If we do not care for animals, they will not care for us either. It is always two-way traffic. But unlike humans, animals remain loyal throughout their lives.

Pet animals are an exception. They live in care and hence their love always remains unconditional. They are petted to distraction, for lack of a better expression. If one looks at the stray dogs on the streets – starved, with emaciated bodies – then one realizes the real dichotomy that exists between the prince and the pauper.

People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals otherwise known as PETA have been working tirelessly in this field – prevention of cruelty to animals. This organization, as recently as July 29, had arranged for the display of Victorian-style, battery-operated e-carriages in front of the South Gate of the Victoria Memorial in Kolkata. This gesture is aimed to replace Kolkata’s horse-drawn carriages that ply near the Memorial. The Mumbaikars already know about this as their city had implemented this long ago.

Horses, yes those creatures who are as mythical as the Greek Trojan Horse, are and can be as elegant and regal as any other mammal. The lustrous sheen of their coat of fur is used to make brushes which artists, especially painters, use to create masterpieces of art. The regality and rhythm in a horse’s movement should be seen to be believed. In western countries, especially in America, the sport of horse-riding is quite popular among the youth.

In our epics, like The Mahabharata, the war of Kurukshetra could not have been waged without horse-driven chariots. The mythical winged horse that is destined to carry away the little princess to the land of the fairies, has come again and again in children’s literature. But if the latter genre – children’s literature – is taken into account, animals of all shapes and sizes find places in it. Animals are closer to children than they are to adults. Perhaps because the element of fear had yet to take hold in children’s minds.

Coming back to horses, I still remember that in my childhood someone had gifted me the novel Black Beauty. It was about a horse and the book remained my favorite for many years. Horse carriages are a travesty to our presence as humans. We, as humans, can articulate our pains, sufferings, and griefs. But these animals, except for the ferocious ones like the tiger and the lion, are incapable of expressing their inner doldrums, in front of humans. They suffer as some mean-minded men exploit them to their advantage. Horse-drawn carriages provide tourists with the luxury of experiencing the pulse of the city at a stately pace. But these horses are, in most cases, overworked and in poor health conditions. Hence the endeavors of PETA in rescuing these horses from utter ruination (death), and putting an end to the worst kind of animal exploitation, is highly laudable and deserve due recognition.

From now onwards, e-carriages which are going to be battery-operated and eco-friendly, designed in the early vintage Victorian style, will adorn the streets of Kolkata, and offer tourists who are willing to experience the city highlights in a regal style. These E-Victorias trace their origins to French culture and are related to the light phaeton and the brougham. In the nineteenth century, the Victorias were provided with a partial canopy.

E-Victorias are meant to serve the purpose of old wine in a new bottle. While retaining the charm and elegance of regality, these will forever put a full stop to animal exploitation and cruelty. A remarkable step towards a better and brighter future indeed !!

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