A PhD student of Institute of Mathematical Sciences (IMSc) Chennai on her alma mater’s kindness towards homeless animals.

I am writing this from Germany, where pets are dutifully trained and allowed inside public transport systems and restaurants. Last week, I saw a colleague of mine in the university walking out of her office within the walls of the Department of Mathematics, with her huge shiny black dog. He reminded me a lot of Karambi, one of the first few homeless dogs that the students of IMSc, an institute based at Chennai, took care of.

Karambi was the most popular dog on campus – she would even attend classes. She along with the other mongrels: super-smart Butch, eccentric Chikku (who was later adopted by a student who moved to Mumbai), clownish Kiddo, Stud the ‘hulk’, and Blackie who reached campus starving and carrying an open wound and later ended up as the fattest dog on campus, formed an inseparable part of the extended IMSc family. We also play host to a proud and gorgeous cat Tiger who likes curling up on stacks of our folded clothes and falling asleep.

For generations, students at my institute have had a tradition of taking care of orphaned animals within the campus – they don’t just feed them but also spay and neuter them (so their population will not increase) and vaccinate them regularly to ensure the safety of both the animals and the student community. It was a faction of students, visitors and guards who took this initiative, being permanent residents on campus, and this move was supported by some of the faculty and administrative staff as well.

There is an over-used quotation by Mahatma Gandhi about how a nation's moral progress gets reflected in the way people behave towards animals. It is over-used because it is so relevant in a country like ours, where torturing a homeless animal is often considered fun, or worse, justice. It makes me proud, seeing the members of an educational institute, one of the highest pillars of our nation, regarding these animals as fellow living beings that have a right to live healthy and happy lives.


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