Loving animals is different from keeping them as pets. Imagine a bird, even if it is in a golden cage (does it matter to the bird if the cage is of gold or iron?), what is its condition. It is deprived of its natural instinct to fly. Its freedom is taken away. Iqbal wrote a beautiful poem for children, parinde ki fariyad, an appeal of a bird.
Aata hai yaad mujhko guzrahuwa zamana
Wo bagh ki bahareyn wo sab ka chehchahana.
Take fish in an acquarium. To the delight of humans they swim round and round in a showcase of a drawing room. They are given best of food. Are they happy? May be they say ‘ Aata hai yaad mujhko guzra huwa zamana
Wo gaharaiyan nadi ki, wo mera tairana.
Worst case is with dogs. Chained, a belt round the neck, jumping, rolling to get a piece of bone from the master. The master commands him, cajoles him, hugs him, scraches behind his ears, bathes him and brushes him. He does all that he cannot do with his own children. He loves him but keeps him chained. Would his master do all that to earn his livelyhood without freedom? There is a difference between dogs as pets and fish or birds. Dogs are bred specially for keeping as pets. And they are bred under monitored condition. Many of the masters, when the dogs are sick or very old, leave them in places from where the pets cannot trace their masters.
Dogs cannot sing any version of Iqbal’s poem, as most of them never knew what freedom was.
I do not like raising cattle just for their meat. Poultry farming, I think, is one example. Cows and sheep reared just for human consumption is not done. In the West cows are reared just as poultry. As long as they live animals and birds should have their freedom. I am not advocating vagetarianism. Come to think of it, milking a cow or a buffellow in the presence of its offspring is unjust. Have you seen the process of milking? You must see into the eyes of cow and the calf. I am not against drinking milk. The calf should get atleast some portion of its legitimate share. The only animal that drinks another animal’s milk is human being.
Cows must be impregnated for them to begin producing milk. Therefore, when she reaches the age of around twelve months she has to go through Artificial Insemination.
In our villages the cows or buffellows are taken to a milkman who owns a sturdy ox or bull, where she is raped. They use evey possible way to get her there, including beating her on the head. The miserable animal is frightened, she wants to fight and resist, but ultimately succumbs. This gentle creature doesn't harm anyone, but still she is getting beaten. She does not understand. Do you? I have witnessed this process as a schoolboy.
Mass-produced chicken spend their short lives in huge sheds. Motherless, the chicks must fend for themselves from day one. They miss the warmth and protection of mother hen. The moment a hen fears danger for her chiks she takes them instinctively under her spread out wings. Many chics die because they cannot reach the feeding points.
I do not like to see any life in captivity. I hate visiting zoo. I also do not like to see fish in aquarium in any house. I do not like to see birds in cages, even if the cages are made of gold, even if the birds in captivity are fed best of fruit, which children of the underpriviledged do not even get to see. A bird in captivity is the worst sight one can see. It cannot fly. I do not like pets for the same reason. I see people walking with their chained dogs.
Nearly 50000 silk worms are killed to make a silk saree. All possible help is given to creation of silk worms only to be killed. Ahimsavadis, are you listening?
Let alone birds and animals a large number of human children suffer at the hands of their own species.
It is very common to see girl servents in many prosperous households working from morning till late in the evening. These girls are not sent to schools. It is very common to see young boys of school going age delivering newspapers every morning. It is very common to see young boys working in garages almost 14 hours a day. It is very common to see young boys cleaning tables and utensils in small retaurants. Their childhood is lost. Here I remember the famous lines of Sahir—who subah kabhi to aayegi.