Protecting Animals through the Law

 Bjemina is a small village located south of the capital city, Thimphu. It is locked among the spurs of tiny hills, quiet, serene and secluded. There is green pasture everywhere with cows spread out, grazing lazily. One of the most common sights of the valley is fields filled with elderly ladies with their weather beaten faces working, as if to prove that age is not a barrier to anything. We also see children running around, filling the atmosphere with laughter and joy everywhere they go. Bjemina is a synonym of tranquility. In short, Bjemina is my nirvana. I have always been surrounded by animals, throughout my life. I had a hen, a rabbit, two cats, and ten dogs. And occasionally I went to my neighbour next door and helped them groom their horses and feed their cows. It was the time I spent with them on a daily basis throughout my childhood that made me the person I am today. Something about their innocence and their loyalty constructed a strong sense of compassion in my heart. 

In Bhutan, although we call ourselves a happy country, we have many animal-cruelty cases. Contradictory to our policy of promoting GNH, we treat these animals who are humble sentient beings with harsh, hurtful ways. To stop animal cruelty and to treat them with just and as equals, we need laws. Only if we are bound by the law, will we take everything seriously. I strongly believe that we need animal protection law in Bhutan. This law will protect the animals from being mistreated, tortured, and killed. This law will bring about peace through harmonious coexistence between people and animals. In a country, where animals are respected and coexistence is upheld, happiness is bound to happen. And this will ultimately contribute to GNH. As of now, Bhutan only have an animal law that protects domestic animals because these animals can be utilised and they increase productivity. This is another form of cruelty. We should treat animals with just as much importance and respect, we treat people with. They have more to life than just utility purposes. They are sentient beings who deserve to live their lives without constant fear of being beaten or taken to the slaughter house or even worse enough, abandoned; whenever they don’t give enough milk or when they don’t mow the soil strong enough or when they fail to keep thieves away and many other activities that are expected from them. It is quite similar to slavery. Slavery have been banned, why can’t animal cruelty be banned forever too? This is an issue that needs much attention. 

I always wanted to be a veterinary doctor. And very much so, like fate, I was called to be a student at the CNR for animal veterinary course. My father is a veterinary surgeon and I’ve seen him and also assisted him in a lot of surgeries on dogs, cows, and horses. I’ve seen him relieve animals from intense pain and make them well again. He helped so many animals over his career and I thought I’ll become an animal surgeon too. I really liked this career course considering my love for animals and my entire childhood spent surrounded by animals. I decided to go to CNR. However my dad had other plans for me. He wanted me to become a lawyer so I applied for JSW Law online. It was not that I did not like the idea of me being a lawyer but it was because I felt like I won’t enjoy law as much as I would enjoy becoming a veterinarian. We do work best when we enjoy doing it. Nonetheless I appeared my LSAT exam and after a week or so, I got a call from Professor Michael. I was one among the fifty applicants who got shortlisted. I never even dreamt of being selected. When I saw more than over 600 applicants on the LSAT exam day, I lost all hope. My father was thrilled when I told him about the call. Seeing the joy on his face, I thought maybe taking law wouldn’t be such a bad idea. I started to prepare for the interview which would decide the fate of twenty fortunate us. On Tuesday, when I left the interview room I knew I would never get the scholarship. I was so nervous during the interview that I couldn’t even speak well, let alone get my opinions and ideas to the panel. But two days later, I received a call again from Professor Michael. I was one of the 20. I couldn’t believe it. I got a scholarship to JSW Law. My dad was extremely happy and said he was proud of me. That night, when I was in bed staring at the ceiling, I began to think. Yes, I got a scholarship to JSW Law but do I really want to go there? Or do I want to go and become an animal doctor? I started to ask myself a lot of questions. I felt trapped and suffocated. I knew I had to talk to someone about it. I texted my counsellor who helped me throughout my time at school. I knew he would be able to help me. He promptly responded and told me to come to his office the next day to talk it over. His name is Kezang Dukpa. He long ago retired as a school counsellor when he got an opportunity at CECD as a senior counsellor. I went to meet him the next day, I told him all about my worries and how lost I felt. He asked me why I wanted to go to CNR and be a vet. I told him I loved animals and I want to help them in as many ways I can in my lifetime. He looked at me and said you can do just that, maybe even more if you took law. I was confused. He told me you want to help animals as much as you can and you think you can do that if you become a vet. If you become a vet, you can help animals but not to a large extent but only in your lifetime. But if you study law, you can protect the entire species in Bhutan with the law. You can help the animals not only in your lifetime but for all times to come. And that hit me. He was right. I had a better chance of helping all animals and people if I took law. That cleared up my confusion and I made the decision. I decided to take law. 

 

It’s been almost three months since I joined JSW Law now. And I strongly believe I made the right decision by coming here. JSW Law has made me realize ever so strongly that there is nothing above the law, that law is just and makes the world a better and a peaceful place to live in. I now believe I can change Bhutan for the betterment in my own small ways with my legal skills. I have come to realize that most people in Bhutan do not know the importance of law and the purposes that it serves. I was one of those people but coming to JSW Law made me think more broadly and to come out of my cocoon. I started to question everything and made skeptical analysis about almost everything. I started to see the world through a different perspective. Law practically opened my eyes. I also believe that I am closer to achieving my dream of helping animals like never before and this makes me very happy. In JSW School of Law, we have a total population of 63 students. Out of 63, 41 are girls. Whether this shows women empowerment and how girls are coming up and taking significant roles in society or shows just how many applicants for JSW Law were girls. Both tells us that girls are raising their game. It shows that if women come out, raise their voices and take up the opportunities that lay abundantly, we can do anything. We have no idea what the limit is but we are rising. With the change of times, women now hold 62% of Masters degrees, 50% of law or medical degrees, and 42% of MBAs. They are letting their voices be heard across the nations. Jane Goodall, the woman who gave a new meaning to the word man. She is one popular figure who fights for animal rights and tries to make our world a better and kinder place. Malala Yousafza, fights for human rights and female education. Sabrina Paterski also called as the new Einstein, built her own one engine airplane when she was just 12 and was also able to fly as a test pilot by 16. These brilliant women are just a few examples of how women can outshine, reach their true potential and eventually help change the world for the better. I am a woman, will I ever be an agent of change like them? 

 

I believe I can contribute a lot to the betterment of Bhutan. I trust that education is power and by studying law at JSW Law, I know I can help the animals and people of Bhutan. I strongly feel that I can make Bhutan a better and kinder place. When I complete my five year course in JSW Law and go out in the real world, I want to be able to bring this change. I will be prepared by then to take on the challenges and make this place better for animals. I want to make animal protection law in Bhutan a reality and reach out to all the animals that are suffering. With the strength I draw from this renowned institute and the inspiration radiated by the wisdom of our Majesties, I only see a better Bhutan tomorrow. While Law is instrumental in achieving a just and better Bhutan, nourishing the dreams of young Bhutanese is crucial. JSW Law has nourished my dream and it will only grow with times to come. From this day on, I will not sleep until I see my dream. 

 

Karma Tshering Tshomo

JSW Law Class of 2024