Observations and personal comments relating to everyday issues and everyday people like me

Received an IM this morning from my brother with a ‘Happy I-Day’ greeting (Independence Day that is). I’ve never really been patriotic, and had no political leanings when living in India. For some reason, today my mind flashed back to my school-going years in Bombay. I recall rising up early every August 15th to witness the flag hoisting ceremony on the school grounds, (which required compulsory attendance) after which we would sing the national anthem Jana Gana Mana (ok, I admit I tried to re-harmonize this every way I could when I played the accompaniment at the school assembly). After prayers and announcements, we would file in an orderly manner toward the school auditorium where a sweet ‘boondi’ laddoo,  glistening with sugar and ghee, nested in a thick dark green almond leaf would be handed out to each kid. Seated crosslegged on the mosaic floor, we’d pick at this round gob of indulgence with our fingers, settling down as the room darkened, to watch an English movie. It would have to be a chaste film with a harmless story line, preferably with nuns in it. No westerns, murder plots or hollywood glam. Continue reading

Indian tigerIn the early 70’s there were apparently only 1800 tigers left roaming the Indian plains, thanks to merciless poaching and de-forestation. Officials at that time scurried to reverse this alarming decline in this species, launching “Project Tiger” in 1972 at Corbett National Park. Bogged down by non-approval of management plans and poor funding since its launch, it’s good to know that the Indian government just announced that it is considering opening eight more sanctuaries for tigers and three for elephants, as part of its ongoing conservation plan. The increase in allocation for tiger conservation (up by 36%) comes in the wake of Prime Minister Manmohan Singh personally visiting Ranthambhore National Park last year, following reports that tigers were on the verge of extinction.

However, the protection of pachyderms under Project Elephant, set up in 1992, received a blow to its funding which decreased by 13.7%. It hasn’t had much success to show – there has been no increase in population, and like the tiger, the elephant continues to fall prey to deforestation, poachers and elephant-man conflicts.

Save Tigers Now
WWF – 2010, Year Of The Tiger

snow leopardMy heart aches for what Kashmir has had to endure in the past three decades. I visited it in 1975, and remember its warm, smiling people and idyllic surroundings. But, according to a recent BBC News article by Binoo Joshi, the insurgency has contributed to one bright spot for wildlife in Kashmir. Native wildlife has apparently seen a 20%-60% rise, thanks to a dramatic drop in poaching and hunting. The authorities have ordered people to hand firearms and weapons overto them. There is also a general lack of willingness to venture into the forests by locals lest they fall prey to militant fire or attacks.