Thursday, January 05, 2006

What Incentive for Animal Welfare?

This afternoon, the maid left the door to our apartment open by mistake. Imagine our surprise (pleasant for my brother and myself, not quite so for mummy) to find a stray desi dog curled up in a corner of the sofa, looking for warmth and solace- a striking contrast of white against the maroon of the sofa. It was Cheeku, one of the dogs I feed daily. A Scooby-Doo lookalike who is usually the strongest and most ferocious-looking animal in the block, he has been sick since yesterday. The uninterrupted exposure to the harsh cold has given him fever and the chills.
Of course we had to shoo him out, as my mother is averse to having animals in the house.

My darling baby! My heart went out to him. All I could do was make him a hot dinner of milk and bread, mixed with some honey and a finely crushed tablet of Oxalgin DP. And I laid out a small bori for him to sleep on and a shawl to cover him with.

My mind once again turned to a question that has been haunting me for a long while now- what kind of an incentive-based structure would it take to induce people to voluntarily help animals? I think of all government-funded and private animal hospitals, shelters, and NGO's in the city that I have visited/volunteered /networked with. What drives them to take care of sick/injured/homeless animals? All I can think of is charity...and love for animals. I admire and respect the work they are doing, and what they have already achieved. Because each life matters. But in a market-driven economy, and in a country home to millions of stray animals, that in itself does not seem enough.

And it is indeed not enough, I think. In order to really incorporate animals into our market structure, we must have mass-participation from people....not merely a trickle of well-intentioned welfare. And people always need an incentive to work, whether that incentive be monetary or something non-quantifiable . What such a structure might be, I am still unenlightened about. It would need to be innovative, creative, practical and participatory in nature, in order to reform the animal rights and animal welfare movement in India. Because we need to give voice to those who do not have any. Perhaps you have ideas.

This is just the beginning of a series of posts, hopefully. For now, I must go out and check on Cheeku.

1 comment:

Geetika said...

Hear, Hear!