WHO: Gauri Maulekhi, animal rights activist and executive secretary of Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals (SPCA), Dehradun
WHAT: In July, the Uttarakhand high court declared that all members of the animal kingdom, including birds and aquatic life have similar rights as humans.
WHY: This order and the one by the Supreme Court earlier, suggesting that all sentient beings have the right to life under Article 21, are an indication of our progression as a culture and civilisation. It is offensive and illogical to treat sentient beings like inanimate objects, and the time has come to change our outlook. This order will go a long way in building a compassionate society. There are around 40,000 equines used in mines, on roads and for religious tourism in Uttarakhand. The apathy of the government is such that not a single case is booked in any district for overloading/abuse, despite the law being flouted brazenly. The district SPCAs are now expected to take steps to prevent cruelty by outreach programmes and prosecuting the violators. Also there are directions for the state government to make shelters for such animals.