Vegan, minimalist, anti-natalist and an Animal Liberation activist, Malvika was none of these till the age of 49. Born and brought up in Delhi, she did her schooling from Delhi Public School, R K Puram and graduation in Economics from Lady Shri Ram College followed by a 1 year course in Interior Designing from South Delhi Polytechnic. Marriage in 1986 brought her to Jammu. Blessed with two children, a boy and a girl, her life was like any other homemaker. Except of course, her daughter was clinically diagnosed with a genetic disorder which meant that she was never going to walk, talk or gain full physical and mental abilities. For her mother, Raya is still a little baby who has to be fed, bathed and looked after day and night. For her father, she is very special, just as all daughters are meant to be. Together with helpers, they do their best to keep her comfortable and happy.
Living in gratitude and smiling in adversity is what Malvika learnt from her daughter and believed that the main purpose of her life was to take care of someone who is so helpless and vulnerable. Little did she know then that there were other helpless and vulnerable beings whose voice she would choose to become. It was in 2013 that an image of a slaughtered cow on someone’s mobile phone led Malvika to watch on her computer screen how billions and billions of animals have been and are being abused every year by humans. In the midst of unstoppable tears, she stumbled upon the term ‘vegan’ and so began another phase of her life. Someone who had turned vegetarian for ethical reasons at the age of 15 in times when children were not expected to make such bold decisions, it was natural for her to go vegan upon learning the cruelty in the dairy industry and in every other use of animals. Her inspiration to become an activist – as those who talk and act against the norm are called – was her son, Rahil. Having turned vegetarian out of choice since a few years, Rahil decided to go vegan with this newfound information. It made Malvika realise that only awareness creates an opportunity that makes someone take an independent decision to not participate in what society wants us to believe is normal and necessary.
Today, her daughter, son, father, mother and sister are all vegan and her husband has cut back on animal based foods considerably.
Like so many people, Malvika has understood that it is not just our food, but almost every commodity and activity we indulge in becomes a reason for the depletion and destruction of natural resources and so of the wildlife both on land and in water. Though it may still be a long way off, she makes a conscious effort to be minimalistic. The stance of an anti-natalist has stemmed from the fact that being intelligent enough to create concrete jungles and weapons to ward off other animals, humans have multiplied since they do not become preys to predators as they would in a natural food chain. Since this planet can simply not sustain so many of us, it is time we make an effort to bring our numbers down.
As for now, Malvika concentrates on spreading awareness aimed at freeing nonhuman animals from human exploitation. REHAI – freedom for animals is an initiative she conceptualised in 2013 in line with the worldwide social justice movement seeking the end of Speciesism, the discrimination that we have created on the basis of which we disrespect, disregard, treat other species as mere commodities and exploit them. As founder of REHAI, she has permission from the Office of the Chief Education Officer to carry outreach activities in all government and private schools under the J&K Board.
Malvika Kalra is closely associated with the Federation of Indian Animals Protection Organisations (FIAPO) and is their Living Free Leader for Jammu. Check her profile on their website at http://www.fiapo.org/fiaporg/rehai/
In March 2018, Malvika was invited as a Speaker at the first ever TEDx Talk held in Jammu. With the other five Speakers being men, she also became the first woman in Jammu to get this opportunity
Malvika Kalra was felicitated by FIAPO with an Education and Outreach Award at the India For Animals Conference held at Hyderabad in 2018.
For Malvika, it has been a privilege to share space with other activists on various platforms and occasions.
Over the years, Malvika has attended some important get togethers that have brought her in touch with others in the field and have been great learning experiences for her.
Besides taking up activism in other forms, Malvika Kalra has been writing a weekly column centred around Animal Liberation and Veganism every Saturday since December 2014 on Page 2, Greater Jammu, a local daily newspaper available both in print and online. Altered recently, it is now a Q&A column titled VEGYAN – Be Vegan & Wiser with Malvika Kalra
Some of the VEGYAN Columns as they appear every Saturday on Page 2 in Greater Jammu newspaper.