While Indian soldiers fight intruders and sacrifice their lives on the Indo-Pak borders, in the street of Kerala, common citizens and pedestrians get terrorized at any time. Commoners are now prepared to sacrifice their lives when special dog squads targets lone pedestrians particularly elders, women and children. If anyone retaliate or take protective measures, higher are the chances of their being booked under the Kerala Anti-Social Activities (Prevention) Act, 2007, particularly in the context of the intervention of a central minister, who supports the cause of dogs rather than voters.
There are increasing cases of stray dogs attacking pedestrians, leading to their death or disabling injuries. In most of the stray dog terror incidents, victims have to battle for the rest of their life with grave injuries. As a result of mad dogs randomly attacking their body parts, face or eye or ears and jaws, reconstructing them becomes beyond the scope of even a plastic surgery. But the government is unmoved. The situation is alarming.
Militant dogs get immunity and protective treatment, while people have to sacrifice their lives. There could be multiple reasons for explosion of dog population. Undoubtedly, it is the duty of the state and local governments to take appropriate measures to ensure safety and security of citizens. But then at times of emergency, when state and local governments fail, whose responsibility it is to ensure safety?
The solution put forth by animal lovers is that of sterilization. That may be a long-term a solution, but in the short run, is there anything that can be done to limit the size of dog population on the streets? Endless prime time TV discussions and arguments on militant dog activism, aggressiveness and solutions, are indeed entertaining the public and make editor’s work easy, with an additional and easy topic that could enhance channel viewership rate.
There are people who believe that rabies vaccine lobbies sponsor animal and dog NGO groups. The commercial interests of sterilization industry too may be playing out through “dog cause advocating lobbies” they believe. Global sterilization industry is worth 6000 million US dollar, as per a report “Markets and Markets”, which is to be seen in the context of their insistence of sterilization as the only solution, while cheaper and effective chemical sterilization options available.
However, there are real issues that need to be taken care of. Indian cities lack scientific municipal waste management systems. Kerala’s per-capita consumption of chicken and meat varieties are the highest in India. However, the state is also characterized by lack of organic waste processing facilities and rampant unauthorized slaughtering businesses. A Kerala government study states that there are more unregistered chicken shops than registered chicken shops and ‘no authentic statistics available on number of birds or animals slaughtered’.
Disposing of waste is done often in an open space, paddy field, dry rivers or in any other water bodies or may be in an old unused well or pond .And dogs have become a crucial part of the chicken and meat waste management ecosystem.
Dogs and cows are now unavoidable links in the municipal waste management system. This is not particularly unique only for Kerala or southern India. In much of the Northern Indian municipalities too, chicken waste is often dumped in open sewage or places where dogs can consume that. Cows eating plastics and food stuff from waste dumps are common sights in any part of the country. In the absence of appropriate waste management facilities, dogs and cows have emerged as partners with the municipalities and the governments in the Swacha Bharat Mission.
Enforcement of artificial birth control measures, particularly, sterilization, was one of the many reasons behind the popular resent went against Indira Gandhi’s rule, when her dear son Sanjay Gandhi spearheaded a sterilization drive during the emergency.
There is a need to revisit the link between business lobbies involved in sterilization campaigns including dog sterilization projects. Taking an adamant stand for militant dogs could be politically counterproductive and suicidal for the parties concerned. All lives are precious, including that of animals. But dogs do not vote in India. Since India’s political system works on the basis of human adult franchise and their rights, dogs getting precedence over humans during any government would undermine their credibility.
Meanwhile, the government should facilitate the setting up of waste processing units, and thereby break the food chain that supports street dogs. Managing food waste scientifically involves coordinated approach and effort. Private sector participation is essential for this. Waste management offers many business opportunities for private entrepreneurs as well. Mere sloganeering and symbolic gestures won’t make India clean. From dogs and cows as partners of Swachata Mission, private entrepreneurs have to emerge as the prime partners of the waste management sector in India!