90% of Indians detest cruelty to animals: survey

In the run up to National Milk Day on Saturday, a survey commissioned by World Animal Protection (WAP) has shown the cruel treatment of animals in local dairies in India is unacceptable to almost 90 per cent of respondents. The survey highlights the strong support for better protection of dairy animals across the country.

WAP through a signature campaign has urged the Department of Animal Husbandry, Union Ministry of Agriculture and Farmers Welfare to end the suffering of dairy animals by phasing out local dairies and implementing welfare standards that protect dairy animals.

The survey was conducted in October and 3,000 people were interviewed in six cities: Delhi, Mumbai, Kolkata, Chennai, Hyderabad and Bengaluru. Almost half of the respondents were unaware that millions of dairy animals are kept in illegal, unregulated local dairies in cities and suburbs in cruel and unsanitary conditions, and that there are often deprived of their basic needs such as access to clean water and food, and are kept tethered throughout their lives.

With almost 300 million dairy cows and buffalo, India is by far the largest dairy producer in the world. The survey also revealed that almost 90 per cent of respondents strongly agree that dairies should be closed if they don’t consider the welfare needs of dairy animals. Almost 87 per cent think the government should intervene and bring in better welfare standards and practices.

Ninety per cent are more likely to buy products from a company that sources raw material from dairies adopting better animal welfare practices. Three out of four who regularly buy dairy brands said they are willing to pay five to 10 per cent more for products that come from dairies offering better animal welfare.

Forceful pitch

“We’ve made great progress since 2014 with the introduction of the first National Dairy Code of Practice(NDCP) for the management of dairy animals in India, which offers guidance on humane and sustainable practices in our dairies,” said Gajender Sharma, Country Director, WAP, making a forceful pitch for implementation of the code without delay.

Major General R.M. Kharb, Chairman, Animal Welfare Board of India (AWBI) has backed the need for adoption of better welfare practices for dairy animals by implementing the NDPC guidelines.

He recalled that last year AWBI had issued an advisory to all State governments recommending implementation of the guidelines. “This will not only promote and protect the welfare of dairy cattle but will also lead to sustainable dairy farming,” says Mr. Kharb.

An ever increasing demand for milk, is pushing productivity, with dairy cattle being forced to produce milk in unnatural and highly stressful situations. Up to 50 million dairy animals are suffering every day in unacceptable conditions on dairy farms; with millions kept in illegal local dairies, known as urban and peri-urban dairies.

The body is working with corporates, milk cooperatives, retailers and industry associations and government to create better lives for dairy cattle.