ISSN (Print) - 0012-9976 | ISSN (Online) - 2349-8846

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India’s ‘Three Pest Campaign’

Over the last few years, the central government has declared certain species of wild animals as “vermin” in some states, thus allowing uncontrolled hunting of these animals. This removal of protection raises serious concerns with respect to its legality, constitutionality, and ethics. An analysis of notifications declaring species as vermin shows that this was done in an arbitrary manner without any scientific assessments. There is thus a clear need to review the manner in which wild animals were declared as vermin.


Between 1958 and early 1960, the Communist Party of China under the leadership of Mao Zedong initiated a massive plan called “Great Leap Forward,” a plan to transform China from a largely agrarian nation to a thriving industrial powerhouse. While a lot has been written about it and how it caused the deaths of millions of people (Dikköter 2010), there is one aspect of the Great Leap Forward—the “Four Pest Campaign”—that has not been reported much. The Four Pest Campaign initiated by Mao was a systematic plan to eliminate four species categorised as pests: rats, flies, mosquitoes, and sparrows. The sparrow was targeted since it consumed grains meant for humans. The “Great Sparrow Campaign,” or simply “Kill a Sparrow Campaign,” involved adopting all possible methods to kill the sparrow. The most common method was killing the birds through exhaustion:

Chinese citizens were mobilized in massive numbers to eradicate the birds by forcing them to fly until they fell from exhaustion. The Chinese people took to the streets clanging their pots and pans or beating drums to terrorize the birds and prevent them from landing. Nests were torn down, eggs were broken, chicks killed, and sparrows shot down from the sky. Experts estimate that hundreds of millions of sparrows were killed as part of the campaign. (Dvorsky 2012)

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Updated On : 5th Mar, 2020
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