Not many people may know this, but PeTA (People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals) founder Ingrid Newkirk spent much of her student life in South India. The Britisher, who is in Mumbai currently, staunchly campaigning against the use of Victoria-style horse carriages took some time to talk to City Express.
She recalls, “Oh, I have spent lots of time in India. I came here when I was seven.” From a house in Delhi to a school in Kodaikanal, our side of the globe was home for much of her formative years, the animal activist admits. “And with the PeTA office here now, I make it a point to visit at least once a year.” Fresh off their success of banning the use of cattle-driven bullock carts for transporting oil in Mumbai, Ingrid informs, “We’re collaborating constantly with organisations to improve the conditions of cattle housing and illegal transportation as well.”
She cites particularly the rural practice of castrating the bull by crushing its testicles with a rock.
“Our members have been encouraging farmers to do it with chemical aid for pain relief,” Ingrid points out.
As for other looming concerns, the animal visionary states, “Well jallikattu is always on my mind. We should be trying our case in the Supreme Court by next month hopefully.” She also touches upon the practice of manja. Out of sight in Hyderabad perhaps, kite-flying still remains in other parts of the South and while most people consider the human danger, Ingrid asks simply, “What about the birds?”
As the conversation takes a turn towards lifestyle and veganism, one has to wonder out loud - India has to be one most vegetarian-conducive countries in the world right? The lady behind the PeTA revolution laughs light heartedly, a stark contrast to all the serious talk before. “You have endless vegetarian options here, especially in the South,” she reminisces, “Masala dosa, sambar...every kind of channa - I love it!”