Tuesday, April 25, 2017

Forest policies needs to be Inclusive (of tribals)

Reports states that forest department evicted tribals living in hamlets inside the forest. These tribals – belonging to ‘Gotti Koya’ community – fled to these woods (Govindraopet mandal of Jayashankar Bhupalpally district) to escape violence in naxal hit areas of neighboring Chhattisgarh. According to tribals, their hamlets were burned down; as per DFO and District Collector they were simply evicted.
In DFO's own words, "They have been felling very large trees for cultivation, which is not good for forest. We, along with the District Collector, visited the hamlet and tried to convince them to shift to an alternative location outside the forest. But they lack gratitude and are hell bent on having this land for cultivation".

In these times when hardly any pristine forest left in many parts of India, it is very important to protect whatever is remaining. But the question is, where the tribals fit in? Aren't they part of the same forest? Isn't it our responsibility to consider tribals living in forest for generations while creating forest laws? If they are clearing the jungles and destroying the ecosystem, I can understand the need for eviction. Even then, I strongly believe Forest and Revenue department have more resources and power to control the unhealthy practices like shifting cultivation etc.

What I believe is, if tribals want to live in forest without destroying it, then let them live there. While creating and implementing policies we should consider tribals as part of ecosystem; not some groups who bent on destroying it. What you think?



1. Foresters burn down tribal village - The Hindu

Monday, April 24, 2017

Carl Wilson Heading to..... yes Australia!!!

In response to the provocation from North Korea, US deployed ACG (Aircraft Carrier Group) Carl Wilson to Korean Peninsula. South Koreans cheered, finally their best friend - the US - is ready to flex muscles on their behalf. No idea about North Koreans, who knows, what their government told them. Well, the smile on South Korean's face didn't last long. As a matter of fact, at the time Trump was speaking Aircraft Carrier Carl Wilson was sailing in opposite direction to Australia and at least 3,500 miles away from Korean borders. What more, adding to the injury, in an interview with WSJ Trump told that "Korea actually used to be a part of China."

1. "Trump’s claim that Korea ‘actually used to be a part of China’" - Washington Post
2. Aircraft Carrier Wasn’t Sailing to Deter North Korea, as U.S. Suggested  - New York Times

Taliban - Marching towards Kabul

Taliban religious Police beating woman
The word 'Deadly' is not enough to describe Taliban's 10 members strong squad's strike on North Afghanistan's largest military base. More than 140 soldiers (and counting) died in the attack. It is to be remembered that Taliban soldiers came in an army vehicle and went past 7 check points before firing on soldiers returning after Friday prayers.

Last year 6,700 Afghan soldiers lost their lives to the insurgency. The tragedy continues in this year as well. Taliban, on the other hand, is gaining heavily in country side; many cities are now on the verge of falling into their hands.

What makes this attack more important is, this happened on the north of the country; that also at one of the biggest bases of Afghan Army - 209 corps. This army group is responsible for providing security to 9 provinces of Afghanistan.

If things are going in this way, this war of attrition going in Taliban's favor. They are winning and have enough fighters. At the same time, Afghan Army which has more manpower and firepower slowly but steadily losing the control. Outside force cant props up Afghan Army forever. If security forces are not getting their act together, then it won't take much time for the world to see Taliban flag flying high over Kabul.


One Coal free day in UK

Nelson's Column during the great fog of 1952 [dec 5-9]. This smog killed more than 4000 people and eventually resulted in Clean Air Act
Britain achieved something phenomenal this time - a day without coal powered electricity. First time since commercial electricity production started. This is really a milestone in the journey towards the coal-free world. After all, it was in Britain where the first coal powered generator opened way back in 1882 (London). It was also in UK where James Watt came up with a steam engine, which powered the industrial revolution and thus enabled the UK to fly Union jack across the oceans.

This is good news for other coal powered economies - especially the US, India, and China. We can also leave polluting dirty coal behind and can start a new life with clean energy. If we are not able to shutdown current plants, at least we can stop constructing new ones.

As of now for Norway, Switzerland, and Belgium every day is a coal-free day. Germany is trying hard to switch to clean energy. Just think about the day when heavy coal users like the US, China etc. also joins the club. Definitely, that day will be as important as the day when steam engine came into existence. The human race will never be the same again.


Image Courtesy: The copyright for the image is owned by N T Stobbs [from Wikipedia under CC-ShareAlike 2.0 license]

Sunday, April 23, 2017

Attapadi – An open wound

During my visit to other states, when people come to know that I am from Kerala they always say a couple of good things about my state. I really liked it. After all who don’t want to hear good words about the native state.

Kerala rightly deserved the position. It is true that we have a habit of endorsing and celebrating bandhs hartals, industrial and political strikes, creating an industrial environment which might frighten even the most adventurous investor who wants to set up something in Kerala. We also send huge workforce abroad to the gulf and other countries. But Kerala also stands first in Human Development Index, highest in literacy, highest in life expectancy, lowest in infant mortality etc. On average a person in Kerala lives 8 years longer compared to India average. Kerala is also the only state in India where females outnumber males.

Defying all these statistics stands a tribal block in Palakkad district of Kerala called Attapadi.
Unlike socio-economic statistics of rest of Kerala; which can be compared to developed European countries, statistics of Attapadi is comparable to Sudan and other African countries and India’s most backward tribal districts. At least Sudan and other African countries can blame civil wars and insurgency for their backwardness. Tribal belts of Jharkhand, Orissa, and Chhattisgarh can blame everything on Maoism. But political parties and administration of Kerala don’t even have anyone else to blame. There is no civil war in Attapadi; no one is firing at government personals using their AK 47s. As a matter of fact, those poor tribal don’t even have three good meals a day.

See the statistics, Attapadi’s infant mortality rate is 66; Sudan is slightly ahead with 66.7 (for Kerala the number is just 6). Infant Mortality rate means how many kids dies for every 1000 newborns. As per India Spend report, the life expectancy of average Malayali has increased from 62 years in 1970-75 to 74.9 years in 2011. However, in Attapadi the life expectancy of an Adivasi came down from 70 years in 1975 to 59 in 2010. Remember that average life span of Adivasis in India is 64 years. The main characteristics of this place are low birth-weight, severe malnutrition, high infant mortality rates, severe vitamin and iron deficiency in pregnant ladies.

In the juicy political climate of Kerala, where governments were always run by centre-left and leftist parties, Attapady’s tragedy hardly reaches legislative assemblies. How much more has to die before these issues become the headlines? I wish the administration opened their eyes and see.

Now when someone says something nice about Kerala to me; more than happiness it is the guilt about state’s attitude towards Attapadi and other tribal belts in Wayanad and Idukki which comes to my mind. My head is not going to rise in pride but fell in shame.


Monday, April 10, 2017

Bangalore: Dry lakes and Fat Sewage Channels

Bangalore is a rare Indian city which doesn't have a river to call its own. Other cities, at least have a drainage channel (which was a river a couple decades back) to claim. Instead of rivers, Bangalore has (I should rather say ‘had’) a good number of freshwater lakes. Many of them are man-made. However, the rapid development of real estate effectively converted the land occupied by those numerous water sources to high rise apartments and office complexes. Most of remaining lakes went dry or slowly encroached upon.

Interestingly there is a drainage channel flowing behind my office. It has a good amount of water even in this dry season. The only problem is, this water is green in colour!!! It is coming from a near-by lake which is fed by industrial and residential sewage. For time being, we Bangalorians are fed by water from Kaveri; who knows how long she will be able to feed us? Did I tell you that, bore-wells in Bangalore already gone dry?  Essentially what we are looking forward is a time, in which we may have to adopt the life style of those living in the deserts.

Being a Keralite, who lavishly spent freshwater, future looks too dry.