Anoushka Shankar Finds Horse-Drawn Victorias Out of Tune

For Immediate Release:
8 December 2016

Shambhavi Tiwari; [email protected]
Sachin Bangera; [email protected]

After New Grammy Nomination, Musician Urges the Maharashtra Government to Help Horses and Their Owners with a Rehabilitation Plan

Mumbai – While Anoushka Shankar‘s music continues to touch people’s hearts, one thing that breaks her heart is the poor condition of horses used to haul Victorias in Mumbai. The musician – who is in India for her concert tour and to promote her new album, Land of Gold­ which has just been nominated for a Grammy Award – took time out of her busy schedule to send an urgent letter on behalf of People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals (PETA) India to Maharashtra Chief Minister Devendra Fadnavis urging him to put an end to cruelty to horses by helping Victoria drivers transition to other professions and rehabilitating the horses.

“I often stay at the Taj but have always been saddened to see Victoria horses struggling to walk on swollen joints while being forced to give so-called ‘joyrides’ which are not joyous at all for them”, she writes. “Especially in a car-heavy city such as Mumbai, Victorias are out of place. They not only harm animals but also put humans at risk for injury.”

Recently, following an inspection report submitted by a veterinarian and animal-welfare officers from PETA, Animal Rahat, and People for Animals (PFA), the central government advisory body Animal Welfare Board of India (AWBI) advised the Maharashtra government to present a rehabilitation plan immediately to the Bombay High Court for the Victoria owners, drivers, and horses in Mumbai. This presentation to the court was directed by the Supreme Court on 24 April 2016. AWBI also wrote to the police commissioner of Mumbai urging him to stop cruelty to horses.

PETA and PFA have met with various state government officials, including the Maharashtra chief secretary and the municipal commissioner of Mumbai, urging them to submit a rehabilitation plan for horse-carriage owners, drivers, and animals to the Bombay High Court immediately, as per the directive of the Supreme Court, so that the use of cruel, dangerous, and illegal horses-drawn carriages in Mumbai can come to an end.

PETA India – whose motto reads, in part, that “animals are not ours to use for entertainment or abuse in any other way” – had earlier provided the Bombay High Court with reports of cruelty to horses from its numerous inspections of Mumbai’s horse-drawn Victoria industry. These reports reveal that the horses were often injured, sick, or severely malnourished and that they were forced to stand amidst their own waste in filthy and decrepit stables. The reports also reveal that they were frequently denied adequate rest, water, and veterinary care. In addition, forcing them to spend their entire lives on pavement – when they are meant to walk on grass – is inherently cruel. Once horses lose function in a joint, as often happens when they’re made to walk on pavement or haul heavy loads, more stress is placed on the other joints, tendons, and ligaments. As a result, the healthy parts of the legs are subjected to more wear and tear, eventually leading to inflammation of all the joints, tendons, and ligaments. No veterinary medicine or surgery can cure this condition, and it cannot be reversed.

This is not the first time Shankar has helped PETA. In 2011, she appeared in a print ad against keeping animals captive in zoos. She also appeared in a public service announcement with her father, the late Pt Ravi Shankar, encouraging the government to increase the currently weak penalty for cruelty to animals, and she performed at the Hyatt Regency in Mumbai exclusively for PETA to raise awareness of the plight of animals in zoos.

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