I first wrote this as a status update on Facebook but decided later that the subject warranted a blogpost. So here it is -
I was at a Vegan Fest over the weekend, a flea market in its second edition in Pune trying to promote handmade soaps made in Kerala, when an 'educated' family stopped by at the kiosk. They picked the soaps, and I saw the young, 20 something daughter's eyebrows touch her hairline. She promptly put the product back and informed me rather flamboyantly, "We are boycotting Kerala because they are killing dogs."
You may have heard about the controversy of dog culling in Kerala - if not, then read all about it here...
I took the pains of explaining to the family that most regular citizens of the State neither supported the culling of dogs, nor did they step out of the comfort of their apartments and bungalows to go around killing stray dogs themselves. At this point, I imagined my parents, both in their 60s, running after dogs on the street outside our Kochi home and just the thought was ludicrous!
Since they looked at me as if I had personally caught and killed a few myself, I assured them that I was an animal lover and had adopted a dog from a laboratory (that had conducted numerous pharma tests on him), giving him a home when no one wanted to and despite all his health issues.
They raised their eyebrows again and asked me questions about his breed and age etc. They said, "We are vegans, so we cannot support this..." By 'this' I understood that they meant that they cannot support the purchase of a product from Kerala.
At this point, my 16 year old who was standing behind me whispered to me, "Mom, they actually think all Keralites are killing dogs?" I had to answer her question too because she is a dog lover and one of the reasons why we adopted ours.
I assured them that the culling of dogs was a massacre and it is certain that not EVERY Malayali or EVERY Keralite endorsed it.
But this educated family was firm.
"We went to Kerala in February. There was not a single dog on the streets! Kochi was the worst" and saying so the girl made that 'I'm going to throw up now' face.
They didn't buy the soaps, and that did not perturb me as much as their sweeping generalisation about all the citizens of the State did. I was also quite astounded at how the 'educated' in India think! This family actually thought that the WHOLE STATE, men, women, children and the elderly, each citizen was out there - murdering dogs! Like, we wake up in the morning and decide that today we'll kill 3 strays for breakfast!
It was so grossly unfair! For an inhuman act by a few, can an entire State be branded killers, (which includes my 2 year old niece)? Isn't it is unfair to blindly label the other peace loving citizens of the State as killers and mass murderers?
Stray dogs are a menace that are going to become a bigger problem than garbage in our cities and towns. Killing them is not a solution and we all know it. But branding everyone from Kerala a killer is not a solution either!
I urge you all animal lovers and vegans out there - Stop this discrimination and stop judging a fellow human being merely for belonging to a certain geographical area. We are also 'living beings', aren't we?