Saturday, 17 August 2019

The Horror of Climate Change

Those environment nuts keep talking about arctic ice melting and how that will kill those polar bears. But how does that matter to me? Why should I be bothered while I have better things in my day to day life to care about!! Let me illustrate what will be the scariest potential consequence to me.

Researchers have found 700 years old caribou (otherwise known as reindeer) feces containing a frozen plant virus being released from melting glaciers of Selwyn mountains in the Northwestern Canada. The virus was cryogenically frozen (which means the virus is not dead) for 700 years in extremely low temperature of a glacier and can now revive again after the glacier melted and the virus was released.

We have only watched in the Sci-fi movies that cryogenically frozen living beings come back to life after thousands of years. But beyond the fantasy, there is a scary, implication to this. Many more bacteria and viruses which have been successfully eradicated from the world like small pox, even ancient unknown viruses which modern medical sciences have never dealt with, may be cryogenically frozen in those ice caps. When the ice caps melt, they can be released into our soil, water, food, air rapidly and reach the farthest reaches of the planet, even far from those arctic regions.

While our modern science is still struggling with viruses like H1N1, Ebola and many more, new unknown viruses are also emerging. On top of that older viruses mutating rapidly pose huge challenge to even the smartest scientists. How much time are we going to get to invent vaccines or treatments to fight such unknown viruses? How long can we stand tall before we are wiped out from the face of the earth?

These changes are happening very rapidly. Even if not us, our children are going to see such consequences in action. Isn't it reason enough for me to start caring?

Friday, 16 August 2019

Matkasur- Current King of Tadoba

Let me tell you a story today, a story of a tiger. Not any tiger, but of Matkasur, the King of Tadoba, one of the most well known tiger reserves in India.

Matkasur's story will be incomplete without the mention of Maya, the most beautiful tigress and Queen of Tadoba, also sweetheart of Matkasur. Their tryst began when young Matkasur wanted claim to the territory of Gabbar. Whichever tiger could claim the territory will also earn the right to mate with Maya. There already had ensued a battle earlier between Gabbar and Matkasur where Matkasur had lost. But now he was battle ready and starting his prime years while Gabbar was almost at his end. This time Matkasur was dominant and emerged victorious. He reigned over the core area of Tadoba, the pandharpurni lake and obviously has the rights to mate with the famed Maya. Now the couple has a litter of their own and raising it in this area.

It seemed like everything was going great but Chhota Matka, Matkasur's own son with Chhoti Tara, is threatening his territory. In their first battle, the father's strength and experience won but how long till life comes a full circle?

Thursday, 15 August 2019

Fairy Tales

As a kid I loved fairy tales and I loved cartoons. Let it be Tom and Jerry, Duck Tales, TaleSpin, I loved them all. I mean what was not to like, these were animals behaving like humans. Heroes were nice, naughty and kind while the Villains were rude, plotting but always losing, so much that it was difficult to even hate them. I loved Tom the cat and the beagle boys, they may be bad but they didn't have a choice and sometimes were shown to be soft hearted too.

These were my foundations to love and compassion. These cartoons, these animals, they taught me how to live and let live. You remember, the friendship of Aladdin and Abu, Snow White singing to birds, Princess Jasmine with Raja the tiger, and even recently Moana and the chicken heihei... Did you ever think of these as just pets? They were full companions who were capable of choice, who for good or bad (mostly good though) helped their humans.

Isn't that what life is about? We as humans, we need these animals, we need them to care for us, sometimes even forgive our mistakes. But most importantly its for us to love and respect them.

Wednesday, 14 August 2019

Economic Gain Vs Environmental Gain

When there is a debate between economic gain and environmental gain, economics seem to win almost every time. Too many people ignore the need for saving the environment in the name of economic development. Developing countries have managed to get smaller goals to control environmental degradation because they cannot 'compromise' on their economic growth. Developed countries have gotten out of adequate actions citing the need for economic development to sustain their extravagant lifestyle. But what we miss in most of these cases is that, we are not doing anyone any favour by deciding to protect the nature and wildlife.

Human life can never be considered outside of the ecosystem. We are part of the ecosystem and whatever happens to it, happens to us, whether we see it readily or not. Historically, long term losses due to environmental degradation have always surpassed the cumulative economic gains. And whenever the government has decided to take some action in favour of the environment, the loss mitigation has been a few times larger than the cost. Example: when US and Canada got into a bilateral deal to reduce acid deposition, the cost of mitigation efforts was 1/40th of the losses in land productivity, property insurance, lawsuits and healthcare. There are many many more such examples. The price of clean up, loss of public health, lawsuits and others after a major oil spill or a blast in nuclear reactor or toxic chemicals from mining operation could as well be a few times higher than all the profits ever earned in these projects.

So let's understand one thing very clearly. We are not doing anyone any favour by deciding to protect the nature and wildlife. We are only doing a favour to ourselves. 

Tuesday, 13 August 2019


Slavery is any system in which principles of property law are applied to people, allowing individuals to own, buy and sell other individuals, as a de jure form of property (Wikipedia). Slavery was abolished in the United States in 1865 because it was a violation of basic human rights. But is it really totally abolished from modern society? If we expand the defition from only 'people' to any 'living being' such as animals, slavery is still very much there in different forms. 

In slavery, human beings were treated as commodities, bought and sold, against their wishes. They were kept in confined spaces, away from their families. They were forced to serve their 'masters' without any remuneration and physically and mentally tortured on a regular basis. 

Now read the previous paragraph again, this time replace 'human beings' with 'living beings' and we realize that slavery is still prevalent. We see animals slavery in a number of places: dolphins confined in tiny pools instead of the vast ocean, forced to 'kiss' tourists; the rulers of the jungles, tigers, kept in cages or chained or drugged to pose with tourists; orangutans forced to shake 'hands' with tourists in safari parks; and the list goes on. Even the cows and bulls used in agricultural farms or the horses or camels used for riding, all examples of animal slavery. 

If human slavery was abolished more than 150 years ago, when are we going to open our eyes towards animal slavery and outlaw these inhuman practices?

Monday, 12 August 2019

Trees- Passage of Time

Trees, through them we can see passage of time. Every season brings with it a new phase for the trees. The arrival of new buds, being full of green leaves, then the flowers blossoming and bearing of fruits... the birds are singing on its branches, the bees are roaming around the flowers and monkeys are devouring the fruits. At this stage, each tree is an ecosystem in itself.
Through all of the flourish, tree is slowly preparing for the autumn, shedding all the coats of the armor of leaves and bearing itself open. It is giving the required fertilizer to itself and remaining calm before the whole process starts again.

Trees are the embodiment of living in the present. For me, trees are the apt example of mindfulness- a state of acknowledgment and acceptance of one's present conditions. Maybe trees were actually the inspiration behind the famous philosophers and psychologists who advocate mindfulness.

Sunday, 11 August 2019

Tiger Obsession

Seeing a tiger in the wild is one of the rarest and biggest intoxicating experiences I have ever had. Rare incredible sights are often said to be 'once in a lifetime experience'. And yet, I know of many people who refuse to accept this as one time experience. Their obsession pulls them back from all over the world to these Indian jungles blessed to be home to just a few of these beautiful animals. This obsession doesn't need assurance of a sighting, just anticipation is good enough.

It's said that those who see a tiger, should feel lucky. The tiger chose to be seen because s/he trusted you. Tigers make you feel small, and yet so privileged to be in their company, so insignificant, and yet so blessed. Very few animals have this incredible ability to ignore humans so completely and go on with their business. This gives us opportunity to get immersed in their lives, feel connected and fall in love with them over and over again.