‘Wildlife, Trafficking and Trade’

 

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“Forest staffs are the unsung heroes.”

Poaching and animal trafficking is the second most illegal area after drugs. The ‘Save Tiger Campaign’ is a joint effort by Hardnews and Aircel after completing 6 years of partnership. Fifteen years ago, the number of tigers lessened to 1700 but today it has increased to 2226 in India. The serious concern of poaching is referred to as ‘Global Crisis’ by Barack Hussein Obama.

Tiger bones, Leopard parts, Orchids, Rhino horns are exported to other countries from India via Mizoram and Manipur. Poaching fetches a lot of money for smugglers pressurising the field officers. Special consideration should be given to Shanghai which is a hub of illegal trade.

A panel discussion on wildlife and Trade was held at India International Centre, New Delhi on 14th January 2016 organised by Aircel- Hardnews. The panel was inaugurated by Ms.Prerna Bindra, Journalist, Author and Writer for books on wildlife, Member of Wildlife (Uttrakhand) and Trustee of Bagh. Ms.Bindra went undercover to figure out the easy availability of ivory in Indian bazaars.

“I pretended to be ‘bride-to-be’ and asked for ivory bangles in a local market. I was shocked to see the easy availability of ivory which was sold illegally. I was horrified by the magnitude of crime.”

Mr.Vivek Menon, the Founder, Executive Director and CEO of the Wildlife Trust of India also showed up his presence. He is the Author and the Editor of nine books on wildlife with over 150 articles.

In 1989, two tigers were poached with their skin left behind. This started investigations and later ‘Tiger Crisis’ was declared. Despite all the Gandhian principles and philosophies, the illegal wildlife acts are still prominent.

“Things have changed and they will change more.”

Poaching is opportunistic in nature and it is niche targeted.

Dr.Samir Sinha was also one of the panellist members present.  He was an Indian Forest Service Officer and has held several key posts in the forest department and is the chief Conservator of Forests, Dept of Forests, Uttarakhand and also the Field Director of Corbett Tiger Reserve.

“Six elephants were poached fifteen years ago in Jim Corbett and hexa blades and newspapers were found as clue”.

 After spending a long time in that area they learnt poachers had contacts with high authorities who helped them in illegal activities. Earlier the profit of poachers was 3K to 4K and now it has risen to 3-4 Lakhs. The demand is more outside the country. Poaching is a very well-organised form of crime. Poaching comes as easy money and is a soft option for earning.

Dr.Shekhar Neeraj, an IFS officer heading TRAFFIC, India- an international wildlife trade monitoring body. He has an extensive experience of working in protected areas with the Indian Forest Service.

“Poaching is causing international security threat affecting 250 species of animals.”

According to him, if Chinese can demand tigers, the day is not far when the demand will increase in India too. The per capita income has increased for Indians and so the demand. It is of dire importance to curb poaching. Special care must be taken of not so popular species such as Monitor Lizard who are consumed openly in areas of Karnataka.

Dr.Aravind Chaturvedi, a 1991 batch police officer and is a deputy superintendent of police, STF. He has headed extensive experience of working in protected areas with the IFS.

“The weapons used for killing animals are sent through UP, Nepal, Punjab, Bihar.”

Poaching of Tigers and Leopards are done via Nepal. The problem is that the Indian courts treat such issues as weak and insensitive. The problem is at the prosecution level. The proofs in wildlife cannot be gathered and then starts the problem.

Dr.S.K Khanduri, Indian Forest Service who is currently serving as Inspector General of Forests(Wildlife) in the Ministry of Environment and Forests, Govt of India.

“There are three factors affecting the issue- poaching, demand and supply.”

Poachers in NE states use modern weapons for killing. The opportunities are better outside India. The problem is such issues are handled only in state level which does not suffice the requirement for curbing it.

The thing of poaching in India is that we lack institutional mechanism. We should be working when there is a problem and not when there is no problem.

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I want to be Indira Gandhi when I grow up

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I met these curious kids in the metro on my way to Noida. Their father is blind and mother is a beggar who fights for a single penny every day in Connaught Place.

The younger one is Durga, very energetic and ready to take over the world. The elder one is Sagarika, the beautiful one. Few years after her birth, their parents realized her inability to speak. She spoke to me in sign languages and the younger one assisted me in understanding her sister’s thoughts.

They were intrigued with the book I was reading (‘The Red Sari’ by Javier Moro) and listened carefully as I spoke the gist of the Indian Congress history to them.

Durga said,” I want to be Indira Gandhi when I grow up.”

Age of Innocence, Curiosity!

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I met this beautiful little girl in a slum area of Delhi called ‘Kathpulti’ Colony. She was adorable and got really excited by the idea of being captured in the camera. What is sad is that she’ll be forced to get married as soon she is 16 and live like several other underprivileged women, where even showing their face to men (other than her husband) is a taboo.

Kathputli Colony

In the 1950’s, an artistic colony in Delhi was developed, the Kathputli colony. This colony is in Shadipur Depot and is famous especially for puppet shows by performers from Rajasthan.  It is an abode of traditional musicians, healers, snake whisperers, jugglers, fire-eaters, and street-magicians. The puppet show in India is the oldest form of entertainment. Artists enchant with their talents the traditional Rajasthani folk songs in which they illustrate stories from the Holy books of Hinduism.

The puppeteers have an exquisite command over their hands, palms, chest, and mouth as the acapella. The snake dance is a part of the traditional show which adds on to the anticipation.  The show is followed by the Rajasthani folk songs sung by Jagdish Bhatt, master of Wooden Puppet Animation. Harmonium, Karthal, and Dhol are Jagdish’s forte. “I can sing songs in all Indian languages and can learn any new language in six days”, he says. Jagdish and his nomadic troupes have performed in several places London, Japan, Paris, Dubai, Bangkok, and Sweden. They also participated in Indian reality shows – ‘India’s Got Talent’ and ‘Satyamev Jayate.’

In 2009, the city authorities announced demolition of this slum area. To overcome this, the localities indulged themselves in re-painting walls and images of puppets were made. One corner had stalls of ‘Rajasthani Mehendi’ and handicrafts to be sold while the other corner had a man clad in Rajasthani dress making wooden carved puppets. The crowd gathered took immense pleasure in dancing on the beats of the famous ‘Kachhi Ghodi‘ (Horse Dance). Dancers wore novelty horse costumes and participated in mock fights while a singer narrated folk tales about local bandits.

Open Eyes Project is gathering momentum for the cause. They identified a few artisans of the community and are working towards sustainable development of the arts revival. The aim of the initiative is to give a decent livelihood to the artisans. A part of the project is to extend services to the corporate looking for a responsible way to entertain and organize activities for their employees. This would directly benefit the community at large. In the long run, it will be beneficial to the youth of the community as the project also extends in providing them with vocational training in tourism.

Dawai Daan Mei, Naaki Kude Daan Mei!

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Lack of healthcare and proper medicines are major reason for a high mortality rate in poor. Striving for a change, Omkar Nath Sharma popularly known as ‘Medicine Baba’ is doing what Indian government failed to do. The 79 years old voluntarily collects unused medicines from people and distributes them to the poor free of charge. Since last 8 years Baba has been into this work with no profit return. Crippled at the age of 12 in a car accident, he manages to walk five to six kilometers every day collecting
medicines. He stays with his wife and a differently abled son. Baba speaks more about his journey and about his life in this interview.

1. Tell us what made you think of making a medicine bank for the poor?

I started distributing medicines after I faced an accident in 2008 in Laxmi Nagar, East Delhi. Early in the morning, a pillar fell off the construction site of the metro station killing four people sleeping near it. Many people were injured in the accident. There was no immediate medical aide giving to them because they did not have money to buy medicines. This left most of them handicapped for life. I thought of other poor people who die due to lack of proper medications. So I came up with the idea of distributing free medicines. 

2. What was your profession before becoming the ‘Medicine Baba’?

I was a blood bank technician at a hospital in Noida, Uttar Pradesh. I hail from Udaipur, Rajasthan and came to Delhi some fifty years ago. I had a monotonous life with an average income to lead my family. But I found a purpose to my life in 2008 when I started the medicine bank. I am very happy and proud at the same time for the efforts I am taking in changing the lives of poor.

3. For how long have you been doing this work of ‘Medicine Baba’?

It has been seven years since I started this bank alone. Initially, there were a lot of hindrances and not many people turned up in giving medicines because they did not understand the concept of giving me medicines. After the involvement of media, my motive was appraised and I got more assistance from people. Today I have volunteers helping me and I am also get donation of medicines from other countries.

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View of the room where basic medicines are stored

4.  How do you organize the medicines collected which are large in number?

I carry two bags for the collection of medicines. The expired and useful medicines are kept in separate bags.  The expired medicines are then sieved from the useful ones. The name of helpful drugs along with their prices and expiry dates are fed in the computer for record and reference.

5. What do you do for your livelihood earning now? Are there organizations supporting you?

I have no personal source of income for my family. I am too old to work anywhere. My son is differently abled and cannot work. I struggle and earn for poor people only. It is just out of donations received from people we manage to feed ourselves. No organizations are helping us financially as of now neither is any government.

6. What kind of medical aide do people give, apart from basic medicines?

It is mostly the medicines that I get from people. But few hospitals have also donated walking sticks and wheelchairs. There are many people who cannot afford to buy wheelchairs and sticks. My collection from hospital helps me to give ailing people these aids free of cost.

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Medicine baba displaying his collection of medicine

7. What awards have you been conferred with?

I have been conferred with several awards. All of them are given by the private organizations. I also receive gifts from people all over the world. Today morning I got a courier from the US which was unexpected. Such awards and gifts motivate me to do more and better.

8. What is the average amount of medicines you donate every month?

Every day I collect medicines of approximately Rs. 15000. Taking the entire figure, it comes to be around Rs.400000 to Rs.600000 worth of medicines I donate every month. Irrespective of this my monthly income is not even Rs.4000.

9. What kind of help are you looking forward from the government and private bodies?

I am a man with genuine motives. I do not seek any personal or financial help for myself. All I want is a bigger room for keeping the medicines intact. My room is very small and becomes difficult to keep all the medicines at one place. All the information about the medicines is stored in the computers and if I get more computers things will be organized in a better manner. It will be a great support if the government helps me in any form.

Vanity In Vain

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She was adamant, strong and stubborn.

Nothing could move Her. Nothing could perforate.

That night She lied in a dark room, darker in Her thoughts, with tears rolling down the eyes.

Her body which was no more Hers, shivered.

Strength, She needed to stand. Oblivious of the surrounding, She felt Her heart beating.

Indeed the only thing She could hear.

Ironic it was, the beats made Her realize She was alive. She had life.

No abuse, no harassment could shudder Her from the inside.

She tried. She cried. She stood. She smiled.

Unstirred to the cruelty of the world, callousness of Her husband.

Today she stands affirm. Supporting women alike.

Her husband could disgrace her modesty, failing to disgrace her heart and her mind.

सिनेमा

2013 Marks the Centennial of Indian Cinema. The centennial mark was observed because of 1913 feature-length ‘Raja Harishchandra‘,  an adaptation of Sanskrit epics. A rich and appealing cinematic tradition emerged from here. This was the era when Indian films were being recognized for their commercial appeal. In the starting 21st century, there was a tendency for Bollywood to show an inclination towards the western movie culture. Shortening running times, cutting musical numbers, censoring superfluous parts of the movie all emerged as a culture henceforth.

Indian Cinema was born on 3rd May 1913. Since 1913, Indian Cinema has made a long journey from silent movies to sound ones and black and white to colored ones. From Madhubala to Leela Chitnis, each star left their remarks in Bollywood. The late 60s and early 70s was the era of Big B, Dharmendar, Hema Malini, and Jaya Bhaduri.

There was something dangerously hormonal about the Kapoor family. Sashi Kapoor was the most celebrated personality of the era. One can imagine his photograph having a red lipstick heart secretly kept in chemistry book, a happily married man whom the female-fans could see but never touch. Wherever he went, he was followed by a liquid sigh.  He was the kind of man who when came on stage made everything disappear. Like Amitabh Bachchan, Sashi Kapoor’s life is one thing which justifies the existence of Wikipedia. He was a man born with spring on his soles.

1960’s was the era of superstar Aamir Khan, Salman Khan, Anil Kapoor, Juhi Chawla. From ‘Dil toh pagal hai’ to ‘Dil wale dulhaniyan le jaenge’, a series of hits sprawled up. The 21st century now became the most popular era with all kind of movie segments. Indian cinema faced technological and digital developments in this century. Movies of the 20th century had romance and family life as their genre whereas movies of the 21st century showed an inclination towards rom-com, sci-fi, and action. The 20th century had hand-made posters and 21st-century movies tried their hands in digitalized posters. The 20th century ‘Himmatwala‘ was a great success whereas the 21st century ‘Himmatwala‘ was an epic fail of Cinema.

The age of biopics started as a new trend. Paan Singh Tomar grossed 65.0 million (US$980,000) net in week one and was declared semi-hit in Bollywood.  Mary Kom is a 2014 Indian biographical sports drama film with Priyanka Chopra in the lead role as the eponymous boxer. The film collected 75 million (US$1.1 million) on its opening day. Bhaag Milkha Bhaag released on 12 July 2013 in 1200 screens worldwide including 140 screens in the US. The film received mostly positive reviews from critics.

2012 was the bad phase of Indian Cinema where many eminent faces left us. Rajesh Khanna died on 18th July 2012 of Cancer. Yash Chopra died of Dengue Fever on 21 October 2012. Legendary actor Pran passed away and the industry lost the godfather of Indian villains. Jiah Khan’s demise shocked the entire industry. The girl, who entered Bollywood and made her debut opposite Amitabh Bachchan, created waves with her hot and sultry personality. Veteran actor Deven Varma, passed away in 2014 succumbing to heart attack. Suchitra Sen has been a part of several memorable Bollywood films like Devdas and Aandhthe legendary actress had suffered a massive heart attack due to which her condition became very critical. Suchitra Sen passed away at the age of 82 at a hospital in Kolkata. Zohra Sehgal was the grand old lady of Bollywood. The actress lived till 102 years before she succumbed to a cardiac arrest. Her last onscreen performance was playing a grandmother in Sanjay Leela Bhansali’s Saawariya in 2007 .

 

India Cinema is the proper amalgamation of ‘masala’ movies. Not all Indian films are masala films, but masala films are uniquely Indian. Everything is heightened: the hero’s heroism, the heroine’s beauty, the villain’s evil. Another, simpler way to look at masala is as you would approach Shakespeare or any classical dramatic literature- Sudden thunderstruck, low comedy, high drama and when necessary swords!

12 Years a Slave

One movie which nurtures your sense than intellect. The movie impressively highlights the dreadful conditions of the Blacks then. Mere animals alike they were. Going back to those times, when Blacks and Whites were differentiated, not just differentiated, they both stood at opposite pillars. They were juxtaposed in color, work and rights. They were not allowed access to public transport, safe housing, and security in job.

There life was a mess, Criticized at every stage, from birth to death. When these disheartening facts come up in the form of movie, it awakens one’s sense. The protagonist of the movie, having a secure job and a family led a happy life , every form of human deserved. Then separated from family and treated as a mere slave for Whites .

Alike him many were, beaten to death every day, handled rough, coercion work load, tasteless food. The life of a prisoner is yet better. Fighting for their rights was always the most awful option for them. Many were slaughtered to death, the future of every Negro indeed. Protagonist , being one, revives his life. The pain , the endurance, the revival could be felt. Eradication of disparities was much needed. They just needed to bluster courage against the wrong. A small world where colors rule the brain.

It is time I write, something that makes sense. It is time I resist the abhorrence. It is time to evaluate , to surpass the incongruous.

It is time to welcome the unprecedented, to cherish the unexpected.               To celebrate the trivial, for you never know what is yet to come.

#SelfClicked #CherisingMemories #PSA #College

“Mock Bird”

This movie is a time capsule, preserving hopes and sentiments from a kinder, gentler and more naïve America. The movie was released in December, 1962. The most hopeful movements of that time are dealt with a series of blows of racism. But this movie is a backdrop to the mainstream culture of that time introducing a white man liberal who defends a black man accused of rape. “To Kill A Mocking Bird” has remained a favorite
movie of all time. It is listed in the 29th rank of best film of all time in the poll by the “Internet Poll Database.” There are several admirers of Harper Lee’s novel.

In this movie, we see the happenings from the point of view of a six year old tomboy Scout who lives with her Widow father, Atticus Finch and a ten year brother, Jem. The movie is screened in Maycomb, a tired old town, a place with dirty roads, climbing veins, rocking chairs, panama hats, picket fences. Atticus goes to his law office and the children play through the lazy hot days. They have a neighbor named “Dill” Harris whom Jem scares
blabbering about the Radley House. Jem says Radley the owner of the house has his son, Boo chained to the bed .He eats raw squirrel and cats. He is six and half feet tall. Radley has yellow and rotten teeth. Which makes it clear Jem has never seen Radley.

Into this peace calm drops thunderbolt when the town judge asks Atticus to defend a black man, Tom Robbinson who is accused of raping a white lady. The courtroom scene is the most important part of the movie in which it is evident the girl forced herself on Tom and he tried to flee but everyone including the judged had the case against him. Though Atticus gained respect from the Blacks but he lost the case. Meanwhile Tom tried to flee
from the Deputy who shot to wound him, missed it and  killed him. The movie from here is dream like. The director, “Robert Mulligan” tried to show the positive sides of the movie
then.

As I said, this movie is like a time capsule. Released in 1962, it beautifully highlights the racist scenario then. One can differentiate it with the current scene. There is one scene where Atticus is faced by the lynching mob who wants to hang Tom Robbinson . Scout at this point address the mob giving them a “strategically exercised speech” driving the mob away. Could a child turn away the mob at that time. Is it not nice to think so?

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