Sitting beside a stone path at Lodhi Gardens in New Delhi, a group of twenty people and three dogs were hard to miss on a Sunday morning. One drawing made by a participant read, “Stop torturing animals in labs” as two furry beings playfully chased each other in circles.
This was how New Delhi Nature Society (NDNS) marked the ‘World Animals in Laboratories Day’, noticed by the United Nations on April 24 ever year.
NDNS aims to create awareness about the way animals are used for scientific tests.
“I just don’t see how anyone can hurt a conscious being in the name of science. With the technology available today, there are always new methods to conduct scientific experiments, be it 3-D models or dummies,” says NDNS founder Verhaen Khanna.
Abhinav Srihand – an animal activist with 15 pet dogs – claims that if humans were allowed to experiment on animals today, it wouldn’t be long before they began justifying tests on each other.
“Animals subjected to testing often have psychological disorders. Even if they are rescued, it takes very long for them to adjust,” he says. Srihand runs an NGO called Fauna Police, which rescues animals in distress and reports cases of cruelty against them.
Animal testing is a contentious issue in India with activists saying that guidelines mandated by the Committee for the Purpose of Control and Supervision of Experimentation on Animals (CPCSEA) are not enough to ensure that testing is carried out under proper conditions and no unnecessary harm is caused to animals. Moreover, ethical arguments are pitted against the idea of scientific progression at the cost of “conscious beings”.
The website of the People for Ethical Treatment of Animals (PETA) states that animal tests are not only cruel but also “completely inaccurate because of the vast physiological variations between species”. It squarely blames the National Centre for Laboratory Animal Sciences for breeding and supplying laboratory animals for experimentation purposes.
PETA India declared earlier this week that the government has banned animal testing in the manufacture of soaps and detergents.