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What’s Wrong with Indian Government? Ask Animal Lovers

People all over the world are asking what is wrong with the Indian government on account of ruthless culling of animals

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Animal cruelty is widely condemned all over the world. Image courtesy: Wikimedia commons
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  • 1.5 million people over the world are outraged at the fact that protected animals are killed as vermin by the Indian government
  • About 100 NGOs have urged Union Environment Minister Prakash Javadekar to stop unscientific killings of animals
  • Prime Minister Narendra Modi said that conservation of nature should not be a drag on development

NEW DELHI: Notwithstanding Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s call for conservation and to project India’s eco-sensitive stance, the government’s call for culling of “vermin” animals has caused a blot on its image abroad, with over 1.5 million people asking ‘what’s wrong with the Indian government’.

“It is distressing to learn that protected animals are being killed and treated as vermin. When laws are disrespected it does damage to the image of any country as one is committed to the rule of law and to protection of species,” Kathy Hessler, Clinical Professor of Law and Animal Law Clinic Director at Lewis and Clark Law School, told IANS. The institute is one of the only centres in the world that teaches animal law.

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About 100 NGOs under Federation of Indian Animal Protection Organisation have urged Union Environment Minister Prakash Javadekar to stop unscientific and indiscriminate culling of wild species declared as ‘vermin’.

The Indian government has admitted to culling Nilgai, an antelope species, wild boar, and monkeys (rhesus macaque) on the specific request of state governments after terming them “vermin”. The debate has now reached the Supreme Court, which will hear a plea challenging three government notifications that declared these species as vermin.

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Prime Minister Modi, addressing the ‘Third Asian Ministerial Conference on Tiger Conservation’ in April this year, had said that “conservation of nature should not be a drag on development and can happen in a mutually complementary manner”.

Though India’s own Wildlife Protection Act-1972 is considered one of the best and inspiring laws in the world, the reports of culling of 250 Nilgai in Bihar, and plans to kill other species, and the Union Environment Minister supporting the move, has shocked international institutes.

Hessler says the Indian government should seriously explore alternatives.

“We also recognize that human-animal conflicts cause real damage, but it needs to be prevented and managed better with the interests of all in mind,” she added.

animals
About 100 NGOs under Federation of Indian Animal Protection Organisation have urged Prakash Javadekar to stop unscientific and indiscriminate culling of wild species. Image courtesy: Economic Times

Javadekar has said there are laws that support culling. But experts disagree.

“Under section 62 of the Wildlife Protection Act, certain animals could be declared vermin. But it never says that killing is to be the first solution. In the case of Nilgai, it seems that the government is not interested in exploring other options, which are easy and require no killing,” Nikunj Sharma of PETA told IANS.

He adds that ever since the debate on culling has arisen, India’s image abroad as a society that has always respected conservation and valued the environment has taken a beating.

“We have been receiving reactions from across the globe. There have been some 15 lakh reactions on our webpage alone. People are asking what is wrong with the Indian government,” he said.

According to Hessler, India needs to educate its public about the value of animals and the need for peaceful mutual coexistence for better functioning of the ecosystem.

Stating that Nilgai and wild boar are part of protected species in India, she said that culling of these animals is proof that laws need to be strengthened.

Kartick Satyanarayan of Wildlife SOS, who is working with ecologists in Alaska on bear conservation, also says that the news of culling of Nilgai has hurt India’s reputation.

“The Wildlife Protection Act, 1972 is a visionary law. There are case studies on it. Students across the world come here to learn about conservation and people admire India for its pro-wildlife image. But the culling and consideration for more animals to be declared vermin has damaged our reputation,” Kartick told IANS.

-by Saurabh Bodas, an intern at NewsGram. Twitter Handle: @saurabhbodas96

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  • Shubhi Mangla

    Both animals and plants constitute our nature. Hence, culling animals by declaring them as ‘vermin’ is certainly not an excuse. Strict action must be taken against these poachers.

  • AJ Krish

    The government should never resort to killing animals as their first choice. Another alternative must be found.

  • Vrushali Mahajan

    poaching should be immediately looked after. We cannot afford losing animals or plants which belong our ecosystem. This way we are putting ourselves into huge problems as disturbing the ecosystem harms the surroundings of that particular area.

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  • Shubhi Mangla

    Both animals and plants constitute our nature. Hence, culling animals by declaring them as ‘vermin’ is certainly not an excuse. Strict action must be taken against these poachers.

  • AJ Krish

    The government should never resort to killing animals as their first choice. Another alternative must be found.

  • Vrushali Mahajan

    poaching should be immediately looked after. We cannot afford losing animals or plants which belong our ecosystem. This way we are putting ourselves into huge problems as disturbing the ecosystem harms the surroundings of that particular area.

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Twitter Takes Multiple Steps To Curb Misinformation Before Elections in India

More than 80 per cent of the Twitter accounts linked to spread of disinformation

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Twitter, tweets, India
The Twitter logo appears on a phone post on the floor of the New York Stock Exchange.. VOA

Twitter is taking “multi-variable” steps, including the use of Artificial Intelligence (AI) tools, to curb the spread of misleading information on its platform ahead of 2019 general election in India, Co-Founder and CEO Jack Dorsey said here on Monday.

Addressing a Town Hall-style meeting at the Indian Institute of Technology-Delhi (IIT-D), Dorsey said fake news is a way too big category.

“The real problem is not misinformation per se as jokes can also be categorised as misinfomation. But misinformation that is spread with the intent to mislead people is a real problem,” stressed the Twitter CEO who is in India on a week-long maiden visit.

Dorsey, who got a rousing reception at IIT-D with the students wildly cheering the young entrepreneur, likened solving the problem of misleading information to that of addressing a security issue, or building a lock.

Twitter, India
Twitter Chief Executive Officer Jack Dorsey testifies before a Senate Intelligence Committee hearing on foreign influence operations and their use of social media on Capitol Hill. VOA

“No one can build a perfect lock, but we need to stay ahead of our attackers. AI could probably help,” Dorsey told the audience.

Earlier in the day, the Twitter CEO met Congress President Rahul Gandhi and discussed various steps the social network was taking to curb the spread of fake news and boost healthy conversation on its platform.

Dorsey also met Tibetan spiritual leader the Dalai Lama over the weekend. He was also expected to meet Union IT Minister Ravi Shankar Prasad in the wake of the growing criticism over Twitter’s role in the spread of misinformation and fake news as India faces Assembly polls in five states in November-December ahead of next year’s general elections.

Twitter, India
Twitter on a smartphone device. Pixabay

Twitter, along with other social media platforms, including Facebook, came under intense scrutiny of policymakers in the US for their failure to stop the spread of misinformation by Russia-linked accounts on their platforms during the 2016 Presidential election.

The micro-blogging site since then has stepped up its efforts to curb the spread of divisive messages and fake news on its platform.

To further protect the integrity of elections, Twitter recently announced that it would now delete fake accounts engaged in a variety of emergent, malicious behaviour.

India, elections
India’s Prime Minister Narendra Modi gestures as he addresses the gathering during the ‘Global Mobility Summit’ in New Delhi, India, VOA

As part of the new rules, accounts that deliberately mimic or are intended to replace accounts that were previously suspended for violating rules may be identified as fake accounts, Twitter said recently.

Also Read: Twitter Giving Its Users More Freedom to Report Fake, Suspicious Accounts

However, according to a Knight Foundation study released in October, more than 80 per cent of the Twitter accounts linked to spread of disinformation during the 2016 US election are still active. (IANS)