ISSN (Print) - 0012-9976 | ISSN (Online) - 2349-8846

A+| A| A-

Civil Society's Uncivil Acts: Dancing Bear and Starving Kalandar

Civil Society's Uncivil Acts: Dancing Bear and Starving Kalandar

Animal rights organisations are campaigning to save the Indian sloth bear, but scant attention is paid to the plight of their owners, the Kalandars, whose livelihoods are endangered.

Civil Society’s Uncivil Acts:Dancing Bear andStarving Kalandar

Animal rights organisations are campaigning to save the Indian sloth bear, but scant attention is paid to the plight of their owners, the Kalandars, whose livelihoods are endangered.

MEENA RADHAKRISHNA

T
here is a serious battle that is being waged to save the Indian (and indeed, the Pakistani) sloth bear for the past decade or so. There is immense dedication and commitment on part of animal rights activists to organise public opinion on saving the “dancing bears” from inhuman treatment by their owners. As one drives down the DelhiAgra-Jaipur highway, prominent hoardings highlight the plight of the dancing bears, questioning whether their torture can be termed entertainment. The “Say No to Bear Dancing” campaign is initiated by the Wildlife Trust of India (WTI) as well as the World Society for Protection of Animals (WSPA), and directed mainly at tourists, seen to be the main patrons of this form of entertainment. Moving and emotive, it has successfully got the cooperation of the big hotel and tour operators. Posters and literature are placed in hotels’ guest rooms and at the reception to attract attention of the visitors. In addition, travel and business magazines carry complimentary advertisements for public awareness and prominent book stores keep bookmarks and literature.1Now, evidently, school teachers and children have been roped in as well and school children from different cities have begun to visit Agra to be sensitised about the issue of bear dancing.2

It is good to know that a large number of bears are now safe after being rescued, and that a lot is being done to address the suffering of those remaining. So far so good. It is time to pause for a while and focus on the people who are allegedly ill-treating the bears.

The concerned people are the Kalandars, a nomadic community, which has been involved in bear dancing work in south Asia for centuries. The well known authority on nomadic people, Joseph C Berland, has written on the commonplace lives of these people as also the traditional presence of Kalandars/Qalandars in the midst of the “civilised” sedentary societies,3 He emphasises that these communities may be as ancient as settled communities themselves, and figure in sedentary societies’ folklore. Berland points out that Qalandars used to make the bears perform in rural areas particularly during the harvest season since at a time of affluence, villagers were more likely to reward the entertaining generously. As postharvest resources diminished, the Qalandars moved to urban settings. His account shows that this has been Kalandars’ traditional occupation, and not something they have greedily adopted to entertain dollar paying tourists as some times believed by the public.

Contemporary Living Conditions

It is instructive to learn (from a sensitive article by Geeta Seshamani and Kartick Satyanarayan) about the conditions of the villages that the Kalandars inhabited 10 years ago, presumably when bear dancing was at its peak, and the Kalandars still had their means of livelihood more or less intact:4

By and large the villages examined had only 20 per cent permanent housing; 50 per cent (Kalandars) lived in mud houses, which needed to be rebuilt after every monsoon, and 30 per cent lived in tents made of bamboos with tarpaulin or plastic sheets as roofing. Large parts of all the villages were underwater, and mosquitoes bred freely. Malaria, conjunctivitis and other eye infections, chronic malnutrition and pot-bellied rickety children were the norm in all the villages. Those close to the cities still did not seem to have any clinic or first aid centre near them. The further off the villages were from urban areas, the cleaner and healthier were the inhabitants and their income/diet was more likely to be supplemented by goat and poultry reared by them. ...By and large their villages have no sewage systems and no running water and only in two cases had they ‘borrowed’ electricity from overhead wires. The passages between the homes were unpaved and under water. Only one village had a well with brackish water and one had a tank to store rain water in. The Kalandars had to request water from neighbouring settlements. By and large no medical aid was available for people or animals and they relied on themselves for treatment... The girls are not educated or sent to school. Most of the older Kalandars above the age of 30 years had two to three years of religious education but no secular education. The younger generation often had three to five years in a government school but the high degree of unemployment amongst the youth (almost 95 per cent) discouraged them from studying further. Amongst all the villages visited, only two Kalandars had done their Master’s degree and after several years of futile search for government employment, one had begun his own welding unit, while another had become a ‘hakim’ or rural doctor. Five others had completed high school and were idle at home being now untrained for their traditional trades… The earnings from a bear average Rs 2,000 to Rs 3,000 per month during the good seasons which in north India are the winter months when foreign tourists visit and hotels and ‘kalakaar’ trusts arrange large shows…Their income falls to Rs 1,000 to Rs 1,500 per month when they have to rely on a rural audience. However, the dancing bear owner relies heavily on his rural audience for donated rice, wheat and other lentils and seasonal vegetables.

The above lengthy quotation is important as the study is conducted by two leading activists of Wildlife SOS, the organisation leading the saving the bear campaign. It is to the credit of this organisation that while the animals remain their major concern, they have brought their owners into the spotlight as well. Anyway, for our purposes, what has to be noted in this quotation is not just the meagre earnings of these families at a good time, 10 years ago but their extremely poor quality of life before determined opposition to bear dancing practically banished this occupation from the streets.

Subsequently, all through the last decade, there have been reports of Kalandars being on the verge of starvation once the Indian Wildlife Protection Act was implemented. To take the example of Haryana, the chief wildlife warden directed wildlife inspectors to ensure the immediate compliance

Economic and Political Weekly October 20, 2007

of the directions issued by the central government about saving the bears in 1998. By 2001, Kalandars in Haryana were being reported to be not just victims of large-scale starvation and death but also that “some anti-social elements had been visiting their colonies to lure jobless youth to crime and women to immoral activities”.5 A number of Kalandars in Delhi were met by this researcher a few months ago, who narrated how their state of deprivation and poverty had been “traditional” but became much worse once their animals were taken away.

Kalandar the Offender

Two well known pieces of legislation

– the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals Act, 1950, and the Wildlife Protection Act, 1972 – are generally used to book a Kalandar who owns a bear and uses it for entertainment. However, for practical purposes, there is another piece of legislation, which makes bear dancing or any street performance by animals illegal. The Bombay Prevention of Begging Act, 1959 – adopted with amendments by a large number of states and applicable to an ever increasing numbers of towns and cities in India today – also affects communities like the Kalandars. This can be seen by the definition of begging itself. Begging is defined as “soliciting or receiving alms, in a public place…” meaning, in substance, that any one who approaches an audience to get paid for the entertainment he/she has provided, can be booked for “obtaining or extorting alms”. Moreover, the anti-beggary act explicitly ties up with the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals Act, 1950, a section of which prohibits exhibiting an animal with injury, deformity, etc, for soliciting alms. The anti-beggary legislation thus has an inbuilt clause, which allows both the arrest of the “beggar” and seizure of his animal by the police.6

Interestingly, even after the Wildlife Protection Act, 1972 came into force, posse ssion of a bear for entertainment or as a pet was legally permitted till as recently as 1993. Licences allowing the use of bears for entertainment were issued to the Kalandars by the assistant conservator of forests or forest officers. A Kalandar also applied to the municipality of the city/town he resided into the effect that he could use that animal to entertain and keep as a pet, and that it would in no way injure the health of the public. The bear owner had to, in addition, register himself at the nearest police station, get a “character certificate” and a permit for bear dancing. All this only became illegal when the renewing of the licences by forest authorities was withdrawn. This was done because the species of bears, which the Kalandars worked with were declared to be highly vulnerable in 1992, and buying and selling of these animals for entertainment were forbidden.7

In other words, the authorities and an appreciative public audience were all complicit in bear dancing till very recently. The situation on the ground is that these species of bears need to be conserved. Moreover, all of us have been sensitised by the good work of the animal rights campaign about the unnecessary pain inflicted on the bear in this form of entertainment. Hence, a public awareness campaign is desirable, discussing all these issues, and involving the Kalandar community as a major stakeholder.

However, some well-meaning nongovernment organisations (NGOs) can inadvertently queer the pitch. People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals (PETA), India, gives the following advice to future activists, “When you find a ‘bhaloo wallah’, take him to the police station and contact a wildlife protection organisation. Ask the police to contact the forest or wildlife department, which will in turn request a shelter to take custody of the animal until the court decides the matter... Seek the help of the police in situations involving monkeys… Report the snake charmer to the police, and ask them to contact the forest officer to take custody of the snakes until the case is brought before a magistrate…”8 Here, it repeatedly appears as if the police are the right and legitimate body to deal with the offending Kalandar.

One important point made by a Wildlife SOS study among Kalandars was that “the Kalandars are illiterate and without any formal schooling… and …were not aware of the Wildlife Act.”9 Even if they are aware of the concerned legislation, their traditional occupation of bear dancing is all they currently know as far as earning a meagre living is concerned. The PETA kind of advice not only creates unsympathetic images about the people concerned in the minds of current and future generations of animal lovers but also excludes human beings from the rescue programme. While the animals are liberated and immediately taken care of (in case of bears, for instance, sent to the Agra bear rescue facility), scant attention is paid to the rehabilitation of the person thus caught. The members of the affected communities narrate how upon being arrested by the police or the forest official, the snakes might be fed with milk, believing the snake to be a ‘naag devata’; the monkey (in spite of having bitten or attacked humans) upon “rescue” treated as an avatar of Hanuman and fed with bananas, while the arrested person is brutally kicked, beaten, handcuffed and marched to the jail.

Some web sites or news reports reveal graphic details of the cruel methods adopted by the Kalandars to train these hapless animals,10 and the people who handle them begin to look more and more like sadists and criminals involved in an “illegal” occupation11 – which we forget was legal until 15 years ago. This kind of partial information about the issue is circulated amongst people who occasionally visit India and who begin to feel exceedingly hostile towards communities who work with bears or monkeys. One such tourist wrote in the following vein, “Evidently, the Indian government has legislated against this cruelty but little has been done to stop it. These ‘madaris’ are out (on the streets) in plain sight where it would be easy enough for police to cart them off to prison and humanely take the bears to the sanctuary outside Agra. The gypsies could be trained, while in prison, for a saner occupation except for those who are beyond hope”.12

One does not even have to visit India to feel and air these sentiments. There was a dancing bear petition, addressed to the president of the United States, asking for his help to save the Indian sloth bear. People from all over the world signed it to save the bear, some exhibiting considerable insensitivity to the concerned communities in their self-righteous anger over the plight of the animal.13 The circular nature of such information could be broken by the animal rights movement taking the initiative to discuss the bear-Kalandar issue in totality and encourage activists to highlight the humans’ history and future along with the animals.

Maneka Gandhi’s Stand

One of the leading activists in this area has been Maneka Gandhi, the former union minister in charge of animal welfare, chairperson of the Delhi Society for

Economic and Political Weekly October 20, 2007 Prevention of Cruelty to Animals and founder of People for Animals (PFA). She appears to have led a particular kind of campaign, the legacy of which is apparent in some of the attitudes discussed above. While she seemed to be negotiating alternative livelihood options with the Kalandars via PFA activists in India,14

she had this to say in interviews to an animal rights organisation abroad, “Unfortunately the government insists that each bear has to be bought… from each Kalandar…15The fact that we have to buy a bear is like buying your television back from the thief who stole it.”16 “If I had my way I would abolish the dancing bear industry by catching them all in one day, putting the offenders into the jails where they richly (sic) belong… The whole exercise can be done in a week.”17

The criminalisation of communities working with animals – both because of a change in the legal status of erstwhile legitimate occupations, and because of the way the issues are presented to the public – is a matter serious enough. There is also a real danger that the subject might continue to be communalised. Maneka Gandhi is reported to have said, in one of her interviews abroad, “The laws were always against the poaching of these bears and against their dancing. However, because they are poached by a minority community, the Muslims, everyone was reluctant to create a situation where they would respond not as the criminals they are but as ‘Muslims’ being hard done by. In fact all the illegal street entertainment animals – the snakes, monkeys, bears, birds are run by Muslims in India.”18

The fact that Maneka Gandhi gave this interview to an animal rights web site was unfortunate, where a large number of animal rights supporters would have read only this point of view about the Kalandars, and continue to do so. Maneka Gandhi had evidently been airing some of these thoughts in India as well. A few years ago Kalandars, along with their monkeys and bears, staged a demonstration to protest against her alleged remarks against their community, and demanded an apology from her. Under the banner of Qalander panchayat, they voiced their protest against her dubbing the Kalandars as a “community of thieves, cheats and murderers”.19

The Kalandars in Delhi also told this researcher that they live in constant and mortal fear of the police and forest officials, but most of all “Maneka Gandhi wale” (Maneka Gandhi’s people). They narrated, in detail, how merely being a Kalandar today – with or without a bear or monkey – has become reason for becoming a victim of violence, extortion and intimidation. In fact, periodically, in different places in north India, there have been clashes between Maneka Gandi’s organisation PFA and the Kalandars.20 Some years ago, several dozen members of the Kalandar community were reported to have “gheraoed the headquarters of the forest department in Lucknow… Raising anti-Maneka slogans, the community members blocked traffic for more than an hour. They were demanding an immediate release of the bear...”.21

Animal rights groups will have to distance and disassociate themselves with such aggressive anti-Kalandar postures in the name of saving the bear, precipitating confrontation and conflict.22

Rehabilitation Efforts

Some of the animal rights groups recognise the importance of paying attention to the concerned communities, and there have been attempts on their part at rehabilitating the Kalandars. Sometimes these organisations work together, and divide up resources or tasks to be done for the community members. The Wildlife SOS have a tribal rehabilitation programme, which focuses on training the Kalandars to earn an alternative livelihood,23 and Mary Hutton runs an organisation – Founder of Free the Bears Fund – which raises funds to buy bears from the Kalandars.24 “We are abolishing the dancing bear trade in India by introducing the Kalandar Rehabilitation Programme… We give the Kalandar (who owns the bear) seed money to begin another business… By giving this man an alternative income and saving the bear from an ongoing life of misery and pain makes it a win-win situation for both bear and man.”25 Humane Society International (HSI), Australia also supports the Kalandar rehabilitation programme and provides resources and training for families that have surrendered their bears so they can be trained in an alternative livelihood. HSI sponsors the running of health camps for the Kalandars and the education costs for children who would otherwise have become future bear dancers.26 An “alternate livelihood” programme is also run by the WTI. A miniscule section of Kalandars have gained by the programmes run by these NGOs, and have managed to diversify into other professions, but they are too few and far between to be the norm. It is evident that the NGOs have not been able to meet the challenge of the very grim situation on the ground.

Kalandars Shifting to Monkeys?

Passionately saving the bear, moreover, has some other significant implications. Of the bears Berland informs us that “easily irritable and prone to attack, a disturbed animal may kill its handler with a single blow”. Thus, the work with bears for Kalandars is highly dangerous and can be fatal if mismanaged. Berland further tells us that because bears are dangerous and costly, Kalandars were taking to keeping monkeys (Rhesus macaques) instead as they are easier and less expensive to maintain and breed in captivity.27 When spoken to, the Kalandar community members also admit that the constant danger, which the bear posed to them, their families and the public was an additional reason for switching to monkeys. It was anyway safer to switch to monkeys, they said, as the bear saving campaign had reached a crescendo and they feared they could be physically attacked by indignant tourists or common people if they continued the bear dancing, apart from fearing arrest by the police or forest officials. Hence, a few years ago, Kalandars had begun capturing monkeys and making them perform in village settings, albeit surreptitiously.28

In other words, it becomes clear that the communities which work with animals can move on from working with one species to the other with relative ease. Another issue, then, to be considered is whether saving one animal is not going to lead to jeopardising another.Already, animal rights organisations are having to address the issue of monkeys on par with the bear.29 To complicate the issue, moreover, monkeys are sometimes seen to be a civic nuisance and sustaining a public campaign to save the Rhesus macaques may not be as successful.30 In fact, Wildlife SOS has already been summoned to use their expertise to rescue people from the monkeys.31 Some public debate, then, is necessary to discuss the lengths to which animal rights campaigns can and should go.32

Role of Government

The government of India needs to step in decisively to rescue these communities from subhuman conditions of existence.

Economic and Political Weekly October 20, 2007

So far, the role of government bodies in this entire issue has not been above board. Earlier, with forest officials, police and municipality involved at different stages, the Kalandars had to pay large sums of money, in unrecorded payments, in order to get various permits for bear dancing.33 The sudden withdrawal of the license renewal meant that the harassment from the police and the municipality increased. The Kalandars find that they now have to pay even higher amounts to escape from the clutches of the police and forest department if caught with dancing bears.34

There is an urgent need for the government to determinedly address the issue of alternative livelihood options and rehabilitation of entire communities who have been dependent on animals for their daily survival. Looking at the Kalandars’ situation today, it becomes clear that a large number of them need immediate attention. A number of NGOs are working to remedy this, but they should not be expected to handle the enormous responsibility, which devolves on the Indian state regarding such a large number of its subjects. The communities involved are exceedingly vulnerable today, and their pitiful situation should be as much a subject of concern and public outrage, if not more, as the animals. It should be obligatory for all animal rights campaigns to educate the public and overzealous police/forest officials about the centuries old history of humans involved with animals. The communities working with performing animals also need to be educated to think about these animals in other ways and should be given incentives to give up these ways of earning a living, sometimes extremely dangerous to themselves as well. Retrained in other skills and given other sustainable livelihood options, they will be relieved to be directed to rehabilitation programmes especially designed for them.

The situation of the Kalandars today is a pointer to the bleak future of many similar communities spread all over India. Changes in law have also made illegal the work of the ‘saperas’ (snake charmers), ‘bahelias’ who hunt birds, ‘madaris’ who use monkeys for street entertainment and so on. These are just a few of the communities who have traditionally depen ded on animals for survival, and if all the synonyms and subgroups of these communities invol ved in similar occupations spread all over India were to be taken into account, the number of communities will run into dozens, and the people concerned into many lakhs. In fact, the bear has stolen the limelight because international NGOs have joined the campaign but the fact is that animal rights groups in India have been steadily working to rescue snakes, birds and monkeys from the concerned communities.

A society or a state cannot declare itself to be an animal loving one through its legislative Acts of commission and omission, putting at stake the dignity and future of its human subjects. The public memory of the dancing bear and perfor ming monkey is so close that the concerned communities still attempt to make a living by it; the forms they take may be strange, bizarre and surreal. In at least one of the fashionable shopping areas of Delhi, and at a particular traffic signal, one can sometimes spot a lonely small child dressed to resemble a bear, more often a monkey, and performing on his own the tricks that the animal prompted by his owner used to do. These children attract attention and an amused audience, and even get paid for their labour. Sights of such blasphemy on childhood, and on human beings, are a poignant reminder of where the priorities of an animal rights campaign should lie.

These people are not criminals, just fellow citizens, whom all modern development processes have passed by, as if blind folded. A state-supported successful and responsible animal rights movement will also free humans from animals.

EPW

Email: meena.rkna@gmail.com

Notes

[I thank Nasir Tyabji for discussion and comments on earlier drafts.]

1 ‘Hotels and Tour Operators Join Campaign to Save Bears’, http://www.wildlifetrustofindia. org/html/news/2007/070206_dancing.html, retrieved on August 8, 2007.

2 ‘School Kids Learn to Care for Bears at the Agra Bear Rescue Facility, A Joint Effort by the Uttar Pradesh Forest Department and Wildlife’ Wildlife SOS, Conservation Education Programme at ABRF, http:// www.wildlifesos.com/education/eduhome. html, retrieved on August 7, 2007.

3 Berland, Joseph C, ‘Qalandar’ , World Culture Encyclopedia, South Asia. http://www.every-culture.com/South-Asia/Qalandar-Economy. html, as retrieved on August 7, 2007.

4 The Dancing Bears of India, 1997, http:// www.wildlifesos.org/bearreport/Community%20Kalandar.htm retrieved on August 12, 2007.

5 Ahlawat, Bijendra, ‘Jobless “Kalandars” Face Starvation’,Tribune News Service, The Tribune Online edition, Sunday, September 2, 2001, Chandigarh, India and ‘Kalandars Panic in the Face of Seizure of Animals’, Wednesday, November 15, 2000, Chandigarh, India.

6 Kalandars met by this researcher in Delhi complained bitterly about officials who are in charge of enforcing the anti-beggary legislation in Delhi. They narrated how these officials travel in the ‘Seva Kuteer’ van and can nab the Kalandar from anywhere in the city, whether he is found to be with or without a bear. The offenders are carried off to the Beggar Home, a jail ironically called Seva Kuteer, and are required to appear in due course in the attached Beggars’ Court. Visit in November, 2006 to Seva Kuteer and Kalandar colony, Delhi. The trials in the Beggars’ Court are summarily carried out, and a second time conviction can lead to imprisonment upto 10 years. (Insights to build Inroads: Understanding Issue of Urban Desitution and Homelessness, A documented outcome of the National Consultation on Urban Poor: Special Focus on Beggary and Vagrancy Laws – The Issue of De-custodialisation (Decriminalisation), Aashray Adhikar Abhiyan (Shelter Rights Campaign of Action Aid, India), Indian Social Institute, New Delhi, 2005, chapter 2, p 23.) For one of the latest amended examples of anti-beggary legislation now applicable in at least 15 states, see The Kerala Prevention of Begging Bill, 2006, clause 2 (c) iii, and clause 30 which deals with “Seizure and disposal of animal’s exposed or exhibited for obtaining or extorting alms.” www.kerala.gov.in/begging_ban.pdf, retrieved on August 12, 2007.

7 The Dancing Bears of India, 1997, ‘Licensing and the Law’, http://www.wildlifesos.com/ bearreport/Community%20Kalandar.htm as retrieved on August 7, 07.

8 PETA India, Activism, ‘What You Can Do to Help Rescued Wild Animals’, http:// www.petaindia.com/activ.html as retrieved on August 5, 2007.

9 The Dancing Bears of India, 1997, ‘Licensing and the Law’, op cit.

10 http://getactive.peta.org/campaign/dancing_bears, ‘Show Dancing Bears That You Care’ http://www.petadishoom.com/action/ bear_mission.asp; http://www.petadishoom. com/page3/yanagupta_bears.asp; ‘Hope for India’s Dancing Bears’, http://news. bbc.co.uk/1/low/sci/tech/2681021.stm; ‘Abolishing the Practice of Dancing Bears in India’, http://www.abolitionist-online. com/interview-issue02_dancing-bears_m. gandhi-m.hutton.shtml, all retrieved on August 11, 2007.

11 PETA also bought a prime time advertisement to show on Pakistan television which according to PETA Director Jason Baker, “motivates viewers to help rid Pakistan’s streets of illegal madaris with bears”. However, the advertisement, which showed a screaming man being tethered through the nose with a burning needle like a dancing bear was found objectionable and rejected. ‘PTV Bans Ad on Dancing Bears’, http://server.kbri-islamabad. go.id/index.php?option=com_content&task= view&id=447&Itemid=53, retrieved on July 31, 2007.

Economic and Political Weekly October 20, 2007

12 Robyn Nayyar, Aromas, CA, in Letters, India Currents, April 1, 2007, http://www.indiacurrents.com/news/view_article.html?article_i d=e0a57a1f1dfe1a55804843cb0865448e retrieved on August 8, 2007.

13 “How long do the innocent bears have to suffer at the hands of lazy cruel abusers ... over the years they must have made money at the cost of the bears agonies...this has gone on for far too long...and the lazy scum are still being allowed to mistreat them… in my view these people are only good for abusing (since they are) the only earners in the overpopulated families…these people are discusting (sic) in every way I can imagine.” Kathleen Turnbull, Windsor, United Kingdom, Signatory to the Dancing Bear Petition, 2003, http://www.thepetitionsite.com retrieved on July 31, 2007.

14 ‘Efforts On to Rehabilitate Kalandars’, The Tribune, online edition, Monday, August 28, 2000, Chandigarh, India.

15 Vaughan, Claudette, ‘Abolishing the Practice of Dancing Bears in India: Maneka Gandhi and Mary Hutton’, Abolitionist online, A Voice for Animal Rights, http:// www.abolitionist-online.com/interviewissue02_dancing-bears_m.gandhi-m.hutton. shtml. retrieved on August 11, 2007. Vaughan believes that “Maneka Gandhi is doing for the animals of India what Mahatma Gandhi did for the people”. http://www.animal-lib. org.au/more_interviews/maneka/retrieved on August 11, 2007. Animal Liberation, 2004.

16 Vaughan, Claudette, ‘Flying Solo: The Maneka Gandhi Interview’, http://www.animal-lib.org. au/more_interviews/maneka/, retrieved on August 11, 2007. Animal Liberation, 2004.

17 Vaughan, Claudette, ‘Abolishing the Practice of Dancing Bears in India: Maneka Gandhi and Mary Hutton’, Abolitionist online, A Voice for Animal Rights, http://www. abolitionist-online.com/interview-issue02_ dancing-bears_m.gandhi-m.hutton.shtml

18 Vaughan, Claudette, ‘Flying Solo: The Maneka Gandhi Interview’, op cit.

19 Times of India, Delhi, ‘Animal Trainers Protest against Maneka Gandhi’, October 22, 2002, 2204 hrs IST TNN.

20 ‘PFA-Kalandar Clash Reaches Flashpoint’, The Tribune, online edition, Wednesday, August 2, 2000, Chandigarh, India.

21 ‘Kalandar Members Gherao Forest HQs’, Times of India, October 9, 2001.

22 “‘Kalandars’ or the ‘madaris’ ...have, in recent past, become a target of the ire of various organi sations for using and acting cruelly towards animals. The ‘madaris’ have been staging demonstrations in protest against a movement launched to seize their animals under the Wildlife Act designed to protect animals.” Efforts on to rehabilitate “kalandars”, The Tribune, online edition, Monday, August 28, 2000, Chandigarh, India.

23 http://www.wildlifesos.com/rehab/rehabhome. htm, as retrieved on August 11, 2007.

24 According to the survey carried out by Wildlife SOS 10 years ago, the cost of a bear cub under three months is anywhere between Rs 3,000 and Rs 5,000 while the cost of a fully trained adult bear ranges between Rs 15,000 and Rs 25,000. The Dancing Bears of India, 1997, op cit.

25 http://www.abolitionist-online.com/interviewissue02_dancing-bears_m.gandhi-m.hutton. shtml as retrieved on August 10, 2007.

26 http://www.equatorinitiative.net/files/0_India_WildlifeSOSIndia.doc as retrieved on July 31, 2007.

27 Berland, op cit.

28 This has earned them the additional supposed synonym of ‘madari’ with forest officials as well as the animal rights activists, confusing them with the traditional ‘bandarwallah’ – the monkey trainer. There are a number of communities, which are involved in trapping monkeys and depend on them for a livelihood. According to a study on trapping methods in India, Jabjali and Pathami trappers are known for trapping monkeys in Lucknow, Varanasi and Kanpur; Kanjjars and Makariyas in north and east India, Hakki-pukki and Narikorava tribals in south India, Kanjjars and Pathmis in the forested patches of western Uttar Pradesh and Uttaranchal. Makariyas in eastern India reportedly catch monkeys for food. Bhargava, Rajat, ‘Traditional Trapping Techniques of Primates in India’, www.wii.gov. in/envis/primates/downloads/page185tradi. pdf, as retrieved on August 8, 2007.

29 “Tourists always need to be mindful not to have their photo taken with an exotic animal whether it be bear, monkey or any other animal which brings in the tourist dollar by performing.” Mary Hutton in an article by Vaughan, Claudette, ‘Abolishing the Practice of Dancing Bears in India: Maneka Gandhi and Mary Hutton’, op cit. The official web site of the Wildlife SOS shows the monkey to be one of the animals rescued by it. http://www.wildlifesos.com/ rescue/rescuehome.htm as retrieved on August 11, 2007. An expert study funded by the World Wildlife Fund, India, tells us that “the total ban on the trapping and export of Rhesus macaques came into force in 1978. Before 1978, a legal quota of 45,000 Rhesus macaques and 5,000 Hanuman langurs were allowed for export under the Exim policy in the early 1970s…” Bhargava, op cit.

30 “Monkeys are a menace not only in residential areas of the capital, traumatising children and adults alike on roads and in parks but even at the seat of power – the assembly and north and south Block. Government employees are easy prey. The primates often land officials in trouble by not only snatching their tiffin but also government files.” ‘Monkey Business for Bitten Babus

– Officials Rack Brains to Tackle Menace’, The Telegraph, Calcutta, October 25, 2002, http://www.telegraphindia.com/1021025/asp/ nation/story_1322771.asp retrieved on August 8, 2007. Also see, Pramila N Phatarphekar, Chander Suta Dogra, ‘State In Monkey’s Shadow:Without a Containment Plan, the Man-Monkey Conflict Spreads Alarmingly’ http://www.outlookindia.com/full.asp?fodna me=20040927&fname=Monkey+(F)&sid=1 Magazine|September 27, 2004, http://lists. ibiblio.org/pipermail/monkeywire/2004September/000678.html

31 “A monkey that has been terrorising the residents of Sultanpur village, injuring over 50 people and causing the death of two including a two-month old child, was captured this past Friday morning by a rescue team of the Delhi wildlife department and the Delhibased non-government organisation Wildlife SOS.” The Hindu, Monday, December 27, 2004, http://www.hindu.com/2004/12/27/ stories/2004122703340400.htm, retrieved on August 8, 2007.

32 By now familiar, the “tiger-tribal conflict” is just one aspect of this larger debate. 33 The Dancing Bears of India, ‘Licensing and

the Law’, op cit. 34 Ibid.

Economic and Political Weekly October 20, 2007

Dear reader,

To continue reading, become a subscriber.

Explore our attractive subscription offers.

Click here

Comments

(-) Hide

EPW looks forward to your comments. Please note that comments are moderated as per our comments policy. They may take some time to appear. A comment, if suitable, may be selected for publication in the Letters pages of EPW.

Back to Top