Congratulations to AIA’s President, Dr Richard Ryder for being awarded the 7th Peter Singer Prize for strategies to reduce the suffering of animals. This will be awarded on Saturday 29th May 2021. We would also like to congratulate Maneka Gandhi who is being awarded the 6th Peter Singer prize.
Why is Richard Ryder Being Honoured?
Dr Richard Ryder is an English animal rights advocate, psychologist and writer. He has a special place in the history of the Animal Rights Movement. With the term “speciesism” he described the exclusion of nonhuman animals from the protections available of human beings and created with this word a central idea in the movement.
Richard Ryder first became involved with animal rights in 1969. As an animal researcher he criticized experiments on animals based on his own experiences in universities. Together with other postgraduate students at Oxford he reconsidered our attitudes and practices regarding animals. An important part of this new way of thinking about animals of the members of the so-called “Oxford Vegetarians” or the “Oxford Group” was that there is a parallel between the attitudes most of us have towards animals and the racist and sexist attitudes being rejected nowadays by almost everyone. Jeremy Bentham’s (the founder of utilitarianism) famous footnote “But the question is not, Can they (the animals) reason? Nor, Can they talk? But, Can they suffer?” was not famous at all at that time. The question, how the suffering of animals could be less significant than the suffering of members of our own species affected also the young Peter Singer, who approached Richard Ryder and asked him to co-author with him. Ryder turned down this offer, but his term “speciesism” was popularized by Peter Singer’s most important book “Animal Liberation”, published in 1975. In coining the word speciesism, Richard Ryder achieved a very important contribution and refocused an entire debate about the relationship of humans to their fellow animals, with greatly beneficial consequences both to the debate and to the animals everywhere.
Ryder’s accomplishments in the field of animal rights are extensive. ln 1972 he joined the council of the RSPCA (Royal Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals). ln 1977, he became its chairman and tried to get rid of reactionary and prohunting elements within the organization. In the early 2000s Richard Ryder established the Eurogroup for Animals, the major coordinating and lobbying organization in the European community in this field. In 1990, he described in his book “Painism – A Modern Morality” his wider moral theory.
Why is Maneka Gandhi Being Honoured?
Maneka Gandhi was and is doing for animals what Mahatma Gandhi did for the people of India.
She is the widow of Sanjay Gandhi, who was an Indian politician and the son of Indira Gandhi. Sanjay Gandhi died in an airplane crash in 1980. At the time Maneka was only 23 years old and mother of a 3-month-old baby boy, Varun.
After this stroke of fate she singlehandedly paved the way for animal welfare in India with unprecedented energy.
She is the founder and chairperson of People for Animals (PFA), which is India’s largest welfare organization with about 250,000 members. The PFA runs a nationwide network of 165 units, 26 hospitals and 60 mobile units throughout India. Maneka Gandhi also revived and headed the Committee on the Control and Supervision of Experiments on Animals (CPCSEA).
She was responsible for the ban of cruel animal testing methods for cosmetic products in India and successfully initiated public interest ligations to protect animals in the Supreme Court of India.
Maneka Gandhi was Union Minister in Indian Cabinets four times:
1989 – 1991 Minister for Environment and Forests,
1998 – 1999 Minister for Social Justice and Empowerment
2001 – 2002 Minister of State, Culture and for Programme
Implantation and Statistics with additional charge of animal care (the first Animal Welfare Ministry in the world)
2014 – 2019 Minister of Women and Child Development
In addition to her political work Maneka Gandhi is a journalist, initiator of films and TV programs, as well as author of more than 20 books about plants, environment, vegetarianism and animals. She is also co-author of the renowned work “Animal Laws in India“. Among her more than 30 national and international awards, she was voted “Recipient of the Vegetarian of the Year 1995“.
About Peter Singer
Peter Singer is a professor of bioethics and one of the most highly regarded philosophers in the animal rights movement.
His book Animal Liberation, first published in 1975, is considered a classic in the modern animal rights movement. It has been translated into more than 20 languages all over the world and has a total circulation of more than one million copies. In his work Singer primarily criticizes anthropocentricism (speciesism), which is the root of animal-abusive factory farming and unethical animal testing.
In his book The Most Good You Can Do, published in 2015, Singer promotes the targeted use of time and money to hit three essential goals:
- The fight against poverty in developing countries.
- The reduction of animal suffering, primarily in factory farming.
- Taking measures that are essential in ensuring the long-term future of our planet.
Harvard professor Joshua Greene considers Peter Singer the world’s most influential living philosopher.
On the 26th of May, 2015 Professor Peter Singer was the first winner of our award, which was named after him.
Goals Associated with this Award
After World War II, factory farming, with all of its animal abusive side effects and increasing brutality, managed to establish globally. Due to the lack of a global government with internationally binding laws, companies operating on a global level do not apply adequate regulation to prevent most severe human and animal exploitation. The result is the freedom to undercut every moral standard on the global market.
The demands for stronger growth in the gross national product are best accomplished by a rapidly expanding population. However, in a few decades this disastrous growth of population will lead to a collapse of civilized living conditions on earth if we don’t put an end to this.
The population is increasing by around 230,000 people daily. With them the number of animals kept under horrific conditions in industrial farming is going up, too. Around 65 billion farm animals are slaughtered and about 85 billion fishes and other sea animals are caught annually worldwide. The climate change is closely related to the increasing emission of gases, that impair our environmental conditions and our quality of life continually to a foreseeable point of no return. The excessive consumption of meat and the associated animal factory farming create more harmful gases than all forms of transportation in the world combined, including air, water and land.
Having in mind that one person alone can only do very little to help the animals, the “Peter Singer Association for Strategies to Reduce the Suffering of Animals” honours those, who have contributed by innovative strategies in philosophical, political, medical or legal publications or other activities to reduce these sufferings in a qualitative and quantitative manner. The award has an honourable and financial value.
This prize is meant as a powerful signal to encourage everybody to reflect and act in order to avoid and reduce unnecessary suffering not only for humans and pets, but for all sentient living beings.