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Who owns Animal Welfare in India?

The Animal Welfare Board of India (AWBI) . AWBI was initially under the:

  • Ministry of Agriculture from 1962 to 1990,

  • Ministry of Environment and Forest 1990 to 1998,

  • Ministry of Social Justice and Empowerment 1998 to 2001,

  • Ministry of Culture 2001 to 2002,

  • Ministry of Statistics mid 2002 and again

  • Ministry of Environment and Forest end 2002 till 04 April 2019 (during which the AWBI often locked horns with the Government over sensitive issues. The wheel seems to have turned full circle with the shifting back of the Administrative control to the Ministry of Agriculture.

AWBI is national body and gets replicated across all states as the State Animal Welfare Board (SAWB) and under that , across all districts as District SPCA. So Karnataka has the KAWB and 32 District SPCAs across all districts. The AHVS team hold two portfolios - husbandry with AHVS and welfare with SPCA. The Director of AHVS is concurrently the ex officio Member Secretary of the SAWB , and the local District Deputy Director (DD) is automatically also the Member Secretary of the District SPCA.

This gives you an idea of how Animal Welfare, and its monitoring body AWBI (Animal Welfare Board of India) has evolved and integrated under the Ministry of Animal Husbandry & Dairying. . The National Institute of Animal Welfare (NIAW) is a division of the Ministry of Fisheries, Animal Husbandry and Dairying (Department of Animal Husbandry and Dairying) in India. NIAW has been conceptualized as an apex body in the field of animal welfare and its broad mandate covers the need to improve animal welfare through research, education and public outreach. Its objective is to create an enabling environment for fulfilment of the statutory requirements as laid down in the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals Act, 1960. It provides training and education on various subjects related to animal welfare including animal management, behavior and ethics.

Nothing can be perfect, but a department with commercial animal husbandry interests will find itself at a loss to manage welfare issues , unless there is a strong training and re orientation. Welfarists may not like it , but its important to put oneself in their position. Lets ask OED What is Animal Husbandry ? It is 'the farming of animals to produce foods such as meat, eggs, and milk' . Here you are as a vet , trying to improve your client's (the farmer) livelihood and business: trying to get more milk, more eggs, more lambs, chicken etc - its husbandry, dont forget ! And here's the animal welfare angle under you. which requires to control growth - via a licensing for breeders, pet shops , a focus on neuter and vaccination, feeding, care & medication for 'unproductive beings' like cats and dogs, who neither provide meat, leather, eggs nor milk. So here you succeed if here are less cats & dogs. Lets face it, I guess its a bit puzzling and quite a reorientation for an AHVS officer or department and one of the reasons that the State Animal Welfare Boards or SPCA tend to unnerve or confuse many AHVS team members and vets - and eventually even fail.

Thats why the KAWB and various SPCAs seem to have a struggle with local animal lovers . Fence eating the crop, but that not really the truth. A lot has to be done to bridge this gap, and get the guardians of the cruelty laws to first own the issue, understnadther unique role as guardians to bot the suffering animals and to the animal lovers - and to step up to create a welfare oriented, more compassionate management of animals.

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