Mrs. Irani Mukherjee is Founder Chairperson of Circle of Animal Lovers, a Non-Government Organisation established in New Delhi in 1992, with the purpose of ameliorating the condition of stray animals. Having grown up in the midst of dogs since her childhood, she had decided to dedicate her life to the welfare of animals. Through her activities, the organization has witnessed rapid growth in terms of reaching out to stray animals and promoting the cause of preventing cruelty towards animals.
VP- What inspired you to become an Animal Rights Activist?
IM- Inherited inspiration. I started taking action after seeing all the suffering. It is the call of my mind that animals should have the same rights as human beings. I am the spokesperson of animals, since they cannot speak.
VP- You initially began by offering shelter to stray dogs, but over the years, you have provided several other stray animals a safe home to live in. We would like to know the facilities that you offer for the protection of stray animals.
IM- Initially, I started not only offering shelter, but food and treatment also with my own resources.
The suffering animals were picked up by me and were provided with the requisite treatment. Of course, the facility of food and stay was there.
The facilities that I offer at present is to speak, advocate awareness and do the needful like rescuing, accidental treatment of sick animals and protecting them from cruelty.
As I do not like always to call the police for help, my way is to counsel, visit and revisit, and if necessary, to go further.
VP- What are your views on cruelty towards larger stray animals, like cows, buffaloes, equines and elephants?
IM- Large stray animals are greater victims of cruelty. They are more helpless. Taking care of them requires more manpower, mobility, government permission etc. Sometimes I feel helpless since we do not have such cash mobility. I have my voice, but they need much more attention, awareness and funds to buy the facilities.
VP- How do you serve them?
IM- We have our own system. Four days a week, our vehicle goes to large animal treatment work, especially equines.
For cows and buffaloes, there are lot of controversies, rules and regulations. It is difficult to handle them, but we still attend to emergencies.
VP- Do you feel that people in Delhi are sensitive to the cause of preventing cruelty towards animals?
IM- Yes, I feel that Delhiites are sensitive to the cause of preventing cruelty, but any work, prevention, care, re-homing needs some extra expenditure, involvement and courage. Most people show their sensitivity just by informing us. Neither have they spared time, nor financial support. Yes, they show the sensitivity, but do not take part in the issue.
VP- What are the changes that you have witnessed in the mindsets of people on the issue of cruelty towards animals, since the establishment of your organization?
IM- I have witnessed lots of change in the mindsets of the people towards the cruelty of animals. Since the establishment of our organization, we regularly conduct awareness camps for small and big animals; we put lot of emphasis on the cruelty issue, even more than anything else.
VP- How do your volunteers contribute to the welfare activities undertaken by your organization?
IM- Volunteers contribute to the welfare whenever they have the time. They take the help in arranging for donations and are actively involved in our awareness camps. Volunteers play a very active role in our organization.
VP- The Municipal Corporation of Delhi has often taken hasty decisions without conforming to rules and regulations, such as killing ferocious stray dogs. How can this be prevented?
IM- As of now, the present MCD Commissioner, Mr. K S Mehra, has a soft corner for animals, so things are changing and we expect further change during his tenure. Therefore, I think that no harsh measures will be taken against animals, at least for some time.
VP- What are your views on the adoption of stray animals?
IM- My views are not very optimistic about adoption. People adopt mixed breed puppies because they look good when they are young, but when they grow up, they are abandoned; it is like that in 60% of the case of adoption. But I feel adoption should be encouraged.
VP- Finally, how can the youth contribute, in their own significant way, in promoting the peaceful coexistence of human beings and animals?
IM- The youth can contribute a lot in there own way, but in the present generation, their lifestyles and the way they spend prevent them from doing what they really want to do. Most of the youth today have a soft corner for animals, but their ambitions are such, that they do a lot and think a little.
The peaceful coexistence of humans and animals is the ultimate goal for a civilized society. Normally, the youth or the older generations strongly feel for the cause, but they have other priorities. So, to contribute to this cause mostly remains a dream which is far from reality.
But still, there are people who go on doing something or the other; who have the drive to make it action oriented in the days to come.
In conclusion, Mahatma Gandhi once said, “That greatness of a nation and its moral progress can be judged by the way its animals are treated.”
Let our actions speak louder than words.