A call for humanity

My domestic help, Sushila, came in this morning all in a flutter. The lady of the other house she worked for was far too exacting. No sooner did Sushila mop the floor than children dirtied it again. She was then expected to clean it all over again. “Am I a human being or an animal?” she fumed. While I sympathised with her, my attention was drawn to something else implicit in the question. Why do we assume that animals can be subjected to all kinds of ill-treatment?

For a country that upholds the tenet of ‘ahimsa’, we are a cruel people indeed. I have seen at least eight people moving a cement mixer with only the greatest of exertion; yet when a bullock was yoked to do the same job, it was beaten mercilessly to move faster. Chicken are strung together by their legs, transported upside down and flung carelessly about in poultry shops. I am told that in abattoirs animals brought in for slaughter are killed in full view of the others standing in line. It is believed that fear makes these unfortunate creatures release harmful toxins, but this does not stop the practice.

Even our language reflects the disregard and contempt that we reserve for the so-called lower creatures. “Cunning as a fox”, “Proud as a peacock” and “Stubborn as a mule” are some of the comparisons that come to mind. The fact that these are largely human attributes does not seem to take away from their validity.

To me, animals come across as more humane than humans. We have several examples of dogs, cats and even camels showing extreme devotion. They do not hesitate to give up their own lives for their masters. During the filming of ‘Blue’, Akshay Kumar hit his head against an iron frame and began to bleed. It was a time of panic and terror for the entire crew as he was surrounded by several sharks for whom the smell of blood is a sure invitation to available prey. But surprisingly none of them broke what may be called ‘animal rules’ and he was left unharmed.

The phrase ‘cattle class’ made the rounds recently and captured our attention. There was a great outcry at people being called ‘cattle’ and treated like them. Scarcely anyone though thought of pleading on behalf of the unfortunate animals subjected to human cruelty. Undoubtedly people should not be treated like animals, but how about treating animals with a little more humanity?

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