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Thread: The Politics of Vote bank & Tiger Conservation

  1. #1
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    Default The Politics of Vote bank & Tiger Conservation

    The General elections are round the corner. In all likelihood, we will have the “carnival of democracy” in mid March or April.

    This year it’s going to be a high-octane election! There are close to 65 odd political parties recognized by the EC; apart from close to 300+ political parties which represent various factions within the country. In recent past we have seen a tectonic shift in political alignment – with regional parties taking centre-stage on the national scene. To be honest, I grudgingly admire our collective faith in this rather chaotic, but nevertheless representative democratic machinery. Though quite a few of my acquaintances have professed their trust for a “dictatorial” regime to get a quick fix for the myriad challenges facing India, I strongly believe the democratic process is the right way for the collective good.

    Hence, being an admirer and cheerleader for democratic electioneering, with immense alacrity, I leafed through the content of election manifesto of several national parties (Congress, BJP, Left front, etc).

    Choosing between political parties on the basis of promises & issues is like choosing between the numerous Mutual Fund instruments in the Indian equity / bond market. Somehow, somewhere, all MFs end up with a very similar hue – meaning the same mix of Reliance, ICICI, HDFC, Infosys equity allocation! In this scenario the smart investor looks for MFs or equity which represents his / her affiliations. For example, based on the current economic downslide & my familiarity with the IT business, I would invest in equity of companies which provide services to toxic bonds or commercial banks.

    The moot point I am trying to make is this: when I choose amongst several MFs, I look for combination which I understand and care for.

    Coming back to the election manifestos, I was not overtly surprised to see the stress on the holy troika of “Roti, Kapda, Makaan”. These three “aam admi” issues don’t have that gilded glamor quotient (to be discussed in kitty parties or over corporate get together), but definitely matter to a vast section of our population. Hats off to democracy for taking these issues center-stage.

    But, which issue is important to me? Obviously my vote would go for the party which addresses my concerns, right? The first thing that came to my mind was good infrastructure. I could note a subtle positive swing to the right in favour of a particular national party.

    Another issue, I am highly passionate about, is Conservation – especially Tiger conservation. Hence, with a fine tooth comb, I scanned the election manifestos of one national party after another.

    In my mind, “Wildlife & Tiger conservation” was the differential, voting factor.

    In the end, I came out disappointed. The issue concerning me, i.e. conservation was not at all mentioned anywhere in manifesto of any of the national political parties.

    Why is it so? Is it because:
    A. Conservation & Saving the Tiger does not concern us or is not of “national importance”?
    B. The conservation brigade is not a big enough vote bank to swing electoral results?
    C. Wildlife conservation is not an emotive issue?
    D. Saving the tiger is too elitist; and we all know the elites hardly vote, hence the political parties can give it a miss, thus concentrating on bigger vote banks?
    E. In face of hunger and poverty, allocating fund / driving “Project Tiger” would be political hara-kiri?

    I am confused. Suddenly my enthusiasm for the “colourful carnival of democracy” wanes. The signals surely do not bode well.

    This forum has, I guess close to 130 odd members. There are many more such forums / pockets / silos of conservationists in India.

    Are we large enough and loud enough to be heard above this democratic cacophony? Do we have a voice? Can we swing an election and in process swing the survival of the tiger? If we unite and show our collective strength, will election manifestos devote a line on conservation and act upon it? Would there be heated, electrifying debates on NDTV / CNN-IBN / Aaj Tak about how well BJP is going to tackle it in comparison to INC?

    Collective voice; Majority; Vote swing. Hmmm... Looking at this forum as a microcosmic representation of the state of conservation in India, I somehow get the weird feeling that the conservationists are in “silent majority”. We are “concerned”; we are “aware”; we “appreciate”.

    But we will not “ACT”. No offence to any of my fellow conservationists, but based on the conservation thread and contributions, I am forced to concur that there are only a handful of active conservationists.

    This sound of silence is deafening.

    The Royal Bengal Tiger, the national animal of India, I am sorry to say has the same fate as our national sports, hockey. Relegated to a corner. At least we have cricket in the arena of sports to fill void for hockey!

    As I wrote the last line, a chill ran through my spine. I suddenly realized, we might not have another “animal” to fall back upon once the tiger is gone.

    For whoever heard of an Indian jungle which thrived without a tiger?
    Last edited by Ranbir Mahapatra; 03-04-2009 at 04:37 PM.

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    Default Saving the Tiger in BJP Election Manifesto!

    I was pleasantly surprised to find a political party declaring its intent to save the tiger in its election manifesto. Notwithstanding the fact that most promises in the manifesto go for a toss, I feel its an affirmative step.

    I hope more mainstream political parties also include wildlife conservation in their agendas.

    http://www.hindu.com/thehindu/holnus...0904031568.htm

    Excertp from the Hindu:

    BJP promises measures to combat climate change

    New Delhi (IANS): The Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) on Friday promised to undertake steps to combat climate change if voted to power in the coming elections. Highlights of the environment protection policies mentioned in its manifesto:

    -- Combating climate change and global warming through non-polluting technologies will be prioritised.

    -- Importance given to programmes to arrest the melting of Himalayan glaciers from which most major rivers in North India originate.

    -- Protect and promote forests and afforestation.

    -- Take all appropriate steps to save tiger, the national animal, and safeguard critical habitats of all wildlife.

    -- Emphasis to be laid on protecting India's biodiversity.

    Note: The BJP is also promising inter linking the rivers in India. Is that an eco-disaster in making?
    Last edited by Ranbir Mahapatra; 03-04-2009 at 05:14 PM.

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    It is good that a major political party is talking about saving the tiger. I hope other political parties too understand the importance of saving out wildlife and wilderness areas. Unfortunately, the river linking idea negates all the good intentions. It is unfortunate that people drafting the BJP manifesto are inadequately briefed.

    Overall, it is a positive step. I think if we try harder, then we can get conservation into the mainstream.

    Cheers,
    Sabyasachi

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    Imagine the number of Indians visiting Tiger Reserves each year? The number of wildlife enthusiasts in India is huge. A popular Indian wildlife photo sharing forum boasts of 5000 members, and counting! There are far more people who are enthusiasts but are not on that forum. There are even more people, who are not enthusiasts, but still support the cause of conservation. Just look at the number of people GreenPeace got to write to Ratan Tata to! If we can channelise these people correctly- especially the ones on online forums, as they are most active and vocal, we can easily have enough people to form a conservation vote bank. As much as it may sound so, I think this is more than just wishful thinking on my part. The only challenge is, getting these 'online wildlifers' to discuss more than photography and how 'they got charged by elephant' and to stop them from shying away from discussing conservation.

    IndiaWilds is good beginning in this direction. We just need to make it catch up more.

    Cheers!
    Aditya

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    Quote Originally Posted by Aditya Panda View Post
    The only challenge is, getting these 'online wildlifers' to discuss more than photography and how 'they got charged by elephant' and to stop them from shying away from discussing conservation.

    IndiaWilds is good beginning in this direction. We just need to make it catch up more.

    Cheers!
    Aditya
    I would definitely echo your sentiments on this Aditya.

    You gave an interesting, though ironic example of photographers getting all spruced about an elephant charge. Very true indeed. I guess high octane drama sells. And everybody wants to tell a good story.

    A majority of wildlife photographers are indeed wildlife lovers, but not sure how many are wildlife conservationists.

    IndiaWilds is one amongst the select few forums which bridges the gap between wildlife enthusiasm and wildlife conservation. And it goes without saying, we still have a long way to go.

    But lately, citizens have become more vocal. Mainstream media like NDTV are running sustained campaigns on Tiger and wildlife conservation. I do not claim to have as much devotion as lot my other fellow members, but I have had the fortune of interacting with many ordinary people going that extra mile to help the cause of conservation.

    I sincerely hope major political parties listen to voices of the conservationists and make it their political target to save the tiger and its habitat.

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    I agree with you in most part.... except that there are plenty of us who are actively involved in not just Tiger Conservation...but conservation of the environment on the whole....
    and in defence of the 'silent majority'... well.... awareness and appreciation are the first steps... :-)
    though there needs to be louder campaigns for conservation... and the Royal Bengal Tiger in all probablity needs to loudest support.. else we just may live to see the time and day when the beautiful Royal Bengal Tiger is part of our jungle folklore....
    a scary thought.. but not very unlikely. Atleast not the way things are going at the moment...

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    It's quite true that political will is essential in the fight to save the tiger and unfortunately it's non-existent in India . The fact that issues like wildlife conservation or even the environment are missing from most party manifestos is shameful and even if they are present the common man won't be aware since the media finds hate wars between politicians more interesting .

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