Thursday, August 16, 2018

Media and animal rights

“The ferocious leopard was hiding, waiting to pounce on the unsuspecting man when he went to his garage to park his car. After the man saw the leopard, he immediately raised an alarm which led 15 people to march ahead equipped with weapons and rods. They dragged the beast out of the garage and showered him with brick bats. Someone called the forest department and they took the half dead leopard to the veterinary where he was declared dead,” stated the television journalist dramatically while recounting the horror of the leopard attack. As I try to spot the ‘beast’ amidst the crowd, I see a tired animal on its guard trying to find a way out of this hovering crowd. The recent stories of the marauding elephants plundering human habitats, storming into houses or crushing agricultural crops are just one side of the story. Most stories overlook the seriousness of man elephant conflict that has a long standing impact and often dwell on drama and repetitive narrative pertaining to animal ferocity. The encroachment of the animal corridors as well as the absence of protected fringe areas during natural disasters like floods find little mention in the news channel with no follow-ups. It is not always the leopard who is ferocious, hiding and waiting to pounce on the most unsuspecting victims as flashed across the news channels but rather the human habitats that have veered into their territory. The camera that tilts the angle on the animal to incite the ferocity of the lonesome tiger or the leopard is often assisted by dramatic music implying that the wild is waiting to conquer human habitats. The killing of the wild elephants through electrocution of the arrogant trains that slide past the elephant corridors brutally do not really get as much of coverage and what we have is only bewildered journo occasionally confusing a leopard between a tiger, wild cat or members of cat family In an interview noted environmentalist, three time green Oscar winner and a regular activist of animal rights Dr Mike Pandey states that, “The media has very limited knowledge on animals and ecological balance, hence their presentations are often half baked. There should be sensitisation on the different breeds, habitat and lifestyle of the animals so that the way they present does not belittle the safety of the animals.” Sadly the grim reality is quite the contrary. Most of the natural habitats of these wild animals have been encroached upon and these wild animals are pushed and bullied to survive in small swathes of protected areas which are fast losing their entity every decade. These uncomfortable truths are often sugar coated and very rarely spoken off. Quite recently when evicted forest land was cleared off, there were more stories of human interest and less stories of animal interest that were reflected upon. Notwithstanding the interest of the displaced, often the interest of the wildlife and forests are blanketed with political agenda. An animal activist of the state had recently stated, “If only animals could vote they would have been safe.” This statement echo’s the flaws in the existing forest laws and the recent softening While figures of the wild life records are hardly impressive and are close to being pessimistic, the current media can take up issues of wildlife and study the changing climate and environment condition bfore leding a comment to it. Quite interestingly, the recent extinction of the last male white rhino, Sudan has triggered global interest in wildlife conservation and one can only hope that the media will showcase similar sobriety in coverage of the wildlife issues that requires much attention.Here the African adage clearly applies which states “Until the lion tells his side of the story, the tale of the hunt will always glorify the hunter.”

Thursday, March 29, 2018

When the tiny fingers are taught to write

Pre-school wasn't easy for me and I have vague memories of disdain for my pre-school teachers whose only job, as it appeared to me was to ask us to sit in our places, make no noise and echo the sounds of the alphabets in unison that were chanted out by the stern looking teachers. Off course their task was not easy, but for God's sake, how do you expect us the little spirited souls to sit in one place and do nothing. Just days ago we would wander under the sun, free and happy unaware of the societal burdens of expectations, success and comparisons. But that phase got over and so did my tears of resistance and we were chess-boarded into a rat race of marks, results and perceived notion of success. I knew I was an unhappy toddler in school not willing to learn and still not willing to make friends. After all my friends were my fictitious characters in my mind who would talk to me the way I wanted them to.Eventually I was promoted to a new school where I made peace with my inner conflicts and decided to give in to the frames of curriculum and school pressure but I never quite excelled at it and was a misfit all throughout. As adulthood swept over the years of innocence, motherhood followed with restlessness and undying love and concern. When I first held the quivering little one in my hands and felt his determined heartbeat behind the incessant wailing, I decided that my child would live free and nothing should ever tell him that he needs to jump into the race for success. Little did I realise that those tiny fingers that held me with firmness each time I fed him my milk would soon be led to the gates of a school that was more than willing to make him a square peg in a square hole. I could almost feel his heartbeat as we dressed him up in his uniform and equipped him with books. He wasn't sure what he was about to embark on, but the moment I let go of his tiny fingers to get inside the brightly colored yet a small room, his muscles became tensed and I felt the same tug of war inside his heart as I had experienced three decades back. Nothing changed, except for the fact that this time I was the one who was pushing him to get in and the last time I was pushed in to a new world. The little one screamed and clutched on to me like his life depended on it. His doleful eyes look at me questioningly and he wasn't sure what led me take this step. Uprooted him from his happy mirthful days and unquestioning self we were about to dictate his free will to cater to the demands of the society. As he struggles to write his alphabets with each passing day, I try to instill in him the interest to water theplants, find pleasures in the little things of life and question the strict norms that break and mutilate our individuality to fit into the struggles of every man who fails to learn that material acquisition is not the only road to happiness