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Showing posts with label Maneka Gandhi. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Maneka Gandhi. Show all posts

Friday, July 5, 2019

Article from Smt. Maneka Sanjay Gandhi

Organic farming for me is as important as animal welfare. Both save thousands of species and make the world a better place for humans. When I became minister for Women and Children, we started a new project: we hold an annual Mela in Delhi Haat, the best location, for 15 days, in which 300 women organic farmers are called from all over India to sell their produce. This year we sold Rs 2 crore worth. We also send 50 women to a huge organic mela in Ahmedabad organized by Srishthi and now we are preparing for one in Mumbai in February.

Thursday, June 20, 2019

ANTIBIOTICS AND METHANE , Article by Maneka Gandhi

While carbon dioxide is often painted as the main criminal in climate change, a far more deadly, and less talked about gas, is methane. UN’s Intergovernmental Panel for Climate Change estimates that methane accounts for approximately 16% of total greenhouse gas emissions. Despite a relatively smaller portion, methane is much more harmful for climate change.

Methane is a super-insulating gas – making the earth much warmer than carbon dioxide can. It is more potent than carbon dioxide in capturing the sun’s radioactive force and traps more heat in the atmosphere. Scientists have calculated that its ‘global warming potential’ may be 28 times more than that of carbon dioxide.

Carbon dioxide emissions have not increased since 2013. Yet the temperature in 2017 has gone up by another 1 % . The reason is a startling rise in the emission of methane. In the early 2000s, methane concentration in the atmosphere was rising annually at about 0.5 parts per billion (ppb). In 2007 methane started rising rapidly, and in recent years it has spiked to annual increases of 9.9 ppb and 12.5 ppb. The current atmospheric concentration is 1,853 ppb.

Methane is not produced in by factories or cars. It is produced by meat eaters. Animals reared for meat and milk are the major contributors of the gas- chickens, cows, goats, sheep, pigs. All plant eating animals emit methane gas in the form of burps and gas through the anus. The Journal of Animal Science says that cows produce between 250 and 500 litres of methane gas every day – which is huge.

Every year the number of animals, kept for killing by humans, rises. In 2017, 70 BILLION animals were killed for food. With huge numbers of cattle being reared for meat and dairy, methane production has gone up exponentially. Recent estimates show that the livestock industry alone annually produces a quantity of methane which equals 2.2 billion tonnes of carbon dioxide.

India, China and Brazil together are the top producers of meat and dairy. Brazil and India are in the top three largest exporters of beef in the world. India is also the largest producer of milk in the whole world. More milk is produced in India than all the European Union countries combined. Between the three of us we create 70% of the methane being released into the air (the other methane producers are coal and rice, and China and India are number one in both) .

The sheer number of animals is destroying the planet as we know it. You eat meat and a tsunami destroys parts of the Philippines. You eat meat and a cyclone hits Sri Lanka or Tamil Nadu. The connections have to be made.

But I come back to the point of this article. If the sheer numbers of cattle were not enough, there is another factor that is creasing the amount of methane that the cattle emit: antibiotics.

Most meat/milk producing animals are grown in huge factory farms . You can call them dairies and ranches but they are holding prisons for animals. The animals are overcrowded, badly fed, treated with the utmost violence. As a result, most of them – from chicken to cattle – are ill. The cattle industry grows every year, and the techniques to extract the largest possible profit are also becoming more sophisticated. It is common practice to regularly inject cattle with antibiotics, specially tetracycline, to help them grow larger, gain weight quicker, and mitigate diseases they have picked up through bad sanitation and food in the factory farm. Livestock animals are fed 80% of the world’s antibiotics.

There are a number of problems with this – it builds antibiotic resistance in animals and humans consuming the meat or dairy. But my purpose in this article is different. The problem with antibiotics most relevant to our discussion is the fact that they increase the level of methane emissions from cattle.

Research conducted at the University of Colorado in Boulders shows that antibiotic treatment more than DOUBLES the methane production of the animal. If a cow is producing 500 litres, it now produces 1000 litres of methane every day. The study indicates that tetracycline treatment reduces the natural bacteria in the stomach of cows and encourages the growth of methanogenic archaea – methane producing microbes – in the intestinal tract, altering the balance permanently.

The dung of cows treated with tetracycline had a different microbial balance, leading to the production of nearly 50-80% more methane than the dung of non-treated cows. Both the dung and burps of antibiotic-fed cows have been observed to have high methane content.

On one hand the world is looking for ways to reduce methane production by promoting renewable sources of energy, introducing energy efficient devices, setting safety parameters for landfills, checking natural gas leaks and finding ways to reduce coal.

On the other hand we are feeding increasing amounts of antibiotics to cattle, dangerously increasing their levels of methane emission. More than 1.4 billion cows are being bred globally to feed humans. Animal agriculture as a whole, which includes over 10 billion animals, now contributes 20% of the total greenhouse gas emissions in the world.

Millions of dollars are being spent by researchers in New Zealand on developing a vaccine to help reduce the burping of cows! German scientists are breeding a genetically modified cow who will produce less methane. Why not consider the simple option of keeping cattle better, improving the feed and holding conditions in factory farms so that antibiotics are not needed or used. The methane emissions will immediately come down by half.

The problem is that the meat and dairy industry want to increase their profits TODAY. Less money spent on welfare of the animals and more spent on cheap antibiotics that keep them alive till they are killed makes more money today. They would much rather put money into a genetically modified cow who is bigger and fatter with bigger teats and shorter legs .

A 2006 United Nations report indicates that more greenhouse gases are produced by raising cattle than cars and trucks combined.

The core of the problem lies in the fact that we have allowed businessmen to get away with enormous cruelty for almost a century now. Naturally this will start to affect us as well , if you believe in the law of Karma.

Removing antibiotic usage from the animal rearing industry will reduce methane. But it can only be done if the cattle themselves are well treated, allowed to roam free, given good food. The best way to remove methane is, of course, to stop eating meat. And the demand reduces, so will the supply.

Methane stays in the atmosphere for a much shorter time than carbon dioxide. If we were to stop producing it, it would disappear from the atmosphere in 4-9 years and global warming would come to a halt. It all depends on what you eat and how little you care about your own survival.

Maneka Sanjay Gandhi

Saturday, June 15, 2019

Article By Maneka Gandhi

If you were an alien that dropped in on the planet and you heard that most people on the planet had access to less than a bucket of water a day, because other people used ridiculous amounts of water to grow, feed, clean and kill animals so that they could eat them – when they didn’t need to – what would you say? In the cult book, Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy by Douglas Adams, the Universe has decided that Planet Earth must be flattened and removed to make way for a highway. We don’t have to wait for the universe to kill us – we are doing this to ourselves every day.

Monday, May 27, 2019

Article from Smt. Maneka Sanjay Gandhi

Recently the Hyderabad based Muslim seminary Jamia Nizamia, started in 1876, issued a ban on Muslims eating prawn, shrimp, and crabs, calling them Makruh Tahrim (abominable)

According to Islam, there are three categories of food : Halal (allowed) , Haram (prohibited, Makruh (strictly to be avoided as abominable)

Most Muslims eat meat, every kind. In fact the religion defines itself by the eating of meat – even though the Holy Prophet was a vegetarian. However, most Muslims have no idea of what they are allowed to eat. The maximum they know is that butchery is divided into two – Muslims eat Halaal and non-Muslims eat Jhatka. (It is another matter that the animals slaughtered in India are neither halaal nor jhatka and make a mockery of both religions) If you have Muslim acquaintances, you could pass this on to them.

Tuesday, May 14, 2019

A hundred years from now, if scientists have their way, many humans will be partly pig and baboon writes Maneka Gandhi

A hundred years from now, if scientists have their way, many humans will be partly pig and baboon. I mean really, not metaphorically.

Scientists are working on transplanting entire hearts, liver, kidneys, pancreas and lungs from animals to humans. The increasing demand for organs, tissues, and cells, and the dearth of available human organs, have focused scientific interest in taking organs from animals . The term for the transplanting of organs from one species to another is called xenotransplantation and so far it has not worked at all. However entire corporations are at work, slicing and dicing animals so that one day humans can be part pig and part baboon.

The arguments, in favour of animal to human organ transplantation, is that these organs would be available whenever required, instead of making patients wait for months. An immediate transplantation would perhaps result in improved survival. Instead of waiting for a dead human, whose organs are already slightly damaged, the organs could be taken from healthy animals under anaesthesia.

The pig has become the animal of choice for most companies. Thousands of pigs are being killed to use in human bodies. But, before they get to humans, scientists first transplant their organs into the bodies of baboons to see if they can go into a different species.

Why baboons? Humans and baboons have 90 percent of their DNA in common, so the captive animal becomes a stand in for a human. Why pigs ? Their organs are of the same size as humans.

Which is the ideal animal species for organ transplants. The animal should have the same sort of anatomy, so that the organ can function well in humans. He should not have any disease that can be transmitted to humans. He should be immune to human diseases. He should have no genes that affect human immune systems. He should be inexpensive to breed and keep and have lots of babies every year. And he should be an animal that humans don’t mind killing.

There is no such animal.

Primates may be somewhat alike in anatomy, but they give and get human infections easily. They don’t breed quick enough and humans ( except scientists) don’t like killing them.

The pig has large litters several times a year and is cheap to feed. The problem is that its blood and all its genetics are far too different. The pig is an entirely different species . It has been 80 million years since the pig and human diverged on the evolutionary scale. Is it possible to “outwit evolution.”

Not so far. Millions of killed animals later scientists are no further along. The very basic aim – to replace a baboon’s heart with a pig heart – has still not been achieved.

Organ transplants fail because each mammalian species has a system and blood unique to itself and its immune system is built to reject foreign organs. As soon as human blood is sent through pig organs, the antibodies in the human blood cells are activated against pig cells. Companies are working to add human thrombomodulin protein to pig cells to make them seem more human, so that human cells are less likely to reject them. Through microinjection techniques, and in vitro fertilization, five human genes have been added to the pigs' livers, kidneys and hearts.

The pig has a galactose oligosaccharide enzyme, Gal, which humans don’t. When a pig organ or cells are transplanted into a human, this enzyme causes immediate rejection. Scientists have genetically created a pig that "almost" doesn’t have Gal. However, clinical testing has not finished. The genetically manipulated pigs are called GalSafe pigs.

Unfortunately for the scientists, pigs also have retroviruses in the genome of every porcine cell. These will inevitably be transferred with the donor tissues. This is a grave potential risk, as retroviruses don’t create illnesses in their natural hosts but are devastating to humans. The scientists have discovered a retrovirus in the pig called PERV. Research – published in the journal Science – shows that Perv can make their way from pigs into humans. Opponents of xenotransplantation fear that these viruses, when introduced into a human system, might cause epidemics of diseases for which we have no immunity and no cure.

Large commercial companies like eGenesis claim that they have removed these threatening viruses from the animals' DNA. They have cut out genes and blasted the rest to eradicate all Perv activity to make Perv free piglets.

Scientists say major obstacles remain. “Even if organs from these gene-edited pigs could be safely used to overcome virus transmission, there remain formidable obstacles in overcoming immunological rejection and the physiological incompatibility of pig organs in humans.”

Experts in these fields worry that transgenic pig organs, whose organs are no longer completely porcine genetically, may be even more susceptible to viral infections. The humans that get these genetically modified organs would have to be on immunosuppressants for the rest of their lives. While xenotransplantation may theoretically increase the survival time, it is unclear whether the negative impact on the human’ quality of life would be worth it.

The risk of getting and transmitting disease to the recipient and to society cannot be accurately estimated. What impact will it have on the human race, should a new zoonotic infection be introduced, for which we have no cure? Ebola and Aids have killed millions.

If, in the distant future, a pig organ is ever ready for use on a human, these questions arise:

Should the members of a community therefore be consulted if there were any xeno-transplantation donees in their region? Someone will go to court demanding that, in the greater interest of society a person with an animal organ in their body should be restricted from having physical relationships and socialising, to prevent the possible risk to the wider public from zoonosis. This may result into temporary detentions at home – something written into the contract before consenting to xenotransplantation.

How would a patient give an informed consent to the future restrictions of one’s liberty. Would he not challenge the legality of any such agreements later. They could reasonably argue that they have agreed to the restrictions under duress because of a lack of viable alternatives to xenotransplants.

Even if they were available, the treatment would be immensely expensive. Production of a pathogen free donor organ would involve rearing animals in strictly controlled environments. This means huge costs in developing a sustainable work force to provide transplantation and post-transplant surveillance of the patient. Insurance providers may not cover expenses of a xenotransplant. Public health care providers may decline to provide this treatment, as it may not be cost effective. Only the very rich will be able to afford it with serious implications for fairness. If public health authorities were to fund expensive interventions like xenotransplantation, other routine treatments of greater medical benefits to society may be jeopardised.

Religions like Islam and Judaism feel that pigs are ‘ritually unclean’. They may therefore not approve of people who have pig organs. Would these recipients be socially acceptable?

The ethical view is that animals have rights similar to those considered appropriate for humans. Is the prolonged suffering, in the form of constant physical manipulation, isolation and death of an animal, moral? Sheep that have been genetically modified to grow more wool are born blind with legs so weak that they cannot move. What are the physical consequences in a genetically modified pig .

Wouldn’t it be easier to find a way to grow human organs, rather than killing animals, or modifying them, to become more huma ? Three-D technologies have come in. Meat cells have been successful multiplied to make non-animal meat hamburgers. Grow the person’s own organs and tissues and then use them for auto-transplantation.

In this amazing world of ours, a human will eat and drink the wrong things, not exercise, abuse his body and spray pesticides everywhere. When his organs start failing he will look for women, poor people and now animals, to give him organs so that he can live to carouse some more.

I am totally against this massive slaughter that is going on in the name of scientists getting jobs and pretending to work for the benefit of human kind. Why not go into a brave new world without any moral barriers and raise humans for the purpose of harvesting their organs.

Maneka Sanjay Gandhi

Saturday, May 11, 2019

All living beings require vitamins, essential micronutrients, and these should come through the diet, writes Maneka Gandhi

All living beings require vitamins, essential micronutrients, and these should come through the diet. An extra dose of vitamin has very little nutritional benefit if you are already healthy, but if you are deficient in any vitamin you will require supplements so that your cells and tissues can grow properly. Vitamins facilitate the chemical reactions that produce among other things, skin, bone and muscle. If there is serious deficiency in one or more of these nutrients, you may develop a deficiency disease. Even minor deficiencies may cause permanent damage. Some well known illnesses connected with vitamin deficiencies are beriberi, pellagra, scurvy and rickets.

In 1910 Vitamin B 1(thiamine) was discovered by Japanese scientist Umataro Suzuki and its food source was rice bran. In 1913 Vitamin A (retinol) followed and its food source was considered cod liver oil. Between 1920 and 1948 all the other vitamins were isolated. The last one was Vitamin B 12 (cobalamin) and its source was liver, eggs and any other animal products.

In the 1930s the first commercial yeast-extract vitamin B complex and semi-synthetic vitamin C supplement tablets started being sold. From then to now, the consumption of vitamins and multi-vitamins has become a common practice in many households. Thirteen vitamins are recognized at present and each one has a particular function. Some function as antioxidants, others, especially in the B group, help enzymes to work.

Vitamins are classified as A, B (including B1 Thiamine, B2 riboflavin, B3 Niacin, B5, B6 (Pyridoxin), B7 Biotin, B9, B12 (Cobalamin), C, D, E and K. As supplements become an integral part of our lives, it is important to know where they come from. The B group has other common names which are on the packaging labels : (thiamine, riboflavin, niacin, pantothenic acid, biotin, vitamin B-6, vitamin B-12 and folate).

Most Indians would be surprised to know how many vitamins are derived from animals and are not vegetarian. Product descriptions are not always honest. While the law directs manufacturers to display the contents of their products, it is not mandatory for them to display the source of these ingredients. Many vitamin supplements are not vegetarian.

Whether or not one opts to continue consuming these vitamins is a personal choice, but you must be aware of their animal content.

Vitamins tablets or capsules usually contain additives that aid in the manufacturing process, or the way the vitamin is digested by the body. These are some of them :

Gelatine is the most commonly used animal ingredient in vitamin supplements. It forms the basis of most capsule shells and is also used in the coating and filling of tablets. Gelatine is derived from boiling hooves, stomach, and other tissue linings, of pigs, cows and goats.

Other components of fillers and lubricants, on the coating of vitamin supplements, are magnesium stearate and caprylic acid. Magnesium stearate is derived from stearic acid, which is a fatty acid found in pigs, chicken, cows, fish, milk and butter. Caprylic acid comes from the milk of goats, cows and sheep.

Many tablets are coated with colours to make them look attractive. Many of these colours are animal based. A commonly used red food dye is made from carmine, which comes from the dead bodies of scale insects similar to beetles.

Lanolin is another animal sourced material used to manufacture vitamin D supplements. It is obtained from wool-bearing animals. (D3 is also made from fish oils. This is dangerous because it may have a hidden mercury content). Vegan vitamin D3 supplements, sourced from algae, are a viable alternative. Or, stand in the sun.

Another common ingredient is cod liver oil, which is used as a source of vitamin A and vitamin D. This comes from oils extracted from the liver of cod fish. Vitamin B12 (cobalamin) is often derived from organ meats, especially liver, from lamb, veal, beef, and turkey, fish eggs, clams, mackerel and crab meat. So are Vitamins B 2, B 3, B 5 , B 6, B 7.

Omega-3 supplements usually use products based on fish, fish oil, eggs, meat etc..

Duodenum substances are used in many vitamins to help in the absorption of vital nutrients. These are derived from the digestive tracts of cows and pigs.

Lipase is an ingredient used in digestive enzyme supplements. This comes from the tongues of calves and lambs. Pepsin, which is sometimes included, comes from the stomach lining of pigs. Bone meal is used as a source of calcium in some vitamin supplements. This is basically crushed animal bones.

Calcium supplement tablets have glycerine, which can be extracted from soy or palm but is usually taken from animal tallow (animal fat) . Cholecalciferol, used in all vitamin supplements, is extracted from sheep wool.

Do not listen to people who tell you that some vitamins have to be from meat/dairy extracts. There is no vitamin which is exclusively found in non-vegetarian food. Each vitamin has plant based alternatives.

Vegetable cellulose caps are an alternative for gelatine. Stearates used as fillers and lubricants on coating can be derived from palm oil, rather than animals. There are also vegetable sources of caprylic acid which come from coconut or palm oil.

Alternative sources of Vitamin D include yeast extract ergosterol, algae and, of course, exposing skin to sunshine. Cyanocobalamin, which comes from soy, can be used for Vitamin B12 supplements. Kiwifruit seed oil, chia seed, fig seed oil, hemp, flax and black raspberry are good sources of Omega-3.Vitamin A can be made from carotene.

There are ways to derive lipase from oilseed and cereal seed for use in digestive enzyme supplements. Crushed animal bones, used for calcium, can be replaced by a number of vegetarian sources, including calcium carbonate, kale, mustard greens, soy, broccoli, leeks, spinach, beets, vegetable compost, plant mulch, dolomite and clay.

Despite these vegetable ingredients being available, the hugely profitable health supplement industry often chooses to use animal based products because they are easily available, from slaughterhouses, and cheap.

Apart from plant alternatives, almost all commercially sold vitamin supplements can also be made from synthetic vitamins. There are no chemical differences between vitamins produced synthetically and those derived from plant or animal sources. Synthetic production is becoming more popular, as, such vitamin tablets are easier to produce and found to be even more cost effective than animal products.

More funds need to be channelled, into the R&D of plant alternatives, for use in vitamin supplements. We need to chart a path away from the unnecessary violent methods of producing vitamin supplements. An increase in the consumer demand for plant based supplements will push the industry in a better direction. There are many multivitamin brands that come from animals, or use animals, in their production. Some of these are : Inlife Multivitamin, Centrum, Herbalife, Healthvit, Muscle Pharm Armour V, Revital, Univita, Amway Nutralite, Opti-Men, Muscle Tech Platinum Multi Vit Supplement among others. You need to write and ask the company.

Vitamin supplements don’t promote health, or prevent disease. They simply treat deficiency. As much as possible, we should rather eat a variety of more whole foods directly. This is more sensible, not to say healthier, than trying to derive micronutrients from these same foods and consuming those in tablets.

Maneka Sanjay Gandhi

Wednesday, April 10, 2019

Man has always envied the powers of animals, Writes Maneka Sanjay Gandhi

Man has always envied the powers of animals. His natural instinct was to complete himself in mythology with animal powers and become a superbeing. Angels, fairies, the Greek Drakaina, Mothmen, Seraphs, the Norse Valkyries, the winged genies of Assyria, the Vanth of Etruscan mythology who guide people to the underworld after death, the Chayot of Judaism, are all humans with wings.

Mythology and folklore is full of animal-human hybrids. Most of these have been given divine status – whether of god, or villain, or trickster. In Christian art the devil is depicted with a human body, horns of a goat and a ram, goat's fur and ears, nose and canine teeth of a pig. In ancient Mesopotamia, Pazuzu the king of demons, the southwest wind, bringer of storms and drought, has the body of a man, the head of a lion or dog, the talons of an eagle, two pairs of wings, and a scorpion’s tail. (But though Pazuzu is an evil spirit, he drives and frightens away other evil spirits, protecting humans against plagues and misfortunes).

Tuesday, April 2, 2019

What the industry feeds you by way of animal organs and glands in one form or another? , Writes Maneka Gandhi

Vegetarianism, at its most superficial level, is the not eating of animal flesh. And should include milk which is liquid animal flesh. But do you keep track of what the industry feeds you by way of animal organs and glands in one form or another?

Different industries use the animal brain, spinal cord, pancreas, stomach, liver, lungs, kidney and ovaries, endocrine, pituitary, thyroid, parathyroid and adrenal glands.

The glands are extracted and frozen. The surrounding fat and connective tissue are trimmed off. They are placed on waxed paper and kept at −18 °C. When the glands arrive at the pharmaceutical plant they are chopped and mixed with different solutions for extraction, or placed in a vacuum drier. After drying, the glands are milled into a powder and made into capsules, or used in liquid form.

Brains and spinal cords are a source of cholesterol. This is the raw material to make vitamin D Cholecalciferol. Vitamin D is added to dairy products, juices, and cereals that are then labelled as “fortified with vitamin D.”

Wednesday, March 27, 2019

Is the chicken you get in commercial large scale food vendors, in products like sandwiches, chicken? Perhaps not.

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.

Wednesday, March 20, 2019

Maneka Gandhi shares her observations on CSIR -NEERI report on poultry farms in India

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.

Monday, March 11, 2019

The most important animal in your life, no matter where you are, is the mosquito writes Maneka Sanjay Gandhi

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.

Tuesday, March 5, 2019

It just takes the determination of one person to change a system, writes Maneka Sanjay Gandhi

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.

Tuesday, February 26, 2019

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.

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.

Monday, February 18, 2019

Article from Maneka Sanjay Gandhi

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

Wednesday, February 13, 2019

The word Nandi means joyous. In real life the bull leads a life as a victim of beating, torture, starvation and early death, writes Smt. Maneka Sanjay Gandhi

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

Monday, February 4, 2019

Common myths about animal behavior , writes Smt. Maneka Sanjay Gandhi

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

Monday, January 28, 2019

Superstitions kill animals - Article by Maneka Sanjay Gandhi

Superstitions kill animals. This is the third article enumerating what illegal animal parts are being sold, by so called Hinduism sites, to gullible buyers in search of magic to change their lives for the better. People who have reached such a level of frustration and fear, that they are prepared to spend money to destroy every other species in the hope that this will bring a change in their fortunes. There are more lies about so-called Sacred Objects than any other items in the world – shaligrams (ammonite stones) rudrakshas (seeds of the Elaeocarpusganitrus tree) for instance, but I am only taking those that involve animal lives.

I have already written about hathjodi, the penis of the monitor lizard and SiyarSinghi, the imaginary horn on the head of a particular jackal(neither the species, nor the bone exists).

The biggest fraud of all is the Nagamani, the magic stone that supposedly comes from the forehead of a cobra. It supposedly can be amber yellow, honey, dark green, light green, red, white or black (depending on the plastic available!).

It purportedly emanates light all the time and can be used at night as an alternative to an electric bulb. It can be seen from miles away like a helmet worn by a miner. (Except on the snake’s forehead where it doesn’t glow at all.) However, according to the sites, who need to have built in alibis when the items they sell for lakhs of rupees don’t work, the “light emission is proportionate to the age of the snake, who should be older than 30 years, and the stone from a younger snake does notpossess that much light as that of an old snake gem. So nagamanis which aregenuine from snakes but are not old enough or grown enough do not emit enoughlight.” Some emit a pale green light only at night and only if they have been kept in the sun during the day. Some emit light only when they are kept on tree leaves, others when kept on flowers, some only do it outside the house and others – when no one is looking. Some light up on amavasya or no moon night. If it doesn’t light up at all, then it is an ‘ichhadharinagamani’ which is even rarer and costlier in that it will light up at will !!!” Considering that the life of a King Cobra is about 17-20 years in captivity and half of that in the wild and normal cobras are even less, the chances of a finding an electric bulb in its head are non-existent. One site says that an opaque nagamani that doesn’t emit light is also a nagamani except that it is a second level one and its real name is Snakestone.

Some nagamanis are solid like stone. Others are transparent. The sites hasten to add that the nagamani cannot be identified by a gemology laboratory, only by people who are experts in the Vedas (where it is not mentioned at all). There seems to be no settled idea of what a nagamani is – except its price and what it brings to the buyer: protection from snakes, devils and chronic diseases.

Every site accuses the other of selling fakes made of plastic or stone. Some say only the black ones are real and all the other colours are fake. Others say that only the blacks are fake.
Bill kiJer or Bill kiNaal is the umbilical cord of the cat which is almost impossible to get as the cat eats it immediately on giving birth. The only way it can be gotten is if you tie up a cat while it gives birth, subject it to physical torture and cut the cord yourself. This so called cord – which is probably a human umbilical cord as these are often thrown away in hospitals- is meant for gamblers, stockbrokers, share investors and they must energise it with an expensive puja. It will then give lots of money and many buildings.

No one knows what the Garudmani or Eagle Pearl is. Even the sites do not explain which part of the eagle ‘s body this amazing stone comes from, but it is probably petrified and baked faeces. Its buyer, according to them, will develop keen eyesight, hunting skills, powers of observation, dominance over others, focus. He will soar like a bird and retrieve territory, becoming hugely popular as he swoops down. He will keep Rahu, Mangal and Shukra under his wings. All this in one piece of faeces evicted by the bird.

The same sites are selling lion teeth which have been “washed, brushed and cleaned properly”. Made into amulets they give strength and power and every judge, ruler and army officer has only risen to the top because he keeps energized teeth in his pants. If I find any buyers, after this site owner gives his list to the police, they will also be head prisoners in jail.

The Gajamukta/Hathimani, or Elephant pearl, is touted as found in a very rare species of elephant (there are only two, the African and Asian). They come from “Airavata elephants” (a species only known to Indra the raingod and are a synonym for clouds). The pearl is a dull white piece which is a mixture of ivory, pearl, bone marrow, calcium, Vitamin D and the secretion of the elephant’s brain! And this unlikely mix is supposed to cure cancer, arthritis, impotency, childlessness and make you rich.

How do the sites identify it as authentic? All water touched by it turns to milk. It throbs in your hand. It drinks coconut water. To test it, sit in the Northeast direction with the gajamani in your right hand and close your eyes for 90 minutes. If you are a good person and your chakras are clean then you will feel terrible pain in your heart, spine and head. If you feel nothing then you should buy it since you need to get your chakras cleaned up!

Owl feet are commonly found in the market and on sites. This extremely useful bird is now very threatened because it is captured and its feet cut and dried and sold as amulets that bring protection against illness and the evil eye.

Imagine a table full of lizard and jackal penises, bird faeces and feet, predator teeth, bits of elephant bone, pebbles and plastic, seeds and stones. Do you think this crackpot collection will give you riches and poweror cure your diseases? Do you not sound mad?

Two sadhus met. What are you searching for, asked one. “I am looking for where God is” replied the second, “And you?”. “I am looking for where God isn’t.” said the first. God and success lies within you, not in sticks and stones and the blood, bone and faeces of killed animals.

Maneka Sanjay Gandhi

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

NOTE: The views expressed here are those of the authors and do not necessarily represent or reflect the views of Intelligent India

Saturday, April 7, 2018

Article By Maneka Gandhi

Altruism is the conscious and deliberate giving of something you may need yourself but are prepared to donate for another’s wellbeing. Very few humans are altruistic. I see people who give their old clothes to their own servants, or less fortunate relatives, and they think they are being very generous. People who celebrate their birthdays by calling a few poor children to share their goodies – that is not altruism. Nor is giving things to your children that once belonged to you – that is genetic self interest.

Altruism exists only when the donor expects nothing from the recipient and is not related. Animals do it much more gracefully than humans.

Vampire bats drink the blood of mammals, usually cattle, horses, deer. These small creatures, less than 4 inches long and 40 gms in weight, live in the jungles of South America. They hunt at night and are adept at crawling on a body till they find a suitable blood vessel which they puncture softly and lap up the trickling blood.

Upto 2,000 animals live in the same roosting area. If a vampire bat does not find a mammal it goes without a meal for one night. But it takes three days for a bat to starve to death and a weakened creature cannot even fly to find a host. And so, every now and then, a bat that has failed to find blood will beg a meal from a stranger in the roost. The donor will, without question, regurgitate blood and share the meal.

A well documented case is that of a group of sperm whales off the coast of Lisbon, Portugal, who took a handicapped adult bottlenose dolphin into their group. The dolphin travelled, foraged, and played with the adult whales and their calves. When it rubbed its body against the whales, they would sometimes even return the gesture. There was no benefit to the whales of forming this bond with the handicapped dolphin.

Dolphins are known for their compassion. In 2008, one bottlenose dolphin came to the rescue of two beached whales in New Zealand and led them into safe waters. Without the dolphin’s guidance, the whales would have died. In another incident in New Zealand, a group of human swimmers were surprised when dolphins began circling around them, splashing in the water. The swimmers initially thought the dolphins were displaying aggressive behaviour, but it turned out that they were warding off sharks.

Classic examples of altruists are ravens. If one, or a few, come across food, they make loud calls to attract even more ravens. Most ecological theory stipulates that a food bonanza should be defended, not shared. But these birds do share — to the point that some of the ravens even returned to their roost to bring in more birds.

Social insects live together and allow an individual to flourish by helping every other insect in the community. But that is not pure altruism. I would count it business as usual, or programming for survival. Bees protecting a swarm by stinging and, in the process, dying horribly as the stinger pulls out the entire abdomen, or certain species of termites releasing a sticky secretion by rupturing their own glands to protect the nest against invaders, is also programmed behaviour. In ants, wasps, bees and termites, sterile workers devote their whole lives to caring for the queen, constructing and protecting the nest, foraging for food, and tending the larvae. That’s not altruism. That’s just doing their jobs.

For instance, meerkats have one standing guard to warn the community while the rest feed in case of predator attack. Into that category I would even put examples of extreme sacrifice. For instance, the mother spider Stegodyphus, who allows her infants to eat her, or a male spider allowing a female fertilized by him to eat him.

I would not even put trading in kindnesses as altruism. For instance, a monkey will get its insects pulled out by a member of the pack and then, in return will do the same. Or a female wolf that offers to stay behind with the cubs while the rest of the pack goes hunting. Altruism would be those single wolves who bring back meat for those too sick or nursing to go on the hunt.

Altruism is the following: Mongooses and bonobos who support sick, handicapped or elderly animals. Chimpanzees who help other chimpanzees and even humans without expecting anything in return. Dolphins who support sick or injured animals, swimming under them for hours and pushing them to the surface so they can breathe.

Walruses adopt orphans. African Buffalo often turn around in their flight from predators in order to rescue a member of the herd who has been surrounded. Male and female lemurs take care of infants unrelated to them. Vervet monkeys send out alarms to warn other moneys of predators, even if it means putting themselves in danger, by attracting attention. In many bird species, the parents receive help from unrelated “helper” birds in feeding their babies. Harpagifer bispinis fish live in the Antarctic peninsula. If the parent guarding the nest of eggs is removed, an unrelated male will guard the nest from predators and prevent fungal growth that would kill off the brood.

A unique example of altruism is found in the Dictyostelium mucoroides slime mould. These live as individuals until food is so short that they start starving. Then they get together and form a body in which some cells sacrifice themselves to promote the survival of other cells.

Elephants go out of their way to assist others in need. Like saving a calf from drowning and spraying water on an injured member of the herd to keep it cool.

A study in the journal Marine Mammal Science described the altruism of humpback whales, giving examples of how the giant creatures help seals and other creatures being attacked by killer whales. The researchers concluded that while it made sense for humpbacks to defend their own calves, they had nothing to gain by meddling in attacks on other species. Interspecific altruism," the scientists wrote, "could not be ruled out."

Have you seen the You Tube video of a rhesus macaque successfully resuscitating another of its species which had been electrocuted at a train station? The persistence and concern was amazing and entirely selfless.

Rats are the most altruistic of species. They go out of their way to help others in distress. They will share food with strangers, They will refuse in scientific experiments to inflict pain on each other even if it means dying themselves. When given the choice of escaping or staying to help a strange rat in distress, they almost always choose the latter. Their decisions are always kind. How sad that we use these creatures to experiment on, killing over a billion a year.

All societies, whether human or bat, depend on deliberate and reciprocal kindnesses. Violence spreads and nations shatter when we forget that.

Maneka Sanjay Gandhi

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

Saturday, March 17, 2018

Last week I brought a dog, called Sweeney, home from my hospital Sanjay Gandhi Animal Care Centre. She had been ...

Last week I brought a dog, called Sweeney, home from my hospital Sanjay Gandhi Animal Care Centre. She had been thrown there by a family that said she smelt bad, and no matter how many times they bathed her, the smell came back. Attacked by another dog, she crawled under a stationary ambulance and refused to emerge except for her meals. So I brought her home.

It’s true. She really smells. We bathed her again and the smell reduced for three days. But its back and she scratches and licks herself a lot. So, since no vet can say anything helpful except to continue to bathe her, I asked a researcher to find out from vets abroad as to what could be the matter. And this is what learnt. I thought it might be useful for people who own dogs, or work to rescue them.

Dogs smell for several reasons: mouth odour comes from decaying teeth, infected gums or a gastric upset. Smells from the body come if there are maggots eating the flesh, an ear infection, a pus filled wound, or if the dog has been rolling in something dirty.

But another reason, that vets don’t seem to know about, is yeast.

Both people and dogs have a normal amount of yeast, that occurs naturally on the body. These healthy levels of flora are possible if there is a balanced immune system. Any imbalance leads to an overgrowth. An overactive immune response, where allergies are present, can also lead to problems with yeast.

When an inexperienced veterinarian sees a dog with allergies – a sign of an overactive immune system – he will typically prescribe steroids to shut off the immune response. This improves symptoms but does not fix the underlying cause of the allergies. When your dog's immune system is turned off with drugs, it can't do its job of regulating and balancing normal flora levels, so your pet ends up with yeast blooms. Another response, when a dog has allergies and secondary skin infections, is to prescribe antibiotics. Antibiotics are well-known to destroy all good bacteria along with the bad, wiping out healthy yeast levels in the process, so these drugs often make a bad yeast situation worse. Even humans on antibiotics often get yeasty. Similarly, dogs with an underactive immune system, or one that has been medically immuno-suppressed, can get a yeast infection, as well as dogs that have overactive immune systems, or allergies.

A definitive diagnosis by a vet of a yeast infection is accomplished either by looking at a skin swab under a microscope, or by culturing (submitting a sterile swab of the skin to the lab where the cells are grown and identified on a petri dish).

As a dog caretaker, you can tell if your dog has a yeast infection just by her smell. Yeast has a very characteristic odour. It smells like mouldy bread or cheese. It's a pungent, musty, unpleasant smell. It is not a normal dog odour, because healthy dogs don't have a 'doggy odour.' So if your dog has stinky paws or musty-smelling ears, chances are she's dealing with a yeast overgrowth.

Another sign your dog is yeasty is scratching. Yeast overgrowth is tremendously itchy. She won’t leave her paws alone. Or her ears. She will also rub her anus on the ground.

If your pet is dealing with yeast overgrowth, this is what you need to do.

Address the diet. The way you nourish your dog is either going to help the immune system manage yeast, or it's going to feed an or existing yeast overgrowth situation. Start the dog on an 'anti-yeast diet.' Yeast needs sugar to multiply. Carbohydrates break down into sugar. Sugar isn't just the white kind added to many pet treats and some pet foods. There are hidden forms of sugar that feed yeast overgrowth. Eliminate potatoes, corn, wheat, rice – all the carbohydrates need to go away. Put a lot of vegetables in the food. Add some natural anti-fungal foods to the diet, like a small amount of garlic or oregano. These foods are both anti-fungal and anti-yeast and can be beneficial in helping reduce the yeast level in your dog's body.

Now start disinfecting the yeasty body parts.

If the vet manages to recognize a yeast infection, typically, he will hand you a cream, salve or dip, with instructions to keep applying it to the infected area. The problem is that as yeast dies off, it forms layer of dead yeast on top of layer of dead yeast. Unless you remove the dead layers of yeast and disinfect the skin, adding loads of ointment to layers of dead yeast will increase the problem.

So you will have to disinfect the dog’s body yourself. If your pet's ears are yeasty (and really smell) you'll have to disinfect them daily. The frequency is entirely dependent on how much debris your dog's ears produce. So if your dog has yeasty ears throughout the monsoon months, you'll need to clean them every day during that period. You can disinfect your dog's ears with witch hazel and large cotton balls. Use as many cotton balls as it takes to remove all the debris from the ears at each cleaning. Do not put Q-tips down into the canals of your dog's ears.

Yeast thrives in a moist environment and in crevices – between your dog's foot pads, for example, in armpit and groin creases, and around the vulva and anus. So, disinfecting those parts of a yeasty dog is really important.

Take four litres of water, a cup of hydrogen peroxide, and 1 - 4 cups of white vinegar as a foot soak solution. Mix it and keep it. Use this solution as many times a day as necessary to keep your dog's feet clean. After you dip your dog's feet in the astringent solution of water/hydrogen peroxide/white vinegar, just pat the paws dry. Leaving the solution dried on your dog's paws serves as an antifungal and should also reduce licking and digging at the paws.

If your dog has yeast overgrowth on the skin, disinfect the entire body with a natural, anti-fungal shampoo made from tea tree oil or an herbal blend. These will help control the amount of yeast growing on your pet. After shampooing with and rinsing thoroughly, follow with an anti-fungal astringent rinse: A bucket of water with a cup of vinegar or a cup of lemon juice. You can also use 20 drops of peppermint oil. Avoid the head. Pour the solution over the dog and rub it into the coat and skin, focusing on body parts that tend to grow yeast -- armpits, feet, groin area and around the tail. Then towel dry. Your dog will not only feel better, but the yeast won't replicate as quickly.

For many dogs, yeast problems are seasonal. When the temperature and humidity levels rise each year, they get yeasty and stinky. If this is the case with your dog, the summer months are when you'll need to be vigilant about disinfecting your pet and addressing any dietary issues that might be contributing to the problem. However, if your dog has year-round yeast problems, get an immune testing done to measure the immunoglobulin levels (IgG, IgM and IgA). Generally, these levels are low in a dog with constant yeast overgrowth. If your dog is producing healthy levels of immunoglobulins, he should be able to overcome almost any infection, and particularly an opportunistic yeast infection.

There are immunoglobulin injections – which we normally use for dogs with early distemper. You will have to start the dog on vitamins, iron tonics and a good diet. If you let the situation be, because you are used to the smell, then this will turn into something worse and cost you far more money. Above all, don’t be mean and start tying up the dog outside the house, or even worse, throw her away as Sweeney’s parents did.

Saturday, February 24, 2018

The trouble with China’s new found wealth and middle class is that they are not only eating every animal and fish in their own country

The trouble with China’s new found wealth and middle class is that they are not only eating every animal and fish in their own country, but they are sucking in and killing almost all species from all over the world to satisfy their insatiable lust. Donkeys in Africa have suddenly been turned into meat for the Chinese. We, of course, are losing everything – from seahorses, porcupines, dogs, sharks, tigers, rhinos, bears, every species of fish and wild cat and even insects.

The Chinese kill rare species simply for social prestige. Their local medicine is rubbish, but they continue to kill every animal for it. They use our rhino horns – which are just made of keratin, the same as our toenails – for everything, from headaches to cancer. Does that make sense? Likewise, shark fins are just lumps of flesh with no food value. But they have become a symbol of riches and so India loses millions of its sharks for this valueless soup. But, because their government has no laws and no intention of controlling the trade, the illegal market thrives

Like shark fin, fish swim bladders are an ingrained part of traditional Chinese culture, used to signal wealth and opulence.

A swim bladder is an air sac which enables fish to maintain depth without floating or sinking. The swim bladder is inflated when the fish wants to move up and deflated when it wants to return to the depths. The swim bladder is also used as an echo chamber to produce or receive sound. Fish can find mates, signal danger, sense vibrations, and find food / prey, by sensing sound under water. Fish make a range of sounds, from grunts and clicks, to honks, whistles, and hums. They use muscles located near their swim bladder to make drumming sounds.

Unfortunately, this swim bladder is what a lot of fish are killed for.

The bladders are extracted, dried and turned into a product called isinglass, which is a collagen utilised in the refining of alcoholic drinks like beer and wine and foods. Beer is produced by fermenting starches, and a clarifying agent is used to get rid of the cloudy appearance. Non-animal products do exist – seaweed, bentonite or kaolin, diatomaceous earth, cellulose pads, micro-porous plastic films – but dead fish are cheaper and alcohol is much more important than fish.

On top of this come the Chinese demands.

The Chinese use fish bladders in – what else? – traditional medicine. Their own fish, the Bahaba, a resident of the Yangtse river estuaries, has been hunted to extinction because of the immense monetary value placed on its swim bladders – costing more than gold.

Now the Chinese have targeted the Totoaba fish of the Gulf of California – 13,000 kms away.

The Totoaba fish stomach, or “maw”, is valued for its high collagen content, and the Chinese believe its swim bladders can boost fertility, improve circulation and skin vitality.

The Totoaba grows up to two metres in length and 100 kg in weight. Individuals may live up to fifteen years. As Totoaba spawn only once a year, the population growth is very slow. The Totoaba spawn in the Colorado River delta and then the young fish swim out to the Gulf.

The Totoaba is an endangered fish, protected against fishing by law. But, that makes no difference to the Chinese.

Fishermen get thousands of dollars for a totoaba bladder. So they bring in the fish, cut out its stomach and leave the carcass to rot. The demand is so high that cartels of Mexicans have formed, and one Mexican fisherman can make more than a month’s salary if he sells just one to a trafficker who then sells it, for more than the price of pure heroin, to the Chinese.

The Environmental Investigation Agency found totoaba bladders openly for sale in markets in Guangzhou, China, and Hong Kong. Most sellers knew it was illegal. Online, researchers found traffickers sharing tips about the best routes to smuggle them in.

A totoaba fish bladder sells between $7,000 and $14,000 - and soup containing the organ may go for $25,000 in China, according to a Mexicali Digital report. Both, Mexican drug cartels and US smugglers, transport the fish.

Mexican regulators seized illegal totoaba bladders worth an estimated $2.25million in 2013 alone.

Jason Xie of Sacramento was accused last year of taking delivery of 169 bladders on March 30, 2013 in a hotel parking lot in Calexico. Xie told investigators he was paid $1,500 to $1,800 for each of 100 bladders in February.

Anthony Sanchez Bueno of Imperial was charged with the same crime, after authorities said he drove the 169 bladders across the downtown Calexico border crossing in three coolers. He told investigators he was to be paid $700.

In Mexico, Samuel Gallardo Castro was murdered in June due to an outstanding $1million fish payment. Four traffickers were caught.

“It's aquatic cocaine,” Jay Barlow, a marine mammal expert at the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, told the Associated Press.

The Totoaba isn’t the only casualty of the Chinese bladder boom. The vaquita is a porpoise that lives only in one patch of the upper Gulf of California. It is the smallest member of the dolphin, whale, and porpoise family, growing to five feet and 55 kg. It avoids boats and is very evasive. Vaquitas are usually alone, unless they are accompanied by a calf.

Vaquitas are easily tangled and killed in gillnets used to catch Totoabas, because the mesh is about the same size as a vaquita’s head. Acoustic monitoring data shows a 67% drop in vaquita activity between 2011 and 2014. Fewer than 60 are left, making them the most endangered marine mammal in the world. The Mexican government has banned gillnet fishing throughout the vaquita’s reported range, as well as given subsidies for fishermen who stay within the law. But no one chasing the Totoaba is listening.

India is also selling huge amounts of fish maw from Kolkata, Mumbai, Veraval, Porbandar, Chennai and Puducherry. We export dried fish maws, of Eel / Vilanku / Vam, Jew fish / Kathalai / Ghol, Thread fish / Kala / Dara, Giant croaker / Panna / Kote / Kooth, Cat fish / Kelru / Petara / Singala, Bekti / Giarto perch / Waigeu sea perch, and Lizard fish, to Hong Kong and other countries. Many of these fish will be extinct in the next twenty years.

What is the world doing about China?