.” He sliced a large number of chimpanzee or baboon testicles and implanted them in the testicles of old men. None of them had any effect. In fact they created infections and more complications. The concept of transplanting glandular tissue to produce hormones that would benefit the recipient was continued in the United States by John Brinkley, whose chosen donor was the goat, as he had been convinced by a local farmer of its sexual potency. He was later disbarred by the American Medical Association.

In the 1960s, Keith Reemtsma at Tulane University in Louisiana—hypothesized that nonhuman primate kidneys might function in human recipients and thus be a successful treatment for renal failure. By then kidney transplantation from human to human had been established (in the 50s), but the availability of kidneys from deceased humans was extremely limited. Reemtsma selected the chimpanzee as the source of organs, because of its close evolutionary relationship to humans. He carried out 13 of these transplants. While all the chimpanzees died in great pain the experiments failed. One woman lasted 9 months but spent all that time strapped to a bed and hospital catheters.  In another experiment scientists transplanted a pig kidney into a baboon. The baboon died in 5 months.

But the scientists carried on with kidney transplants. Tom Starzl used baboons as donors in Colorado. His results were similar to those of Reemtsma.

James Hardy, in 1964, tried to transplant a chimpanzee heart into a patient who had undergone amputations of both legs—and was in a semi-comatose state at the time the transplant was undertaken. The patient died within a few hours. The chimpanzee, of course, had been killed. In 1967 Christian Bernard also carried out two cardiac xenotransplants. Both failed.

Perhaps the best known clinical cardiac xenotransplantation since Hardy's attempt was that by Leonard Bailey, who transplanted a baboon heart into an infant girl, known as Baby Fae, in 1983. The graft underwent acute rejection and the patient died 20 days later. One of the reasons, which would appear common sense to an average, non medical person, is that baboons don’t have O blood type, which is donor blood. They have ABO which is incompatible with humans.   

Tom Starzl, who is considered one of the pioneers in the field of kidney and liver human to human transplantation, performed a handful of liver transplants between nonhuman primates and young patients in Colorado in the 1960s, with no success. As more immuno-suppressants became available, he performed two liver transplants from baboons into adult patients in the 1990s, with no survivors.

In the meantime xenotransplantation of pig islet transplantation is under way in diabetic patients in New Zealand. A European group has given rhesus monkeys an artificially induced Parkinson like motor disease and is experimenting with genetically modified pig dopamine-producing cells from pig embryos into the monkey brain, so that this can eventually be done with people with Parkinson’s. No luck so far, but there is no shortage of monkeys being imported from Mauritius.

The people of Asia and Africa need new corneas. Experimental corneal xenotransplantation is being done . Transplanting pig corneas into monkey eyes. The recipient needs corticosteroid injections into the eyes for the rest of his life – if the 4 experiments work which they have not done so far. Nebraska Medical Center, is transplanting hearts from pigs into sheep. Pig xenotransplants of heart, kidneys, lungs and livers, into apes carries on. The results? Completely unsuccessful. Does that stop the scientists? Not yet.

Clinics in Europe tout the efficacy of various animal tissues from placentas to blood cells, plasma and  organs for a variety of conditions – from acne to anti-aging. There is no evidence that they work.

The pig is now the creature that is being focused on. Why? Its genetic makeup is completely different from that of a human being. But the reasons are far more commercial. Its organs are the same size as humans, it is cheap to maintain and it has three litters a year, so pigs can be easily available. Does this make any scientific sense. No. But by the time they give up, xenotranplantation companies will have tortured and killed millions of pigs.

In 1969, Nobel Prize winner Sir Peter Medawar, who is considered the father of transplant immunology, stated, “We should solve the problem of organ transplantation by using xenografts in less than 15 years.” It is now 2017 and we are no closer. Norman Shumway, the pioneer of heart transplantation, stated truthfully “xenotransplantation is the future of transplantation, and always will be.”

The scientists are going to keep trying. They get paid for their research and, if they do succeed in producing usable organs from pigs, then there is a Nobel Prize at the end of the rainbow. Who cares about the animals.

Maneka Sanjay Gandhi
Pl. add: To join the animal welfare movement contact,

For years the scientific community has been talking about the uselessness of experimenting on dogs.

For years the scientific community has been talking about the uselessness of experimenting on dogs. According to most scientists and companies that produce pharmaceuticals, dogs have no role to play in proving any drug for humans.

Thirty years ago I had created the CPCSEA in the Environment Ministry. This was supposed to be the apex centre of deciding which experiments and which animals were to be used in India. It was supposed to bring in new ideas and promote safe animal alternatives. Unfortunately, instead of putting first class scientists on it, it was soon overrun by low level ministry directors and it degenerated into a dull and senseless office, which simply holds meeting every now and then to rubber stamp useless and repetitive experiments that lead nowhere and push up the prices and delay the issuance of vital drugs.  

In October 2017, the first ever conference on the use of dogs in testing and research was held in Hyderabad, India. The event was organized by People For Animals India, partnered by Cruelty Free International a London-based scientific research agency, to bring attention to the practical and ethical problems associated with the laboratory testing of dogs. It was attended by government people and by the 16 Indian companies that test on dogs.

Every year, over 2 lakh dogs are used for testing worldwide to evaluate the safety of new chemicals and drugs. Most regulatory agencies around the world require a non-rodent species (usually dogs) to be used in pre-clinical trials to test the effect (toxicity and pharmacokinetics, pharmacokinetics which means the study of the movement of drugs in the body, including the processes of absorption, distribution, localization) of new chemicals before the tests are conducted on humans. This includes testing of pharmaceuticals, agrochemicals, pesticides etc.

Beagles are the most commonly used breed of dogs for animal testing, owing to their passive nature and small size. These dogs are kept in cages for years until the study is complete, and undergo very invasive and painful procedures during this time. Their vocal cords are sometimes cut so they cannot bark when hurt. These dogs rarely have access to veterinarians and are often not even given painkillers. When rescued, test dogs have been seen to have enlarged hearts and various diseases due to their high stress environments. They are also very anxious and scared of humans. It is a difficult task to rehabilitate even those dogs that manage to make it out of laboratories.

The practice of using dogs has become a part of most regulatory protocols over the decades, despite it lacking a scientific basis. The tests on dogs do not validate any drugs. The tests conducted on dogs have no added value and usually do not provide any new useful data which an original test on rodents cannot. It continues to be practiced despite immense public opposition and clear scientific and ethical arguments against it. In fact, tests done on dogs in the '50s delayed penicillin coming into the market, as dogs were found allergic to it and they died. When they were bypassed and humans were administered the test, it turned out to be a lifesaver.

For years, scientists believed that the central physiological functions of circulation, respiration, and nervous system were common to all mammals. However, no species of animal has been identified which has the same absorption, distribution, metabolism, and excretion processes of drugs as humans. It is unlikely that such an animal species will ever be found. Despite this, there is a persisting opinion that animal research has made a significant contribution to the treatment of human diseases. This is not based on fact, as most of the research using animals is known to be wasted.

The primary objection to the specific use of dogs in testing is thus simple – the data derived from dogs is not predictive enough to be applied to the case of humans. Any conclusions that come out of this forced extrapolation (an act of inferring an unknown from something that is known) between two such different species is largely unreliable. And the scientists know that. So, instead of paying attention to, or taking any interest in, the results of tests on dogs, it becomes simply one more step to fulfil on paper for bureaucrats, before they can get down to the real  testing on human beings – which is the only test that matters.

For example, if a new drug is already known to have a 70% chance of not being toxic for humans, a negative test conducted on dogs will increase this probability to just 72%. The dog test thus does not provide significantly new or supporting evidence. It does, however, have a huge financial and ethical cost.

Dogs have always been found to be inconsistent predictors of toxic responses in humans. A study conducted, at the School of Pharmacy, University of Connecticut, as early as 1982 found that most derivatives of the drug benzodiazepine, used in many common medicines, have a much smaller half-life in dogs as compared to humans. As these drugs are processed and metabolized much faster in dogs, results of tests conducted on dogs become irrelevant to predict the side effects or toxicology on humans.

A study by Nerviano Medical Sciences, Italy found that the CYP3A enzyme – which is present in all animals and used to study drug toxicity – is extremely specific to the species being tested. The extrapolation of such data to human subjects is a risky exercise. Dogs are not a good metabolic model for humans due to major differences in their cytochrome P450 enzymes (CYPs), which are the key enzymes involved in the metabolism of over 90% drugs. Other research has also proven that the results obtained by studying drug metabolizing enzymes in animals could not be extrapolated for humans due to the molecular differences among different species.

The Department of Pharmaceutics and Pharmacodynamics at the University of Illinois conducted a study where 43 drugs were administered to dogs and humans. The overall correlation with regard to drug absorption and efficacy was relatively poor (r2 = 0.5123) in comparison to an earlier rat vs. human study on 64 drugs (r2 = 0.975). In fact, even poorer than rats which are tested on to begin with simply as a basic exercise. The data could not be used to build a better understanding of the effects on humans.

Further studies, including one conducted by AstraZeneca, a pharmaceutical company, have shown that several drugs when tested are observed to be free in the plasma of animals, meaning that they do not bind to proteins as they might do in humans and are thus irrelevant for human comparison.

Despite the consistently proven lack of scientific value, tests on dogs continue to be demanded by government regulatory bodies. This can have adverse repercussions on humans. Like penicillin, there could be a number of drugs/chemicals which have an unfavourable reaction on dogs, but may not have such a reaction on humans. There is a risk that a number of potentially useful compounds will be discarded at an early stage due to these early negative results.

On the other hand, there are high chances of drugs passing the tests on dogs but reacting unfavourably on humans. Many toxic compounds can wrongly reach the stage of human testing, and can harm humans in clinical trials. Few people know that 92-94% of all drugs which pass preclinical tests fail in clinical trials on humans – this fact has been revealed by Cruelty Free International after examining hundreds of thousands of studies. This happens largely due to unforeseen toxicities which did not show up in animal tests. Even worse, half of the drugs that get past human trials have been subsequently withdrawn, or re-labelled due to adverse drug reactions which were not detected in animal tests.

The advances in neuroscience and related technology make the practical need and ethics for conducting tests on dogs increasingly questionable. The advent of new technology provides a number of alternatives. Computer simulation programs have been developed, which can simulate cell models to help study effects of drugs at the molecular and cellular level. Such in-silico studies have a better scope at providing important results than studies on animals, as there is better control over the experiment parameters.

Another new method of testing is in-vitro testing, or the Tox21 method, which employs cells obtained from live humans. For example, anti-cancer studies are conducted on human cancer cells taken during surgeries by biopsy. This type of testing also gives researchers a more controlled environment, making the results more reliable and reproducible.

These, and other new methods, have a number of benefits over testing on animals, particularly dogs – they save huge amounts of time and money, they provide more reliable results, the ethical concerns are minimal and the financial and practical implications of rearing animals etc. are much lower. There is benefit for all involved, if a move is made away from animal testing, particularly laboratory testing of dogs.

My teams rescue the beagles that are still alive after the experiments have been done on them for years. If you were to see their state, and realise that all this suffering was for nothing, you would be appalled. The first step has been taken by holding the conference. The pharmaceutical industry says it would prefer not to use them. Now the bureaucrats and government scientists need to  change the protocols that are using our tax money to inflict so much unnecessary harm.

Maneka Sanjay Gandhi
Pl. add: To join the animal welfare movement contact,

Man has always envied the powers of animals.

Man has always envied the powers of animals. His natural instinct was to complete himself in mythology with animal powers and become a superbeing. Angels, fairies, the Greek Drakaina, Mothmen, Seraphs, the Norse Valkyries, the winged genies of Assyria, the Vanth of Etruscan mythology who guide people to the underworld after death, the Chayot of Judaism, are all humans with wings.

Mythology and folklore is full of animal-human hybrids. Most of these have been given divine status – whether of god, or villain, or trickster. In Christian art the devil is depicted with a human body, horns of a goat and a ram, goat's fur and ears, nose and canine teeth of a pig. In ancient Mesopotamia, Pazuzu the king of demons, the southwest wind, bringer of storms and drought, has the body of a man, the head of a lion or dog, the talons of an eagle, two pairs of wings, and a scorpion’s tail. (But though Pazuzu is an evil spirit, he drives and frightens away other evil spirits, protecting humans against plagues and misfortunes).

Human hybrids appear in million-year old cave paintings. These were attempts to depict priests (shamans) in the process of acquiring the mental and spiritual attributes of various beasts.

In India the most famous man-animal combination is Ganesha. But, unlike other cultures, our mythology does not normally mix animals with men in order to worship them. The beauty of the pre-Hindu and Hindu mythology is that it confers divine status on the animals themselves – Kurma the tortoise, Matsya the fish, Garuda the eagle, Jambavan the bear, Kamadhenu the cow (who in later mythology is given a human head, body of a cow, wings, tail of a peacock), Nagas like Sesha who can change into humans at will like Balrama. In the Puranas, Sesha was a human ascetic. Brahma, pleased with his worship, entrusted him with the duty of carrying the world. Sesha changed into a serpent, entered into a hole in the Earth, slithered to the bottom where he then loaded the Earth onto his head. 

In the other mythologies, specially the Greek, Roman, Egyptian, Mesopotamian, Chinese and Japanese, the fusion of man- animal makes the being divine.

Pan is a deity in Greek mythology. He has the torso of a human and hindquarters, legs and horns of a goat. He is the god of the wild, fields, groves, shepherds and flocks, nature and rustic music. He stands for fertility and the season of spring. The word panic comes from him. When disturbed he would shout scaring all. When the giants, called Titans, attacked the abode of the Greek gods, Olympus, Pan frightened the attackers away. The other word that comes from him is “companion” – and that is evocative, for me, of a paradise in which man and animal are friends.

The Greek Satyr is half human, half goat, hedonistically devoted to pleasure. His Roman counterpart is the Faun who is harmless.

Mermaids, half human and half fish are in every mythology but each culture has its own twists. Jengu is a beautiful water spirit of the Cameroon with a human upper body and a fish tail, long hair and gapped teeth who bring good fortune and healing to those who worship her. Sirena and Sireno are mermaids/mermen, from Philippine folklore, who guard the water. The Sirena has an enchanting voice that hypnotizes sailors and fishermen causing shipwrecks. Dagon is a Merman worshipped in Mesopotamia and Assyria as a fertility God. Cecaelia is a female half human, lower half octopus who lives in Lake Yaju, Japan and is a Sea Witch. The Cook Islands have a god called Avatea whose right half is that of a man and the left half of a fish. He is the father of gods and men. His eyes are the sun and moon and he is the god of light.

The Harpy is a Greco-Roman mythological creature with the lower body, wings and claws of a bird and the chest and head of a woman. Harpies are fierce, ill tempered, and live in filth. They are associated with the wind and the underworld and are sent to take those humans away who are unwilling to die. They do vengeful errands for other gods. Lilitus are Greek women with bird legs and wings, demons who work subtly to destroy society by leading mortals into sinful acts.

The Russian Alkonost, with the head of a woman and the body of a bird, makes such beautiful sounds that hearers forget all that they know and don’t want anything more ever again. She lives in the underworld with her counterpart the Sirin. The Alkonost lays her eggs on a beach and rolls them into the sea. When they hatch, a thunderstorm sets in and the sea becomes so rough that it becomes impossible to traverse. The Sirins are half-owl, half-human creatures. They sing to the saints foretelling future joys. Humans found them dangerous, as men, who heard them would forget everything, follow them and ultimately die. People would attempt to save themselves from Sirins by making loud noises to scare the birds off. In Persia the Sirins symbolized eternal joy and heavenly happiness. The Gamayun is also a Russian woman with the body of a bird. She is prophetic and a symbol of wisdom and knowledge.

The Sirens are part of Greek mythology as birds with large women's heads, bird feathers and scaly feet, playing harps. They have beautiful voices which seduced men, killing them.

The Jatakas describe the Kinnaras as half human, half bird, fond of music and song with the female beating a drum and male playing on lute. They go on in later mythology to be celestial musicians and protectors of humans.  

A divine creature of Japanese Buddhist mythology, with the head of a bird and the torso of a human based on the Hindu mythology of Garuda, the Karura is enormous, fire-breathing, and feeds on dragons/serpents who are non-Buddhist.

Horus the falcon headed is one of the most significant ancient Egyptian deities. Horus served many functions, most notably being a god of the sky, war and hunting.

Another creature that straddles many cultures is the half human–half horse. The Anggitay, a Philippine female with the upper body of a human with the lower body of a horse, smells out gems. The Greek Centaur, and his predecessor the Ipotane, have a mystical, ancient energy that reaches the desired outcome for their keeper. In Hinduism, Lord Hayagriva is worshipped as the god of knowledge with a human body and a horse's head, brilliant white in colour, with white garments and seated on a white lotus. Symbolically, the divinity represents the triumph of pure knowledge over the demonic forces of passion and darkness. Probable origins about the worship of Hayagriva go back to 2,000 BC, when Indo-Aryan people worshipped the horse for its speed, strength, intelligence. Hayagriva is worshipped on the day of the full moon in August and on Mahanavami, the ninth day of the Navaratri festival.

There are so many more. The tragedy is that, as we “evolve” we do not include animals in our spiritual fulfilment any more. There are no religions and cults any more that embrace all of Earthkind. In fact, religions like Yazidism, which is based on ancient Mesopotamian beliefs, and practiced by the Yazidis, a minority group in Iraq, have attracted extreme hatred. The Yazidis, who worship a gentle peacock-angel called Melek Tawwus as the archangel, who has been placed by God to care for the world, have been called Satan worshippers and are being systematically exterminated as I write this.

Maneka Sanjay Gandhi
Pl. add: To join the animal welfare movement contact,

Vegetarianism, at its most superficial level, is the not eating of animal flesh.

Vegetarianism, at its most superficial level, is the not eating of animal flesh. And should include milk which is liquid animal flesh. But do you keep track of what the industry feeds you by way of animal organs and glands in one form or another?

Different industries use the animal brain, spinal cord, pancreas, stomach, liver, lungs, kidney and ovaries, endocrine, pituitary, thyroid, parathyroid and adrenal glands.

The glands are extracted and frozen. The surrounding fat and connective tissue are trimmed off. They are placed on waxed paper and kept at −18 °C. When the glands arrive at the pharmaceutical plant they are chopped and mixed with different solutions for extraction, or placed in a vacuum drier. After drying, the glands are milled into a powder and made into capsules, or used in liquid form.

Brains and spinal cords are a source of cholesterol. This is the raw material to make vitamin D Cholecalciferol. Vitamin D is added to dairy products, juices, and cereals that are then labelled as “fortified with vitamin D.”

Cholesterol is a waxy fat-like substance, used in the formulation of eye and face makeup, shaving preparations, and shampoo.

Bile is obtained from the animal’s gall bladder. It is used for the treatment of indigestion, constipation and bile tract disorders and to increase the activity of the liver. Bile from cattle or pigs is sold as a dry extract or in liquid form. Some ingredients of bile, such as prednisone and cortisone, are extracted separately, and used as medicines.

The liver is the largest gland in animals. The liver of mature cattle usually weighs about 5 kg, while that of a pig weighs approximately 1.4 kg. Liver extract is produced by mixing raw ground liver with slightly acidified hot water. The stock is concentrated into a paste in a vacuum at a low temperature, and is used as a raw material by the pharmaceutical industry as a source of vitamin B12, and as a nutritional supplement used to treat anaemia. Heparin, which is used as a blood thinner in humans, is extracted from the liver, lungs and the lining of the small intestines.

Progesterone and oestrogen are hormones extracted from pig ovaries and used to treat reproductive problems in women and in anti-wrinkle face creams.

Relaxin is a hormone taken from the ovaries of pregnant sows, and is used during human childbirth.

The pancreas of pigs and cows provides insulin, which regulates sugar metabolism and is used in the management of diabetes. If you are diabetic and have been injecting yourself, then you have been keeping yourself well (since 1921) with the use of cow and pig extracts. More than two tons of pig parts are needed to extract just eight ounces of purified insulin. 

Glucagon, extracted from the cells of the pancreas, is used to increase blood sugar, and to treat insulin overdoses, or low blood sugar, caused by alcoholism. Chymotrypsin and trypsin are enzymes from animal or fish pancreas, specially cod, and used to improve healing after surgery or injury. Trypsin is used to dissolve blood clots, prevent common colds, and in the food industry to improve the workability of dough in baking, manufacture of sauces to add flavour, cheese, beer and non-allergenic baby food.

Adrenaline or epinephrine is extracted from the adrenal glands of hogs, cattle, and sheep. Injected, it increases blood flow to the muscles, output of the heart, pupil dilation, and blood sugar.

Arachidonic Acid is a fatty acid taken from animal liver and marketed as a bodybuilding supplement. It is also used in skin creams and lotions to soothe eczema and rashes.  

Elastin and collagen is a protein taken from the neck ligaments and aortas of cattle or pigs and marketed as skin anti agers (one of the many fake promises on the market).

Lipase and rennet are two enzymes taken from the stomachs and tongue glands of calves, kids, and lambs. They are used in cheese-making, as clotting agents and in digestive aids. Pepsin comes from pig stomach and has the same uses as rennet.

Palmitic acid and oleic acid are fatty acids which can be obtained from both animal and vegetable fats. Oleic acid is usually taken from tallow, which is animal fat (also used for candles). You will find it in candy, ice cream and some beverages and condiments, soap, shampoos, permanent wave solutions, creams, nail polish, lipsticks and skin creams.

Oleyl alcohol, sold under the name of Ocenol, is a fat found in fish oils which is used in the manufacture of detergents, as a plasticizer for softening fabrics, and as a carrier for medications.

Panthenol, also called pro vitamin B 5, is a common moisturising ingredient used in skin care products, including cosmetics, hair sprays, shampoos, conditioners, nasal sprays, eye drops, lozenges, and cleaning solutions for contact lenses.It is also recommended by tattoo artists as a post-tattooing moisturising cream. It is taken from animal liver and kidneys, lobster, fish shellfish and chicken, but can also be from vegetables, mushrooms, legumes and lentils. If the product does not specify that it is from non-animal sources then take it for granted that it is.

Squalene is the gooey oil squeezed out of shark livers. The beauty industry loves Squalene because it is easily absorbed into the skin without leaving a greasy residue, so you’ll find it in many moisturizers, sunscreens, and oils, hair dyes. Pristane, obtained from the liver oil of sharks, from which its name is derived (Latin pristis, "shark"), is used as a lubricant, skin and hair conditioner and anti-corrosive agent in cosmetics.

Polypeptides are strings of amino acids linked together. Amino acids are the basic building blocks of proteins. Commercially they are derived from animal protein and are used for hair conditioning

Polysorbate is an amber/golden-coloured viscous liquid made from dehydrated sugar alcohol and oleic acid, a fatty acid found taken from cows, sheep and pigs, but can be from vegetable fats if specifically said. Polysorbates 60 and 80 are the most commonly used in food production. The additive increases the shelf life of baked goods and improve its colour and volume. They are commonly found in baked goods, frozen desserts, and imitation coffee creamers. They are often used in cosmetics to make essential oils soluble in water.

Stearic Acid, when animal-derived, is a fat from cows, pigs, and sheep and, abroad, from dogs and cats euthanized in animal shelters. It is used in cosmetics, soaps, lubricants, candles, hairspray, conditioners, deodorants, creams, chewing gum, and food flavouring.

It is not just pigs, cows and sheep that are killed for their organs and glands. Male Musk deer produce a gland oil called musk, which is stored in a hairy pouch just the size of a golf ball, in front of the penis. They are killed for that. The dried gland is chopped into small pieces and left in high-strength alcohol to mature for months. Musk is still used by the fragrance industry. The perfume industry also uses castoreum, which is a secretion from the glands between the pelvis and the base of the tail of the killed beaver.

“Natural Sources” is a very deceptive word. If vegetarian, the food writes clearly that it is from vegetable sources. But, most often in the health-food industry, especially in the cosmetics area, it means animal sources such as organs, glands, fat, protein, and oil. There is a reason that companies write their products in such small type that it is almost impossible to read them, but do try. Your one complaint and insistence on a non-animal alternative could save thousands of lives.

Maneka Sanjay Gandhi
Pl. add: To join the animal welfare movement contact,

I am in Argentina for a few days to attend a Child Labour Conference.

I am in Argentina for a few days to attend a Child Labour Conference. Buenos Aires has wide roads, green trees which are almost the same as what we have in India.  It is Jacaranda season and purple blossoms cover the pavements.  The scent of magnolia flowers wafts through the city. Fresh air, fresh air, fresh air!!!  I can breathe again after choking in Delhi.
On the way to the 8.30 am meetings, I see a new thing: Young people with at least 15 dogs each walking in the parks, crossing the road, or on the wide pavements. The dogs are of all sizes and they walk docilely cheek by jowl with each other. I see at least 14 groups of dogs being walked on just one stretch of road.
 The driver informs me that this is a common occurrence in the city. Young people join dog walking companies. They are trained on how to handle dogs, how to hold them, talk to them and to pick up their faeces with a scooper as they walk. These companies even give diplomas on dog walking. The walkers are taught rudimentary first aid in case there is a traffic accident.
The company gives you an App. With that you can see the start and stop times of the walk, a map of where your dog was taken, along with pee, poo and water breaks. You get pictures and, sometimes, a note talking about what your dog needs. 
Apart from dog walking, companies offer services, like pet taxis, which will take the dog to the vet on specified days or as an emergency service.  Pet vet visits are also arranged for the home. Dog day care can be arranged daily, either at the company's site, or the person will come home for a specific number of hours and look after and play with the dog while you are at office or away for the weekend. There are drop in visits where the person will come for only ten minutes to check on the dog twice a day.
The companies are registered, fully insured and police checked. Each member of the staff is trained – even if it is a young person doing it for their summer holidays – and registered with the police. The company has both, pet sitters and dog walkers, and both know pet nutrition as well.
There are different rates for half an hour onwards for walking. There is another rate, which is less, for something known as a toilet visit. At a specific time, the person will come to your flat, take the dogs out, wait till they relieve themselves, and then return them to your flat.  No walking. Pet vet visits, pet taxies and dog day care are given in a rate card.
Sometimes, when you are at work, you cannot go home for lunch but your dog walker can come in at that time to give your dog a thirty minute walk. Most companies vary the times according to what you need and some offer the dog walker as many as three times a day on whatever days you need them. You can cancel and exchange days according to your convenience. You even have play dates when the company will arrange for your dog to meet a friend at their house, or bring him/her to yours. People who want to recruit these services are encouraged to meet the dog walker first and see them in action.
Whether a stroll around the block with an older dog, or a fast-paced walk with a fit youngster – the companies tailor their services. If you have an older dog who can’t walk far, then it’s just a short easy walk and lots of petting.  If it’s a puppy that needs toilet training, then company people pop in, feed the pup and then take him out to toilet train.  Some companies offer varied things: a city walk may mean just walking for a specified time and length on a leash.  But they also have group adventure walks where dogs run around without their leashes and are trained to return when called. Some offer dog days in which group dogs are collected between 10 am and 2 pm and will be away from home for up to 3 hours, with at least 40 minutes walking time.
 What is the downside in Beunos Aires? There are dog thieves here who steal dogs and sell them to breeders. They follow the group dog walkers and, if they see that he is not too alert, they come in cars and snatch the dogs. But, according to people I interviewed, most of the time, the thieves are caught by the police. And the company is insured, so even if it is small consolation, the owner who loses the dog gets compensation immediately.
Someone needs to start this in India. I am fed up with people calling my hospital and saying they want to give their dog away because they work.  Or older people calling and saying that this is my children’s dog and, now they have gone away, we are too old to look after it so please take it away. These are the people who need a service like this. Service companies who will let you enjoy the dog without having to look after his needs. Exercise is essential for the dog, keeping him mentally and physically alert, building his muscles and preventing obesity and behavioral issues that arise from boredom. A flexible service that exercise the dogs when it suits you, or even gives them their meals, or just takes them out for a bathroom visit and cleans up behind them so that neighbours are not irritated. India’s cities need companies like this. I was taken aback by the gentleness of the walkers and the fact that all the dogs got on with each other. Taking fifteen dogs out together, all of different sizes, from the very small to the very large, is a frightening prospect, but all these on the road got on together, behaved harmoniously and were very disciplined. The walkers explained that they tested the dogs first, made an effort to socialize them. If they were exceptionally timid, or difficult to control, then they were walked alone at different rates.
Anyone who started a company, could eventually do it in many cities. The companies here have dog walker-sitters across the country and list the places where they have them.
So many new things are starting in India.  In Noida, a company called Posh, which does physiotherapy for disabled, paralyzed, arthritic dogs, has started. It has a swimming pool and massage specialists. I have contracted with the owner to take three dogs free from my shelter, Sanjay Gandhi Animal Care Centre, every month and see if we can relieve their pain.
If someone wants to start this company, I have at least 20 young people who volunteer every week to get dogs adopted at Select City Centre in Delhi, who would be happy to be trained properly and become staffers.

Maneka Sanjay Gandhi
Pl. add: To join the animal welfare movement contact,

In the ancient world, humans were not just close to animals but,

In the ancient world, humans were not just close to animals but, in most cases, deeply dependent on them. Since they were part of the local culture, they could not be separated from religion. So there was a willingness to use animals as gods. As time went on, humans fused with animals in all the major religions as a way to get beyond human limitations. Animals were, and are, seen as wiser, more mysterious, with access to secrets in nature that are hidden to humans. They gave added meaning to the divine. They were stronger, faster, could live in the sea or air, had abilities and senses that the human could not even aspire to. So they made the divine so much more than the mere superhuman. The Indians, Greeks, Mesopotamians and Egyptians led the way, but every culture, strangely enough, used the same animals to represent the same powers: The bull and the lion represent power and protection, the cow represents love and giving, the snake is the creator of the world, the birds are seductresses.  
The Echidna is a cave dwelling half woman-half snake who is the mother of all monsters of Greek mythology. On the other hand, Nuwa of Chinese folklore is the goddess who created mankind and repaired heaven. Nureonna, the Japanese half woman-snake, is amphibious and wants to be left alone, but will suck the blood from her victim’s body if disturbed. The Hatuibwari of the Soloman Islands  has the head of a human, four eyes, clawed arms, bat wings and the body of a snake. The belief is that he created and nourished all living things as the male version of Mother Earth. In Egyptian mythology, the cobra headed Meretseger, meaning "she who loves silence", exerted great authority and was considered to be both a dangerous and merciful goddess. She spat venom at anyone who tried to vandalise or rob the royal tombs. Gorgons were women with snakes instead of hair.  In Greek mythology their powerful gaze could turn one to stone.
In Sumeria, Kusarikku had a human head and torso, with bovine ears and horns and hindquarters and is known as the Bull Man.  He is a door keeper to protect the inhabitants from malevolent intruders and evil spirits. He is associated with the God of Justice.
The Lamassu is a Mesopotamian protective deity encompassing all life, depicted with a human head, a body of a bull or a lion, and bird's wings. Large Lamassu figures, spectacular showpieces in Assyrian sculpture, are the largest figures known to have been made. They represent power and protection and are placed at entrances in palaces. Unfortunately, the Lamassu now represents the International Xenotransplantation Association, a collection of companies/scientists who are trying to make animal organs fit to be transplanted into humans.
Montu is the Egyptian god of war with the head of a bull and the body of a human. Egypt's greatest general-kings called themselves Mighty Bulls, the sons of Montu. Mentuhotep, a name given to several pharaohs, means "Montu is satisfied".
In Greek tradition a Sphinx is a mythical creature with the head of a human and the body of a lion and sometimes the wings of a bird. Those who cannot answer its riddle are killed and eaten. Unlike the Greek sphinx, the Egyptian sphinx is male, benevolent, with a ferocious strength. Both are guardians flanking the entrances to temples and tombs
Each of these Egyptian Gods has the head of a lion. Maahes is an ancient Egyptian lion-headed god of war, protection, and weather, knives, louses, and devouring captives. Pakhet is a lioness headed deity associated with flash floods. Sekhmet is a warrior goddess as well as the goddess of healing. It was said that her breath formed the desert. She was seen as the protector of the pharaohs. Tefnut is the goddess of moisture, moist air, dew and rain. Married to her brother Shu, she is mother of Nut, the sky and Geb, the earth.
One of the Hindu god Vishnu’s incarnations was Narasimha, the lion faced and clawed being, who came to destroy evil and religious persecution by defeating the demon kings Hiranyakashipu and Hiranyaksha.
Pratyangira, also known as Narasimhi, is a Hindu goddess who has the head of a lioness. She is an aspect of Durga. In the Ramayana, the son of Ravana, Indrajit was performing the "Nikumbala yagya" (a sacred ritual to worship Prathyangira) while Rama’s army was waging war in Lanka. Hanuman came down to stop this ritual because he knew that if Indrajit completed it, he would become invincible. In some temples Pratyangira Devi Havan is performed on no moon (amavaas) day.
The Egyptian Hathor, the cow headed goddess, personifies the principles of joy, feminine love, music, dance and motherhood. Bat, meaning soul, is also an Egyptian Goddess with the horns and ears of a cow. She is associated with the musical instrument called the sistrum, one of the most frequently used sacred instruments in Egyptian temples. Bat is similar to Hathor except that Bat's horns curve inwards and Hathor's curve outward.
Anubis is the African golden wolf (previously thought to be dog or jackal) headed Egyptian god of death, mummification and the god who ushered souls into the after-life. Bastet is the cat-headed Egyptian goddess of warfare and the protector of cats. Khepri is the famous dung beetle (scarab) headed Egyptian God. Like the scarab pushes dung in a perfect ball before him using his horns, Khepri pushes the sun across the sky down into the underworld, from where it emerges the next morning. The word Kheper means ‘to come into being’ and the god is associated with rebirth and renewal and the sun at daybreak.
Tawaret, meaning the Great One, is the hippopotamus-headed Egyptian Goddess of childbirth and fertility.
The ibis-headed Egyptian God Thoth maintains the universe, arbitrates godly disputes and judges the dead, handles the arts of magic, the system of writing and the development of science.
Japanese mythology has a warrior god named Amida who has a human body with a dog’s head.
The Japanese Tanuki is a badger or raccoon who can turn into a human and trick people by impersonating Busshist monks. The fox-like creatures, known as Kitsune, also possess similar powers, and they trick men into marriage by turning into seductive women.
In Chinese Mythology Chu Pa-chieh is a divine being who, because of his licentiousness in heaven, is sent to earth with the head of a pig and the body of a man. He kills his family and preys on travellers until he is turned to the path of virtue by the goddess Kuan Yin. He then becomes a priest. (We have a similar story of Valmiki, the author of the Ramayan). Khnum, the ram-headed Egyptian God, is the god of the source of the Nile River and the creator of the bodies of human children, which he makes at a potter’s wheel from clay, and places in their mothers' wombs.
The crocodile-headed Egyptian God, Sobek is associated with pharaonic power, fertility, and military prowess, but serves additionally as a protective deity against the dangers presented by the Nile river.
In the modern world, most of the religions have abandoned the concept of man-animal divinities. Our Gods now are purely anthropomorphic. Even the new Goddesses that are added to the Hindu pantheon, like Santoshi Maa who was created in the seventies, are just simply divine women without any animal magic at all.

Maneka Sanjay Gandhi
Pl. add: To join the animal welfare movement contact,

In a country like India, it is odd that we should have so many couples

In a country like India, it is odd that we should have so many couples going to doctors complaining about their inability to have children. A number of men, predictably, put the blame on their wives. But when family pressure forces them to take tests, then it is usually the man who has a low sperm count. This is not God’s will, as the family priest would say. This could be a direct result of your diet.
Diet has a huge impact on sperm count and its quality. Diets high in meat and dairy are not just bad for waistlines, they have a negative impact below the waist. They lower sperm count, size, shape and concentration.
Advice from doctors, to men with fertility problems, ranges from stopping smoking, wearing looser underpants, keeping laptops away from laps and having less sex so that the sperm build up. But the most important part involves the GIGO principle: Garbage In, Garbage Out. The Director of the Men’s Health Clinic, Wake Forest University, Dr. Ryan Terlecki says that “We’ve noticed that fertility has been decreasing over the last several decades. Most men have never even heard that anything in their diet could impact sperm count.”
A large body of research suggests that the foods you pile on your plate may play a role in the number of sperm you have (count), whether they’re normally shaped (morphology), and how well they move (motility).
In 2006 a paper presented by Kochman, Herko, Brewer, Andolina and Song from the University of Rochester showed the link (“Dietary antioxidants and sperm quality in infertile men: Annual Scientific Meeting of the American Society for Reproductive Medicine”): Infertile men were twice as likely to have a low intake of fruits and vegetables compared with fertile men.  Specifically: men with the lowest intake had lower sperm motility than men with higher intakes. Simply eating fruit and vegetables improved fertility. A 2011 Brazilian study found that men who ate more whole grains – such as wheat, oats, and barley – had higher sperm concentrations.
Three more studies published in Fertility and Sterility said the same thing and this time cheese and dairy products joined the semen destroying list. Whole milk may leave you with a fraction of the healthy sperm you should have. Young men who eat two servings of full-fat dairy — especially cheese and whole milk — per day tend to have fewer motile sperm, according to a 2013 study in Human Reproduction.
Studies have found that men who eat more fruits and vegetables have better sperm quality (Afeiche, Bridges, Williams et al. Dairy intake and semen quality among men attending a fertility clinic. 2014. Mendiola J, Torres-Cantero , Vioque, et al. A low intake of antioxidant nutrients is associated with poor semen quality in patients attending fertility clinics. Braga, Halpern, Figueira , Setti, Iaconelli, Borges. Food intake and social habits in male patients and its relationship to intracytoplasmic sperm injection outcomes.) A recent Harvard study found that increasing meat and dairy products by just 5 percent could lower the sperm count by 38 percent. (Attaman, Toth , Furtado, Campos, Hauser, Chavarro JE. Dietary fat and semen quality among men attending a fertility clinic. Hum Reprod..): In a 2014 Harvard study, men who consumed the most processed meat had 23 percent fewer normal sperm than guys who ate it sparingly. In another 2014 study, published in the journal Epidemiology, the same researchers found that eating processed meat was associated with lower sperm count.
The latest study of 99 sperm donors done by the Massachusetts General Hospital, Brigham and Women's Hospital and Harvard Medical School led by Dr. Jill Attaman, a reproductive endocrinologist at Dartmouth-Hitchcock Medical Center, showed how diets influence sperm. Those with the highest saturated fat (from meat and dairy) had a 43% lower sperm count than those with the lowest intake. Reduction of fat in the diet not only improved general health but their reproductive ability.
Denmark ranks 185th in the birth rate out of 221 countries and its population is shrinking rapidly. But is it a conscious decision to stop having children or something else? A study, conducted by researchers at Rigshospitalet Copenhagen University National Hospital and published in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition, suggests that the reasons for the low birth rate may be the shrinking sperm counts in Danish men because of their diet.
701 young Danish men took part in the study giving diet information and sperm samples for military checkups. Researchers, led by Dr. Tina Jensen, found that men who consumed the most saturated fat – meat and cheese – had a 41% lower sperm concentration than men who ate less. Men who consumed 15% of their calories from saturated fat had a sperm concentration of 45 million per millilitre with a sperm count of 128 million, while those who got only 11% of their calories from saturated fat had a sperm concentration of 50 million per millilitre with a sperm count of 163 million. Eighteen percent of the men who ate the most saturated fat fell below the WHO’s definition of normal sperm concentration. A similar study in France, where diets are also high in meats and cheese, found that sperm concentrations have fallen from an average of 74 million per millilitre in 1989 to about 50 million in 2005.
Replacing meat with plant-based protein can reduce infertility risk in women, according to a study in the American Journal of Obstetrics & Gynecology. Simply put: a frequent consumption of meat leads to a decrease in successful pregnancy and fertilized egg implantation. Women who eat Heme iron are 40% more at risk for infertility than women who eat nonheme iron—the kind found in lentils and spinach (Chavarro JE, Rich-Edwards JW, Rosner BA, Willett WC. Iron intake and risk of ovulatory infertility. 2006).
Higher cholesterol levels caused by meat intake have been shown to prevent or delay pregnancy, according to a study by the National Institute of Child Health and Human Development. (Schisterman, Mumford, Browne, Barr, Chen, Louis. Lipid concentrations and couple fecundity: the LIFE study. J Clin Endocrinol Metab. 2014)
Studies have found falling sperm counts in many countries around the world with diets newly rich in saturated fats as a result of improving economies and the ready availability of fast foods.
Other lifestyle changes include eating organic. In a study presented at the 2014 American Society for Reproductive Medicine Annual Meeting, men who consumed the most pesticide residues, consistently in their food, had 64 percent fewer normal sperm and 70 percent fewer motile sperm than men who took in the least.
Drinking alcohol may have a negative impact on sperm concentration and motility, according to a 2012 Brazilian study of men seeking fertility treatments. A Danish study found even a modest but habitual alcohol intake may compromise sperm quality. A much better alternative is pomegranate juice.  In a Turkish study, male rats given pomegranate juice on a daily basis experienced a boost in sperm count and motility. The purple juice is a rich source of antioxidants, like vitamin C, and although this was an animal study, other research has linked a high intake of antioxidants in men to better semen quality.
In a new Brazilian study of 189 healthy thin young men, published in Human Reproduction, regularly drinking sugar-sweetened drinks — slightly more than a serving per day — was linked to poorer sperm motility. If you need a shot of sugar, make it from fruit which, in the study, was positively related to sperm quality.
So, if you want to increase your chances of having children, eat your vegetables and fruit, specially lentils and spinach, and ditch the dairy and meat.

Maneka Sanjay Gandhi
Pl. add: To join the animal welfare movement contact,

A girl who owned two dogs had suddenly to go to her village.

A girl who owned two dogs had suddenly to go to her village. She left the dogs with a girl who ran a dog boarding house and paid her an advance of Rs 1200 at the rate of Rs 150 a day. Two days later she was informed through the email that the dog had run away and they were not taking responsibility as the dog was “badmaash”. The boarding house is in an abandoned chemical factory in Faridabad run by the daughter of the owner. She simply locks the dogs in a few rooms. She has one helper.  No personalised forms, no doctor, no diets, no mattresses, no bathing, no de-ticking, no attempt to make the dogs comfortable. When we confronted her, her excuse was that she was doing “seva”.
Another person left his dog for a week in a boarding house in Noida while he went on a trip. The dog started vomiting at night. The vet refused to treat it because he had no medical history. The night staff had no access to the owner’s phone number so he was only informed the next day. Then the vet was on leave. The owner flew back immediately but by then the dog had died.
In another case, the pedigreed dog left for two weeks, in a Kolkata kennel, was rented out as a stud and by the time the owners returned he was weak and hyperstressed.
Dogs who are locked up in small kennels without exercise have returned with dislocated shoulders and wounds from gnawing at the bars or jumping to try and get out. Dogs come back with changed personalities.  
In the last two years I have received so many complaints from people who have left their dogs in boarding houses. They have got them back covered with ticks, sick with kennel cough, parvo or distemper, some have been mauled in a fight with other dogs, or the owners have been informed that the dog has run away or died.  “Run away” if the dog is highly pedigreed, could mean the owner of the boarding house has sold it to a breeder.
This has become an unregulated backyard industry with no healthcare or management training. While breeders and traders are now regulated, boarding kennel operators are still out of the loop – though not for long.
Your pet depends on you to take care of her/him even when you are not there. If you are going to leave them with a boarding kennel you must make sure it is not like the ones described above. Boarding kennel stress is real. Imagine taking a young child to a strange place and leaving it with people it doesn’t know. The child will more often than not, become distressed and upset. The same thing can happen to dogs. A boarding kennel environment can be especially hard on nervy, anxious dogs.
Signs of kennel stress can manifest in dogs in many ways: excessive barking & whining, loss of appetite. Change of diet may also cause vomiting and diarrhoea, constant licking of the lips, pacing & depression. What you want is a facility that will care for your dog as if it was their own.
Here is the checklist when you need to put him in a boarding house:
1. Your pet should know basic commands and be socialized around people and pets.
2. Accustom your pet to longer kennel stays by first boarding her for a weekend. This allows you to assess the place before boarding your pet for an extended period.
3. Your pet should be vaccinated The core vaccines for dogs are rabies, distemper, parvovirus and adenovirus, and canine kennel cough (Bordatella). Flea and tick prevention should be done.
4. Required vaccinations for cats include rabies, feline panleukopenia, calicivirus and rhinotracheitis. Cats that are allowed to socialize with other cats should have negative feline leukaemia and feline AIDS status.
5. Take your pet's medications and special food (if any), your veterinarian's phone number, and contact information for you and a local backup. Also take something that smells of you.
6. Inform the staff about any medical or behaviour problems your pet has, such as epilepsy or fear of thunder.
The boarding house:
1. Ask your veterinarian to recommend one. Since they talk to pet lovers every day, they know.  Ask dog owners and look at online lists. Check through the web about any experiences others may have had with this facility. After selecting a few kennels, confirm that they can accommodate your pet for specific dates and can address your pet's special needs. If you're satisfied, schedule a visit.
2. Always ask to tour the entire facility. If they refuse, leave, as they are probably hiding bad infrastructure.
3. A good kennel should be well lit and airy with sufficient ventilation and temperature control. The living and playing areas should look and smell clean and be free of waste and urine. The flooring should not permit the absorption of fluids.  
4.What kind of paperwork does the place have? Do they ask you any details about the dog – diet, exercise, sleep, medications, whether the dog wants to socialize, and any other pertinent information. If the facility does not insist on vaccinations, leave immediately.
4. Notice the staff handling of the animals, and relationship between staff and other dogs, during the time of your tour. A wagging tail is usually attached to a happy dog. They should be able to tell you details about every dog and cat under their care.  What is their experience and are they trained in first aid and aggressive dog handling?
5. Does each dog have his own adequately sized indoor-outdoor run or an indoor run and a schedule for exercise? Does a fenced area for adequate exercise exist and what are the provisions for daily exercise? This is the law: If a dog is housed at a facility without sensory contact with another dog, it shall be provided with positive physical contact with humans at least once daily. The opportunity for exercise may be provided in a number of ways. (i) Providing access to a run or open area (ii) Adequate exercise either in a fenced area or on a leash with a person (iii) Exercising for at least 30 minutes twice per day (iv) Socializing with people at suitable intervals equalling at least three hours per day for adult and five hours for puppies less than four months of age; How large is the community area? Check outdoor areas to see that there aren’t any gaps in the wall or fence where your dog, especially if it is a small dog, can run out of.
6. Is bedding provided? How often is it washed. Bedding should be clean, soft and free of any stains or crusting that may have occurred because of urine or faeces.
7. Are cats housed away from dogs?
8. Is there enough space for cats to move around comfortably?
9. Is there enough space between the litter box and food bowls?
10. How often are pets fed? What is the food?
11. Can the owner bring a pet's special food?
12. What veterinary services are available? Is the vet experienced? What will they do if your animal gets diarrhoea, breaks a toenail or won't eat? What are the protocols if your dog needs medical attention? Is there first aid medicine in the place and is anyone trained to diagnose and use it? All medication must be stored in clean cabinets with well-fitting doors or other suitable containers with well-fitting lids. All medication must be clearly marked, or labelled. Does the kennel have procedures in place so your pet gets her medication at the proper time?
13. Are services available such as grooming, training, bathing?
14. Will someone be on the premises at all times? Is someone checking in on the animals at night.
15. If your pet has health issues, like a weak bladder, blindness, deafness, arthritis, can the staff look after them. These pets will need more personal attention and more time and patience to care for.
16. Is the kitchen clean? Does it have a clean fridge? What food is there and how do the owners of the boarding house accommodate personal diets? Are the food receptacles clean?
17. How is the place being cleaned? What type of cleaning products are used? What is done with the excreta?
18. Is water available at all times?
19. Does the facility have fire detection and extinguishers.
20. What is the tick situation?
21. Does the facility have actual rooms and not just basic fence cages with shared walls. Shared fence walls allow your dog and its neighbour to get into a barking competition. A stressed out dog won’t enjoy its time at the hostel if he feels intimidated during the entire stay. Rooms should be spacious and size appropriate for your dog breed. Doors and gates should be secure so that dogs are kept safe. 
22. How will your dog be exercised. Some kennels walk the dogs, others let them out to run in large compounds with other dogs. If the latter, are they supervised by someone physically present. Even friendly dogs can fall out and a dogfight may ensue. Small and big dogs should not be exercised together in groups. Is there some system in place to divide dogs by play style, size, age, etc. to keep them safe and happy?

Maneka Sanjay Gandhi
Pl. add: To join the animal welfare movement contact,

Is the chicken you get in commercial large scale food vendors

Is the chicken you get in commercial large scale food vendors, in products like sandwiches, chicken? Perhaps not.
Subway is a group that targets health conscious folk, who avoid other fast food. Is it healthy? A recent investigation by CBC Marketplace shows that the chicken used in Subway chicken sandwiches is only 42.8% chicken. The salad chicken, which they claim as healthy oven roasted chicken, is only 53.6% chicken! What is the rest: Genetically modified cheap soy protein, known to be problematic for health. About 50 ingredients were found in the tested sandwiches with an average of 16 ingredients in the chicken itself.
The Wildlife Forensic DNA Laboratory at Trent University conducted the tests. So called, “chicken” from Subway’s competitors contained 85-90% chicken. Marinated, seasoned and processed chicken is also a mix. The four other chains tested included Wendy’s, McDonalds, A&W, and Tim Horton’s.
Food scientists say the food chains selling meat use “restructured products”. Industry sources refer to this as pink slime, and pictures of this slime leaked from factory assembly lines are available on the Net from 2010. Restructured products, including the pink slime variety, are essentially smaller pieces of meat or ground meat. The meat is mixed with additives, chemicals, lots of Monosodium Glutamate, which is neurotoxic, and fillers like soy protein to make it last longer and taste better.
According to Fooducate, chicken paste comes from taking every bit of meat off chicken bones by passing them through a high pressure sieve. The taste is so disgusting that artificial neurotoxic flavours, like MSG and many other additives, are mixed in to make it edible. Then colour is added. Since the slime is full of bacteria it is soaked in ammonia to de-germ it. The slime is then used to make a wide variety of chicken-like products.
What is the way chicken is processed? The treatment is now so sophisticated that what seems like a fresh, plump chicken breast (upto 43% injected water) might be only 51 per cent meat! Much of this ‘plastic’ chicken goes to curry houses, Chinese restaurants and takeaways, often disguised with highly-spiced sauces and colourings.
Grocers, and supermarkets sell sausages, salamis, luncheons meats, nuggets, burgers made of this pink slime and now technology can even shape out chicken breasts and fillets that are only around 60% chicken. What does the rest comprise of? Extenders (corn starch, wheat flour, stale bread for instance), fillers (in low-cost burgers breadcrumbs, cassava, potato, or rice are used as fillers, often in combination with soya bean protein), water, and soluble binders. Look at the net. This is the kind of Ad you will see when companies advertise TVP or textured vegetable protein- “Textured Vegetable Protein is the perfect meat substitute in almost any recipe that calls for ground beef or turkey.” No, it is rarely used by vegetarians – only people making “meat” products. Normally thrown away carcass parts rich in connective tissue, such as pork skin, tendons are also added and so is gelatine, a transparent goo made of melted skin and bones.
The sausage is another highly extended meat product. These sausages are sold in ‘fresh’ or frozen form and heat treated in restaurants or by the consumer directly at home. One common composition is approx. 60% animal tissue, 15% water, 25% extenders and fillers. In low-cost formulations the major, or entire, part of lean meat derives from mechanically deboned chicken meat, which contains on average 20% fat, which goes straight to your arteries. 
When Leicestershire trading standards received a complaint from a member of the public about the quality of chicken nuggets, they decided to test 21 samples from 17 different shops, including the major supermarkets. In one-third of the samples, the label was misleading about the nugget's meat content. One pack of nuggets contained only 16% meat, 30% less than it claimed. The trading standards officials are unable to identify the brands involved for legal reasons. Instead, they gave a warning to the worst offender. Subsequent tests recently have shown that the manufacturer has not changed its ways.
Venky’s, an Indian brand which sells processed chicken, has actually made available the meat content of its processed chicken products, The chicken franks are only 70% meat, the chicken lollipops 30%, the meat balls 60 %, the chicken salami 55%, and the murg masala just 30%.
The thing is, once you've minced bits of chicken to a pulp, that pulp could be anything from anywhere. Recycled pet food, breasts injected with pig and cattle proteins, banned carcinogenic antibiotics - they've all been found by the authorities recently in chicken destined for processing. 
The chicken you eat may have bits and pieces of other animals in it, DNA tests specially developed by Sandford, with the public analyst laboratory in Manchester, enabled the English food standards agency to identify traces of pork proteins in samples of Dutch chicken breasts labelled "halal". Six months later, Irish authorities made an even more unsettling discovery in chicken: undeclared bovine proteins. Seventeen samples from Dutch processors contained them. Some manufacturers were using a new technique - injecting so-called hydrolysed proteins. These are proteins extracted at high temperatures, or by chemical hydrolysis, from old animals or parts of animals which are of no use for food, such as skin, feathers, hide, bone and ligaments, and rather like cosmetic collagen implants, they make the flesh swell up and retain liquid.
Take the case where McDonald’s sold its customers “chicken” that was over a year passed expiry. Shanghai Husi Food was guilty of selling chicken as much as one year past their expiry dates to McDonald’s and to Yum Brands, which owns KFC and Pizza Hut. An investigative report showed Shanghai Husi workers “picking up food from the floor and throwing it into processing machines and “discarded” McNuggets were reprocessed until they passed inspection. 
This is what happens when the meat industry has decided to make even larger profits at the expense of your health. Meat is bad enough normally, but this is the worst thing you could eat. Is pink slime the best you can do for your children?

Maneka Sanjay Gandhi
Pl. add: To join the animal welfare movement contact,

One of the most important reports to come out in the last few years

One of the most important reports to come out in the last few years is the August 2017 CSIR -NEERI report on poultry farms in India.
The National Environmental Engineering Research Institute(NEERI) is an excellent scientific research institution. When I was Minister for the Environment I used them as my resource base. The report has been done by a team of 8 scientists headed by Dr Rakesh Kumar the Director of NEERI, and Dr S.K. Goyal the Senior Principal Scientist.
Poultry farming means raising domestic fowls, including chickens, turkeys, geese and ducks, for the production of meat and/or eggs. The total poultry population in India is 729.2 million, which is 12.39% higher than numbers in the previous census (Livestock Census, 2012). The most common poultry breeds in India are:
Broilers: Young males and Females raised for meat. They grow from a hatch weight of 40 g to a weight of approximately 1.5 to 2 kg within 6 weeksonly.
Layers: Hens used for commercial egg production and then killed for meat. Layer chickens are raised from one day old. They start laying eggs at the age of 18-19 weeks and continue till they are 72-78 weeks of age.
In nature, chickens exhibit a range of behaviour, including nesting, dust-bathing, perching and roosting, scratching and foraging. Foraging is important as hens prefer to find their own plants, insects and seeds rather than take from a feeder. Chickens dust-bathe to balance oil levels in their feathers. Nesting behaviour is triggered with a sudden rise in progesterone hormones. The need is so strong that a hen will push through a heavy swing-door to get to a nest box. They need regular movement and exercise to stay healthy.
The space requirements of hens range from 475 square cm while standing, to 1150 sq cm while preening, to 1873 sqcm  for flapping wings . On an average, if a chicken is to be healthy it needs a minimum of 5000 square centimetres.
The Bureau of Indian Standards, which is the most unscientific and outdated body in India, recommended 450 sq cm which isnot practical for a hen even when she is resting. Poultries in India have followed this vicious and illiterate measurement. This is the reason why hens need antibiotics all the time and why people who eat chicken get ill so often.
“Caged hens are more fearful than those kept in cage free environments. Small size of the cage, sloping wire floor, lack of nest boxes or perches and close proximity of other birds etc. results in suffering to the birds. Some of the serious issues with caged system are Cage layer fatigue, beak trimming, forced moulting, transport, Fatty Liver Haemorrhagic Syndrome, osteoporosis, foot disorders,lesions and reproductive problems.” In short, hens caged in this tiny space of less than A 4 square sheet of paper, called the battery cage, get sick. Studies show that even increasing the space, from about 300 square cm to 650 per bird, increases egg production,food consumption, enhances body weight and decreases mortality.
As of now, the eggs and meat you get from poultries are from very sick birds. So, the government allowed the use of antibiotics to keep them alive till they laid the required number of eggs, or reached the desired weight before being killed.
“Antibiotics have been routinely used in poultry production without proper regulatory limits. This unregulated use of antibiotics poses a serious threat of antibiotic resistance, affecting the health of consumers.”
On 3 June, 2014, the Department of Animal Husbandry, Ministry of Agriculture wrote a letter to all Directors/Commissioners of State Animal Husbandry Departments, advising controlled use of antibiotics in treatment of food producing animals and in animal feed. The Directorate General of Health Services, on 6 June, 2014, reiterated the directions to the State Drug Controllers.
It has made no difference. In fact, antibiotic use has increased in poultries.
NEERI says “Arsenic is fed to chickens to promote growth and weight gain with less feed. The long term exposure of arsenic can cause cancer. Growth hormones given to the fowls is another issue related to the health of the consumers.”
NEERI investigated the environmental problems related to poultry farming with respect to air, water and soil pollution.
“Poultry production is associated with a variety of environmental pollutants like ammonia, solids, nutrients (specifically nitrogen and phosphorus), pathogens, trace elements, antibiotics, pesticides, hormones and airborne bacteria. Besides, poultries attract flies, rodents, and other pests that carry diseases.
Poor management of manure, litter, and wastewater, adversely affects the environment. Besides, odour emissions from poultry farms generated from fresh and decomposing waste products, such as manure, carcasses, feathers and bedding litter and housefly infestation, affect the life of people
living in the vicinity. Furthermore, intensive poultry production may be responsible for the emission of greenhouse gases, acidification, and eutrophication”
The scientists and the local Pollution Control Board visited six caged poultry farms and one cage free farm during February to May 2017:
Water samples were collected from bore wells. Excreta samples were collected as this isused as manure in the fields. Air samples were collected from indoors and outdoors within the poultry. Feed grain samples were collected.
All farms with caged birds were found with similar poultry practices, therefore these are the observations :
There are approximately 60,000-70,000 birds in each farm. There are 3-8 sheds in each farm and each shed has 3-4 racks. Each rack has a length of 180 or 200 ft and each cage has a dimension of 14”x 18” x 15”. Each cage houses 3-4 hens, which is insufficient and uncomfortable for them. The hens are unable to stand properly and stretch their wings.
The hens are fed a mixture of grains and marble dust. Each poultry farm had an unbearable odour due to the slurry formed at the bottom of each shed because of excreta, feathers, wastewater, feed-wastes, dead hens. There was improper management, ventilation and aeration. According to the staff, the excreta slurry is sold every 4-5 months to local farmers.
A heavy formation of spider webs was seen in the sheds.
Abnormality in the neck and foul smell from the hens was seen. Hens have to put their head and neck out of cage to feed and the wires scrape their necks creating lesions of which the staff were unaware. Stains of blood were observed on egg shells.
Dead hens are thrown into a 20 ft pit and acid or salt is added over them.
Subsequently, they visited the cage free poultry. There were 30,000-35,000 birds in deep-litter housing, with adequate space, proper ventilation, abundant sunshine, fan and water sprinkling system to control temperature conditions in summers. “The birds are able to express their natural behaviour like scratching, perching, dust bathing etc. The farm is found to be neat and clean. No odour and litter problem was observed in the farm in contrast to the battery cage farms. No mites and webs were observed.”
“Each chick had 464.5 cmsq of space. Adult birds are allotted 2.5-3 sqft (2322.5 cmsq) of area each. Plastic feeders and water are placed in the housing and a 1.5 inch thick saw dust or rice husk layer is placed on the floor”
What did the ground water samples show from the caged poultries? Nitrates should be less than 45 milligrams per litre. Here it ranged from 60-171. Total dissolved solids(TDS) should be 500. It ranged from 753-1150. Organic phosphates shouldn’t be there at all. Here they were 0.76 - 0.80. Sulphates should be below 200. They went up to 286.
Arsenic, Chromium, Copper, Iron, Manganese, Lead and Zinc are heavy metals that should not be in food. Lead, for instance, gives everything, from mental retardation to cancer. The maximum tolerable level is 10 milligrams per kilogram. The poultries went from 10.1 to 16.8 mg/kg in the feed grains and and 13-33 mg/kg in the excreta slurry. There should be no arsenic in the excreta slurry. NEERI found 0.2 milligrams per kg. Chromium levels were at 200-220 mg/kg . Iron levels exceeded the 500 limit going upto 597.   
In microbiology a CFU is a colony forming unit which is a unit that estimates the number of viable bacteria or fungal cells in a sample.What bacterial load did the air have? There are no parameters made in India. Europe allows for a maximum of 10,000 cfu per cubic metre. The air inside the sheds was 650,000 cfu, and even more outside, making it deadly to breathe.
What did NEERI conclude?
“The condition of closed-cage poultry farms is very poor when compared to cage-free poultry system. Odour generation and mites in the farms are two major problems in closed-caged system, which is not observed in cage-free system. Consumption of contaminated food from unhygienic poultry farms may result in diseases in humans due to Salmonella, E. coli and Campylobacter.
Based on the analysis of both the types, the following recommendations are made:
Layered battery-cage systems should be replaced with cage-free housing and a fine should be levied on all poultries that do not make the change. The cage free housing must be such that it allows the birds to stand up straight, stretch their wings fully and provide reasonable opportunity of movement. Additionally, birds are to be provided with outdoor access. All new poultry farm should follow cage-free system. Concerned licensing departments should be instructed in this regard.
The farm owner or the operator should ensure that the maximum housing density is not exceeded. Records of the floor area available to chickens,number of birds in the shed and the daily mortality, should be properly maintained.
Cleanliness should be ensured. Heavy spider webs, house-fly infestation, undisposed manure, odour from manure in the sheds and feed godowns of poultry farms, indicate poor hygiene and attract mites, lice and parasites causing intestinal and skin infections. Outbreaks of bacterial, viral, fungal and communicable diseases, like Avian Influenza, Pox, Pasteurella, Coryza, Aspergillosis, become inevitable.
Farmers use the excreta as manure in the agriculture fields. Its toxicity should be tested before use.
Use of formaldehyde for disinfection purposes should bedocumented because of its carcinogenic nature even with exposure in low concentrations.
Residents living in the vicinity of poultry farms are prone to catch the bacterial and viral infections. It is recommended that guidelines be framed to define the placement of poultry farms.
Existing laws and policies against animal cruelty should be re-evaluated on a stricter note and brought into action. Regulations regarding the use of antibiotics must be made and their implementation ensured by the Government.
Annual or six-monthly trainings may be imparted by Central Avian Research Institute and Indian Council for Agricultural Research to poultry managers, staff, to practice good management in the poultry farms.”
This report is lying with the Ministry of Environment and Ministry of Agriculture. None of their officers seem to care about the health of humans or animals.

Maneka Sanjay Gandhi
Pl. add: To join the animal welfare movement contact,

Here are some common myths about animal behaviour:

Here are some common myths about animal behaviour:
Myth: Mother birds will reject their babies if they have been touched by humans.
Truth: Most birds have a poorly developed sense of smell and will not notice a human smell. But if you pick up the chicks in the nest, she will be close by watching and she may get alarmed at the human disturbance and abandon her chicks.
Myth: Fish only grow to the size of their tank so you can put in as many as you like.
Truth: Fish will grow to the size that their genetics are programmed to let them. However, they will stunt and become unhealthy and suffer if the tank is too small.
Myth: Rattlesnakes rattle before they attack.
Truth: Rattlesnakes don’t give a warning before they bite. They rattle when they are frightened and need to let you know about their presence.
Myth: Ostriches bury their heads in the sand.
Truth: As oxygen-breathers they would die if they did so. But they dig holes in the ground and put their eggs there and every few hours they turn the eggs so that they get the warmth of the sun evenly. To an observer at a distance this looks like burying their heads.
Myth: Snakes can only bite if they are coiled.
Truth: Coiling is not an aggressive posture but a defensive one that the snake adopts to prevent its long body from being hurt. Snakes can bite from any position, but coiling makes it more difficult for it.
Myth: Snakes are slimy.
Truth: Snakes are really dry to touch. Their skin is very sensitive and it is easy to hurt them when you touch them.
Myth: Snakes travel in pairs of male and female.
Truth: Snakes do not form pair bonds except briefly during breeding season and they certainly don’t travel together.
Myth: Bats are blind.
Truth: Bats have small eyes but these are completely functional. They use sonar to fly in the dark and have an excellent sense of hearing and smell.
Myth: Beavers eat fish.
Truth: Even though they make their homes in water, they eat plants.
Myth: Bulls react violently to the colour red.
Truth: Bulls are colour blind. They react to movements that they find threatening. Bullfighters who go in with swords, spears and knives to kill the bulls, use a red cloak to hide the bloodstains.
Myth: Camels store water in their humps.
Truth: The hump is made of fat. Camels have oval red blood cells which allow them to absorb and release water slowly.
Myth: Elephants have a thick skin.
Truth: Elephant skin is extremely sensitive and can feel a fly sitting on them. They get sunburnt very fast, which is why they bathe in mud to protect themselves, and mothers constantly make sure their children are in the shade.
Myth: Frogs or toads will give you warts if you touch them.
Truth: Warts are caused by a human virus.
Myth: Hens have no teeth.
Truth: They do.
Myth: Crocodiles weep when they are pretending to be sad.
Truth: Crocodiles can’t chew so they rip their food into chunks and swallow it whole. The glands that keep their eyes wet are situated near their throats, so while they are eating they actually have tears in their eyes.
Myth: Goldfish have a three second memory.
Truth: Goldfish, and all other fish, are very bright. They recognize sounds, operate levers, recognize people, and being hurt, and remember food time.
Myth: Lice prefer clean or dirty hair.
Truth: Lice have no preference for either oily, dirty or clean hair. They just like hair.
Myth: Chameleons change their colours to fit into the environment.
Truth: They change their colours as per their moods.
Myth: Snakes react to music.
Truth: Snakes are deaf. They see the flute as a stick that will hurt them and sway to avoid it.
Myth: A blue whale can eat a car.
Truth: the largest thing it can swallow would be the size of a large orange.
Myth: Mice love cheese.
Truth: Mice like sweet food much more than cheese.  This myth probably comes from cartoon movies. The same as rabbits and carrots, and elephants and peanuts.
Myth: Rhinos have horns on their noses.
Truth: No, it is matted hair.
Myth: Elephants stomp around making a lot of noise.
Truth: Elephants walk very quietly.
Myth: Fish are mute.
Truth: They make as much noise as animals on a farm. You just can’t hear them.
Myth: Sharks don’t get cancer.
Truth: Sharks do get cancer. This was a myth constructed by a company that sold shark cartilage as cancer prevention treatments.
Myth: Earthworms become two when they are cut in half.
Truth: They die.
Myth: Houseflies live for a day.
Truth: They live for 20-30 days
Myth: Flamingos rest on one leg to conserve heat, because the water is cold.
Truth: They rest on one leg because it is the most restful and does not involve any muscular work. Standing on one leg is exhausting for humans.
Myth: Sharks have endless rows of teeth.
Truth: Sharks have one row at a time and these are attached by soft tissue to the skin covering the jaw. These fall out easily if worn out and the one underneath comes up to replace it within 24 hours.
 Myth: Bedbugs bore into mattresses and other things, burrow, dig and fly.
Truth: No, they can only walk.
Myth: All spiders have webs.
Truth: Hunting spiders, like wolf spiders, jumping spiders and trapdoor spiders, pursue their prey rather than build webs and wait for prey to come along. It is true, however, that all spiders produce silk, even if they don't use it to build webs.
Myth: Cockroaches are virtually indestructible and can survive a nuclear war.
Truth: According to the magazine American Entomologist, American cockroaches die when exposed to 20,000 rads (unit of measure for radiation), compared to fruit flies, which can withstand 64,000 rads, and the lesser grain borer, which handles 180,000 rads. The notion of them being the ultimate survivors probably comes from the fact that they are flexible eaters and so will always find something organic to survive on.
Myth: Termites are just white ants.
Truth: Ants and termites are completely different insect groups. Even physically: Ants have compound eyes, termites have no eyes; ants have elbowed antennae, termites have just bead like segments; ants have waists, termites don’t; ants have abdomens that are pointed at the end, termites have blunt ended abdomens; ant workers are all females, termites are both male and female; ants are scavengers, with different species foraging for different foods. Some ants live within damp/decaying wood, but do not actually eat the wood. Termites are plant tissue specialists, feeding on wood and grasses, and some species can cause extensive damage to buildings and trees through their feeding and nesting habits; ants belong to the family Formicidae. Termites belong to several different families.
Myth: Spider bites can kill you
Truth: Spiders are rarely venomous enough to do any actual harm to humans and the ones commonly found in your house are keeping the other insect populations down.

Maneka Sanjay Gandhi
Pl. add: To join the animal welfare movement contact,

The most important animal in your life, no matter where you are

The most important animal in your life, no matter where you are, is the mosquito. Therefore, you should know the facts about it. Separating fact from fancy can help us better protect ourselves.
All mosquitoes are the same:
Fact - Mosquitoes of different species are as different from each other as a lion is from a housecat. They have different behaviour, very different preferences of what they want to eat and where they might live. Urban species don't do well in the country and some species thrive only in one specific region. Which mosquitoes like your environment can have an effect on the types of diseases you're exposed to.
All Mosquitoes Carry Disease:
Fact - There are over 3,000 mosquito species worldwide, but only a couple of hundred are important medically. Most species of mosquito don't even bite humans -- some prefer other animals like amphibians, birds, horses and reptiles. Specific species carry specific diseases: For example, West Nile virus and St. Louis encephalitis virus come from the genera Culex. Chikungunya, dengue and yellow fever are carried by Aedes mosquitoes. Zika is spread by Aedes agypti or Aedes albopictus mosquito, Malaria is transmitted by species of the Anopheles genus.
Droughts mean less mosquitoes:
Fact - While mosquitoes breed in water, droughts are some of the most disease-promoting. The water may be less but it is dirtier and therefore appealing to mosquitoes. The lack of water sources means that mosquitoes and birds -- who carry many of the mosquito-borne illnesses that affect us -- are crowded together to share the resource.
Both male and female mosquitoes bite humans
Fact -Only the females bite as they require the protein in our blood to produce their eggs. Males feed on other sources, such as flower nectar.  
Mosquitoes prefer people with “sweet blood”:
Fact - No. Mosquitoes are not attracted to people with more blood sugar.  Researchers have found that mosquitoes have a love of carbon dioxide, lactic acid and certain strains of bacteria that some people have in higher concentrations. Some people have more carbon dioxide. Some sweat more. People who do heavy exercise make themselves more attractive to mosquitoes due to a potent combination of sweat, carbon dioxide, and lactic acid a compound found in sweat. This means that you’ll be more likely to get bitten if you sit outside after a run. Scent can also play a role.
Mosquitoes prefer people with Blood Type O:
Fact - No, the type makes no difference. Mosquitoes bite people because they require protein for breeding, not sugar. Some facets of a human’s genetics, such as skin bacteria, may have an effect, but blood type is not one of these factors.
People who have fair skin get bitten more:
Fact - The bites show up more on fair people, but all colours get the same number of  bites.
Mosquitoes bite people regardless of their size:
Fact - Mosquitoes prefer larger people to smaller ones. Adults will be bitten more than children, and men more than women. This is probably because larger people emit higher quantities of carbon dioxide and body heat, and provide more surface area for feasting.
Pregnant women get bitten more:
Fact - True. Pregnant women give off more heat and carbon dioxide.
Garlic, Vitamin B supplements or bananas will ward off mosquitoes:
Fact - There is no scientific or anecdotal data to suggest that  they have any effect.
Alcohol drinkers attract more mosquitoes:
Fact - A study in Burkina Faso has found that beer consumption increases the human’s attractiveness to mosquitoes.
You are safe if you spend your time indoors, especially with airconditioning:
Fact - Avoiding the outdoors at certain times a day, especially early evenings, is one of the ways suggested to avoid exposure to bites. Staying inside with doors and windows shut, will lower your risk. But mosquitoes can be a problem inside. Some, especially the Aedes aegypti mosquito, live in nooks and crannies in homes and gardens. Some mosquitoes breed in boiler rooms and potted-plant containers. So in high risk areas, even if the airconditioning is on, the best thing to do is sleep under nets.
Swamps are dangerous to live near and wetlands should be drained to get rid of mosquitoes:
Fact - While mosquitoes like warm and marshy swamps and wetlands, removing these will not have any effect on mosquito populations or mosquito borne diseases.
Many mosquitoes are much more comfortable in human habitats. Aedes aegypti live with humans as it is easier to find blood. Females lay their eggs in artificial containers with a bit of standing water - flower pots, vases, tires, buckets, planters, toys, birdbaths, empty garbage cans, lids. That is why it is vital to check your house, garden and neighbourhood for these kinds of containers. Empty them, turn them over, dry them out. Empty and refresh water in birdbaths and fountains at least once a week to keep mosquitoes from maturing.
Cold and dry climates keep mosquitoes away:
Fact - Not true anymore.  Research shows that mosquito populations increase with higher spring soil moisture levels—heavy snowfall, snowmelt and spring rain all provide sufficient standing water to allow the breeding of mosquitoes, even in typically “dry” areas.
Bats should be brought in to eat mosquitoes:
Fact - While bats are extremely useful insect eaters, mosquitoes are far too small to interest them. They eat them but not in such large quantities, as the energy they need to catch them outweighs the food benefit.
Mosquitoes hate citronella candles and Listerine:
Fact - Grandmother’s remedies, that a bowl of water with a few drops of liquid soap, a spray of Listerine or half a lemon stuffed full of cloves will keep mosquitoes away, are unfortunately not really true. Citronella candles have no effect outside the immediate area of the candle. The only way these candles can repel mosquitoes is by creating smoke, because insects don’t like smoke. Any candle will have the same effect as citronella candles. Citronella is a weak repellent -- the plant needs to have its leaves crushed for any effect. Citronella oil may have some effect. So might lavender and peppermint oil, but very little. Listerine contains traces of eucalyptol, but actual eucalyptus-based mosquito repellents contain the compound in concentrations as high as 75 percent whereas the eucalyptol in mouthwash is usually below 1 percent, which means if it works at all it isn’t going to work very well or for very long.
If you want to sit outside, set up a large fan. Mosquitoes have a hard time flying in a breeze.
Eucalyptus is effective:
Fact - Research published by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention shows that products containing oil of lemon eucalyptus, whose active ingredient para-menthane-diol is derived from the eucalyptus tree, can be effective. But most botanical formulations require frequent reapplication—usually every 10 to 20 minutes.
Mosquitoes attack mainly at night:
Fact - Some species such as the Culex tend to attack after dusk.  Others, including Aedes aegypti, bite by day. Some bite at dusk and dawn.
Mosquitos Are not attracted towards certain colours:
Fact - Controversial. Many scientists claim that colours don’t affect mosquitoes. Others claim that mosquitoes are more attracted to dark colours. Mosquitoes are attracted to heat. So, since dark colours absorb more heat, mosquitoes could be attracted to them.
Are Mosquitoes Attracted to Light?
Fact - Many flying insects, including moths, mosquitoes, and many flies, find the glow of artificial lights irresistible. So, the answer to our initial question is yes. But most lights generate heat and it is the heat that attracts mosquitoes.
The more blood a mosquito sucks out of you, the bigger the welt:
Fact - The size of a mosquito bite welt has nothing to do with the amount of blood drawn by a mosquito. It depends on how your immune system responds to the mosquito’s saliva that’s been injected into your skin.
Mosquitoes have 47 teeth:
Fact - Mosquitoes don’t have teeth at all. They have a needle like hose attached to their mouth which has a tip of 47 sharp edges that make it easier for a mosquito to punch a hole in your skin and suck up the blood.
Mosquitoes urinate on you when they bite:
Fact - After mosquitoes have filled their bellies with blood, they have to excrete something out of their body to be able to fly. It’s not urine. The Anopheles mosquitoes excrete a plasma fluid. Others excrete fluid waste.
Ultrasound wave machines or ultraviolent blue lights which work on electricity catch mosquitoes:
Fact - Totally false. They have no effect at all and are just marketing gimmicks.
What is the most effect mosquito repellent?
Fact - Most commercial repellents contain DEET or Diethyl-meta-toluamide as their main insect-repelling ingredient. DEET works by blocking the receptors on their antennae that allow them to hone in on human beings.
Chemical repellents are dangerous:
Fact - I hate the idea of using chemicals, but this has been proven to keep away mosquitoes and there is a safety limit for its use on lotions or other products. Developed by the US Army in 1946, DEET was registered for human use in 1957 and has been found to be safe when applied according to label instructions. Do not ingest or inhale or apply over cuts, wounds or irritated skin.
Another weaker option is Avon Skin-So-Soft. Its formula contains picaridin, a chemical that resembles the natural compound found in the plants used to produce black pepper, and IR3535 (a chemical of the naturally occurring amino acid B-alanine). But it needs to be applied every 20 minutes or less.
Should we buy products that combine sunscreen and mosquito repellent?
No. Sunscreens are intended for generous and frequent use while DEET is intended for less frequent use. Blending DEET with a sunscreen decreases the efficacy of both compounds.

Maneka Sanjay Gandhi
Pl. add: To join the animal welfare movement contact,

A few months ago, a friend of mine said

A few months ago, a friend of mine said that his son wanted to do hotel management but he was not going to allow him since he didn’t want his son working with meat and eggs in any form. It was then that I remembered Mr Luniya and his crusade.
It just takes the determination of one person to change a system. I know – because in many a case I have been that one person. There is a saying attributed to Mahatma Gandhi “First they ignore you, then they laugh at you, then they fight you, then you win.” And another by union leader Nicholas Klein in 1914 “And, my friends, in this story you have a history of this entire movement. First they ignore you. Then they ridicule you. And then they attack you and want to burn you. And then they build monuments to you.” So many things that are now taken for granted, whether red and green dots on food, no animals in circuses, camels off the beaches and banned for slaughter, dissections in schools, and other educational disciples, hundreds of protection rules… to name just a one millionth of the changes. I know hundreds of change-makers across India and it is a delight to work with them because they are knowledgeable, focused and brave.
Some years ago a Chartered Accountant, called Chandrashekhar Luniya, decided that it was impossible for vegetarians to join a hotel management course as they would compulsorily have to learn how to cut animals and cook meat dishes.
So he started writing letters to the ministers, the bureaucrats, and lobbying in his own community to make this into a major issue. He came to Delhi and pursued it. He brought in people to write.
He made a very persuasive case;
* There are religions that eat only vegetarian food. Why should a student learn what he was not going to do for the rest of his life? By making non vegetarian food education compulsory, many vegetarian children were deprived of the opportunity to learn hotel management, as it went against the wishes of their families and religions. (I know that I did not take biology when I was in school only because of the dissections that were compulsory at that point)
* In Hotel Management syllabus there are more than 40 subjects – laws, front office, ticketing, accommodation, travel, accounting etc – of which culinary skills is just one subject. So, by not giving a choice in this one area, they are deprived of learning that entire skill.
* Not only is education across the globe becoming more flexible to allow for more and more disciplines and career choices, by straightjacketing this course, we don’t allow our rich vegetarian culture to spread across the globe.
* Since the students taking the courses were all non vegetarian, they would have less understanding and respect for the norms of vegetarians. The same dishes would be used, the same cooking utensils, there would be laxity in washing one’s hands. They would tend to skim over the details, in desserts for instance, and serve things with egg in them. Or fry vegetarian foods, like French fries, in non veg oils.
* Vegetarianism is the fastest growing movement across the globe and there are sites which offer thousands of vegetarian hotels for travellers. There are many hotels, airlines and cruises that serve only vegetarian food. There are places of Pilgrimage where Non-Veg food is not allowed. These Vegetarian students can work in Hotels at those places, or can start their own restaurant or facility centres. Generally, in most of the Marriages, Religious Ceremonies, Family functions/programs, the food provided is only Vegetarian. We need better trained chefs in all these places.
* Students with very low marks are taken into these institutes, as potential applicants with much higher marks stay away due to this one reason. If the vegetarian option is created, there will be competition and more and more children with passion and intelligence will come to this industry and overall standards will go up. In fact, such institutions will start attracting students from other countries where the option does not exist. Even the housewives can take up these degrees, start their home catering.
* Our vegetarian food itself will evolve as more research is done on it.
* People are becoming more & more health conscious. Healthy vegetarian food is gaining acceptance. If there is more emphasis on vegetarian training, then the next step is the demand for organic vegetables, and this will help farmers.
* Yoga, Ayurveda, and other ancient medicines are based on Vegetarianism. With the availability of options for Vegetarians, vegetarian food will become better and more people will turn vegetarian, becoming healthier in the process.
* This is the world’s largest business and service industry. But the business community, which is mainly vegetarian in India, stays away from it. If they were guaranteed excellent trained vegetarian cooks and staff, perhaps more investment would come in.
* Most middle and lower class restaurants (dhabas, for instance) announce themselves as vegetarian or “both”. Since there is a lack of cooks trained professionally in just vegetarian food, the quality of food in these eateries depends on the luck of the draw, as people who come to work for cooks have learnt their trade at home. These Veg restaurants will get quality man power which is in shortage now.  Since 50% of our population is vegetarian, totally or partially, why should they not feel at ease while travelling. (This is my favourite point. I travel a lot and I am always in search of dhabas that are only vegetarian. These usually turn out to be very ordinary with a huge emphasis on paneer, which I don’t consider vegetarian at all.)
Ultimately the Deputy Speaker of the Rajya Sabha, Prof PJ Kurien, wrote to the Minister for tourism on 5th April 2016 and the minister, Dr Mahesh Sharma, wrote back on 4th August saying that the Ministry would commence the option of vegetarian cooking as part of the BSc Degree programmes in the Central Institutes of Hotel Management directly under his Ministry. He said that they would start with the Management Institutes of Ahmedabad, Bhopal and Jaipur in 2016, establish a separate kitchen and bakery, additional staff and then extend it over the next year to all 18 institutes. In 2017, this option is now available in Six IHM’s: Gandhinagar, Bhopal, Jaipur, Chennai, Hajipur, Shillong. The admission process has started in December 2016, the JEE was held in April 2017 and now the counselling round is in progress.
This is a great new opportunity. Take advantage of it and apply now.
Maneka Sanjay Gandhi

Pl. add: To join the animal welfare movement contact

Life is so complex. We think of all beings as animals or plants

Life is so complex. We think of all beings as animals or plants and this means a lot when you are vegetarian and determined not to hurt.
What characterises a being as one or another.
An animal must feed on other living things because it cannot obtain energy directly from sunlight. Animals have an embryo stage in their life cycle. The cell walls in animals are mostly soft and animals depend on skeletons or shells for strengthening and protecting.
Plant cells get their strength from cellulose. These contain little green packages called chloroplasts. Chloroplasts use the energy of sunlight to produce the substances needed to make plant tissues, in a process called photosynthesis. Photosynthesis consumes carbon dioxide and produces oxygen.
Simply said :
Animals eat other animals or plants to get energy for their survival. They can move.
Plants get energy for their survival from the sun. They cannot move.
But there are beings that defy all the rules. Some are both plant and animal. Some animals look like plants. Others vary between being animals that turn into plants or vice versa !
The Venus flytrap, despite being a plant, feeds on insects—and its parts move faster than its animal prey. Many groups of animals do not move and stay attached to a surface for life, such as sponges, corals, mussels and barnacles.
Corals are not plants. They are animals. The amazingly coloured sea anemone is not a flower. It is a close relative of corals and jellyfish. It spends its life attached to rocks on the sea bottom. or on coral reefs, waiting for fish to pass close enough to get ensnared in its venom-filled tentacles.
There are over 1000 species of anemones. Their bodies are composed of an adhesive pedal disc, or foot, a cylindrical body, and an array of tentacles surrounding a central mouth. The tentacles fire a harpoon-like filament into their victim, injecting it with a paralyzing neurotoxin. The helpless prey is then guided into the mouth by the tentacles.
They look so much like plants that even Aristotle, the ancient Greek who produced one of the world’s first systems for categorizing life, was puzzled by them and categorised them as zoophytes (“both animal and plant”.) However, they are animals because they can move (very slowly) and feed on other unsuspecting organisms that get trapped in their tentacles. Interestingly, components of their nervous system are the same as humans’, although their anatomy is very different.
Likewise, sea sponges are hard shelled beings with countless tiny openings or holes visible on them. 5000 species of sponges grow in all different shapes, sizes, colours, and textures. These tiny pores let water flow freely in and out of the sponge, bringing in all the nutrients it needs, while simultaneously releasing waste. For a long time it was debated whether sea sponges should be classified as plants or animals. Eventually zoologists have classified them as simple multi-cellular, bottom-dwelling animals. 
There are also bizarre animals commonly called "sea lilies". These are animals that look like plants and were thought to be fixed to the sea bottom by a stalk. Now it has been discovered that they use their feathery arms to crawl, dragging their stalks behind them.
Algae are usually aquatic organisms that appear as a kind of growth, or slime, on top of bodies of water in a range of colours. Even though they look like plants, they don’t move and can photosynthesize, they are not plants as they have animal characteristics as well. Seaweeds are macro algae. They are divided into green, red or brown families. Kelp, which forms massive underwater forests reaching heights of 80 mts, is a key ingredient in many Asian meals. Kelp is brown algae. A green algae, called Nori seaweed, is used in Japanese cuisine to wrap sushi and rice. Red Dulse is a snack in Ireland and Iceland that some claim tastes like bacon when fried. But in spite of their plant-like appearances and animal-like tastes, nori and dulse are red algae. Neither plant nor animal. Chondrus crispus, commonly known as carrageenan moss, is a red alga used in salad dressings and sauces, diet foods, meat and fish products, dairy items and baked goods, as is agar. Porphyra is a red alga used in soups, sushi or rice balls. In Belize, seaweed is mixed with milk, vanilla, nutmeg and cinnamon to make a beverage called "dulce". Seaweed is an ingredient in toothpaste, cosmetics and paints.
Mushrooms are often treated like vegetables, but fungi (which includes yeast and mould) are actually closer to animals than plants. Like plants, they do not move, but they also don’t perform photosynthesis. Instead, their source of molecules and energy are other organisms. Instead of “hunting” them like animals, they either grow on top of them (soil, trees, human feet) or on top of decaying dead organisms (dead bark, dead animals, bread). Due to their close evolutionary relationship to animals, eating a portabello mushroom in a bun is much closer to eating a hamburger than a soya substitute. Yeasts are used in bread and beer.
Euglema is another commonly seen being, in pools of water that is neither plant nor animal. It is pear shaped, single celled and has a whip like tail which propels it through water establishing it as an animal. Yet, it has chloroplasts like a plant has. It makes its own food like a plant, but it eats other things like an animal and has an eyespot which is sensitive to light. It was discovered in 1660 A.D. but it still defies any known category.
In 2012 scientists came upon another of nature’s miracles: a strange green creature, neither plant nor animal, called Mesodinium, that lives at the bottom of the sea. It looks like a ball of wool gone wild. Using its hundreds of small hairs, it moves rapidly through water, finding plants to eat – after which it changes into a plant.
The strange, single-cell green creature, found in Danish waters, finds tiny plants that contain chlorophyll. And when Mesodinium chamaeleon eats the plant, it becomes a plant.
By keeping the chlorophyll granules active in its stomach, Mesodinium chamaeleon uses the granules’ ability to convert sunlight into energy for it. This photosynthesis makes Mesodinium chamaeleon a plant. After a while, Mesodinium chamaeleon digests the plant which actually makes it an animal. Then it goes hunting, like an animal, for a new plant to eat.
There is no combination that God/Nature has not thought of first!
Am I going to be eating mushrooms again? Perhaps not.
Maneka Sanjay Gandhi

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All over Europe eggs have been found to be contaminated by a dangerous pesticide called Fipronil.

All over Europe eggs have been found to be contaminated by a dangerous pesticide called Fipronil. The eggs originated from poultry farms in Holland. Investigations into the illegal use of Fipronil on poultry farms have led to 180 big poultries being shut down. Millions of eggs and egg-based products like salads, sandwiches and mayonnaise have been pulled from supermarket shelves. So far Belgium, the Netherlands, Germany, France, Sweden, Britain, Austria, Ireland, Italy, Luxembourg, Poland, Romania, Slovakia, Slovenia, Denmark, Switzerland and Hongkong have found Fipronil in their eggs.
Fipronil is an insecticide not permitted for use around animals destined for consumption, or in any products destined for the human food chain. The effects of consuming it? Sweating, nausea, vomiting, headache, stomach pain, dizziness, weakness, and seizures. It can cause abnormalities of the thyroid, liver and kidneys, if consumed by humans. Since researchers found thyroid tumours in both male and female rats fed high doses, it has been classified as a "possible human carcinogen" by the United States Environmental Protection Agency.  Scientists who fed Fipronil to rats found an increase in seizures. In another study, scientists found long-term exposure to fipronil affecting the reproductive ability of rats, less mating, reduced fertility, smaller litter size, and increased loss of pregnancy. Scientists also found decreased survival and delayed development in offspring.
Early investigation has shown that a company called Poultry Vision in Belgium bought fipronil from Romania, mixed it with DEGA -16, an approved cleaning product, and sold it to Chickfriend in Holland, who sold it to poultries as a pest control services. The most disconcerting part has been the ease with which two men – Martin van de Braak, and Mathijs IJzerman, owners of Chickfriend – were able to avoid scrutiny after offering a “miracle cure” for lice infestation in chickens.  The Maximum Residue Limit (MRL) of fipronil in eggs is set at 0,005 mg/kg within the European Union, as is outlined in Regulation (EC) No 396/2005 of the European Parliament. The Dutch food and product safety board (NVWA) reported that one batch of eggs, originating from one poultry farm in the Netherlands, exceeded 0.72 mg/kg.
Poultries that are badly run and never inspected by competent health inspectors, who come for more than just collecting bribes, suffer from mites. The red mite, also known as poultry mite, infests chickens, and turkeys. Heavy infestations of mites decrease reproductive potential in males, egg production in females, and weight gain in young birds; they can also cause anaemia and death. Other mites, such as the depluming mite, burrows into the base of feather shafts, causing intense irritation, feather pulling and skin lesions. Different mites attack different areas of the chicken: feather mite, scaly leg mite, tropical fowl mite. Chiggers, harvest mites, red bugs feed on skin cells and lymph. Heavily parasitized birds become droopy, refuse to eat, and may die from starvation and exhaustion. Using good sanitation practices are important to prevent a build up of mite populations. But most poultries prefer to use strong chemicals.
If eggs have fipronil in them , obviously the meat of the chickens will. If a pest infestation at a farm is treated with Fipronil, the animals' skin would absorb the insecticide. The Dutch food safety agency, the NVWA, officials are carrying out checks on chickens bred for meat.
Is the use of fipronil in poultries new inspite of it being banned? No. Here is a blog from Greg O dated 11th May 2012:
"I'm a professor in the Los Angeles area and want to do a study on Fipronil (Frontline) in eggs. Frontline is a common medication for cats/dogs for the control of fleas. Many people use Frontline to control fleas and mites in their chicken flock, but it turns out, there's no data on whether the active ingredient (Fipronil) actually makes it into the eggs. …Although Frontline is effective in Chickens, there's no data on whether it enters the blood and then the eggs… I'd like to study whether it gets into the eggs.
Were you thinking of using Frontline on your flock this year? If so, please contact me at I would ask to get some of your eggs before you give fipronil to your chickens and then for a period of weeks afterward (not every egg, just one every week or so). I'd promise to share my results with you and the entire LAUCE community."
Why this fuss over eggs when Fipronil is being used in India on all our grains and vegetables ? 
Fipronil was developed by Rhone-Poulenc and placed on the market in 1993 under the US Patent No. US 5,232,940 B2. Since 2003, BASF holds the patent rights for fipronil-based products. It belongs to the phenylpyrazole chemical family. It is a white powder with a mouldy odour, used in a wide variety of pesticide products used to kill ants, beetles, cockroaches, fleas, ticks, termites, mole crickets, thrips, rootworms, weevils, stem borers, plant hoppers, leaf folders, gall midges, whorl maggots and moths.
Come to India. We use Fipranol on everything we eat. Our insecticides, sold freely to illiterate farmers, contain fipranol to control stem borer insects and leaf folder insects in rice, early shoot borer pests in sugarcane and maize. We use it to control termites. We use it on golf courses, and commercial turf. We use it on chillies, fruit and cabbages.
In the home you use it on dogs and cats to control ticks. You are supposed to cover your mouth and eyes, use plastic gloves and put one drop on the neck of the dog, or spray below the hair. It is not to be rubbed in. No one can stroke the dog. It cannot be used on ill or aged animals. It has to be wrapped very carefully in layers of paper before being discarded so that it doesn’t make the other trash toxic. My hospital has been using it on the dogs that people bring. This is our last resort because so many animals have become ill after its use. Many animals have gone into organ failure.  I would not recommend it except in extreme cases. Frontntline TopSpot, Fiproguard, Flevox, and PetArmor, Shwanfiproplus, Fiprospurt, Flip Spray, Fipronil S-Methospene Spot On, Fiprovet Spray, Protektor Spray, are some pet products.
It is also used as Gel for cockroaches, called Care and Guard Cockroach Killer and Ranger.
Agriculturally, under the trade name Regent, it is used on moths, butterflies, grasshoppers, locusts, beetles and thrips. Under the name Goliath and Nexa it is used for cockroach and ant control. Under the name Chipco Choice it is used for commercial lawn care, golf courses and cornfields. Under Adonis it is used for locust control. As Termidor, Ultrathor and Taurus, Combat Ant-Rid, Radiate it is used to control termites and ants. Its Indian names are Race, Fipgen for Weed Control, Fiprosik, CGent, Result, Prins, Fipscort, Officer, Fipro-C5, Getter, Replex, Prinol, Egent, V Guard, Himgent, Sharp, Glider, Recent, Quencher, Agent-5, Molgent, Farari, Agenda, Zoom, Balveer, Rider (which promotes itself as organic and natural), Agrican Fighter, Risent, Revolt, Bheem, Sultan, Rellington, Viper, Fipron, Aashirwaad, Fiprofort, Refree, Fiprofit.
Fipronil is not allowed for use on cattle and especially dairy cows. But, in India some fipronil based products openly advertise it for dairies. According to studies, lactating animals secrete fipronil through milk, leading to a steady poisoning of the human body. According to the WHO, it can damage the liver, thyroid glands and kidneys if ingested in large amounts over time.
Fipronil goes into the soil where it lasts for upto a year. It is highly toxic to fish, crustaceans and freshwater invertebrates, birds, honey bees, rabbits and chickens. Studies show that non-target insects are also affected (naturally since it is a poison) in field trials for specific pests. Bees are the first to be affected. In May 2003, the French Directorate-General of Food at the Ministry of Agriculture determined that a case of mass bee mortality observed in southern France was related to acute fipronil toxicity and decided to suspend the sale of crop protection products containing fipronil in France.
Fipronil is one of the chemicals blamed for the disappearance of bees. A 2013 report by the European Food Safety Authority identified fipronil as "a high acute risk” to honeybees when used as a seed treatment for maize and on July 16, 2013 the EU voted to ban its use on corn and sunflowers within the EU.
If Europe is having problems in supervising its food factories, can you imagine what is happening in India where FSSAI has no inspectors and no apparatus in which the law can be administered.
How did Europe catch the culprits so soon? In the European Union, every egg is stamped with a number. Consumers can retrace the country of origin and which farm the egg is from. The media have published lists of the numbers of contaminated eggs. In India, you have no idea where your eggs, meat or milk come from.
Maneka Sanjay Gandhi

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I feel so sorry for the magnificent animal that is the bull

I feel so sorry for the magnificent animal that is the bull. I was at a banking mela organised by the local administration in Alwar. A bull wandered in and walked about harmlessly. Almost every stall keeper – selling/displaying nothing but banking information - hit him. Passers-by hit him. Security guards hit him. His only reaction was to try and dodge the slap or lathi which, given its size, was impossible. Finally, he left, bruised and sore. Bulls go to sabzi mandis to eat the thrown away vegetables/leaves and fruit. So many are attacked with acid that it is difficult to find a bull that doesn’t have acid burns. In Gorakhpur, the city named after Gau Raksha, the municipal administration catches them regularly, puts them into pounds and refuses to feed them. They die within the week, spending most of it lying down as they have no energy left. No gaushalas take bulls, so they roam the streets and are beaten every day. Many are rounded up at night and sold to illegal butchers. Some are taken by fake mendicants, branded with trishul images, painted and paraded for alms. Some are grown for fighting, as in Jallikattu, where they are starved and blinded, made mad with alcohol and then let loose to be jumped on and their horns torn off. Ancient Tamilians considered the bull a sign of masculinity and valour, so naturally the human has to be bigger and stronger. Those that live are shipped to Kerala the next day to be killed. The word Nandi means joyous. In real life the bull leads a life as a victim of beating, torture, starvation and early death. Our great passion for Nandi the bull, exists – as it does for Hanuman and for Ganesha – in temples only. In fact, the three animals – the rhesus monkey, the elephant and the bull - are extremely violently treated. No one feeds them as they would cows. No one wants them. And now, as they grow rarer, your children will never see them in all their glory and might. Nandi is the Mount and gatekeeper of Shiva and Parvati. He is the Chief Guru of 18 spiritual masters, including Patanjali and Thirumular. He is the controller of 18 siddhis or spiritual attainments. Not only is he the being that meets you first in a Shiva temple, there are many temples devoted to Nandi alone. In Sanskrit the name of the bull is Vrishabha, which means righteousness or Dharma . He is the protector of Dharma and the chief of the team of Ganas, or attendants of Shiva. It is important to seek the blessings of Nandi before proceeding to worship Lord Shiva. He symbolizes purity as well as justice, faith, wisdom, virility, and honour. He provides the music to which Lord Shiva performs the Tandava or the cosmic dance. In the Brahaddharma Purana, Nandi is the commander of Lord Shiva's army. Spiritually, Nandi represents the individual soul focused on the Atman. In the Saura Purana, Nandi the bull is described in all his splendour, with ornaments that glow with the fire of thousand suns, three eyes, and a trident held in his hand. The most common depiction of Nandi is a sitting bull with folded limbs. He is either black or white and wears a necklace with a bell. Other depictions of Nandi show him as half human, and half bull. His body resembles that of Shiva in proportion and aspect, although with four hands — two hands holding the Parasu (the axe) and Mruga (the antelope) and the other two hands joined together in the Anjali (obeisance). Brahma Vaivarta Purana says Krishna himself took the form of a bull as no one else in the Universe can bear Shiva. According to the Vayu Purana, Nandi was the son of Kashyapa and Surabhi. Some Vedic texts give the story of Nandi as follows: The great sage, Shilada performed penances and prayed for an immortal child. The child that emerged from the fire of the yagna was named Nandi by Shilada and, by the age of seven, was well versed in all the sacred scriptures. But Shilada was told the child would die in a year. Grief-stricken, he shared this with Nandi who prayed to Lord Shiva. The god responded by giving him a necklace with the bell, transforming him into half man, half bull and gifting him immortality while making him head of the Ganas and his own Vahana. Shilada and Nandi went to Lord Shiva's abode, Mount Kailash, and dwell there for all eternity. Another story speaks of how during Sagar Manthan, or the churning of the ocean, the snake king Vasuki was used as a rope. The churning brought out such deadly poison that none of the devas or asuras wanted to go near it. Lord Shiva drank the poison. Some of it spilled out. To save his master and all life, Nandi drank the spilled venom. Lord Siva calmed their fears saying, "Nandi has surrendered into me so completely that he has all my powers and my protection". Nandi survived the poison and even the Devas - the gods - and Asuras - the demons - were struck with awe at his massive power. He is said to have taught Kartik, the son of Shiva and a great warrior, the art of warfare. Many people whisper their prayers into the ears of the Nandi bull. This comes from another story. Shiva decided to meditate and, ofcourse, Nandi decided to do so as well and sat in front of his lord. During this meditation, the asura Jalandhara abducted Goddess Parvati. The gods asked Lord Ganesha to inform Shiva, but he could not bring his father out of his meditation. Then Ganesha whispered the details into the ears of Nandi the bull and Shiva heard and awakened. From there comes the belief that anything told to Nandi reaches Shiva. Once Ravana mocked Nandi. Nandi retaliated with a curse that Ravana’s kingdom would be burnt by a monkey. This came true when Hanuman went in search of Sita. The largest Nandi in India is in Aimury in Kerala. The largest number of bulls are killed in Kerala. Andhra Pradesh, Karnataka and Tamil Nadu has large Nandi temples. See if you can find any bulls either on the road or in Gaushalas. All over India, the little male calves are killed even before they can mature into bulls. Those that are fortunate enough to reach adulthood, rarely make it past 4 years of torture. In the new temples devoted to Shiva, the scrotum of Nandi is not sculpted any more in case it embarrasses the same women who come to worship Nandi and ask for fertility. And truly, no one wants the uncastrated bull any more. Either he should be a bullock, with his testicles crushed to a pulp with stones and then made to work. Or he should be a cow – milked and then eaten. But a wild natural creature that roams free and defies use – why not just keep beating and starving him till he dies or better still, catch him at night as he poses a danger to humans, break his limbs so that he doesn’t be a nuisance on the truck and sell him to the butchers. Instead of using his virility to impregnate cows, we can do it with semen collected from bound creatures who deliver semen artificially which is induced into the cow by vets. Shiva is Nandi. He refuses to be domesticated. He refuses to behave as society wants him to. He is sometimes the progenitor of his Goddess’ children but never their father. He will not be fettered. And just as we are scared of the goddesses who will not be married and depict them as ugly, wild and drinking blood – as against the tamed, beautiful consorts, Shiva is shown as wild and angry. This, unfortunately, is our opinion of the bull – a dangerous, wild creature, who should be eliminated. Feed the bulls in your area. Stop them from being killed. They represent a part of you which is dying. You cannot be a Shiva bhakt and allow the bulls to die. Maneka Sanjay Gandhi

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Even though humans have kept dogs and cats as pets for thousands of years

Even though humans have kept dogs and cats as pets for thousands of years, there are still so many things about them, that we believe, that are simply not true. And because of these beliefs, many of these animals are ill-treated and suffer. Here are some misconceptions.
A cat purrs when it is happy: Purring is generally the first sound kittens make by the time they are 48 hours old. While nursing, both mom and kittens can be heard to purr. But while purring is often heard at times of contentment, cats also purr when in pain and in the throes of death.
Stray cats are loners: Feral cats are not solitary, they usually live as a group near a food source.
Cats are nocturnal creatures: Cats are most active at dusk and dawn, when mice and other small prey come out and hunting is easier. The construction of their eyes allows them to see well in low light. Cats only need 1/6 of the light humans do in order to decipher shapes. However, they cannot see in absolute darkness.
Cats hate water: While most cats hate baths, many find running water fascinating and paw at dripping taps. It is possible to give a cat a bath without being scratched and mauled.
Cats can be fed an all fish diet: An all fish diet is bad for cats because high levels of magnesium and oil can increase Feline Lower Urinary Tract Disease and other diseases. If nature wanted cats to just eat fish, it would have made them swim. This mythology was spread by the British because, as a cat crazy island, it was importing meat for them and it was easier to get fish.
Cats have 9 lives: This probably goes back to ancient Egypt, where 9 was a mystical number. The god AtumKa had 9 lives and took the form of a feline whenever he visited the underworld, so the 9 lives became associated with the cats.
Cats always land safely on their feet: Cats are naturally flexible and have the ability to right their bodies while falling. But that doesn't necessarily protect them from harm. Cats break their front legs and jaw when they land on their feet.
Cats need milk in their diet: Although many cats do like milk, it is not necessary in their diet. In fact, many kittens get diarrhoea after drinking milk.
Pregnant women must give up their cats: While toxoplasmosis is a risk for foetuses, a woman is more likely to catch it from handling raw meat, or digging in the garden, than from her cats.
Dogs with warm, dry noses are sick: A dry nose has nothing to do with a dog's health. Normal canine body temperature ranges from 101 to 103 degrees A dog may still have a cold, wet nose while running a temperature of 105 degrees. Feel the inside of the ears.
Old dogs can't learn new tricks:  Old dogs and old people continue to learn throughout their lives. I have found old dogs pick up orders in a new house quicker than puppies. Very old dogs may not learn well because they may be impaired by progressive blindness or deafness.
A dog wagging his tail will not bite: The wag of a dog's tail tells nothing about his aggressiveness. It simply is a sign of excitement. Other aspects of his behaviour can tell more about aggressiveness, such as ear position, whether the dog is staring, growling, or barking.
If a dog scoots (drags his anus) across the floor, he has worms: Although dogs with tapeworms will scoot due to the itchiness of the worm segments, not all scooting dogs have worms. Allergies, diarrhoea, or stuffed anal glands, can cause this behaviour.
If your dog eats his faeces, he has worms: Many dogs eat faeces, theirs or another’s. It is not necessarily a sign of intestinal parasites. Many mother dogs will do this to clean her newborn puppies and some pets will do it as an attention getting behaviour. The problem may also be poor nutrition and a learned habit.
Female dogs should have at least 1 litter of puppies before spaying: There is no benefit to allowing a pet to reproduce. In fact, there is evidence that spaying a female before her first heat may reduce her risk of developing breast cancer.
Some dogs have jaws that lock: All dogs have the same facial muscles and structure -- none has locking jaws. All dogs can be taught to be gentle -- to release on command.
Dogs eat grass because they are sick: Many dogs will eat grass and then vomit, but this does not mean that they are sick. It is normal for dogs to eat grass in very small amounts -- their ancestors ate grass. It's roughage. You need to add more greens to their food.
Dogs can be spiteful if left alone at home: Dogs can become stressed when left alone and may seek comfort by finding a scent of you in your favourite chair or shoes, and may express their stress by chewing or urinating.
Dogs require annual revaccinations: It is now known that certain vaccines, such as distemper and rabies, don't need to be given yearly after initial doses and boosters.
Neutering and spaying makes dogs fat and lazy: It has no effect. Eating too much and not enough exercise makes animals overweight. Same goes for cats.
Dogs and cats are colour-blind: Both dogs and cats can see in blue and green, and they also have more rods — the light-sensing cells in the eye — than humans do, so they can see better in low-light situations. Reds and pinks may appear more green to cats, while purple may look like another shade of blue. Dogs, meanwhile, have fewer cones — the colour-sensing cells in the eye — so scientists estimated that their colour vision is only about 1/7th as vibrant as ours.
Pit bulls are vicious killer dogs: The pit bull is not born vicious, nor is it in its DNA. German shepherds, Rottweilers, Dobermans, and Chows are the genetically aggressive dogs. Pit bulls are only aggressive when they've been trained to be that way.
Dogs can detect cancer: Dogs are capable of detecting smells linked to cancer. In one study the dogs had an accuracy rate of 98 percent for sniffing out colorectal cancer in humans.
Maneka Sanjay Gandhi

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Veganism finally has meat eating on the run in the United Kingdom.

Veganism finally has meat eating on the run in the United Kingdom. Not only are the ad campaigns, all over metro stations, really big and powerful showing what happens in slaughterhouses, but people are actually listening to them and making a switch. So much so thatThe Independent newspaper has just revealed ( that a meeting was called by the Association of Independent Meat Suppliers and the National Pig Association with the official National Counter Terrorism Police Operations Centre team to find out how they could stop peaceful vegans from holding candlelight vigils outside slaughterhouses, to show love and compassion to pigs, cows and chickens in their final moments and to raise awareness of the cruelty we inflict upon them.


Not only should every slaughterhouse have a CCTV, any citizen should be allowed in. That way the enormous cruelty that happens to animals – apart from dragging buffaloes and calves off overloaded trucks by their tails, or throwing them off with one leg, or wing as in chickens, dragging them across the floor, hanging them upside down, slitting their throats to catch the blood, pouring boiling water on them while alive to loosen their skins etc. – there is the gratuitous cruelty of slaughterhouse workers amusing themselves at work. Live chickens are used as footballs, pigs are stabbed repeatedly as target practice with knives, competitions take place on novel ways to kill. The Mayor of North Delhi and Gauri Maulekhi of PFA went to the Delhi Ghazipur slaughterhouse on a surprise inspection last month. Apart from finding no vets there (they get their haftas sitting at home) they found buffaloes being hit many times over by laughing butchers with live electric wires. The animal collapsed repeatedly. When it got to its feet again, they did it again. They took bets on how many times an animal could sustain electric hits before it dissolved into a trembling conscious mass on the floor. Then they slit its throat – in full view of a hundred other buffaloes and their children.


One herd of goats had a little kid who ran for her life. She was chased by ten shouting men with heavy sticks, and who would have crushed her to a pulp had Gauri not caught her. She is now in my house. Gauri took a video of the slaughterhouse and was nearly lynched by hundreds of resentful butchers and the owner’s manager (Allana and Co) who knew what they were doing is so wrong but what-the-hell.


I once did a survey of the animals being killed. We found 78% of all chickens had broken legs and wings at least three days before being slaughtered; 60% of all large animals had shattered limbs and 45% were diseased. Forget the terrible pain they were in, by law none of them should be killed as they were gangrenous and the meat dangerous for humans.


Instead of me saying anything else, let me quote the rest of the Independent article :

“To regard Save vigils as terrorism is genuinely absurd: a panicked, guilty response from the planet’s most brutal industry. Our counter-terrorism experts should be concentrating their efforts on genuine threats against British public safety, not a bunch of vegan campaigners who only wish to expose the reality of a commercial sector that the majority of its consumers remain in the dark about.


But although Save protestors are not terrorists, perhaps abattoir bosses have good reason to fear their work.


The meat industry is vulnerable when consumers learn the reality of how it operates; when they look directly at the faces of the animals it condemns to short, torturous lives and ferocious deaths. Protestors share videos from the vigils on social media, offering that connection to the general public. This makes an industry that has poured so much money, time and desperation into keeping consumers’ eyes shut feeling nervous.


According to latest estimates, 542,000 Brits are now vegans, up from 150,000 in 2006 – a 350 per cent increase in just over a decade. Official supermarket revenue statistics for 2016 showed the biggest losers were meat and dairy, while the biggest gains came for dairy-free products. Overall sales of plant-based products are up 1,500 per cent.


Big food and hospitality brands, from Harvester and Wetherspoons to Pret A Manger and Sainsbury’s, are launching successful vegan ranges. Last month, Sainsbury’s reported that sales of its new own-brand vegan cheeses were 300 per cent greater than it had anticipated.


Activists are exposing the truth about the meat on your plate: that piglets who grow too slowly are killed by being slammed headfirst onto concrete floors, a standard industry practice called “thumping”; that in many chicken slaughterhouses workers routinely rip the heads off live birds; that pigs scream in gas chambers, or as they are boiled alive; that cattle sometimes experience having their legs sawn off while they are still conscious.

I’ve nothing but respect for Save as they rattle and expose those complicit in the meat industry. They are not terrorists.


It’s often said that we accuse others of what we secretly know we are doing ourselves. So as abattoir workers toss and turn at night, perhaps they might ask themselves, who is really doing the terrorising?”


Why are you eating meat in India when you have at least 50,000 + options of amazing food which are better for you, better for animals and better for the planet. Each one of us has a belief that we are in our hearts good people. Do good people allow so much pain to be caused in beings that are exactly like you in every way, only kinder and smarter?

Sir Paul McCartney once said “If slaughterhouses had glass walls, everyone would be vegetarian.”


Are you going to wait for the glass walls to show you what is happening, or will you go with your conscience which tells you what you are doing is wrong?


Maneka Sanjay Gandhi


Pl. add: To join the animal welfare movement contact


Learning Medicine from Maneka Gandhi

Not many moons ago Maneka Gandhi wrote an article (which was published in her regular page "Write to Live", in "The Island" of October 3 entitled "Fish oil ruins your heart") where she said there is no evidence to say that fish oil protects the heart. In fact, she went a step further, and said it could be harmful to the heart.

Gandhi, citing clinical trials on omega-3-fatty acids points that while omega-3s can in laboratory settings (in-vitro) increase blood flow, reduce blood pressure and give neurons structural strength, these properties don’t translate into any benefits in the human body (in-vivo). She went on to say that a review in JAMA (Journal of the American Medical Association), involving almost 70,000 people, found no compelling evidence linking fish oil supplements to a lower risk of heart attack , stroke or early death.

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Since the colour of food influences consumers.

Since the colour of food influences consumers, many food manufacturers use dyes in foods ranging from meat and candies to wine. The aim is to simulate a colour that is perceived by the consumer as natural, such as adding red colouring to canned cherries which would otherwise be beige. Food companies add more than 15 million pounds of artificial food dyes to foods each year.

How did this begin? In the early 1900s, as the industrial age got underway, workers became dependent on low cost factory produced food. Food producers used the cheapest ingredients and adulterants and then, to hide this, they "restored" the colour. Red lead was used to colour cheese and confectionary. Copper arsenite was used to colour used tea leaves for resale. The bulk of chemically synthesized colours were derived from aniline, a toxic petroleum product and coal tar. Manufacturers phased out natural dyes for economic reasons: chemically synthesized colours were easier and cheaper to produce. Their use spread from paint, plastic and clothing to food.

Processed meat, fish and sauce contained Armenian bole, red lead, or sulphuret of mercury. Curry contained lead and mercury, pickles, bottled fruit and vegetables had copper, candies had any number of poisonous pigments and green tea had Prussian blue pigment mixed in it. Dyes entered all sorts of popular foods and drink. Many people died.

Gradually food dye regulations came, with each country developing their own legislation regulating the use of dangerous minerals such as arsenic, copper, chromium, lead, mercury and zinc, which were frequently used as colorants. In 1962, the WHO and FAO created an international commission, the Codex Alimentarius, to work out the application of food additives. However, this is not legally binding till today. In the United States, the Pure Food and Drug Act of 1906 reduced the permitted list of synthetic colours from 700 down to seven.(The most commonly used dyes are Red 40, Yellow 5, and Yellow 6, which make up 90%+ of the market. These dyes are created synthetically by burning coal tar or are petroleum byproducts like tartrazine and erythrosine.)

Regulations differ from country to country even now. For instance Yellow, which is tartrazine (used in soft drinks, energy drinks, cake mixes, salty snacks, cereals, packaged soups), and has been linked to asthma, allergies and behavioural changes, is banned in some countries and allowed in others.Orange B is banned all over the world but is still used in the US for hot dog and sausage casings. Dyes used in meat, milk, and candies, like Quinoline Yellow, Carmoisine, Ponceau 4R, Patent Blue V and Green S, are not allowed in the US and U.K. Erithrosine, which was recognized as a thyroid carcinogen and is banned in cosmetics, is still used for sausages. Sunset Yellow, which causes adrenal tumours in animals and hypersensitive reactions, is still used in meats and gelatine deserts.

In all processed meats, fish, poultry, milk and eggs,dyes are used to mask quality failure and hygienic shortcomings. For instance, wild salmon has a distinctive pink colour which comes from the krill it eats in the oceans. But the salmon you get in restaurants is raised in crowded ponds and fed artificial food in order to make it fatter faster. This salmon is grey and looks inedible. So, fisheries use artificial dyes to make it pink. The dye is a chemical, Canthaxanthin, which has been linked to retinal damage in humans.

In meat processing, red and yellow colour types are preferred, with brand names such as “red blood”, “orange yellow” or “sunset yellow”. Tartrazine (E 102, yellow), cochineal extract (E 120, red) or carnoisine (E 122, red). While the first is made from coal tar and is very contentious for its role in allergies, the other two are made from crushed beetles.

Nitrates and nitrites are used to cure meat and poultry. They help kill bacteria and give meat a pink, or red, colour. Nitrite is highly toxic (the lethal dose in humans is about 22 mg/kg body weight). The use of nitrites is controversial, because nitrosamines are formed when it is cooked at high temperatures and these are carcinogenic.

The meat industry keeps the raw meat packaged in carbon monoxide. This is called "modified atmosphere packaging" (MAP) so that it can last longer in shops. When meat is exposed to carbon monoxide, it gives the meat a bright red colour. As meat ages it becomes brown or grey, but carbon monoxide keeps it looking artificially fresh for up to a full year, and can hide the growth of bacteria.

Annatto is a commercial dye produced from the red pulp of the seed of the achiote tree. It is used in cheese, butter and smoked fish. Betanin, or Beetroot Red, is a red glycosidic food dye obtained from beets and used for colouring meat and sausages to dark brown. Caramel is one of the oldest and most widely-used food colourings and is found in almost every kind of fish, shellfish, roast beef, ham, pastrami or chicken.

Carmine, made of killed insects, is routinely added to food products such as meat. yogurt and ice cream.

Carotene, which is a pigment found in many dark green, leafy, and yellow vegetables such as collards, turnips, carrots, sweet potatoes, and squash and in the fatty tissues of plant-eating animals, imparts the yellow coloration to milk-fat and butter. Turmeric is used as an agent to impart a rich, custard-like yellow colour to dairy products and yogurt.

Synthetic astaxanthin is not approved for human consumption, but is permitted to be used in fish feed that humans ultimately eat. Astaxanthin is used to keep the flesh of farmed fish pink, no matter how diseased their bodies are.

Consumers like yellow yolks. But birds that don’t eat fresh grass, or see the sun, cannot produce eggs with yellow yolks. So egg producers put various dyes into the poultry feed. There are eight dyes registered as feed additives for poultry. Canthaxanthin is used here as well, even though, in 2007, the European Food Safety Authority established maximum residue limit as 30 milligrams/kg.

Illegal dyes are used as well in poultries. Sudan IV has been detected in hen and duck eggs. Sudan dyes are carcinogenic. Egg yolk yellow is also achieved with xanthophylls extracted from plants.

Cadmium is a yellow metal used in squid and cuttlefish.

Under the Food, Drug, and Cosmetic Act, colour additives may not be used to deceive consumers, or to conceal blemishes or inferiorities in food products. Usage is prohibited "if it is found to induce cancer when ingested” by people or animals.

Both these conditions are violated. The Center for Science in the Public Interest (CSPI) released a 68-page report “ Food Dyes: A Rainbow of Risks,” detailing the potential of artificial food dyes to contribute to hyperactivity in children, increase cancer risk and lead to other health problems. In CSPI's summary of studies on food dyes, some of the most commonly used food dyes could be linked to cancer. CSPI reported:

"The three most widely used dyes, Red 40, Yellow 5, and Yellow 6, are contaminated with known carcinogens. Another dye, Red 3, has been acknowledged for years by the Food and Drug Administration to be a carcinogen, yet is still in the food supply."

CSPI revealed that nine of the food dyes, currently approved for use in the United States, are linked to health issues ranging from cancer and hyperactivity to allergy-like reactions -- and these results were from studies conducted by the chemical industry itself.

As CSPI reported: "Almost all the toxicological studies on dyes were commissioned, conducted, and analyzed by the chemical industry and academic consultants. Ideally, dyes (and other regulated chemicals) would be tested by independent researchers.

In addition to considerations of organ damage, cancer, birth defects, and allergic reactions, mixtures of dyes (and Yellow 5 tested alone) cause hyperactivity and other behavioral problems in some children.

… Because of those toxicological considerations, including carcinogenicity, hypersensitivity reactions, and behavioral effects, food dyes cannot be considered safe. The FDA should ban food dyes, which serve no purpose other than a cosmetic effect…

In the meantime, companies voluntarily should replace dyes with safer, natural colorings." The UK Food Standards Agency commissioned a study at Southampton University of the effect of six food dyes (Tartrazine, Allura Red, Ponceau 4R, Quinoline Yellow WS, Sunset Yellow and Carmoisine)on children. Published in 2007, the study found "a possible link between the consumption of these artificial colours and a sodium benzoate preservative and increased hyperactivity"

Research suggests that some children may be susceptible to even tiny amounts of artificial dyes, but that a significant number of children were affected by amounts over 35 mg per day. It was estimated that many children are consuming 3-4 times the 35mg amount per day. Food colorants sometimes cause allergic reactions and anaphylactic shock in sensitive individuals. Even natural colouring agents can be potential hazards and include annatto, cochineal and carmine

An important study, published in the journal The Lancet in 2009, concluded that a variety of common food dyes, and the preservative sodium benzoate, cause some children to become measurably more hyperactive and distractible. The study also found that the E-numbered food dyes do as much damage to children's brains as lead in gasoline, resulting in a significant reduction in IQ. The results of this study were what prompted the British Food Standards Agency (FSA) to issue an immediate advisory to parents, warning them to limit their children's intake of additives if they notice an effect on behaviour. In July 2010, most foods in the EU that contain artificial food dyes were labelled with warning labels stating the food "may have an adverse effect on activity and attention in children." No other country has done so. What food dyes are used in India? Does anyone know or care?

Maneka Sanjay Gandhi

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I am really sad that Dr. Sanjeev Balyan has been moved out of the Animal Husbandry department.

I am really sad that Dr. Sanjeev Balyan has been moved out of the Animal Husbandry department which he headed as MOS Agriculture for the last two years. He is a vet himself and an excellent administrator. For the first time in my life I will tell you about a Minister’s achievements.

The first thing he did was to change the Veterinary Council and put two outstanding people as the heads – Dr. Sharma and Dr. Gurdial Singh. The secretary, who was the worst officer in the history of India and had destroyed the entire institution, was made accountable for all the cheating he had done for years, and left in a panic.

What was the situation that Dr. Balyan and this Government inherited: a totally useless Veterinary Council that had no control over the quality of veterinary colleges or the behaviour and knowledge of vets – in fact it was totally unaware of how many vets there are in the country and what they did. The syllabus was outdated and there were no courses for wildlife, ophthalmology, or any specific organ. No vets were taught how to castrate (crushing the testicles between two stones is the normal practice), dehorn or follow any hygienic methods of insemination – leading to sweeping diseases of foot and mouth and bovine leukaemia. No vet ever studied to increase his knowledge after he got his initial degree.

In the last two years Dr. Balyan worked at changing the veterinary syllabus, making standards for veterinary practices, making it compulsory for all vets to attend a refresher course every year or have their licences cancelled, and making an all India register of vets and where they were practicing so that anyone who needed a vet could find out immediately.

Veterinary education and veterinary practices in India have undergone sweeping changes. The new veterinary syllabus of 2016 will stop the cruel use of live healthy animals for veterinary teaching and training. It will, instead, ensure the use of ethically sourced cadavers for anatomical studies and simulation methods for students to acquire better clinical skills, before handling and treating animals under supervised clinical training. Veterinary students and teachers had often protested about using live animals to teach veterinary science, since all over the world this has been replaced with technology. Numerous studies have proved that the learning generated by non-animal teaching methods are better than those achieved by animal use. Non-animal teaching methods do not cause students psychological trauma, or force them to be a part of something that they consider to be cruel and abusive. The new curriculum also makes students undergo internship programmes at animal welfare organisations so that they learn animal welfare.

The new Veterinary Practice Regulations, once implemented, will ensure that minimum standards of veterinary services are made available to animals through static and mobile veterinary clinics. These facilities will be well equipped with man power, essential veterinary medicines, instruments, diagnostic facilities, and waste disposal system and will function on Standard Operating Procedures (SOP) and humane veterinary practice protocols. The protocol on humane veterinary practices mandates that animals must be given anaesthesia before invasive and painful animal husbandry procedures, such as castration, and that when euthanasia is required, such as to alleviate suffering from terminal illness, it must be done in a painless manner by a veterinarian. New modern courses have been introduced, especially in the area of wildlife and birds. We finally have a syllabus that is on par with foreign colleges. Now all we need is a type of student who likes animals, rather than aiming to simply get a ‘Doctor’ in front of his name so that his dowry rates go up.

Continuing Veterinary Education is not a new concept. Doctors need to learn the latest knowledge whether they are in government or private practice. Each vet will participate in one training course per year. To bring a mechanism for compulsory CVE programme for veterinary practitioners in India, VCI will set up a credit based system of certification for compulsory knowledge upgradation of practitioners.

For the first time, online registration will be made compulsory with VCI, for veterinarians, to practice anywhere in the country. The animal husbandry sector needs about 2 lakh veterinarians – as of now there are only 63,000. The VCI has increased the number of seats in colleges from 60 to 100 seats and made it easier to start new colleges.

Dr. Balyan also banned the commercial import of dogs for breeding. Thousands of diseased and unsuitable dogs were pouring into the country, being bought illegally by breeders. The notification from Director General of Foreign Trade came in consultation with the Agriculture Ministry. India has an unregulated pet trade, growing at a rate of about 20% per year, and these imported breeds are responsible for 90% of the dog bites and zoonotic diseases. Animal shelters like mine are crowded with pedigrees that have been thrown away by owners a few months after they buy them.

Dr. Balyan has gone to the department of water preservation. There are hundreds of issues still pending – from amending the sizes of battery cages for chickens to making minimum standards for all the hideous rotting government veterinary hospitals in the country. From banning exotic skins and meat to reforming slaughterhouses. The most important step in conserving animals and people is to ban oxytocin and remove antibiotics from farm animal feed, and this should be the topmost priority of his successor. Let me keep my fingers crossed that we get someone who understands the importance of animal welfare.

Maneka Sanjay Gandhi

Pl. add: To join the animal welfare movement contact,

My favourite Zen story is when a question is asked of a Zen monk

My favourite Zen story is when a question is asked of a Zen monk – ‘‘A house is on fire. What is the most important thing that you would save?’’ He replies – “I would save the fire.”

This story has stayed with me for 40 years teaching me to look deeper into what we consider valuable.

Let’s talk about the single tiniest living being on the planet – the bacterium, a tiny single cell being so small that millions live together and are collectively known as bacteria. A gram of soil contains about 40 million bacterial cells. A millilitre of fresh water usually holds about one million. Earth is estimated to hold at least 5 nonillion (54 zeros!).

A bacterium is a proper being. It can communicate, travel, multiply, generate energy, understand its environment. There are three types: ball shaped or cocci, rod shaped or bacilli, and spiral or spirilla. They are found everywhere – from your stomach to the Arctic ice and volcanoes, the bottom of the ocean to 30 miles up in the sky. Soil, plants, animals – all of us are walking mountains of bacteria.

Some of them are extremophiles, surviving in such toxic conditions or extremes of temperature where no other being can survive.

Bacteria are the first forms of life on this planet about 4 billion years ago. You are their descendants.

They were first attempted to be identified by Marcus Terentius Varro (Roman - 116 BC-27 BC) who suggested that disease may be caused by miniscule animals that floated in the air. They were finally identified by Antonie van Leeuwenhoek (Dutch 1632-1723) who made microscopes, with which he saw what he called animacules in 1676 (to be called bacteria 162 years later). He is known as the father of microbiology. Christian Gottfried Ehrenberg (German 1795-1876) introduced the term bacterium in 1838. Robert Koch (German 1843-1910) was awarded the Nobel Prize in 1905 for proving diseases were caused by bacteria. Paul Ehrlich (German - 1854-1915) won the Nobel prize for pioneering the use of stains to detect them.

Bacteria feed themselves in a variety of ways. Some eat other organisms. Some absorb dead organic material, such as decomposing flesh. Some parasitic bacteria kill their host. Some make their own food out of sunlight, carbon dioxide and water. In fact, these helped create the oxygen atmosphere of the earth. Some use water, and chemicals such as ammonia, sulphur, phosphorus, nitrogen, zinc, iron to produce their food. We call them nitrogen fixers. They are common in plant roots.

Aerobic bacteria grow only in the presence of oxygen. They can cause corrosion and bad smells. Anaerobic bacteria can only grow if there is no oxygen present. In humans, they are most commonly found in the gastrointestinal tract. They cause gangrene, tetanus, botulism and dental infections. Some grow with or without oxygen and are found in soil, water, vegetation, humans and animals. One example is salmonella. Human bacterial infections are mainly caused by mesophilic bacteria (like ecoli) - because our bodies are moderate (37 Celsius). Mesophiles thrive in moderate temperatures. The human intestine contains many beneficial mesophilic bacteria, such as dietary Lactobacillus acidophilus as well. Extremophiles thrive in conditions considered too extreme for most life forms - temperatures from 85 to 113 degrees Celsius, salt lakes, acidic or alkaline environments.

They multiply by dividing themselves, or by passing genes from one cell to another when they come in contact through a tube called pilus. Some bacteria move by gliding on surfaces. Others control their movement through internal gas bubbles. Some bacteria have tails and they rotate them like propellers going as fast as 0.00017 km per hour - the equivalent of a man running at 100 meters per second. E.coli can travel 25 times their own length in 1 second, equivalent to a horse running 215 km per hour.

When bacteria do not have enough resources to live they turn inactive. Spores can remain dormant for centuries. They are resistant to radiation, desiccation, starvation, chemicals and extremes of temperature. In 2007, biologists revived a 8-million-year-old bacterium from the Antarctic ice.

Most people react negatively to bacteria. But they create the air we breathe; the nitrogen in the soil that plants need. Friendly bacteria help the human body survive. Bacteria in the digestive system are crucial for the breakdown of nutrients, such as complex sugars, into forms the body can use. Friendly bacteria protect us from dangerous ones by occupying places in the body that disease causing bacteria want to occupy. Some friendly bacteria rescue us by attacking bad bacteria. Lactic acid bacteria have been used for the preparation of foods as cheese, soy sauce, vinegar, yoghurt and pickles and fermented foods for thousands of years. Bacteria can break down organic compounds at remarkable speed and help in waste processing. They are frequently used for cleaning up oil spills and clearing up toxic waste. Pharmaceutical and chemical industries use bacteria in the production of chemicals. Bacteria, such as Bacillus thuringiensis, can be used in agriculture instead of pesticides without the undesirable consequences of pesticides.

On the other hand some of the most deadly epidemics in human history have been caused by bacteria – Cholera, Diphtheria, Dysentery, Plague, Pneumonia, Tuberculosis, Typhoid, Typhus.

Here are some more odd facts:

1,458 new species of bacteria live in the bellybutton of human beings. Everyone’s bellybutton ecology is unique and one volunteer’s belly button harboured bacteria that had previously been found only in soil from Japan, where he had never been.

Bacteria only multiply – unlike humans - to the extent that there is food. The amount of bacteria on a pair of jeans reaches a maximum after 2 weeks of wear. You can wear them for the rest of your life without worrying about them getting any dirtier!

Human faeces is mostly bacteria that are both dead and alive.

Magnetospirillium magneticum has the ability to take in iron, convert it to magnetic magnetite, align it along its body, and travel using magnetic fields.

Millions of people don’t actually need to use deodorant (especially East Asians) because they have a gene that stops them from producing sweat that attracts body-odour-causing bacteria.

One teaspoon of the bacterium C. botulinum, properly distributed, could kill every human being in Asia.

The “smell” of rain on the earth is produced by bacteria.

Floating bacteria are effective at spurring condensation, leading to snow and rain. Some scientists propose spraying bacteria into the clouds to end droughts.

Deinococcus radiodurans can survive 10,000 times the dose of radiation lethal to humans, making it a prime candidate for the clean-up of nuclear waste.

Ralstonia metallidurans can turn dissolved gold into solid nuggets.

Some marine animals have specialized light organs which contain bioluminescent bacteria which turn on and off like a flashlight. The flashlight fish uses its light to communicate with other fish, attract prey and avoid predators. The bacteria benefit by receiving nutrients and oxygen from the fish's blood.

Bacteria signal to each other through chemicals produced. Through these signals, bacterial species know how many others of their kind exist and whether there is a “ quorum”. The bacteria change and coordinate their behaviour when a "quorum" is present.

Are humans beings the dominant life forms of the Earth, or are bacteria? The terrifying "thought control" talent of the Toxoplasma gondii protozoa is amazing. It infects rats and then alters their brains so that the rodents seek out their natural predator, cats. This is because T. gondii can only complete its reproductive cycle in feline intestines. The rats offer themselves to be eaten and the T. gondii parasites complete their lives. It also infects humans and I wonder how much of our activities come from its orders. After all, your body has 10 times more bacterial cells than human cells.

Maneka Sanjay Gandhi

Pl. add: To join the animal welfare movement contact,

All Hindu mythology is intertwined with animals.

All Hindu mythology is intertwined with animals. Thousands of stories abound in all the texts, and the largest of wars is often due to a small insect being killed. Devdutt Pattanaik has put some of these stories into a book called Pashu.

Of these myriad stories that exist in all the 300 versions of the Ramayana and Mahabharata, in the Vedas and Puranas, here are some of my favourites. They carry lessons to live by:

The Pandava prince Arjuna saw an unusual creature in the forest. It had the head of a rooster, a peacock’s neck, a lion’s waist, the hump of a bull, a snake’s tail and various limbs of a tiger, deer, elephant and human. Arjuna raised his bow to kill it. Then he thought – just because a creature is unfamiliar, why suppose it is a monster? He lowered his bow and the creature raised its human hand in blessing. It was God himself, testing Arjuna’s wisdom and tolerance.

Tumburu, the Gandharva, was a great and vain musician. He and Narada competed for the title of best singer. They went to Vishnu to decide. Vishnu, mischievously, said that he thought Hanuman was a better singer than both. Insulted, they went in search of Hanuman and found him on a snow covered peak. Sing for us, they commanded and Hanuman’s low and beautiful voice caused the snow to melt. When he finished, the molten snow froze again. Not good enough, they said. Hanuman bowed his head humbly and left. When they got up to leave they found their feet sealed in the snow. They called to Vishnu in distress. If you are better than Hanuman, sing and melt the snow, he said. They did – with no impact. Finally, they conceded that Hanuman, who sang out of devotion and not to show off, was better.

Gandhari accidently stepped on the hundred eggs of an insect. Heartbroken, the mother insect cursed Gandhari that she would see her hundred children die before her eyes. The cries of animals are heard by the gods as clearly as those by humans and it takes one act like this to change a person’s life.

Mandavya, the hermit, was arrested by the king who had him impaled on a stick. His crime was that he had stolen goods in his hermitage – something he was unaware of. He died during torture and when he stood before Yama, the record keeper, he demanded to know the reason for this unjust punishment. Not unjust, said Yama, when you were a child you tortured birds and pinned them to the ground with sticks. The pain you caused animals has to be understood and paid for in the same way.

When Rama’s army was building the bridge across the sea to Lanka, a little squirrel carried grains of sand on its back in order to help the bridge come up faster. When the others laughed at his efforts, Rama picked him up, stroked him while thanking him and left the marks of his hands as stripes. No good deed is too small that it is not noticed.

King Yudhisthira held a great yagna and thousands of people were fed. A mongoose, with a half golden body, entered and lay on the ashes of the yagna fire saying, “If this is a true sacrifice, let my body become all golden.” It didn’t happen and the mongoose was sarcastic. The priests were curious and he explained “During a drought, a farmer had a few rice grains left for his family. A stranger – old, tired, hungry- knocked on the door. The farmer gave him the entire family’s food and he left, satisfied. The family died of starvation that night. I entered the house and rubbed my face on the plate and it turned golden. I have travelled the world looking for a sacrifice as great as the farmer’s so that the rest of my body would change. I have not found it till today.” The king realised that meaning of a sacrifice was more than mere ritual.

Gunakeshi , the daughter of Indra’s charioteer, Matali, fell in love with a Naga, Sumukha. He couldn’t marry her as Garuda, the eagle, had been promised one naga a day as his food so that he wouldn’t kill all of them together. It was Sumukha’s turn the next day. Matali begged Indra who went to Vishnu for help. Spare him, said Vishnu. Garuda refused – I will remain hungry, he said. Vishnu placed his hand on Garuda and the eagle found he could not flap his wings any more. He was pinned. Have compassion on me, he begged Vishnu. For that, you must show compassion to another - for that is how all life is sustained. Garuda let the Naga go.

(My absolute favourite) : The Pandavas and Draupadi, after ruling for 36 years, decided to climb the mountains and enter the home of the gods. “If we have lived virtuous lives, the Gods will let us enter”, said Yudhishthira. But as they walked one by one they fell down till only Yudhisthira and a dog, that had come unbidden with them, stood before the gates. “You can enter, not the dog,” said the Gods. “But, he has equal rights since he has come on the same arduous journey and has never faltered in his desire and diligence”, argued Yudhisthira. “The flesh may be different but the soul is the same. If he can’t come in, I will stay out as well.” The Gods smiled and blessed Yudhisthira. “The dog is Dharma and you have demonstrated your innate spirituality in recognizing that all creatures are the same.” They welcomed both in to Paradise.

Maneka Sanjay Gandhi

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Birds in tropical climates face predators.

Birds in tropical climates face predators- larger birds, mammals and snakes- who rob their nests, stealing eggs or killing chicks. In a study published in The American Naturalist, scientists report a novel nesting strategy adopted by a tropical lowland bird that inhabits an area with very high losses to nest predators. The newly hatched chicks of the Cinereous Mourner in Peru have downy feathers with white tipped long orange barbs. The nestling moves its head very slowly from side to side in a way typical of a poisonous caterpillar nearby with similar size and coloration as the nestling. The nestling tricks predators into thinking that it is a toxic, spiny caterpillar rather than an edible nestling. This remarkable adaptation decreases nest predation.

Even chickens exhibit intelligent behaviour within just a few hours of hatching. Newly born chicks are able to keep track of numbers up to five. When given a choice between two groups of plastic eggs they invariably choose the bigger one, even when the decision was between two eggs or three. And their mathematical ability does not end there. In a paper, The Intelligent Hen, spanning 20 years of research, Professor Nicol proves that the birds are born with an understanding of physics – and particularly structural engineering. This is demonstrated by experiments in which they showed more interest in a diagram of an object that could actually be built rather than one that defied the laws of physics. Experiments also showed that very young chicks understand that an object that moves out of sight still exists. It takes human babies two years to grasp the key concept that out of sight does not mean out of existence. Chicks also show basic empathy and can plan ahead and exhibit self-control until the time is right. For instance, birds quickly learnt that if they waited longer to start eating food, they would be allowed access to it for longer. Further evidence of hen intelligence comes from tests showing that at just two weeks’ old, they can navigate using the sun, something that requires the creatures to take account of the height and position of the sun during the day.

Even newborn ducklings, according to a study in Science journal, challenge our idea of what it means to be a birdbrain. Zoologists at the University of Oxford devised an experiment. 1-day-old ducklings were exposed to a pair of moving objects. The two objects were either the same or different in shape or colour. Then they exposed each duckling to two entirely new pairs of moving objects. The researchers found that about 70 percent of the ducklings they studied preferred to move toward the pair of objects that had the same shape or colour relationship as the first objects they saw. In other words, a duckling that was first shown two green spheres was more likely to move toward a pair of blue spheres than a mismatched pair of orange and violet spheres. Ducklings go through a rapid learning process, called imprinting, shortly after birth — it’s what allows them to identify and follow their mothers. These findings show that ducklings use abstract relationships between sensory inputs like colour, shape, sounds and smell to recognize their mothers – meaning that an animal baby can learn relationships between concepts without training.

When people want to direct the attention of others, they naturally do so by pointing their hands/fingers. Researchers, reporting in Current Biology, have shown that even baby elephants spontaneously, without any training, get the gist of human pointing and can use it as a cue for finding food. Elephants that were born or kept in captivity were the same as wild-born individuals when it came to following pointing gestures. Scientists say it is possible that elephants may do something akin to pointing as a means of communicating with each other, using their long trunk. Elephants do regularly make prominent trunk gestures and these motions may be "points."

Foals can get up and gallop in the first minute of life. Whale calves can instantly swim with their pod. Puppies understand social hierarchies within a few days of opening their eyes: “who’s moving up or down the social ladder, and who is sleeping with whom.”

What is animal intelligence? Life has taught me that the answers are irrelevant: it is the questions that are important. A new book called “Are We Smart Enough to Know How Smart Animals Are?” by Frans de Waal argues that the mental powers of animals are far more complex than often generally assumed. Many scientists have been asking the wrong questions about animal intelligence, blaming the creature in the cage for poor test results when it’s the person in the lab coat who is flawed.

It’s a mistake to compare animal intelligence to that of humans instead of seeing it on its own terms, he writes. The Clark’s nutcracker, a bird, can remember exactly where it put many of the 20,000 pine nuts it buries each year — but people forget where they put their car keys all the time.

Young bees can solve complex mathematical problems which keep computers busy for days, researchers from the School of Biological Sciences, University of London have shown. The tiny insects are able to calculate the shortest possible route between flowers discovered in random order.

The classic puzzle involves finding the shortest route that allows a travelling salesman to call at all the locations he has to visit. Computers solve the problem by comparing the length of all possible routes and choosing the one that is shortest. Bees manage to reach the same solution. When researchers showed them a bunch of artificially controlled flowers, the foraging bees took one look at the place and were instantly able to figure out the shortest route between them After exploring the location of the flowers, bees quickly learned to fly the best route for saving time and energy.

The author says that chimpanzees might do better at cognition studies if somebody tickled them first, rather than scaring them by separating them from their parents. And the same applies to rats and fish. If you really wanted to know, signs of animal intelligence are all around you. When you eat and abuse an animal you are really eating someone as bright- if not brighter – than you. The only thing that makes the animal “stupider” is that it refuses to learn violence for violence’s sake – something that a human child is taught in its infancy by watching its parents be cruel to the rest of the world.

Maneka Sanjay Gandhi

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