Harmonizing Progress: Securing Animal Welfare for Sustainable Development in India

With Over 3.8 billion Animals at Risk, India Faces a Crucial Crossroad in Animal Welfare Practices

New Delhi, 26th June, 2024: In a collaborative effort, the India Animal Fund and Dasra today unveiled their report, “Our Shared Future | Securing Animal Welfare, Human Wellbeing, and Sustainability in India.” This landscape report provides a thorough overview of animal welfare and underscores its indispensable role within India’s socio-economic and ecological frameworks. It also illustrates how animal welfare is intricately intertwined with public health, labor welfare, and climate resilience.

The report shed light on the alarming scale and intensity of animal suffering across the country, noting that India supports a vast population of over 3.8 billion animals within its agricultural sector and allied industries. Additionally, there are 70 million working bovines, alongside 500,000 equids and camels used in cultural and tourism sectors. It further details that there are 1,579 registered facilities for animal experimentation and over 80 million homeless community animals, including dogs, cats, and cows. Altogether, these nearly 4 billion sentient beings face challenges that have profound implications for India’s economic, policy, and social landscapes.

Following the data overview, the report provides a detailed examination of current practices in four critical segments of animal use in India: farmed animals, working animals, community animals, and animals used for testing and experimentation. It identifies significant gaps in welfare practices on the ground and the challenges faced by human communities in implementing effective welfare measures. Additionally, the report outlines four catalytic levers to drive sustainable and enhanced animal welfare: awareness, capital, talent, and policymaking.

“The compelling findings of this report illustrate that prioritizing animal welfare is not just an ethical imperative but a cornerstone of sustainable development. As we face increasing environmental and health challenges, the integration of robust animal welfare regulations and practices becomes crucial for the future of our nation,” said Parag Agarwal, Founder, India Animal Fund.

Despite India’s historical empathy towards animals, contemporary practices in animal husbandry present a stark contrast, characterized by intensive and exploitative systems. These practices not only cause profound animal suffering but also lead to severe repercussions across human health, environmental sustainability, and labor welfare.

The implications for public health are alarming, with antibiotic resistance spurred by indiscriminate antibiotic use in livestock feed poised to cause up to 10 million deaths globally each year by 2050. The prevalence of zoonotic diseases is also exacerbated by intensive animal agriculture, contributing to billions of human illnesses annually. Moreover, the use of growth hormones in livestock is linked to significant health issues, including hormonal imbalances in consumers. In terms of environmental impact, the report underscores that livestock farming is responsible for 14.5% of global greenhouse gas emissions and plays a substantial role in habitat destruction and pollution. This extensive degradation threatens biodiversity and the health and livelihoods of local communities.

The report also explores how animal welfare intersects with labor welfare. Workers in close contact with animals often face occupational hazards and livelihood insecurity, exacerbated by the lack of safe and equitable working conditions. Furthermore, child labor remains a critical concern within the sector, with cattle products frequently being produced under exploitative conditions. The mental health ramifications are also profound; individuals exposed to animal cruelty, including children and slaughterhouse workers, are at a heightened risk of developing mental health disorders, experiencing trauma, and engaging in antisocial behavior. This cascade of effects extends to food and water security, where intensive farming practices disproportionately drain resources. Animal agriculture uses 77% of global agricultural land, but only provides 18% of the world’s caloric supply and 37% total protein supply.

“Animal welfare provides changemakers the opportunity to push their boundaries of compassion and collaboration. Investing in animal welfare in India can prove to be a visionary step towards holistic development, progress and sustainability. By supporting animal welfare initiatives, we not only ensure the welfare of animals but also create shared prosperity for human communities closest to them.” added Jyotirmoy Chatterji at Dasra.

The report also outlines a way forward to significantly enhance animal welfare, centering around four foundational pillars: awareness, capital, talent, and policy. It emphasizes the necessity of cultivating a deep, contextual understanding of animal welfare, highlighting the crucial role that individual and community awareness plays in transforming practices. By expanding knowledge on how animals are integrated into intensive systems and fostering greater empathy for animals as sentient beings, the report advocates integrating animal welfare into everyday thinking and consumption practices. This enhanced awareness is seen as pivotal in bridging the gap between current practices and a more humane and sustainable approach to animal welfare.

In terms of capital and talent, the report calls for increased strategic financial support and investment in animal welfare initiatives that are both organized and intersectoral. This includes building capacities for on-ground practitioners and fostering collaborations between academia, industry, and government to accelerate the adoption of cruelty-free practices and innovations. Furthermore, the report highlights the critical funding challenges faced by animal welfare organizations and underscores the importance of encouraging careers in animal welfare among the youth. Policymaking is targeted as a vital area for reform, with recommendations for more inclusive and scientifically backed policy development, robust monitoring mechanisms, and ensuring diverse stakeholder participation. By advocating for these strategic pillars, the report sets a clear roadmap for India to advance animal welfare significantly, which in turn will bolster human well-being and ecological sustainability.

Underscoring the importance of collaboration and trusteeship, the report highlights pathways which diverse stakeholder groups including funders, corporates, non-profits, governments and citizens can undertake. Institutional funders can spearhead multi-stakeholder dialogues to tackle systemic challenges in animal welfare, while individual philanthropists are well-placed to enhance the capacities of organizations dedicated to this cause. Additionally, corporates are called upon to integrate ethical practices within their supply chains, support on-the-ground programs that link animal welfare with public health, worker wellbeing, and environmental sustainability, and apply these welfare measures to both workers and animals comprehensively within their operational ecosystems.

Non-profits are encouraged to engage in context-specific research and policy advocacy that reflects grassroots realities, aiming to ensure robust law enforcement and foster an inclusive narrative around animal welfare. On a governmental level, the report suggests supporting producer groups to adopt higher welfare systems and aiding farmers transitioning to alternative agricultural products, while also creating favorable regulatory environments for innovation in alternative proteins and non-animal research. Finally, it calls on citizens to adopt more informed and sustainable consumption practices, support local governance in animal welfare initiatives, and actively participate in the care of community animals. This multi-dimensional approach not only promotes a holistic improvement in animal welfare but also enhances human wellbeing and environmental health, showcasing a sustainable pathway forward for India.

Investing in animal welfare is not just a choice but a necessity for India’s holistic development, progress, and sustainability. This report is a clarion call to action, urging us towards a future of sustainable prosperity that supports the welfare of all beings.

Check Also

École Ducasse Expands in Latin America through Partnership with Peruvian University USIL

Paris, 15 July 2024 – École Ducasse is pleased to announce a new strategic partnership …