Conscience is the condition of the Mind that can makes one aware of his or her actions as morally right or wrong; the same mental condition makes one aware of his and her action as Humane or Inhumane. Humaneness [Gentleness] or Inhumanness [Cruelty] is a better measure for finding the quality of a Society than assessing the quality of the Society by its Food Habits.
Cheese with cultured maggots of Fly, -a prized Italian food- does not make the Italians uncivilized; Bear Grills eating live Scorpions, Beetles, Insects, Worms, Snakes, meat of animal and Rat found dead in the jungle, do not make him more primitive than almost naked African Bushman of the Kalahari Desert eating food cooked.
Some modern sophisticated women in the western world preserve the placenta of their child at birth and eat it for its highly nutritional values; but that does not make them criminal cannibals more than others.
An Interviewing Member in the 1967 UPSC Board at Dholpur House, New Delhi told me:
“You Nagas eat dog with its entrails and that is why your teeth are bad”.
“Sir, we eat everything that is not poisonous”.
Suddenly, the Board broke into a spontaneous loud laughter and the Interview ended there. I sought their permission to leave the room, but they asked me to stay and share with them the Tea that has just been served them.
And so: “I got into the Indian Forest Service because the Naga eats Dog”! Food habit do not make a People civilized or uncivilized. The UN today encourages poor people of failed Agriculture areas of the African continent to eat high protein content insects to supplement their food.
Prevention of Cruelty to Animal Act 1960 does not differentiate Cow, Goat, Dog, Pig or even Chicken from the purview of the Act. Any Action on one kind of animal attracts the same treatment from the Act to others. A punishment for cruel Action on One kind attracts the same punishment on others for the same Action. What is inhumane treatment to Goat is inhumane to Dog and attract the same Article of punishment.
There is no ban on consumption of the meat of any animal in Prevention of Cruelty to Animal Act 1960; and no ban on Transport, Sale or Use by the Owner or others if it is done as mentioned in relevant items of Chapter III of the Act.
Most Angamis and Maos consider Dog meat a special Item but only some 2% to 3% can afford it once or twice in several months. As for the other Naga Tribes, the majority do not eat Dog meat regularly.
Transportation, Trade, Slaughter, Sale and Consumption of Dog meat is not illegal or Ban-able.
If Dog meat is Offensive to a small minority of the Citizens, then there can be a separate Slaughter house for Dog and separate for Goat and even separate Markets for the two – Dog Meat Market and Mutton Market: both of them are consumable protein.
I am not a lawyer and I am not aware whether whole of Prevention of Cruelty to Animal Act 1960 has come into force in Nagaland State or not. I am told Punjab and Andaman Nicobar Islands wholly have the Act come into force in the States.
I joined PeTA just before my voluntary Retirement from Service in 2001, and am in it about more than two decades of membership. A little more than a decade of my joining the Organization, I got a message from PeTA requesting me to change my food habit to a Vegetarian. I wrote them:
“I joined PeTA for prevention of Cruelty and for Ethical treatment of Animals; not for changing my food habit I acquired in the life of my community from childhood”.
However, I still continue contribution of a widow’s mite annually to them, a very sensible national organization, and part of the International PeTA. What goes inside the mouth does not defile man but what comes outside does.
In former days, Nagas kept Dog mostly for Hunting. The Naga hunting dog was burly, with coarse grisly black hair, fearless of wild animals and deep jungle, -tireless in several days long hunting and highly prized, only man of means keep them, very, very unfortunately the Naga Hunting dog is extinct today.
When a hunt is successful, the dog also gets its traditional share of the kill meat. The Naga reared Dog specifically for hunting; neither for its meat nor for house Guard. Initially it was only the Angamis and the Maos ate Dog and even today the overwhelming majority of the Naga do not eat dog; hardly perhaps about 2 % only eat dog meat regularly.
Sometime ago rabid Dog Disease got transmitted to domesticated dogs in Kohima Village and the Village decided to shoot all stray dogs without Collar on them. The Youths of the Village took the responsibility of eliminating the stray dogs from the Street and they might have done some unintended mistake here or there but most Villagers care for their Village more than stray dog and nobody went to Court for their lost dogs.
Today imported Pet Dogs are fast becoming a Status Symbol in the Nagaland.
The Naga is ethical neither for their traditional customary treatment of their hunting dogs, nor is they inhumane for eating dog meat. A Person is neither sensibly conscientious for not eating dog meat nor others unconscionable for eating dog meat. Food habit and conscionable sensibilities or insensibilities of a people are two different Issues.
In my view, the Government should deeply study the Prevention of Cruelty to Animal Act 1960 and provide all its requirements but stop short of what seems to be not clearly provided in the Act like Banning consumption of Dog meat and bona fide Rearing, Transportation; Humane Slaughter and Sale.
[The Writer does not eat dog meat]