Banumathy Subramanian believes it’s obvious why the world is becoming increasingly violent and intolerant. The articulate social worker feels that the root of cruelty to humans is cruelty to animals. “Have you noticed recent incidents where people stand by and just watch a fellow human being suffer and die without caring to help? It’s because man has become accustomed to watching birds and animals writhe in pain with the same air of detachment”. She adds that a lifestyle that condones animal abuse corrodes our natural feelings of empathy and compassion. “It all starts when someone throws a stone at a sleeping dog. Once we cross that threshold of callousness, we lose our regard for human life”.

Her work includes AIDS awareness campaigns and counseling of cancer patients – both of which are intense and challenging. “My experience with animals created a base for me to help human beings”, she says, referring to her ability to understand the unspoken word. Banumathy considers herself religious but prefers kindness to symbolism. “Service to animals will please God more than a prayer”, she says and is troubled when trees in the neighbourhood are felled to make way for a political party’s meeting. “They don’t take into account the destruction of birds’ nests and the ecological imbalance”.

All her pets are rescues that trust her implicitly. “One cat of mine used to wait in the compound for me to give it a treat. Its mew at the time sounded exactly like the word Amma. You won’t believe me”. She ends by saying she hopes the new generation will see the connection between animal welfare and a safer society. “What’s the need to buy a dog for prestige value? I brought home a street dog that was eating mud on the road and raised her as my child. Ahimsa should be in our blood”.

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