IndiaWilds Newsletter Vol. 4 Issue VIII
Wake up Call to Save Wild India
The Honble Chief Justice of India S. H. Kapadia while delivering a lecture on Jurisprudence of Constitutional Structure alluded to the Supreme Courts direction for suspending mining in Bellary and has advised his fellow judges that environmental concerns should be balanced with sustainable development. He said At the same time, there is unemployment. Economy will suffer. We have to strike a balance.
On the surface this statement is innocuous and reflects the present day thinking of our policy planners. However, when you try to analyse this statement, you will realise that the implicit reasoning is our wildlife and wilderness areas can be sacrificed in the name of economic development.
This indicates, if a PSU (Public Sector Unit) wants to dig up mines in a Tiger Reserve then it can do so, as that will be shows as helping some job creation. Similarly, when power shortage is on top of the Nations psyche due to the simultaneous grid failures, there would be demand to push through a Nuclear Power Project (despite Fukishima nuclear disaster) in an environmentally sensitive area. On similar arguments, more dams will be permitted in the name of hydel power or thermal power stations can come up (http://www.indiawilds.com/diary/save-telineelapuram-from-east-coast-energy-thermal-power-project/ )
In short, our natural heritage is expendable – Wild India can be sacrificed at the altar of the so called development mirage that we are pursuing.
When we were kids, we used to read that a countrys GDP can increase with increased spending. Of course there used to be cynics of this model who used to question the efficacy of the investments in the so called infrastructure projects, questioning the long term sustainability without value creation. For example, repeatedly digging and filling up the same land can ensure salaries for a few people but doesnt lead to value creation and doesnt help in increasing the GDP. Now that we know that the Keynesian model is not the holy grail. There are reports from China that it is facing a slow down. Factories are remaining filled with unsold goods and they are trying to compete and dump the goods in the foreign markets. In such a situation, shall we just focus on short-term employment and sacrifice our mountains, forests, rivers and wetlands and other parts of our Natural Heritage?
This line of thinking tries to sacrifice one for the other. One can sacrifice a part of oneself, if he/she can really evaluate the worth of the part being sacrificed. Unless we know the real worth of our wild lands, how can we decide to sacrifice it for a few who can then dig and export the ore or engage in other such business?
Unfortunately, our present day accounting system doesnt understand the value of our bio-diversity. Since the financial world understand opportunity cost, we should be able to tell them that in the absence of clean air, clean water and adequate and timely rains; due to contaminated soil, floods, ocean levels rising and other disasters, the so called development that we are seeking is going to be a mirage. The World Bank partially agrees to this assessment, as according to their report, the biggest impediment to the growth of Indias economy would be lack of water.
Too often we have been hearing that we have to take the middle path; that we have to compromise and create a balance between conservation of Wild India vis-ŕ-vis infrastructure creation and industrialisation. Conservationists often raise their hands in despair and blame the decision makers and thought leaders to be lacking in foresight and knowledge about the consequences of destroying our environment. However, it is time for us to understand the root cause of the problem and take steps to mitigate it.
When a person of the stature of the Chief Justice of India airs a view, it is well respected. So it should really bother conservationists and any one who wants to save the environment, that the decision makers and influencers of the highest order are ready to sacrifice environment if a case is presented to them which talks of job creation or other such benefits to a few people. It is an alarming view point often shared by many of our elites that People come first at any cost.
Conservationists have to share the blame that though some amount of awareness has been generated about conservation, the criticality of saving the entire ecosystem and the overall negative impact of destroying Wild India is not properly drilled down into the minds of our decision makers, thought leaders, political leaders and the people at large.
So what can be done? How do we raise awareness? How do we bring the importance of conservation of our wild lands into the collective consciousness of the Nation?
There are articles in some of our daily newspapers about environmental issues, however, the frequency of those increases when a particular decision impacts an interest group, a recent case being the ban on tourism in core areas of Tiger Reserves by the Honble Supreme Court –
We need more balanced articles espousing the cause of conservation rather than reacting to a particular situation, so that we are able to raise the knowledge of people as well as inspire many of them to save Wild India. I understand that certain MSc. Courses stipulate that the students publish their dissertation papers in journals abroad. I hope our institutes can stipulate students to publish articles in Indian print and online magazines and journals as well.
I was asked about wildlife programming in our TV channels while delivering a lecture in a college. When the majority of the country is fixated on each move of an adult movie actress who has stormed Hindi cinema industry (at-least the media would like us to believe that) – is there scope for genuine content showing Indias environmental challenges?
Apart from the hedonistic tendencies coming out into open in view of the changing cultural mores, this also speaks volumes about the tremendous dearth of good content in India. I would urge our corporates, large NGOs and other organisations to come forward and commission filmmakers to create good content for our TV channels, so that we can gain the mind share. In a democracy like ours, unless we are able to influence opinions, we become irrelevant.
There was one high profile Save the Tiger campaign by Aircel and a few other campaigns to plant trees etc by a few corporates. However, those have largely gone out of fashion. Celebrity endorsement, as was seen in the NDTV campaign has brought in its share of awareness. However, given the unprecedented assault on mother India to strip and dismember her of her wilderness areas and wildlife; these campaigns despite raising awareness is just a drop in the ocean. We need many more mega campaigns, thoughtfully executed, to achieve our objectives. I hope we all can influence the corporate head honchos to start such campaigns so that more awareness can be built.
A lot of damage has already been caused to Wild India because of the ignorance of our decision makers. The challenge is now to build up a consensus on the importance of conserving the last tracts of Indias fast vanishing wilderness and wildlife and make it the national agenda. I urge all the conservationists and all others who have love for nature to come together and rise up to this challenge. If we are not quick enough, then we may be late forever.
Other Original Articles for IndiaWilds:
Ecology of Striped Hyaena (Hyaena hyaena) in the Sigur Plateau
by Shri R. Arumugam
The Voice of the Voiceless Wild: A Tribute to M. Krishnan
by Shri Shaktipada Panigrahi
Wild India: Elephant Attacks
How to know and elephant is going to charge
Illegal online turtle trade:
The internet has great power to connect all of us into a collective unit, disseminate information and help in activism for saving our wildlife. However, as every tool on earth can be used for malafide intentions, internet too is being used for perpetrating trade in species.
Fighting egrets: by Atul Sinai
Other Conservation Issues:
Fishing mafia strikes at Harike:
Canon EF 27-70 f2.8 L USM lens review:
How to Protect your Camera:
A selection of Images that were shared in the IndiaWilds Forums between July 9th and Aug 10th, 2012 depicting interesting behaviour, habitat, natural history and the beauty of Wild India.
Gaur Mother and child by Jitendra Katre
Elephant calf suckling by Sucheth Lingachar
Elephant in landscape by Bibhav Behera
Tiger cub by Gajanan Bapat
White capped Water Redstart in Sattal by Praveen Siddannavar
Immature Egyptian Vulture by Dr. Kalpamoi Kakati
Malabar Grey Hornbil in Durga RF by Kartik Bhat
Head in the Clouds by Abhishek Jamalabad
Tree on a Cliff by Murugan Anantharaman
Spinghid Moths Mating by Abhishek Jamalabad
Dancing Mantis by Joshi Bhavya
I look forward to your inputs and support in preserving the last tracts of wilderness and wildlife left in our beautiful country. For other interesting articles and images check http://www.indiawilds.com/forums/
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