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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 gandhim@nic.in, www.peopleforanimalsindia.org

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 gandhim@nic.in, www.peopleforanimalsindia.org

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 gandhim@nic.in, www.peopleforanimalsindia.org

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 gandhim@nic.in, www.peopleforanimalsindia.org

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 gandhim@nic.in, www.peopleforanimalsindia.org

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 gandhim@nic.in, www.peopleforanimalsindia.org

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 gandhim@nic.in http://www.peopleforanimalsindia.org

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
 

Pl. add: To join the animal welfare movement contact gandhim@nic.in http://www.peopleforanimalsindia.org

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 bodhiroc@gmail.com. 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

Pl. add: To join the animal welfare movement contact gandhim@nic.in http://www.peopleforanimalsindia.org

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

Pl. add: To join the animal welfare movement contact gandhim@nic.in http://www.peopleforanimalsindia.org

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

Pl. add: To join the animal welfare movement contact gandhim@nic.in http://www.peopleforanimalsindia.org

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 (http://www.independent.co.uk/voices/save-veganism-abattoirs-animal-cruelty-terrorism-vigils-animal-welfare-a7579251.html) 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 gandhim@nic.inwww.peopleforanimalsindia.org

 

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.

For more Details Please Click here:

http://www.island.lk/index.php?page_cat=article-details&page=article-details&code_title=155629

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

Pl. add: To join the animal welfare movement contact gandhim@nic.in, www.peopleforanimalsindia.org

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 gandhim@nic.in, www.peopleforanimalsindia.org

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 gandhim@nic.in, www.peopleforanimalsindia.org

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

Pl. add: To join the animal welfare movement contact gandhim@nic.in, www.peopleforanimalsindia.org

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

Pl. add: To join the animal welfare movement contact gandhim@nic.in, www.peopleforanimalsindia.org

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