Animal welfare and rights in India

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Animal welfare and rights in India regards the treatment of and laws concerning non-human animals in India. It is distinct from animal conservation in India.

India is home to several religious traditions advocating non-violence and compassion towards animals, and has passed a number of animal welfare reforms since 1960. India is also one of the world's leading producers of animal products.


India's first national animal welfare law, the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals Act, 1960, criminalizes cruelty to animals, though exceptions are made for the treatment of animals used for food and scientific experiments. The 1960 law also created the Animal Welfare Board of India to ensure the anti-cruelty provisions were enforced and promote the cause of animal welfare.[1]

Subsequent laws have placed regulations and restrictions on the use of draught animals, the use of performing animals, animal transport, animal slaughter, and animal experimentation.[2]

The Breeding of and Experiments on Animals (Control and Supervision) Rules, 1998 sets general requirements for breeding and using animals for research. A 2006 amendment specifies that experimenters must first try to use animals "lowest on the phylogenetic scale", use the minimum number of animals for 95% statistical confidence, and justify not using non-animal alternatives. A 2013 amendment bans the use of live animal experiments in medical education.[3] In 2014 India became the first country in Asia to ban all testing of cosmetics on animals and the import of cosmetics tested on animals.[4]

In 2013 India made it illegal to use captive dolphins for public entertainment.[5]

In 2017 The Ministry of Environment, Forest and Climate Change has released four new Gazette notifications under the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals Act, 1960 to regulate dog breeders, animal markets, and aquarium and “pet” fish shop owners .[6]

India has a grade of C out of possible grades A,B,C,D,E,F,G on World Animal Protection's Animal Protection Index.[7]


Ancient India[edit]

The Vedas, the first scriptures of Hinduism (originating in the second millennium BCE), teach ahimsa or nonviolence towards all living beings. In Hinduism, killing an animal is regarded as a violation of ahimsa and causes bad karma, leading many Hindus to practice vegetarianism. Hindu teachings do not require vegetarianism, however, and allow animal sacrifice in religious ceremonies.[8]

Jainism was founded in India in the 7th-5th century BCE,[9] and ahimsa is its central teaching. Due to their belief in the sanctity of all life, Jains practice strict vegetarianism and many go to great lengths even to avoid harming insects.

Buddhism is the third major religion to emerge in India, and its teachings also include ahimsa. Buddhism teaches vegetarianism (though not as strictly as Jainism), and many Buddhists practice life release in which animals destined for slaughter are purchased and released to the wild.[8][10] Despite the influence of Hinduism, Jainism, and Buddhism, meat-eating was still common in ancient India.[11]

In 262 BCE, the Mauryan king Ashoka converted to Buddhism. For the remainder of his reign, he issued edicts informed by the Buddhist teachings of compassion for all beings. These edicts included the provision of medical treatment for animals and bans on animal sacrifice, the castration of roosters, and hunting of many species.[12]

British India[edit]

Colesworthey piller

Animal experimentation in India in the 1860s when Britain began introducing new drugs to the colony. Moved by the suffering of Indian strays and draught animals, Colesworthey Grant founded the first Indian Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals (SPCA) in 1861 in Calcutta. The Indian SPCAs successfully lobbied for anti-cruelty legislation in the 1860s, which was extended to all of India in 1890-91. An obelisk was established in memory of the Colesworthey just in front of the Writers' Building.

While the anti-vivisection movement grew in Britain, it failed to take hold in India. British officials and (British-led) SPCAs both opposed the introduction of the British Cruelty to Animals Act of 1876 - which established regulations on animal experimentation - to the Indian colony.

The Cow Protection movement arose in the late 1800s in northern India. While the SPCAs were led by colonists and associated with Christianity, Cow Protection was a movement of native Hindus. Cow protectionists opposed the slaughter of cattle and provided sanctuaries for cows. However, cow protection was largely an expression of Hindu nationalism rather than part of a larger native Indian animal welfare movement. Cow protectionists did not, in general, oppose (and often supported) animal experimentation, and the antivivisectionist groups established in India in the late 1890s died out due to lack of interest. The Indian branches of the Humanitarian League, an English organization which opposed vivisection and the mistreatment and killing of animals, focused on vegetarianism and cow protection while ignoring vivisection.[13]

Mahatma Gandhi was a vegetarian and advocate of vegetarianism. In 1931 Gandhi gave a talk to the London Vegetarian Society entitled The Moral Basis of Vegetarianism in which he argued for abstinence from meat and dairy on ethical (rather than health-related) grounds.[14]


In 2014, the Supreme court banned the traditional bullfighting sport Jallikattu, which was mainly practiced in the state of Tamil Nadu. This led to widespread controversy, and the 2017 pro-jallikattu protests of Tamil Nadu. The sport remains a controversial issue.

Animal farming and consumption[edit]

A 2007 report by the Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) of the United Nations found that Indians had the lowest rate of meat consumption of any country. Roughly one-third of Indians are vegetarian (the largest percentage of vegetarians in the world),[15] but few are vegan.[16] Despite having the highest rate of vegetarianism in the world, Indian consumption of dairy, eggs, and meat - especially chicken - is increasing rapidly.[15][17][18]

Despite restrictions on killing and eating cows throughout most of the country, India became the world's largest exporter of beef in 2012.[15] According to a 2012 FAO report, India also had the world's largest population of dairy cows (43.6 million) and was the second-largest producer of milk (50.3 million tons per year).[19] In 2011, India was the third largest producer of eggs (behind China and the United States) and the sixth largest producer of chicken meat.[18] India is the second largest fish producer in the world after China, and the industry has substantial room for growth.[20]

In India, it is legal to confine calves in veal crates, pigs in gestation crates, hens in battery cages, and to remove farm animals' body parts without anesthesia.[7]

Animals used for clothing[edit]


In 2012, Indian consumers purchased approximately Rs8.6 billion (approximately 129 million U.S. dollars) worth of fur products; this figure is projected to grow to Rs13 billion (approximately 195 million U.S. dollars) by 2018. Most of these products are supplied by domestic producers.[21] Due to growing concern for animal welfare, in 2017 India banned the importation of certain animal furs and skins, including chinchilla, mink, fox, and reptiles.[22]


Although cattle slaughter is illegal in all but two Indian states, poor enforcement of cattle protection laws has allowed a thriving leather industry.[23] A 2014 report on the Indian leather industry states that India is the ninth largest exporter of leather and leather products, and the second largest producer of footwear and leather garments, with significant room for growth. The Indian government supports the industry by allowing 100% foreign direct investment and duty-free imports, funding manufacturing units, and implementing industrial development programs.[24]

Animals in research[edit]

India's 1960 anti-cruelty law created the Committee for the Purpose of Control and Supervision of Experiments on Animals (CPCSEA) to regulate animal experimentation. A 2003 report by Animal Defenders International and the U.K. National Anti-Vivisection Society based on evidence gathered by the CPCSEA during inspections of 467 Indian laboratories finds "a deplorable standard of animal care in the majority of facilities inspected". The report lists many instances of abuse, neglect, and failure to use available non-animal methods.[25]

Animal Rights movements[edit]

India has a number of domestic animal welfare organizations such as Peoples for Animals Haryana, Scouts & Guides for Animals & Birds, OIPA: Indian People for Animals, started by Naresh Kadyan, People for Animals, started by Maneka Gandhi, as well as chapters of international animal nonprofits including People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals, Humane Society International,[26] and In Defense of Animals.[27][28]

See also[edit]



  1. ^ Parliament of India (1982). "The Prevention of Cruelty to Animals Act, 1960, as amended by Central Act 26 of 1982" (PDF). Retrieved April 24, 2016.
  2. ^ "Central Laws". Retrieved April 24, 2016.
  3. ^ "India Legislation & Animal Welfare Oversight". January 25, 2016. Retrieved April 26, 2016.
  4. ^ Melissa Cronin (October 14, 2014). "This is the First Country in the World to Ban all Cosmetics Tested on Animals". Archived from the original on September 24, 2015. Retrieved April 24, 2016.
  5. ^ "India more progressive than US on animal welfare policies". July 22, 2013. Retrieved April 24, 2016.
  6. ^
  7. ^ a b "Republic of India" (PDF). Retrieved April 24, 2016.
  8. ^ a b E. Szűcs; R. Geers; E. N. Sossidou; D. M. Broom (November 2012). "Animal Welfare in Different Human Cultures, Traditions and Religious Faiths". Asian-Australasian Journal of Animal Science. 25 (11): 1499–506. doi:10.5713/ajas.2012.r.02. PMC 4093044. PMID 25049508.
  9. ^ G. Ralph Strohl (February 21, 2016). "Jainism". Retrieved April 24, 2016.
  10. ^ Yutang Lin. "The Buddhist Practice of Releasing Lives to Freedom". Retrieved April 24, 2016.
  11. ^ "Vegetarianism in India". Retrieved April 24, 2016.
  12. ^ Ven. S. Dhammika (1994). "The Edicts of King Asoka" (PDF). Retrieved April 24, 2016.
  13. ^ Pratik Chakrabarti (June 1, 2010). "Beasts of Burden: Animals and Laboratory Research in Colonial India". History of Science. 48 (2): 125–152. doi:10.1177/007327531004800201. PMC 2997667. PMID 20582325.
  14. ^ John Davis (March 16, 2011). "Gandhi - and the Launching of Veganism". Retrieved April 26, 2016.
  15. ^ a b c Subramaniam Mohana Devi; Vellingiri Balachandar; Sang In Lee; In Ho Kim (2014). "An Outline of Meat Consumption in the Indian Population - a Pilot Review". Korean J Food Sci Anim Resour. 34: 507–15. doi:10.5851/kosfa.2014.34.4.507. PMC 4662155. PMID 26761289.
  16. ^ Elizabeth Flock (September 26, 2009). "Being Vegan in India". Retrieved April 25, 2016.
  17. ^ "India's growing appetite for meat challenges traditional values". February 5, 2013. Retrieved April 25, 2016.
  18. ^ a b "USDA International Egg and Poultry: Poultry in India". December 1, 2013. Retrieved April 25, 2016.
  19. ^ "Statistics: Dairy cows" (PDF). Retrieved April 25, 2016.
  20. ^ ET Bureau (November 23, 2011). "Marine and fish industry to reach Rs 68K crore by 2015: Assocham". Retrieved April 25, 2016.
  21. ^ "Fur and Fur Articles in India". October 2013. Retrieved April 25, 2016.
  22. ^ "Govt bans import of fox fur, crocodile skin". January 6, 2017. Retrieved March 2, 2018.
  23. ^ Ambika Hiranandani; Roland M. McCall; Salman Shaheen (July 1, 2010). "How India's holy cash cow". Retrieved April 26, 2016.
  24. ^ ONICRA Credit Rating Agency of India (April 2014). "Emerging Trends: Indian Leather Industry" (PDF). Archived from the original (PDF) on January 9, 2016. Retrieved April 26, 2016.
  25. ^ Animal Defenders International; National Anti-Vivisection Society (2003). "Animal Experimentation in India" (PDF). Retrieved April 26, 2016.
  26. ^ "Humane Society International India". Retrieved April 25, 2016.
  27. ^ "In Defense of Animals, India". Retrieved April 25, 2016.
  28. ^ Apsara Vydyula (September 8, 2015). "Kudos To These 15 Indian Animal Welfare Organisations That Are All Set To Bring About A Change". Retrieved April 25, 2016.