Category Archives: Opinion

Getting Back After A Break

Yeah! this post has nothing to do with being green, but everything to do with getting back on track. I have been away from Connect-Green for longer than I like, not for dearth of topics but change of time zones et al. I have migrated to the tropics for winter, one of the reasons being an effort to get back to a healthy state of body and mind.

Youth is such a pleasure filled time, one kind of feels invincible and basically takes ones body for granted (no, I am not talking about you who belong to the small percentage of human population who do treat the body with care and respect, I meant the rest of us mortals who think “as long as it ain’t broken why fix it? and leave maintenance too for a rainy day” :)). Anyways so as I hit my late 30’s like a car without maintenance it starts spluttering while on the first gear racing up hill, the brakes squeak for want of brake fluid etc… I still think I have time to get to the dealer and get a whole checkup and maintenance done and get it back to “as good as New!” If only wishes were horses 🙂 and as it should be the car breaks down one day and requires a tow truck to cart it around.

Once at the dealer (Doctor:) ) I find out I have pretty much damaged many of the shock absorbers in my spine (discs all the way from the neck to the tail bone!) long story short, after many trips to Doctors and specialists (in some places the nursing staff started recognizing my voice over phone!, and my better half started pulling my leg saying I should be getting frequent flier miles at the Doc’s office!!!), and trying everything from aspirin to really strong opioids I was faced with a decision of whether to go under the knife or not. After some thought and suggestions from friends I decided to check out alternative treatment methods in Kerala my home by birth. Last year I headed to Cochin for my first serious tryst with Ayurveda and found that it worked wonders for me. So this year I am back for the second installment of the treatment (the flight across continents and oceans, Jet lag etc reasons for my absence) and the intent is to get back some semblance of health so I can work on my fitness (which right now is pretty much a myth 😀 ). My Doc once asked me why I wanted to be a 30 year old living in a sixty year old body (got me working out for a month religiously, after which I went back to my usual self of not being bothered about anything that did not hurt :)) This time around I have decided to do this for myself, I need to be healthy to be able to do what I want to do with my life. There is no more precious commodity than time.

Why is this post on CG? I don’t know why, but I thought I needed to say out loud why I was away and what my plans for myself were to make sure I stick to them diligently.

So starting today, I am back on track (unless something really drastic happens). Here is to living Green and making a difference.

Human Callousness Causes 7 Elephant Deaths in India

Irrespective of where a child lives one question most kids can answer is “which is the largest land animal?” and you will get the answer “Elephant”.

India is home to around 25,000 elephants who are in an eternal struggle for existence; courtesy the habitat encroachment from the growing population. Early this month India’s ministry for Environment and Forestry declared the Elephant as a “National Heritage Animal“!

Fast forward to the 23rd of September – Imagine a train hitting and killing 7 elephants and the driver claiming he was going slow and did not see the elephants! Believable right?

Elephants are gentle giants, left to themselves they are like most other animals who really don’t want anything to do with us humans. In the largest fatality of its kind 7 elephants were mowed down by a goods train in the District of Jaipalguri in West Bengal. Since 1987 Trains have killed 118 elephants and this region of West Bengal had another elephant death 3 months back.

The Indian railways has this track smack in the middle of an elephant corridor and for some distance where the region is protected the trains are supposed to maintain a slow speed between 2o-40 kilometers per hour. Wild life officials who have seen the carnage put the speed anywhere above 90 kilometers an hour, and they find it preposterous that the driver could not see the elephants on a moonlit night in an open area without trees. The dead elephants were three adult females, two young elephants, an adult tusker and a calf.

Photo Credit - Stringer Reuters

The reality is the sheer callous attitude of people involved who seem to think “the elephants should have known better” they crossed where “it was not a protected zone”. As if Elephants should be reading the railways memo’s and cautionary boards before walking a path their ancestors have walked for centuries…

I can’t imagine what goes on in people’s minds to excuse such inhumane behavior. To be blatantly ignorant about us encroaching on their natural habitats and creating survival issues for them and then justifying it by saying the Elephants were in the wrong place, it’s a shame.

What can be done?

IMMEDIATE SOLUTION – All Wild life activists and experts in India say the solution right now is to Stop Goods trains after dark through that route and to keep the speeds really low.

Long term Possible Solution

9 years back the Wild Life trust of India had formed a tie-up with forest officials and the railways in Rajaji national Park in the Indian State of Madhya Pradesh where trains had killed 11 elephants in 14 years. They formed a wireless monitoring network comprising of forest guards who monitored the railway tracks, who would be in touch with the railways motormen who were sensitized towards the elephants and their right to stay alive. The project is a resounding success and may be, something along the same lines might work for the Doaar Elephants too… After the project went live there has not been a single elephant death by train in the Rajaji National Park. The Doaar protected area is much larger and has tea estates in the midst, it will definitely be a much larger undertaking. According to sources, WWF has decided to file a case in Supreme Court to stop train movement on the NJP-Alipurduar Junction route.

Hope this kind of incident never happens again (in someways I feel it is wishful thinking until some concrete step is taken).

It is this kind of accidents which will be happening if and when the highway through the Serengeti becomes a reality. I shudder at the thought of what might be… Sign the petition to stop the Serengeti Highway if you have not already done it, we need to start a petition for the elephants of Doaar soon.

Like Everything else in life what we do is what counts more than what we say…

Times of India

Native Cultures And Their Links To The Earth

Hope Everyone had a wonderful long weekend! I certainly did, saw some good movies (mostly reruns, hardly any good ones in the theater that called out to me), caught up on my reading, went bowling etc. On the whole a relaxing weekend! I was wondering about what to write about and then a conversation I had with a friend came to mind. I have to say before hand that I am a dreamer, I dream of a peaceful world where no child dies of hunger, no one fights over “stuff”, where nature is mans home and we treat it with respect… I could go on and on.

back to our conversation – after watching the movie “Avatar”, we were in a discussion about how both of us felt drawn to the concept of everything on the earth being linked to each other and how what happens to one could affect all of us. It does sound kind of Utopian but if we did believe in it would we do most of things we do? I remembered a story my grandma told me about how artisans who wanted to cut down trees to build sculptures would pray to the tree and all the animals and birds that call it their home to move away. They also requested permission from the tree to cut it down and set its spirit free. It was believed without that the sculpture or anything made from the tree would not get to completion or its full potential. I for one found it funny at that time, but the concept was eerily similar to what the Na’vi believed in. The concept was that all things living had a spirit in it which needed to be respected. I was explaining to her how the change in lifestyles (modernization) affects the unique cultures world over. I had seen the changes as they happen around me growing up, and now it is more evident than ever.

Like every argument there are 2 sides to the globalization debate too. In my honest opinion the pluses far outweigh the negatives superficially. Eons before the invention of sea and air travel people were living in their own small worlds it was not a necessity to know about or wonder about the state or country next door. Most communities lived depending on each other using barter systems to get what they did not have and grew food, made products or other utilitarian items for sustenance. Language was a means of communication between the people in that region who came in contact with each other and it did not really matter to them what the people who lived far away from them, spoke, ate or did. When times changed people started migrating for better life styles and greener pastures. Now there are hardly any places in the world where there are different races and languages. Almost every place one travels to one can get a bottle of coke (the price of course will depend on the region etc there are places where a bottle of coke could up to cost 10$ a bottle!) So let us get back to native cultures and their interaction with nature.

Almost all natives lived off nature, depending completely on seasons changing, migration of animals and birds etc… Native cultures world over from time immemorial have lived in tune with Nature, taking just enough to survive and always being mindful of the fact that we shared the earth with other living beings. Native Americans believed that everything from the smallest plant to the largest mountain was sacred. They believed that loving and respecting the land and everything around was the way to survive. The beliefs In Asia were also similar; every part of a tree was used so were animals. Animals were only killed for food or when they threatened the people’s existence. The same could be said about the pagans in Europe who celebrated seasons and lived in harmony with nature. Mutual respect did work as a sustainable way of living. Elders were respected as the source of knowledge for it was through stories and myths that the new generations were taught the way of life. Those ways changed with the arrival of organized religion, which put tags on wrong and right, human superior to animals etc…

Along with organized religion when people started moving away it led them away from their primary sources of history and the ways of life “the elders” and as society evolved the learning from experience passed down from generation to generation diminished to a trickle and in some cases dried up. Looking up the genealogy of ancestors online is pretty much where most of our generation’s relationships with the elders are at. My grandmother lived to be 99 and I still have all the questions I wanted to ask her which I waited to ask and one day it was too late. When younger I thought the world revolved around her, once I got to the point where I could read and understand what the TV said, I decided she was too old fashioned to help me learn anything. I kind of feel it is the same way we deal with old cultures in these modern times. We pick some lines when it suits us and mostly avoid it like a plague because it is convenient. I do believe that like everything else there is a lot of stuff that does not make any logical sense, and customs that are outdated too, but that does not essentially mean we give up on the good stuff like the respect for nature, respect for each other, love, caring and sharing, thinking of the other person when doing or saying something that could affect them, listening to the sounds of nature, paying attention to our surroundings etc… the list could go on…

In most organized religions the underlying theme in is that of a chosen people who have been divinely granted ownership of the earth and all living things, and permission to exploit them. The perception that humans have more “dignity” than animals and other living beings has gone a long way into the enormous decimation and extinction of non-human life on our. So I do believe a going back to some of our basic beliefs of yore might be good for the global village which is a mish-mash of cultures, beliefs, languages and people.

Some beliefs I find to be of interest are the one below:

Native American Beliefs-

  • Treat the Earth and all that dwell thereon with respect.
  • Remain close to the Great Spirit.
  • Show great respect for your fellow beings.
  • Work together for the benefit of all Mankind.
  • Give assistance and kindness wherever needed.
  • Do what you know to be right.
  • Look after the well being of mind and body.
  • Dedicate a share of your efforts to the greater good.
  • Be truthful and honest at all times.
  • Take full responsibility for your actions.

I guess that is about all one needs to follow to get through life without encroaching on another persons personal space and choice, Utopia eh!?

Well that is all for today, am done for today. These are my personal beliefs and thoughts nothing more nothing less. Good day world!

Like the Native American saying goes:

“Treat the earth well: it was not given to you by your parents, it was loaned to you by your children. We do not inherit the Earth from our Ancestors, we borrow it from our Children.”