|International Vegetarian Union (IVU)|
15th World Vegetarian Congress 1957
a matter of very great joy and satisfaction to a person like myself
that the 15th World Vegetarian Congress is coming to India, and that
it will hold its sessions in no less than six cities in the country
including Banaras which is my home-town; Madras where I served as Governor
for nearly five years; as also Bombay where I now am. I offer to the
delegates of the various countries that are coming to the Congress,
my most hearty welcome, and hope that their visit to my country will
be pleasant and successful, and that the Congress itself will be able
to take practical decisions which it would be possible for us to implement
in the limitations of life in which we have to function.
The problem of vegetarianism is a difficult and complicated one. It,
to my mind, does not only mean that human beings should try to avoid
the slaughter of animals for food. It really stands for a very special
attitude of active sympathy for and understanding of the whole of the
animal world. A person may be a vegetarian, that is, one who does not
himself take any food that consists of fish, fowl or meat, but he can
be directly or indirectly, a very cruel man. There many be others who
are non-vegetarians - persons whose daily food consists of meat of all
sorts - but who really are very kind-hearted, and try to do all that
is possible for the well-being of men and animals.
As things are, it may perhaps seem to be more or less impossible for
the whole world of human. beings to become vegetarian ; and so animals
will perhaps have to be slaughtered for food for a large majority of
them. Many persons also feel that for medical and other researches,
animals have to be used. If that is so, it would be good for vegetarians
in Congress assembled, not to neglect that problem entirely, but to
see to it that if animals have to be slaughtered or utilized for scientific
investigation, they are slaughtered or operated upon with the infliction
of the least amount of pain. Indifference to this question might lend
to the perpetuating of a great deal of avoidable cruelty to the dumb
creation that goes on today practically unchecked. I think this is a
legitimate subject for the consideration of the Vegetarian Congress.
There are large numbers of persons in our country who are quite satisfied
with the fact that they are not personally responsible for any evil.
Very often, such people are inclined to adopt an attitude of self-righteousness
which really helps no one, and which actually results in the continuation
of much improper treatment of animals, because these persons would take
no active interest in eradicating the evil and are only satisfied by
the fact that they themselves are not concerned with any wrong-doing.
A Vegetarian Congress should, to my mind, boldly tell such people that
they are not really vegetarians when they are not preventing avoidable
cruelty to animals. I have ventured to write all this, because I myself
feel strongly about it, and I know a great deal of wrong is being done
in our land simply because people who are otherwise good and pious,
are themselves indifferent to it.
I once more heartily welcome the holding of the Vegetarian Congress in our country, and send my warmest good wishes for the success of the functions, and all happiness to those who are engaged so earnestly in a great and noble cause.