There is more good news for animals this week, as a court in the Northern Indian state of Uttarakhand has ruled that animals will be given the same rights as humans.
Following a petition filed in the year 2014 by an activist named Narayan Dutt Bhatt requesting the restriction of movement on horse carts (Tongas) between Indian and Nepal, the high court in Uttarakhand has declared that Uttarakhand citizens are to be “the human face for the welfare and protection of animals” because animals “ have distinct personas with corresponding rights, duties and liabilities of a living person”.
There will be set guidelines put in place to prevent any acts of animal cruelty taking place and owners of animals will be named as guardians for their animals, meaning they are held responsible for their welfare, acting as “loco parentis” – “in place of a parent”.
India is ranked as having the highest vegetarian population in the world with a whopping 38% of its inhabitants being either lacto-vegetarian (consumes dairy but not eggs) or vegetarian. This is mainly due to the introduction of Buddhism and Jainism around 6th Century BC, with both of these religions following the concept of ‘ahimsa’ (do no harm).
Uttarakhand is also known as Devbhumi (“Land of the Gods”) due to the amount of Hindu temples and pilgrimage centres found throughout the state. Despite this however, the state of Uttarakhand has a very low vegetarian population, which makes the new court ruling on animal welfare, even more poignant.