On campaigners for the uplift of the downtrodden, animal welfare and environment protection

The Acharya Hasti Centenary Karuna Ratna Awards were on Monday conferred on distinguished campaigners for the uplift of the downtrodden, animal welfare and environment protection.

The awards are instituted by Karuna International and the Acharya Hasti Centenary Celebrations Committee.

This year's awardees were Muzaffer Hussain, writer; Surendra M. Mehta and Vipin Bhai Shah, animal welfare activists; V. Muralidharan and Bhuvaneswari Muralidharan, founders of Sevalaya; and S. Chinny Krishna and Nanditha Krishna, environmentalists.

Presenting the awards, M.S. Swaminathan, chairman, M.S. Swaminathan Research Foundation, called upon the youth to learn from and emulate the awardees whose work had increased relevance at a time when there was growing violence in the human heart everywhere.

Youngsters should take inspiration from these voices of compassion, reason, justice and fair play who formed a coalition of compassion. “We need to expand this coalition,” he said.

Outlining various laws promulgated for wildlife protection in India, Elipe Dharma Rao, Madras High Court Judge, said no matter the number of legislations it was important for society to have a change in mindset on cruelty to animals.

Citing several Supreme Court judgments, Mr. Dharma Rao said the apex court had asserted that the right to life of animals was as important as the human right to a healthy life through preserving the ecological equilibrium.

Mofatraj P. Munot, chief patron, Ratna Sangh, said compassion in a larger sense had to extend not only to fellow human beings but to all living beings, including the environment. Mr. Hussain said the West had belatedly realised the perils of the path they followed for development and were now worried about global warming and ozone layer depletion.

He urged India to lead the way in promoting global harmony and universal welfare which had been the motto of the land from ancient times.

Dulichand Jain, Karuna International president; Padam Kumar Tatia, general secretary; Kailashmull Dugar, chairman, awards committee; and Suresh Kankaria, co-chairman were among those who participated.