The Bureau of Indian Standards recently approved the removal of any mention of animal tests from the country’s cosmetics standard. India is therefore the first South Asian country to join the 28 member states of the European Union and Israel among the countries that have already banned performing tests on animals to check the safety of cosmetic products or their ingredients.

India’s decision followed intense public campaigning and legislative advocacy by the Humane Society International (HSI), People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals (PETA), Cruelty Free International and multinational retailers such as Lush and The Body Shop.

As a consequence, the use of non-animal alternative tests becomes mandatory in India. However, the ban only concerns products that are manufactured in the country and does not affect imported goods. “Our government must go a step further by banning cosmetics products that are tested on animals abroad and then imported and sold here in India. Only then will India demonstrate its commitment to compassion and modern, non-animal research methods and truly be cruelty free,” commented Indian Member of Parliament Baijayant ‘Jay’ Panda.

Despite this loophole, India’s decision was celebrated by animal-rights defence organisations. “India’s decision shows the way for all countries that are still undecided about whether to ban cosmetics animal testing. Those countries should take action now, follow India’s lead and end cruelty for beauty,” said Troy Seidle, director of research and toxicology at HSI.