In its quest to make the world a better place, the Indian Ministry for Environments and Forests released the following regulation a few months ago, abolishing the use of dolphins in marine circuses and advising state governments to reject any proposals to establish any enterprise that directly or indirectly supports the capture of cetacean species.
Whereas cetaceans in general are highly intelligent and sensitive, and various scientists who have researched dolphin behavior have suggested that the unusually high intelligence; as compared to other animals means that dolphins should be seen as ‘non-human persons’ and as such should have their own specific rights and is morally unacceptable to keep them captive for entertainment purpose.
There has been a lot of misinterpretation behind this – but let me state that just being “seen” as a non human person doesn’t immediately grant them the rights thereof. Not that this isn’t already a great step towards guaranteeing rights for animals so that they aren’t mistreated. Organizations such as nonhumanrights.org and others have welcomed this step and for good reason – barely any other countries follow this line of thought and I think it’s time they stepped up to do so.
The first impression on reading all the articles surrounding this statement was one of amusement, and a little bit of joy that finally, someone somewhere in the morass of Indian politics did something commendable on the world stage.
The very next thought jarred me though.
The Indian government has gone ahead and guaranteed special protections to an intelligent non human species, but has shown its inability to guarantee basic human rights to its LGBT citizens. I’ve noted elsewhere on this blog on why I think that was unacceptable – but seeing this in the light of that decision just makes the problems faced by the LGBT community in India that much more pressing.