Tuesday, Feb 13, 2024 10:45 [IST]

Last Update: Tuesday, Feb 13, 2024 05:09 [IST]

A lesson or two

The news of legendary industrialist Ratan Tata's upcoming animal hospital in Mumbai is a welcome development, highlighting the growing concern for animal welfare in India. At the age of 86, Tata is poised to launch his newest and longstanding passion project — an animal hospital in Mumbai. Born out of his personal journey and global search for top-notch medical care for his injured pet, this hospital is set to open its doors in early March. Spanning 2.2 acres and constructed with an investment of Rs 165 crore, this facility will stand as one of India's rare 24x7 hospitals catering to dogs, cats, rabbits, and various other small animals, fulfilling Tata’s dream of providing top-notch veterinary care in India. Additionally, the hospital will include a specialized unit operated by an NGO, focused entirely on the well-being of stray dogs.

However, this celebration must be tempered with a critical look at the state of animal care in other parts of the country. The current healthcare infrastructure for animals is still inadequate in the country, including Sikkim. Animal welfare is the last thing on any political party’s agenda. While Sikkim has a few private veterinary clinics, dedicated individuals and animal welfare groups, who are wholeheartedly dedicated to our furry friends,  the lack of dedicated animal hospitals leaves a significant gap in the healthcare infrastructure for animals. This is particularly concerning given the state's diverse wildlife and the growing number of pet owners. The state desperately needs more than just a few isolated clinics. Animal shelters, dedicated Gaushalas, and proper training for activists are crucial steps towards ensuring animal well-being. Lack of equipment, legal support, and even basic resources like ambulances further cripple existing efforts.

The Sikkim government must recognize that animal welfare is not just about livestock management, but encompasses the well-being of all animals. This requires collaboration with NGOs, animal welfare organizations, and local communities. Ratan Tata's initiative sets a positive example, but it shouldn't overshadow the need for systemic change in Sikkim and other parts of India.

While Mr. Tata's initiative undoubtedly fills a critical gap in animal healthcare infrastructure, Sikkim lacks comprehensive facilities for animal welfare. Calls for government action have gone largely unheard, leaving animal activists frustrated and animals vulnerable.

The question remains: will Sikkim heed the call for better animal welfare? Or will it continue to lag behind, while cries for help fade into the background?  While an Animal Husbandry department exists, a collaborative approach, where the government and local NGOs join hands, is essential. Sikkim can, and should, learn from Mr. Tata's initiative. His passion project showcases the immense impact private individuals can have, but sustainable change requires a collective effort.

Sikkim at a Glance

  • Area: 7096 Sq Kms
  • Capital: Gangtok
  • Altitude: 5,840 ft
  • Population: 6.10 Lakhs
  • Topography: Hilly terrain elevation from 600 to over 28,509 ft above sea level
  • Climate:
  • Summer: Min- 13°C - Max 21°C
  • Winter: Min- 0.48°C - Max 13°C
  • Rainfall: 325 cms per annum
  • Language Spoken: Nepali, Bhutia, Lepcha, Tibetan, English, Hindi