Dog Succumbs To Human Greed; Dies a Dog's Death

Uday Khedker

(10 September 2003)

When it was raining cats and dogs in Mumbai last month, the tranquility of the otherwise calm and serene campus of IIT Bombay was disturbed by a series of traumatic events, eventually leading to an innocent dog losing its life in what is feared to be the first such death in a series of imminent disasters lending a blow to the peaceful coexistence of animal and human inhabitants of this lustrous campus spread over about 300 acres of wild green land sandwiched between a couple of lakes, a couple of hills, and a couple of slums.

Our correspondent reveals that the human population on the campus has witnessed an unchecked (but not unprecedented) growth and the planners have not paid any attention to the needs of the animal population, most notably dogs. It should be pointed out that the dogs have very rudimentary requirements and they do not make any undue demands on the infrastructure and the amenities of the campus, much unlike their human counterparts, who, though work like dogs, end up straining the campus facilities. The fact that humans make undue demands is obvious from their whining that they live a dog's life, thanks to the leaking buildings, lack of sanitation, bad food in hostel messes, restrictions on the use of auotmobiles by students, restrictions on PAFs, lack of security, nutty network connections, unfriendly Linux, over friendly Windows (with no shutters to close them) etc. When have you heard of a dog complaining about any of these?

While this obvious asymmetry between the needs and the nature of the dogs and human beings has been pointed out by the more humane human beings who have come together to form a group called DANDA-MARO (Dogs Are Not Despicable Animals but Modest And Rightful Occupants), the more dogged ones have always turned a deaf ear to it. The DANDA-MARO group has made many observations which lend credence to the theory that what is perceived as a tussle for supremacy between the dogs and the human beings is in reality, not a fair competitive struggle for survival but is a sinister conspiracy of the oppressive and greedy human beings. The dogs are peaceful, accommodative, and less demanding. By contrast the human beings are much more violent, inflexible, and constantly dissatisfied. Besides, the dogs have been known to be obedient followers and the human beings, the dominant masters.

DANDA-MARO points out that the brahminical dominance of humans beings has forced the dogs to avoid being alone; fearing for their safety they are always found in groups of three or more. Old timers on the campus confirm that in a not too distant past, dogs could be seen roaming alone on the campus, head held high and free of any fear (it's a poetic pity that even a Nobel laureate like Gurudev Ravindranath Tagore should aspire so only for human beings and not for dogs). Also, when the human population was less, the dogs had enough space on the campus and they could move about and live freely. Not any more. With the increasing human population, there is much less space for the dogs on the roads, in the parking sheds, on the footpaths, and in the corridors and staircases of the buildings. Earlier, due to abundance of space, the presence of dogs was not conspicuous to the usually insensitive and self-centered human beings. These days, it is very hard to find any road, any footpath, any parking shed, any corridor, any staircase where a visibly frightened group of dogs has not sought shelter in order to protect itself from the torture of human beings.

What is worse is that the human beings have been completely oblivious to the restraintful living of the dogs and have ignored their needs, so much so that they have started complaining about the visible presence of dogs in public places not realising that it is their own greed for an increasingly greater utilisation of public places by an increasingly larger number of the members of their own fraternity that is making the presence of dogs visible. The greedy human beings are the dogs in the manger as far as the space utilisation is concerned. After all, the dogs are also rightful inhabitants of this earth and this campus. Very early records of the historical mythology (or mythological history, if that's what you prefer to call it) have references to the existence of dogs; Pandav king Yudhisthira was accompanied by a dog on his last journey. Why can't we tolerate a dog in our short journeys on our roads in the campus?

The DANDA-MARO group is quick to point out a different dimension of the entire debate --- the dogs use only the public places. Never has anyone heard of a dog entering a human being's house forcefully although it has been reported that last year a dog attended all lectures in class room A1 of the CSE department. But then, a class room _is_ a public place and it was _not_ a forceful entry. May be the dog found CSE to be the most interesting discipline or the CSE teachers to be the best teachers (or both). What the DANDA-MARO group is worried about is that the dog is not seen in the class room any more. What happened to it? Surely, it wouldn't have walked away with a degree! Was it forced to flee (without a degree)?

While some humans seem to take a matured view of the circumstances, not many are able to do so. In particular, the children of the campus have not been sensitised to the issue. This is a vacuum which an NGO can fill up (the DANDA-MARO group is unable to wield its baton on the insensitive, selfish, and careless human beings) and provide yeoman service to the animals on this side of the planet by pre-empting periodic and often one-sided skirmishes between an immature, aggressive child and a meekly group of hounds. Such a skirmish can be more appropriately called a freedom struggle of the dogs (i.e. the struggle of the dogs to maintain their freedom). Such skirmishes have often forced the dogs to save their lives by running after the violent child.

My own feisty eight year old daughter has been guilty of forcing a couple of dogs to run a distance of about 50 meters. Being oversmart, she tried to take advantage of the fact that at that spot there were less than three dogs while she was accompanied by her twin sister. The trauma which she inflicted on the dogs was too much for them to handle. The dogs broke down and ran for a cover. The fierce chase led by my daughters (after all they were in the front, the dogs behind) finally ended at my door steps and I had a very difficult time in comforting the dogs. My wife, being an insensitive woman, tried to pacify my daughters (instead of punishing them) justifying their every action as normal.

In many cases, merely running after has not been very helpful and the dogs have had to fight a valiant tooth and nail battle resulting in the loss of many a teeth and many a nails. True to the human nature everywhere, it is the victimiser (the child) who has received all the psychological and medical attention and the victims (the dogs) have been either completely neglected or have been held in captivity. As if this is not enough, in the recent case involving Prof. Sharat Chandran's son Eeshwar the victim dog (name withheld to protect the identity of the victim) was actually punished by being tied as a bait to deceitfully capture yet another peaceful inhabitant of the campus --- an innocent member of the much maligned breed of leopards. It is this dog that lost its life and attained martyrdom.

While mourning the sad demise of this unnamed dog, the DANDA-MARO group finds solace in the fact that such barbaric incidents are much less in number than they would have been, had the dogs not remained in a group. Further, dogs being dogs and not human beings, such groups have always worked in unison. Had the dogs been unwise enough to form committees rather than groups, or had they developed human tendencies, they would have suffered a lot more in the hands of, mostly the little, but sometimes the grown up, brats on the campus.

However this should not be a cause of complacency. Among the many demands made by the DANDA-MARO group, the most important ones are

They claim that the dogs' lives on the campus have gone to the dogs thanks to the brahminical dominance of human beings. Still, they are very optimistic because after all, every dog has its day!

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