Niranjan Amarnath doesn’t need an introduction. A staunch animal rights activist, Niranjan has tirelessly propagated the concept of ethical treatment of animals.
Known for leading from the front, the young man was recently awarded the People for Ethical Treatment of Animals (PETA) outstanding activist award, who has defended the rights of animals, inspired others to stop cruelty to animals, and keen to stop the cruel practice of Jallikattu.
In a candid interview to the The Hindu Downtown, Amarnath traces his journey from the start and shares his views.
“When I was studying in Standard XII, I read the PETA India comic book ‘It’s a Chickens Life’. The book moved me a lot. I learnt how the chickens are bred horribly, transported in a cruel manner, and mercilessly killed. I decided to join PETA India, and make a difference,” Niranjan says.
“Since 2004, I am involved in animal rights campaigns in Chennai for PETA. I carry youth outreach activities for PETA’s youth arm petaDishoom.”
“We gear students to fight animal abuse, holding protests, submitting petitions, and encouraging their classmates and family members to buy dairy-free products and be a vegan. I have conducted many theatre style demonstrations for PETA among the public about animal abuse,” he adds.
Niranjan has interned with PETA Asia team in Manila, Philippines, assisting them in their campaigns throughout Asia. He has been instrumental in many PETA’s celebrity campaigns, and has conducted many youth outreach activities in colleges across the city during its cultural festivals.
“I assisted PETA India with actor Trisha Krishnan’s “Be an Angel: Adopt a Homeless Dog”, actor Priya Anand’s “Birds Don’t Belong in Cages, Let them Fly Free” campaigns. I helped PETA to throw a Christmas party for five rescued chickens from a slaughterhouse, where singer and radio jockey Suchitra Karthik and actor Karthik Kumar joined us, these birds were guests of honour,”Amarnath pointed out.
His other achievements include assisting with rescue of 70 Beagle puppies bound for laboratory experiment, and placing them in loving homes, grouping nearly 50 people to hold placards reading ‘Tamil Nadu Against Jallikattu’, as part of PETA’s campaign to stop this cruel sport held during Pongal, in which bulls are kicked, punched, pounced and dragged to the ground.
When asked about his campaign against Jallikattu, and promoting adoption of community dogs, he says he is committed to doing whatever it takes to stop this abusive and illegal sport.
“I strongly believe that whatever may be the rationale, cruelty cannot be hailed as tradition, and continued. Homelessness is not just a human problem. Across India, stray dogs and cats starve to death, are injured or killed in fights, hit by speeding vehicles or abused by the cruel people on streets. Countless number of other animals end up in animal shelters because there are not enough good homes for them. You can help to prevent these tragedies. I talk to people about the same whenever I get an opportunity.”
On how to stop cruelty to animals, Niranjan says : “Never be silent, speak up. The easiest way to prevent animal abuse is by choosing a plant-based diet, buy only non-leather goods and cruelty-free cosmetics. Discourage people from buying pet animals from pet shops and breeders, ask them to contact the local animal shelter to adopt a homeless kitten or pup. Think twice before adopting a pet. Adopt only if you can provide a loving home, good veterinary care and most important, quality time. People can also volunteer at the local animal shelter, there are so many homeless animals which needs care. Volunteers can take the dogs for walks, groom and play until they find a loving home.”
PETA is working hard on implementing the Animal Welfare Act 2011. Visit petaindia.com to support Animal Welfare Act 2011, and other proposed amendments to put an end to animal abuse. The Act would deter people, who abuse animals, and would establish India in becoming a world leader on animal rights and welfare, he pointed out.
On getting the coveted award, Niranjan says: “I am hoping to do more to help PETA reach more people. I want more youngsters to take up the cause of animal rights.” Niranjan received the award from PETA India’s youth outreach campaigner Neha Singh in Chennai. Niranjan Amarnath can be contacted at 8754407382. E-mail – firstname.lastname@example.org.