India is the world’s largest democracy and second-most populous country with over 1.2 billion people. Out of which roughly, 269 million people still manage to survive on earnings as low as 27-30 Indian rupees (equivalent of £0.28 to £0.30) a day.

Of the 28 states, five including Uttar Pradesh, Jammu and Kashmir, Rajasthan, Bihar and Maharashtra have more than 65 per cent of the country’s 1.2 million working horses, donkeys and mules, with the most vulnerable of these working in India’s inhospitable brick kilns.

The practice of pilgrimage in India is deeply embedded in its cultural ethos. Every year thousands of pilgrims visit holy shrines to pay homage to their deities. Some of the renowned pilgrim sites like Katra (Jammu), Kedarnath & Hemkund (Uttarakhand) are located at higher altitudes.

Due to limited access by other mode of transportation, horses, ponies and mules are used to transport pilgrims and goods to these pilgrimage sites. The pilgrimage provides seasonal employment to equine owners form April until October. However, at Katra, the work continues throughout the year. The welfare of working animals is often compromised as many are overworked and underfed resulting in shorter life span. To improve the welfare of working equines at pilgrim sites, Brooke India (BI) has established its partner units at Katra (Jammu) and Rudrapragya (Uttarakhand).

Making a difference

In 2014-15, BI plans to reach 0.28 million working horses, donkeys and mules spread across 32 districts in 9 states of India, which includes Andhra Pradesh, Delhi, Haryana, Himachal Pradesh, Jammu and Kashmir, Maharashtra, Rajasthan, Uttar Pradesh, and Uttarakhand.  

  • Over a period of time, the BI has developed its own community engagement and veterinary service based models that serve as a learning platform for equine owners and service providers residing in the operational areas. Building capacity and linkages among equine owners and service providers for sustainable equine welfare has been the core essence of the BI programme strategy
  • Recognising the severe vulnerability of working equines, BI has also developed a Brick kiln strategy to ensure that separate water facilities, shelter, provision of first aid kit and levelled road surfaces are available at all brick kiln sites. Strengthening local service providers, to ensure the availability of local health practitioners, farriers, hair clippers, cart repairing and linking them to the equine owners is fundamental to the Brick kiln strategy.
  • BI advocates raising the profile of working equines and securing positive and sustainable changes in government and other institutional policies legislation that will lead to the long term improvement of the welfare of working horses, donkeys and mules
  • BI has been focusing on addressing equine welfare issues in more than 60 equine fairs in India. Intervention at fairs is aimed at raising awareness on pressing animal welfare issues at fair sites and liaising with private fair organisers, local administrators and local service providers. The dedicated BI equine fair team provides emergency treatment and hands on training to Government Veterinary Officers and Para-Veterinary Staff members


More information about our partners can be found here

Read the latest blogs from India here and here 

India at a glance

Population: 1.2 billion
Percentage of people living below the poverty line: 33%
Numer of partners: 22
Number of working equines: 1.2 million

A mule carries its load from the brick kiln in Baghpat. Uttar Pradesh, India

A mule carries its load from the brick kiln in Baghpat in Uttar Pradesh, India. ©The Brooke

India 1

brick kiln horse

A horse works hard with his owner to pull huge weights in a brick kiln just outside Delhi

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