Animal rights activists have welcomed the latest decision by Central Board of Secondary Education (CBSE) to ban the use of leather shoes for its students in 18,000 institutes across the country.
After meeting with representatives of People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals (PETA) India and communication with the Ministry of Human Resources Development by PETA India and MP Maneka Gandhi, the CBSE sent an advisory to all its 18,000 schools strongly urging them to implement a policy that bans students and staff members from wearing leather shoes in favour of animal and Earth-friendly canvas shoes. In the advisory, CBSE refers to the move as an “ethical” and “compassionate” way to protect the environment and animals from harm.
“Buying leather directly contributes to encouraging the growth of factory farms and slaughterhouses,” reads the CBSE advisory. “Leather shares responsibility for all the environmental destruction caused by the meat industry as well as the pollution cause by the toxins in tanning,” it further states.
The action is a major leap forward in PETA’s campaign to ban leather shoes form school uniforms. Already, Himachal Pradesh and Punjab have made moves toward banning leather shoes in schools and the government of Goa has informed PETA that most of its schools already use canvas shoes. The Animal Welfare Board of India, a statutory body operating under the Ministry of Environment and Forests, has also asked all states to shift to environmentally friendly options as part of school uniforms.
“CBSE’s stand is a victory for all the animals who are maimed during transport and face a painful and terrifying death in slaughterhouses,” says PETA India Senior Education Coordinator, Puja Mahajan. “It will also hasten the day when tannery waste stops being dumped into the Ganges and people who live near tanneries aren’t exposed to deadly toxins every time they breathe or use water,” she said.
At slaughterhouses, many animals are skinned and dismembered while they are still conscious. What’s more, turning the skins of cows, buffaloes, sheep and goats into leather requires massive amounts of toxic chemicals, and runoff from leather tanneries poisons local rivers and streams.