“All violence between humans starts with a tacit acceptance of violence against animals. This violence is often cloaked by the word science, when, in reality, science could have done just as well without animal experimentation. It is this belief and the desire for a kinder, gentler world that motivates us.”
These are the words of People for Animals, the joint winner of the lobbying category at the Lush Prize 2016.
People for Animals is India's largest animal welfare organization. They work to rescue and rehabilitate animals, also creating much-needed infrastructure for animals in need. They also influence policy and ensure animal protection laws are implemented.
With a nationwide network of 26 hospitals, People for Animals has set up shelters, ambulance services, sterilization programmes, treatment camps and disaster rescue missions for animals. They work with animal welfare groups across India to help make them more effective. People for Animals works to create a kinder, gentler world for all, and has won victories for animals in court, in parliament and on the streets, in research laboratories, racecourses, temples, circuses and zoos.
People for Animals say: “We strongly believe that the sacrifice of millions of lives in laboratories is, almost always, entirely unnecessary.” It is perhaps this belief that has set them on the road to winning the Lush Prize. They say: “In the past year, we have had remarkable achievements for animals. A total replacement of animals for sensitivity and toxicity testing for detergents and other household products is a huge victory for thousands of animals. The veterinary colleges, using live animals to learn anatomy, pharmacology and physiology, have also been removed from the syllabus and more updated methods of teaching have been introduced.”
At the time when this organization started lobbying, all schools in India had compulsory dissection on the syllabus, resulting in the deaths of over 9 million animals every year. People for Animals put a stop to this, but it was only the beginning. Next came a determination to remove animal dissection from the education system, and following that from the medical and laboratory industry. They have had extraordinary success.
They say: “At our request, the government of India has sanctioned a substantial grant to build a model simulation laboratory in one of the leading colleges for alternatives. The Draize test, one of the most barbaric and unnecessary forms of cruelty has finally been accepted as outdated by the Indian Government and a switch to alternatives is being made.”
Maneka Sanjay Gandhi, who is receiving the prize, was instrumental in establishing the Committee for the Purpose of Control and Supervision of Experiments on Animals (CPCSEA). This regulatory body prevents the duplication of experiments, and also prevents unnecessary experiments. Thanks to this initiative, there has been a 30% reduction in the use of animals in the Indian medical industry. The next step is to reduce and replace animals used by the pesticide industry. People for Animals can proudly say they have been responsible for getting the Drugs and Cosmetics legislation amended, in order to prevent the duplication of experiments.
So, what does winning the Lush Prize mean to them? They say: “Winning the prize will motivate and encourage our whole team immensely. The victory will translate into more work and more victories for animals. The award money will be used to strengthen our shelters, where we rehabilitate animals rescued from laboratories.”