y now you must be fed up with reading or listening to things about the coronavirus. It has taken everyone’s attention away from what they do, to whether they want to live or not. Economy, foreign affairs, shops closed, a potential food rationing coming up, unseasonal rains, global warming, a rise in cancer cases — every worry has become irrelevant in the face of a threat from someone who sneezes or coughs.
Some good things have happened in this time of corona. The weather is better, the large weddings and parties have disappeared so there is less noise and certainly no polluting firecrackers, there is much less traffic and I can hear the birds again. Families spend more time with each other and, suddenly, we discover that we can find happiness within a much smaller circle doing gentler things.
The government, too, has a breather as everyone’s attention is diverted. The social media is less political and less vicious. Politicians become irrelevant and their coming and going out of parties is seen as something that has no bearing on your life.
There is much to cry as well. Everyone already struggling, in a failing economy, is faced with the almost fatal blow of no one coming to shop any more. Luxury goods are hit the worst. At the lower end – street food vendors, whole markets of cloth and shoe sellers, small shops in malls . . . all of them are out of business. Prices of food are up.
For me, and the animal world, it is a terrible time. A large number of government and private agencies, who have nothing to do with the virus, have become experts at spreading fake news. The Western Railways in Mumbai tell you to avoid touching your pets, the Thane Municipal Corporation has spread flyers saying the same. The Star Insurance company sent out mailers, the NTPC electricity company . . . each one withdrew their nonsensical information when they received a rocket from the Health Ministry, but, by then, people who were looking for an excuse to do harm have taken their dogs and dumped hundreds of them on highways where many have been run over, or in shelters such as mine. All these animals will suffer and die – for no fault of their own.
The coronavirus cannot be spread to animals and no human can get it from animals. The virus is a more severe form of the seasonal flu — which mutates every season. Every creature on the planet wants to live, and viruses have a life as well. To live and multiply they have to constantly change, as the human body’s defences will not succumb to the same virus again. Every time you get flu, it is a different virus. But never have you ever given a cough and cold to your dog or cat or cow and goat, or got it from them. And this time is no different. If you are mean to your animals now, think of what it does to your karma and beware of the virus.
The second tragedy has been the complete drying up of donations, both in the form of money and in food. Hundreds of people come to my shelters every day and they bring food for the cows, monkeys and dogs. Now, because of the virus they have stopped coming, because everyone wants to stay at home and we have had to buy much more food for the first time – and that frightens me. The donations have stopped coming as well. The shopkeepers are uncertain about how long this spell of bad luck will last and the normal salaried person and consumer is uncertain about what the future will bring in terms of food shortages and supply systems. So, the first thing down the drain is charity. Every NGO looking after animals is frightened. Companies giving their CSRs to animals (very, very few to begin with) are not doing so anymore, because their profits have crashed, or they have been asked by the government to put it into the coronavirus basket (for what, I have no idea so far). So we are broke. It seems God alone exists in good times, and the human being forgets his duty towards the world in bad ones and turns completely selfish.
Many people have asked me whether they are more likely to get the virus if they eat meat. This is what you need to know: Animal meat is bad for the human body. The virus will attack everyone — whether you wear those foolish masks or gloves is irrelevant. But whether the virus can affect your body, to the point that it kills you, depends on your immunity. Meat attacks immunity. Most meat and chicken carry a huge overload of viruses, bacteria and antibiotics. If you eat it – especially chicken and eggs – you will get all the germs and all the antibiotics and hormones that these animals have been given to keep them alive. 70 per cent of India’s antibiotics are fed to animals and once these enter your body, and you get the coronavirus, the antibiotics the doctors give you will have little or no effect in curing you. Then you need to go back to charity and God.
Buffaloes and cows have leukaemia and tuberculosis, chickens have diabetes and many, many other diseases, pigs have every kind of rapacious worm. Are you sure you want to put these diseases into your body right now?
I am bringing out a book in two months called ‘Poison on Your Plate’. It lists all the antibiotics and chemicals that meat, eggs and milk carry and their effect so far has been that my editors and publishers have turned vegetarian. If you want to be fit enough to tackle the virus when it hits you – which it will – then stop eating meat.
Regarding the eating of wild animals such as snakes, bats, bears, tigers and pangolins — which China and many countries in Southeast Asia do — most of these animals carry high viral load and these mutate in the human body. The Chinese now have been officially asked not to eat every species on the planet; but what about India? In Manipur alone, there is a terrible market in a district called Tamenglong, where dogs, pangolins, snakes, bats, monkeys and everything you can imagine, are sold daily. Smugglers come from Myanmar every day to buy this meat. These markets should be stopped immediately.
Lastly, there is a belief that the virus will disappear when the weather warms; it is being said that there is a bandwidth of temperature within which the virus operates. But the weather has always been hot in Kerala – and most CoVID-19 cases are there. It has spread all over Africa. The virus will never disappear. Yes, this virus will go away after a few months, maybe, when it runs out of weakened bodies and you develop an immunity to it. But it will return in another form a few months later and we will name it differently, as we have the previous ones — chikungunya, swine flu, bird flu, corona. Will you be ready for it then? Keep your body healthy.
To join the animal welfare movement, contact firstname.lastname@example.org, www.peopleforanimalsindia.org.