Achievements of Blue Cross of India
Dr. Andrew Routh, Consultant to Royal Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals (RSPCA), UK, conducted a four-day program for veterinary surgeons at Blue Cross of India. 11 veterinary surgeons and three biologists from zoos in Tamil Nadu and Kerala and from the Tamil Nadu Veterinary University, as well as veterinarians from BCI and People for Animals (PFA) participated. This programme was the outcome of efforts made by the Ministry of Social Justice and Empowerment, Government of India.
For 30 years, Blue Cross of India fought for the enactment of a suitable legislation for animals involved in experiments, but saw several committees come and go with no worthwhile steps being taken to control what is probably the greatest organized cruelty inflicted on animals. However, The Breeding of and Experiments on Animals (Control and Supervision) Rules (1998) was gazetted and made applicable from December 15, 1998. Under these rules, it became mandatory that all places where animal experiments are carried out must be registered with the government, as must all experimental animal breeding establishments.
Blue Cross of India and ten others animal welfare organizations and activists petitioned demanding that the government must ban dissections of animals by school student or at least make it optional. In a major win for those fighting for it, the Ministry for Human Resource Development, Government of India, informed the Delhi High Court that it had decided to make animal dissection optional. Counsel Raj Panjwani, appearing for the petitioners, had contended that "needless and unnecessary" experiments on animals in schools were not only cruel to animals but also to students, whose right to act by their conscience was violated by the forced dissections. BCI is grateful to Mr. Panjwani for waiving his fees for the case. We consider this as one of our prime achievements.
Thanks to the Ministry for Human Resource Development and Blue Cross of India, Gujarat became the first state to ban the dissection of frogs in schools in biology classes. The decision was made based on a request from animal lovers that it was not necessary to kill frogs for biological experiments.
The Central Government, in exercise of the powers under the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals Act, 1960, constituted a committee for the Purpose of Controlling and Supervising Experiments on Animals (CPCSEA). Dr. Chinny Krishna, then Vice Chairman of Blue Cross of India, was appointed as a member of the CPCSEA for a period of four years. Notable steps taken by the committee include:
Banning of animal dissection in schools
Acceptance of the pound seizure notification as submitted by BCI
Making animal tests in the cosmetic industry optional
To spread awareness about the rampant cruelty to animals in market places, Blue Cross of India's volunteers visited such bazaars during the Animal Welfare Fortnight. They distributed handbills and pamphlets on the various aspects of animal welfare to help prevent heinous acts such as carrying chicken upside down in bunches, tying pigs to the rear seats of bicycles and more. Though these are offenses under the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals Act, it is regrettable that neither the police nor society carries out any concerted drives to minimize or stop such cruelty to date.
Role of animals in ecology: Blue Cross of India took up a project for the Ministry of Human Resource Development, Government of India, to help stress the importance of animals in ecology to schools students and teachers.
The objective was to create awareness about ecology, a study of the interrelationship of living organisms with the environment in which they live. It delved into details about the food web, food chain, importance of animals and the roles played by animals — particularly microorganism — to maintain the ecological balance.
Workshops for teachers and school students on the interrelationship between people, the environment and animals were conducted. The lectures covered topics like animal welfare, saving endangered species, problems of wildlife depletion and the introduction of environmental education in the school curriculum.
A video van belonging to CPR Environmental Education Centre was hired for this project. It was equipped with a video projection system, a 100-inch screen and 16mm projectors to play a wide selection of educational films in Tamil and English. During the day, students were shown videos on the role of animals in the environment, animal welfare and cruelty. In the evenings and at night, the van travelled to villages in Tamil Nadu to conduct awareness programs for the locals.
This initiative came through the CPR Environmental Education Centre in Chennai’s MGR district and Thiruvannamalai, Sambuvarayar district.
Dr. Nanditha Krishna, a member of the Governing Body of Blue Cross of India, was invited to join the Central Board of Film Certification (CBFC) in 1991. This remains one of our laudable achievements because the Animal Welfare Board of India (AWBI) pointed out that scenes showing fights between animals, bloodshed, a strong animal attacking a weak one and those which offend the human sensibilities should be viewed keeping guidelines 2 (iii) and 2 (iv) issued by the Central Government under Section 5B (2) of the Cinematograph Act in mind, based on a letter submitted by Dr. Nanditha against portraying cruelty to animals in films.
Seven animal welfare organizations — namely Blue Cross of India, WWF - India TN State Office, CPR Environmental Education Centre, Indian Institute of Animal Welfare, Bhagwan Mahaveer Ahimsa Prachar Sangh, CP Ramaswami Aiyar Foundation, Madras SPC and South Indian Humanitarian League — were instrumental in assisting the Ministry of Environment & Forests to issue a notification under Section 22 of the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals Act, 1960, banning with immediate effect the training and exhibition of all animals. Even when channels such as Doordarshan commenced a 13-part television serial on circuses, which consisted of scenes of performing animals, these organizations protested that all such scenes be deleted before broadcast.
A sustained campaign, which included Blue Cross of India officials meeting several Prime Ministers of India led to the ban on exporting monkeys from India for medical research.
Since the vast majority of the monkeys exported from India were shipped through London's Heathrow Airport, organizations including the British Union for the Abolition of Vivisection, the Scottish Society for the Prevention of Vivisection, the National Anti-Vivisection Society and the World Coalition Against Vivisection in Geneva also extended their support for this campaign.
For two of the meetings, Colin Smith of the National Anti-Vivisection Society, England, and then Secretary General of the International Association Against Painful Experiments on Animals (IAAPEA), UK, accompanied BCI officials.
The ban was implemented after Illustrated Weekly featured an article written by Dr. Nanditha Krishna, a Governing Body member of BCI, on the cover page with pictures by one of India's best known photographers, V.K. Rajamani.
Another major campaign of Blue Cross of India, which extended over 20 years, was against exporting frogs legs. This sustained campaign was supported by several groups such as the Bombay Natural History Society, Compassion in World Farming, UK, and Lady Dowding of Beauty Without Cruelty.
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