Sun, 27 Feb 2022 06:42 PM IST
New Delhi | Mukul Sharma: “If your eyes are wide open, you can see the ugly truth of life even in the most beautiful of the places. Maybe that’s why many people want to keep their eyes closed,” says Robin Singh, co-founder of a Dharamsala-based animal rescue organisation called Peepal Farm, while referring to a rope tied in the nose of a Yak on the way to the picturesque Spiti valley in Himachal Pradesh.
“You don’t think it hurts him?” Robin asks the Yak owner.
The Yak owner declines.
“It must, I’m sure,” Robin politely retorts.
“See, he’s having trouble breathing,” he adds while pointing towards the Yak, an animal almost symbolic to photographic attraction at a popular tourism spot in a Himachal town.
In over 27 minutes of the video published on Peepal Farm’s YouTube channel, one comes across the shades of human ignorance towards animal cruelty along with their active contribution towards the worst that animals suffer: hunger, violence and death.The first of the three drove Robin-led Peepal Farm to initiate ‘Spiti Dog Feeding Program’, under which nearly 400 dogs are fed every day across 6 villages in Spiti valley. The program is set to continue for next 2 months, until the end of winters.
In an exclusive conversation with Jagran English, Robin Singh, co-founder, Peepal Farm, said that they were informed by a local Spiti-based family that due to lack of the food, dogs kill each other and eat other dogs in the grueling long winters.
“The idea is that the dogs become friendly when they are fed by people and once the summers begin in April, we can sterilise them,” Robin (42) told Jagran English.
Prior to the founding of Peepal Farm in December 2014, Robin was running a tech company in the United States. With that, Robin says, he had achieved what he had set out to achieve materially, he still wasnt happy.
“I came back to India and I was wandering around. I wasn’t happy with what I was doing so I was trying to find something new, something worthwhile,” Robin said.
Peepal Farm's Robin Singh: From pursuit of happiness to pursuit of purpose
Robin says that he once met a modest woman named Lorraine in Tamil Nadu’s Auroville who was helping out the dogs in the area. “So after meeting her I realised that she had so little and still she was helping out in such a substantial way and I was still looking for the ways to achieve happiness. So I changed my pursuit from happiness to the pursuit of purpose,” said Robin.
By the end of 2014, Robin started a program to sterilise the dogs in Delhi.
“When we used to go to sterilise one stray dog, then there used to be ten shops selling chickens. We figured that if we are to change the things in a big way then we must make people sensitive about animals and helping out one animal or two won’t help. That’s when the idea of Peepal Farm came, where animals are not just healed but are also heard,” Robin told Jagran English.
‘I believe in nudging people not pushing them towards an idea’
When taken back to the way that Yak near Spiti with nose tied with rope was having trouble breathing, Robin told Jagran English that if you directly tell somebody that this is wrong then it’s not going to work.
“You have to put it out in the form of a package. No human is 100 per cent bad. For example, someone eats non-vegetarian food but at the same time he/she also likes the dogs. So the kind of pain the chickens and goats go through, if you connect that suffering with the pain of dogs, that person would understand,” Robin said.
“I believe in nudging people instead of pushing them,” Robin added.
‘By helping animals, we are doing our constitutional duty’
Article 51(G) of Constitution of India sates that ‘it shall be the duty of every citizen of India to protect and improve the natural environment including forests, lakes, rivers and wild life, and to have compassion for living creatures’.
Reacting to the reports of violence against dog feeders by local residents in many parts of the country, Robin points out that it’s not illegal to feed the dogs.
“In our constitution it is written that we must help the animals. We are doing our constitutional duty,” Robin said.
“If we want to live in a compassionate society that’s the value we have to put forth and it cannot be selective. Just like we feel the hunger, just like we face the pain. An animal also faces the pain. So if we figure out that we are good human beings and hunger and pain are attributes that are bad and shouldn’t be faced by anyone. We must consider these attributes for animals and not just the humans,” Robin concludes.
Peepal Farm is an animal rescue and awareness organisation near Dharamsala, Himachal Pradesh.