A book, History of the Animal Welfare Movement in Madras-Chennai, published by CPR Publications and released on August 19 by Maneka Gandhi, MP, includes a historical perception of animal welfare in India and Tamil Nadu, the animal welfare movement in the colonial and post-colonial periods, and the contribution of Rukmini Devi Arundale. It includes an in-depth study of the contributions of the Animal Welfare Board of India, which was situated in Chennai till 2018, and Blue Cross of India, which has been serving the city since 1964 and has several achievements which have made an impact on the animal welfare movement in India. Maneka Gandhi spoke about the important milestones in the recent history of animal welfare and exhorted the people of Chennai to promote the concept of being kind to animals.
Prashanth Krishna, the author of the book, had worked for Tata Projects, Hyderabad, before arriving in Chennai in 2012. He obtained his doctorate in 2021 on the History of the Animal Welfare Movement in Madras (from the 19th Century to 2000) from the Departments of History and Environmental Sciences, as an inter-disciplinary subject, at the CP Ramaswami Aiyar Institute of Indological Research, Chennai, which is affiliated to the University of Madras. Subsequently, he expanded the book to include the various developments in animal welfare in Chennai between 2000 and 2023.
Ahimsā or non-violence is an essential part of Indian culture and is India’s unique contribution to world culture. The principle of compassion towards animals is an indispensable part of Indian culture. When colonialism hit India, there was a radical change. In the colonial greed to convert forests into revenue-yielding agricultural land, predators were decreed to be vermin and killed, Indian dogs were shooting targets and cattle were useful as long as they gave milk or pulled carts. The concept of the slaughter house to provide meat and leather came into existence. The Indian ethos of compassion collapsed.
Madras was at the forefront of the animal welfare movement. The intellectuals and humanitarians of Madras lent their minds and shoulders to bring about a comprehensive Act to prevent cruelty to animals and to provide succour for injured and abandoned animals. An important person in the animal welfare movement was Rukmini Devi Arundale, a woman whose call for compassion made her the voice of the voiceless.