Special: Chronology of humane progress in India
by Merritt Clifton, Editor, Animal People News
The “Chronology of Humane Progress in India” covers only events originating before 2007, to give more recent events time to settle into perspective. The outcomes of court cases in which judgements were rendered more recently are discussed in light of antecedents which have evolved for much longer…”
Chronology part 3: 1977 to 2010
1977 – Shirley McGreal, the wife of a U.S. diplomat, in 1973 founded the International Primate Protection League in Thailand to fight Thai monkey exports. She enjoyed her first campaign success in India, however, after becoming acquainted with then-Indian prime minister Moraji Desai through diplomatic connections.
Recalled McGreal in 1995, “In 1977 IPPL amassed documents about the U.S. use or misuse of imported Indian rhesus monkey use in military experiments,” in violation of the terms of a 20-year-old export agreement. Desai had been elected prime minister in 1977. McGreal knew that, “Desai was a lifelong vegetarian [in fact, a strict vegan] and animal lover.” She appealed to him. On December 3, 1977, Desai’s government barred monkey exports, effective on April 1, 1978. The introduction of the export ban was eased politically by the publication of an exposé by Nanditha Krishna in the March 26, 1978 edition of The Illustrated Weekly of India, which explained that the ban was imposed “after it was discovered that the Pentagon used monkeys in military research–to test the radiation effects of nuclear explosions. Continued McGreal, “Desai saved a species and hundreds of thousands of individual animals from suffering and death in foreign laboratories. Powerful users exerted heavy pressure on Desai. He stood firm,” as have his successors. “In an attempt at historical revisionism,” McGreal continued, “claims were made by U.S. scientists that the Indian ban resulted from conservation concerns and the dwindling numbers of rhesuses. IPPL contacted Desai, by then retired, for clarification. In a handwritten letter dated April 16, 1985, Desai stated, ‘You are quite correct in saying that I banned the export of monkeys on a humanitarian basis and not because the number was lessening. I believe in preventing cruelty to all living beings in any form.'” Read more