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THE TRIBUNE SPECIALS
50 YEARS OF INDEPENDENCE

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O P I N I O N S

Perspective | Oped | Reflections

PERSPECTIVE

Reform the cop
Tempering autonomy with accountability
by Swati Mehta
A
S the Supreme Court handed down its judgement on the state of police reforms in India last week, Dr Kiran Bedi, Director-General, Bureau of Police Research and Development, Government of India, called for September 22 to be observed as “Rule of Law Day” in her column “Reflections” (The Sunday Tribune, Oped Page, Sept 24, 2006).

Gandhigiri versus Mahatmagiri
by Santosh Kr. Singh
G
ROSS injustice has been done to Gandhi’s legacy by none other than those who perpetuated the sobriquet of Mahatma. Post-independence, Gandhi has been deified, idolised and venerated to the extent of a mythic proportion.



 

 

EARLIER STORIES
Poverty of Congress
October 7, 2006
South African safari
October 6, 2006
Respite in Lanka
October 5, 2006
Ban at the helm
October 4, 2006
President’s dilemma
October 3, 2006
Politics of reform
October 2, 2006
Caste no bar
October 1, 2006
Build economic muscle
September 30, 2006
Creamless report
September 29, 2006
Anything goes
September 28, 2006
Brake on SEZs
September 27, 2006


On Record
Preserving the lingam our major task, says Arun Kumar
by Vibha Sharma
S
hri Amarnathji is one of the holiest Hindu pilgrimage centres, located at an altitude of 3,900 meters in South Kashmir. What adds to its mystique is the inaccessible location and legends surrounding the formation of the holy ice lingam every year.

OPED

Reflections
Gandhi as police chief
by Kiran Bedi
A
S I watched the resurgence of Gandhi across the media, on television, and across headlines, debates, verdicts, big fights, quiz rounds, spot surveys, exhibitions, and the cinema halls, editorials and articles, something within me inspired me to complete the loop and take the Mahatma to the Police Headquarters where I believe he is needed no less.

Diversities — Delhi Letter
Dengue: Time for authorities to wake up
by Humra Quraishi
D
engue scare is hitting several parts of the country, not just Delhi, more  than ever before. With pathetic sanitation facilities, it is a miracle that we  haven’t been hit by other diseases and epidemics as well.

  • Neelam’s battle for justice

  • Kunal’s book on racism

Profile
Champion of tiger conservation
by Harihar Swarup

“I
s
the tiger a lost cause, or is there some hope for this wonderful predator’s survival”? K. Ullas Karanth, one of India’s well known tiger specialists, has a convincing answer to this oft-repeated question. Having studied wild tiger for over 15 years, he firmly believes that “the king of jungle” can be saved from extinction as public sentiments are on the side of this striped feline.

 
 REFLECTIONS

 

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Reform the cop
Tempering autonomy with accountability
by Swati Mehta

AS the Supreme Court handed down its judgement on the state of police reforms in India last week, Dr Kiran Bedi, Director-General, Bureau of Police Research and Development, Government of India, called for September 22 to be observed as “Rule of Law Day” in her column “Reflections” (The Sunday Tribune, Oped Page, Sept 24, 2006).

The judgement is being fêted for its progressive and far-reaching directions that insulate the police from extraneous pressures by ensuring that the process of officer appointments, promotions and transfers is transparent and not in the hands of the Chief Minister alone.

Police officers have always blamed the political executive for manipulating the police force to serve narrow partisan interests. Whether it were large scale anti-Sikh riots in Delhi, the anti-Muslim riots in Gujarat, or the individual cases like the Jessica Lall murder case, political interference in police functioning resulted in serious violations of the rights of the public.

Partisan and highly discriminatory police behaviour in these cases went unpunished and unaddressed. Police experts have long argued that accountability implies responsibility for actions — and police officers can only be responsible for their own actions if they are given functional autonomy within the parameters of law, without extraneous interference.

Now that the apex court has accepted what the police, various commissions and the recent committees on police reforms had recommended, are we witnessing the beginning of the end of police abuse of power? What matters to the people is not who transfers the police officers or who appoints them, but whether the police will become responsive and accountable.

The people hope that the new system of supervision and control of the police proposed in the judgement would — as stated by the court — ensure “that the police serves the people without any regard, whatsoever, to the status and position of any person while investigating a crime or taking preventive measures.”

Will the police be less brutal controlling crowds so that the Honda case in Gurgaon where the police beat up hundreds of protesting factory workers mercilessly be a thing of the past, and incidents like the Kalinga Nagar shootings in Orissa where 13 tribal people were killed in police firing are never repeated? But there was no political interference in these cases.

Perhaps, it would help the policy makers to take lessons from Kerala, where police were given operational independence for three years from 2000 to 2003. At the end of this period, people were no better off. In fact, complaints of police corruption rose.

A commission set up to evaluate the police performance during this period observed that though many officers were for the first time emboldened to act according to the dictates of their conscience, there were others who felt that autonomy was a license to misuse vast police powers. It made a critical observation that “autonomy to the police is the ideal, but it should be tempered with measures to prevent its misuse”.

One way of tempering police autonomy is to create civilian oversight agencies that inquire into and monitor public complaints against the police. Undoubtedly, the National Human Rights Commission is performing this task but a national body cannot be expected to deal with all cases of complaints against the police.

Not all states have human rights commissions. In the states where commissions have been put in place, they have proved disappointing and have lacked credibility. The mandate of human rights commissions is very wide and police abuse is just one aspect of each commission’s workload.

It is heartening to see the Supreme Court’s directions mandating the states to create dedicated agencies to deal with complaints against the police at state and district level. An accessible civilian oversight body dealing solely with complaints against the police is a must to ensure police accountability. The court did not go into details of this body — this is something that the legislature will need to debate.

The Soli Sorabjee Committee on Police Reforms, which has been sitting over the last one year to put together a new national police law for India, has fleshed out the details of such a body, which, with some improvements, would check impunity and go a long way towards ensuring accountability. Notably, this body does not supplant the internal chain of command and the police hierarchy retains powers to inquire into and punish their subordinates in the majority of cases. It is only in cases of public complaints of grave matters that this body — instead of the police department — inquires.

However, the civilian oversight body should have powers to monitor all internal inquiries where a member of the public has made a complaint against the police. This would ensure that the internal processes remain fair and unbiased. This, in turn, will strengthen the departmental procedures and build public faith in them — something that is missing at present.

In celebrating the judgement, we must remember that the judiciary cannot force legislatures to legislate in a particular manner. If people want an efficient, responsive and accountable police, legislators will have to be convinced of public desire for new police laws that reflect these concepts. Public opinion alone can get us the police that we want.

Police is a state subject and each of the 28 states will have to be lobbied to enact laws that give us a professional, service-oriented and accountable police service. Laws in this country are still made without much public input.

Of course, some legislative website might put up some Bill inviting public comments within 5-10 days, but public debate on laws is neither solicited through sustained efforts nor encouraged. Mostly, it is the bureaucracy that decides what laws govern us.

The recent Assam Rifles Act — that creates Assam Rifles ‘Courts’ manned by officers of the Assam Rifles, effectively barring the judiciary from trying officers for offences they commit — was passed without much opportunity for public debate. This, after the Manorama rape and killing case in Manipur that shook the entire country and highlighted the problems of holding the Assam Rifles officers to account.

Clichéd as it may be, the price of liberty is eternal vigilance, and it is for the people in each state to ensure that the essence of the Supreme Court judgement is reflected in the new Police Acts enacted for each state.

The writer is with Access to Justice Programme, Commonwealth Human Rights Initiative, New Delhi.

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Gandhigiri versus Mahatmagiri
by Santosh Kr. Singh

GROSS injustice has been done to Gandhi’s legacy by none other than those who perpetuated the sobriquet of Mahatma. Post-independence, Gandhi has been deified, idolised and venerated to the extent of a mythic proportion.

As a result, there is everything official about him today. People remember him on his birth anniversary more for the accompanying heavy discount on warm khadi clothes as pre-winter shopping and less for his honesty, integrity and moral courage which he mastered while experimenting with the truths of his life.

Gandhi’s writings were packaged in sleeker forms and catalogued in religion section in the libraries. He was made inaccessible to the non-literati and the common man with all his fallibility, contradictions and moral dilemma looked at him with fear and tremendous inferiority complex

The controversy about the word ‘Gandhigiri’ and the merit of the film Lage Raho Munnabhai (LRM) has to be seen in this background of ‘Mahatmagiri’. The reason why the word Gandhigiri has been so vehemently protested is because it sounds so pedestrian. It is blatantly unofficial in its invocation of Gandhi.

The idea of a jhapki to circuit by Munnabhai instead of a sophisticated discourse on self-purification sounds blasphemous to those who have been used to taking off their shoes before reading Gandhi. As for the film, the academia in India largely ignored Bollywood films which were treated as frivolous takes on social reality by the purists. How can something so profound and deep such as Gandhism be preached and communicated in the language of a tapori?

The question is a product of a state of conditioning perpetuated by the regime of Mahatmagiri which had imprisoned the true spirit of Gandhism in its officialdom. LRM rescues Gandhi from its elitist trappings. It emancipates Gandhian epistemology from the iron-cage of orthodoxy. The film debunks the entire aura of manufactured divinity so arduously erected around Gandhi and his persona. Gandhigiri, therefore, has to be seen as subaltern counter reaction to years of extreme regimentation and elitism that surrounded Gandhi and his ideology.

Post LRM, commentators have raised doubts about Gandhi’s efficacy in a world where clash of civilisations have reached a flashpoint. Today it is easy to dismiss Gandhi as utopian and thus obsolete. To practice him, one needs a high degree of patience and immense faith in human awakening.

However, let us first not make the reading of Hind Swaraj mandatory for a Munnabhai to call himself a Gandhian. Let him make sense of Gandhi in his own way and in his own lingo. Meanwhile, let those of us who have been privileged to read Gandhi’s autobiography, prepare to engage with innumerable circuits awaiting a dialogue since ages on the roadside dhabas and other murky streets of civilisation around us.

The writer is Lecturer, Department of Sociology, Government College, Sector 46, Chandigarh.

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On Record
Preserving the lingam our major task, says Arun Kumar
by Vibha Sharma

Shri Amarnathji is one of the holiest Hindu pilgrimage centres, located at an altitude of 3,900 meters in South Kashmir. What adds to its mystique is the inaccessible location and legends surrounding the formation of the holy ice lingam every year.

Dr Arun Kumar
Dr Arun Kumar

For better management of the Amarnath yatra, Shri Amarnathji Shrine Board (SASB) was constituted by an Act of the State Assembly in 2001. However, this year, the SASB was accused of propping up an artificial lingam in the holy cave. Mahant Deependra Giri, custodian of Chhari Mubarak of Lord Shiva, also dissociated himself from the SASB, citing similar reasons.

The Sunday Tribune caught up with Dr Arun Kumar, Principal Secretary to the Jammu and Kashmir Governor as also the CEO of the SASB and Shri Mata Vaishno Devi Shrine Board during his recent visit to New Delhi.

Excerpts:

Q: What is your version about the controversy?

A: The SASB has a certain vision for efficient and professional management of the shrine which appears to be in direct conflict with the interest of some people. With better facilities for pilgrims on the lines of Shri Mata Vaishno Devi Shrine Board’s efforts, the Amarnath yatra can be organised in a much better way. However, local interested parties like pony wallas, political parties, are creating hurdles.

Q: Why did Mahant Deependra Giri quit?

A: Apparently, it was more of a face-saving exercise. Preserving conditions conducive to the formation of lingam is something that needs to be done. It has been done in the past and is a standard practice in such shrines the world over. Pandits have been known to resort to means to make the lingam more impressive.

The main attraction for the Amarnath pilgrimage is worship of the ice Shiva lingam, which is swayambhu (it forms by itself due to seepage of water from the roof of the cave and early melting of lingam causes huge disappointment among the pilgrims). At its peak, the lingam attains the height of 2 to 2.5 m and its base is of 1.2 m radius approximately.

The lingam usually forms on Shiv Purnima day and starts melting by the first week of July and within a month of the Yatra melts completely. This phenomenon has been witnessed since 2003 by the SASB officials, though on Raksha Bandhan day, the Shiva lingam has consistently not been seen since 1997.

Q: Ideas mooted by the Board on preservation of the lingam by artificial means have been termed as sacrilege by the devotees. Why?

A: Preservation, rebuilding and reconstruction have been part of the Hindu history of temples. Preservation of the holy lingam has been a major task before the SASB. But before that those managing the shrine routinely piled up ordinary ice at the spot to make devotees believe all was well.

The SASB does not approve of such practices and ensures that once its staff reaches the shrine before the yatra begins, no such tampering takes place.

The SASB has undertaken several initiatives to slow down premature melting and undertaken studies and approached experts to explore means to preserve the lingam. Minutes of Board meetings since 2002 confirm that members have consistently expressed concern and examined possible solutions to preserving the lingam.

Q: But Mahant Deependra Giri says that he was never a party to such decision.

A: A very vocal minority insists that the formation of the lingam is a natural phenomenon and it would be blasphemous to even contemplate any interference. Unfortunately, this group has the backing of some local politicians who would prefer to see the lingam melting away fast for obvious reasons. Had it been any other shrine in which the idol of the deity was damaged or stolen, would the management not take steps to restore it?

In the meeting on March 24, 2003, the Mahant said that if there was no solution for extending the life of the holy lingam, the Board would have to consider putting up an “artificial” lingam. He added that other idols already existed in the cave complex.

Q: Why did the Mahant express displeasure on the issue of extending the yatra?

A: The Mahant was present at the meetings in 2005 and 2006 when the decision was taken to have a two-month yatra. He raised no objections then. Yet, he is issuing contrary statements.

Q: The SASB has been accused of causing pollution, cutting trees and exerting undue pressure on security forces?

A: The Board has been more successful in managing ecology and environmental concerns. In 2004, the state government opposed the plan to erect pre-fabricated shelters along the yatra route. In 2005, the Board was given approval by the state forest minister to use the forest land alongside the route provided no trees were cut and no permanent structures erected.

This year the Board provided 206 prefabricated shelters, 1,436 prefabricated toilets and 309 prefabricated baths and hot water facilities. These shelters are removed after the yatra.

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Reflections
Gandhi as police chief
by Kiran Bedi

AS I watched the resurgence of Gandhi across the media, on television, and across headlines, debates, verdicts, big fights, quiz rounds, spot surveys, exhibitions, and the cinema halls, editorials and articles, something within me inspired me to complete the loop and take the Mahatma to the Police Headquarters where I believe he is needed no less.

Imagining Gandhiji as a Police Chief became irresistible for me; I have let my imagination run its course in this week’s article. I must admit that the experience has been joyful, therapeutic and spiritual.

Since no Chief is without followers, I positioned and visualised myself as being one of his juniors who observes how he plays all his roles to provide an eyewitness account of my dream. Some of the frames that flashed before the mind’s eye were: his accessibility to ordinary citizens or junior ranks of the police service; or his dealing with VIPs and their innumerable recommendations, justified or otherwise; and his views on crime registration, interrogation, collection of evidence and prosecution of offenders. What would be his advice on issues of on matters of interference by politicians, bureaucrats, influential persons, and one’s own seniors? And not to forget the reality of frequent transfers!

Gandhiji was the change he wanted to see in others. Truth and compassion would be the cornerstones of this Chief’s philosophy and management style. His tenets and practices would include:

He was out of home daily by 8 AM visiting any one unit by prior announcement or surprise due to which all were on duty well before time. The traffic flowed smoothly and police personnel were present. Whichever unit he reached, he first listened to the staff rather than preached and ordered.

He rewarded and appreciated rather than reprimand. He shared and empowered. He smiled and rejoiced and made policemen and women relax and smile. He asked them of the welfare of their children and families. All saluted him out of love, not hierarchy.

When questioned on matters of the use of one’s discretion he would only say, “Follow the law with compassion. Do only that which is just and fair. Spare no one but you do not be revengeful. Look after the person in your custody. He is in your care. Ensure no one uses any force against him. Use technology and scientific methods of interrogation and investigation; never attribute to him anything which is false. Remain truthful.”

To the questions on how convictions would be secured if the path of truth alone was to be followed, he would smile and elucidate, “The results of following the truth cannot be worse than the present state of affairs. On the contrary, since you will be believed by the courts and the people it will gradually make it difficult for the defense. This is how you will win the trust of the people. Remember you are an investigator and not a judge. Do your duty truthfully. Believe and practice righteousness and in the right means to the right end. Pray for peace for all before you go to sleep”.

When asked to comment on his vacation policies, he would be conscious that many police personnel stayed away from homes for extended periods of time, and would always insist, “No leave will be denied. Take it when you think it is important for you. You know best when you can/should/ must go.”

On matters of civilian-police interaction, his advice to the police force would be fairly crisp and straightforward, “Keeping peace and security is your sacred duty. Involve people in policing. Let them know the areas which need greater attention and involve residents and village panchayats to self-police. Train and help them. Enroll them as special police officers. Empower citizens to understand policing and their duties by showing them the way.”

On the issue of outside influences impacting policing decisions, he would exhort, “Do not get overawed by the rich and powerful. Remember you work for all. And if anyone still bullies you inform your seniors to intervene. And if they don’t, follow your conscience. This is your duty. Remember we are trustees of citizens’ security. It is a sacred duty.”

After having gone through this pleasant, stimulating and emancipating imagination exercise, I wondered for myself, if we will ever see a real Gandhi in uniform?

And the spirit of Gandhiji replied with a resounding “yes”. Especially, after the recent judgement of the Supreme Court on September 22 in which all future selections of the Chief of Police will be made from three seniormost empanelled officers cleared by the Union Public Service Commission. The Police Chiefs so appointed would have a fixed tenure of two years and cannot be removed without due consultations with the Security Commission which has the Leader of Opposition as a member. No internal appointments too can be interfered with.

Also, a Police Complaint Authority will be established that will spare no delinquent violating human rights. Hence the leadership will be empowered and accountable. Historical indeed. Something which was being pleaded for for the last 20 years was finally becoming a reality.

I firmly believe the future belongs to Gandhigiri. It is just a matter of time.

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Diversities — Delhi Letter
Dengue: Time for authorities to wake up
by Humra Quraishi

Dengue scare is hitting several parts of the country, not just Delhi, more  than ever before. With pathetic sanitation facilities, it is a miracle that we  haven’t been hit by other diseases and epidemics as well.

Neelam Katara
Neelam Katara

Amidst slogans of development, the reality seems grim. According to a recent UN report, 2.6 billion people lack basic sanitation in the world, mainly in Africa and Asia. And about our country the reality stares out. There is little point in crying hoarse that dengue is under control when the  basic living conditions together with medical outreach facilities continue to worsen.

We seem to react only when the numbers of those dying starts going up the graph. Why can’t fogging be done as a normal routine, whether dengue  strikes or not? Why are only the VIP areas spruced up and the other  localities of ordinary mortals left out? Why can’t municipal authorities look  beyond babugarhs and babugiri? Why can’t all be told that unlike several  other diseases, in this particular one, the carrier — Aedes mosquito — sees  no class distinction as it goes breeding in all possible areas?

It’s really a frightfully bizarre situation. The truth is that till the basic   living conditions are not spruced up, each one of us could fall prey to   dengue and more.

Though the government is making mammoth and grandiose plans of hosting  the Commonwealth Games in 2010 here in New Delhi, till the very basics at the infrastructural level are not sorted out, what good are they? I mean you could have the best transport fleet or uninterrupted power  supply, but mosquitoes could spoil the show.

Neelam’s battle for justice

Together with dengue, there is tremendous public focus on three cases — Nitish Katara and Jessica Lal murder cases and on the death penalty passed    on Mohammad Afzal Guru. The next few weeks could see what finally  comes out in each one of these cases.

Each case is much hyped and publicised. So there is little point in repeating  the details. But each time I see Neelam Katara on the small screen or read  the statement she gives, one marvels the inner strength she seems to be equipped.

A couple of years senior to me in Loreto school at Lucknow, Neelam Katara was my House Captain in school. I still have those images of her leading   the march-past on the school Sports Day. Daughter of a senior IAS officer of the Uttar Pradesh cadre, she married another civil servant’s son who was   in the Indian Railways.

After a few years, I had met her when her husband got posted to New Delhi. She was teaching at one of the well known schools here. A happy family it seemed till within a short span four members were reduced to two. Nitish  murdered and then within months of that tragedy, his father died. Leaving   Neelam and her younger son to fight this battle for justice.

Strange are destined turns as at times decades are spent together with entire resources in trying to nail the culprits.

Kunal’s book on racism

If you are under the impression that racism doesn’t quite exist in Europe, then all you have to do is to go through Kunal Basu’s book, Racists (Penguin).

To be formally launched here in the second week of  October, The Guardian describes it as “one of the most interesting novels so  far to chart the history of European racism.

As I have been mentioning on earlier occasions too, bureaucrats pick up the  pen to write (no, other than file jottings) when they enter the safe phase — that is post retirement. What happens to those few who opt out of the  service at some premature stage?

One such bureaucrat is Ravi Mohan Sethi, a 1970 batch IAS officer of the Uttar Pradesh cadre. He took voluntary retirement and settled down in Noida.

He started the Stellar group of companies with interests in real estate, construction, software etc. He had also promoted an Urban Cooperative Bank in Noida.

Now he has come up with his autobiographical volume, An Uncivil  Servant (Rupa). Don’t know what all has been bared and how much kept  back.

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Profile
Champion of tiger conservation
by Harihar Swarup

“Is the tiger a lost cause, or is there some hope for this wonderful predator’s survival”? K. Ullas Karanth, one of India’s well known tiger specialists, has a convincing answer to this oft-repeated question. Having studied wild tiger for over 15 years, he firmly believes that “the king of jungle” can be saved from extinction as public sentiments are on the side of this striped feline.

A relentless fighter for the tiger, Karanth has now been honoured with the prestigious International Earthcare Award, 2006 for his “unique and outstanding contribution to environment protection and conservation”. Previous recipients of the Award, established in 1975, include Andres Perez, President of Venezuela and Gro Harlem Bruntland, Prime Minister of Norway.

Currently, a Senior Conservation Scientist with New York-based Wildlife Conservation Society (WCS), Karanth directs the Centre for Wildlife at Bangalore. His field of activity for past 20 years has spread over South India. He overseas the WCS’ efforts in India to help save the critically endangered tiger and has conducted a country-wide survey of tigers to determine their number and habitat needs.

Using camera traps to capture their unique stripe pattern on film, Karanth has found a more accurate way to access the number of tigers. While the government’s estimate of tigers within the country has suggested a tremendous growth in population, Karanth showed conclusively that the numbers were, in fact, inaccurate and misleading. In reality, growing human and livestock population, poaching, over hunting of prey, public hostility towards tiger reserves, and lack of trained field professionals have all contributed to the tiger’s dramatic decline.

The jury of the Earthcare award has noted Karanth’s relentless work to infuse “path-breaking” scientific findings on tigers into policy to secure a future for tigers. He campaigned for a shift in the policy from the flawed total count method of tiger consensus to statistically validated sampling-based techniques for estimating tigers.

He had to face the ire of the establishment which constantly attempted to scuttle his academic freedom by denying “rightful permission” to carry on research work. This has not blunted his urge to continue his scientific work for over two decades which has contributed to major conservation successes and that include development of scientific protocols, based on long-term research, to estimate tigers and their prey.

The formation of the Kudremukh National Park to protect the highly endangered species, reducing habitat fragmentation in the Bhadra Tiger Reserve through voluntary resettlement of 16 villagers and amicably resolving the human-wildlife conflicts could be attributed to the work done by Karanth.

His longest single project is the monitoring of the health of forests and biodiversity in the Nagarahole Wildlife Sanctury and National Park in Karnataka. Some results arising out of Karanth’s study on the status of tigers and their prey in particular have been published as scientific papers and books.

Conservation movement in India and efforts made so far to save the tiger gives rise to optimism that the tiger can be saved. “Wild tigers can survive the 21st century if we can temper our compassion for the animal with knowledge and pragmatism”, Karanth says in his book, The Way of Tiger published four years back.

In India, he says, wildlife was traditionally hunted for ages, and adds, perhaps, this was sustainable when the forest cover was vast, human population was low and wildlife existed in extremely good densities. Even social taboos, religious sentiments and hunting ethics controlled the harvest of wild fauna. Most important, hunting was more for subsistence and not for commercial interests. Sadly, that delicate fabric of myth, legend and religious beliefs is now torn apart.

According to a study made by Karanth, trophy hunting was widespread in the early 20th century. The arrival of British in the subcontinent brought access to technology like firearms, motor vehicles and flashlight which were used to for hunting wildlife. The princely rulers also joined the English to wipe out India’s natural heritage.

Post-independence years have not been very encouraging. As social and cultural taboos broke down and commercial interests became predominant, the pattern of wildlife harvesting too changed drastically, endangering precious animals. Hunting either for self-consumption or to cater to urban market became a widespread practice. Wildlife was hunted for commercially valuable byproducts like horns, antlers, feathers, bones and skins. High meat yielding large bodies of animals became the principal targets of poachers. Spotted Deer, Sambhar, Barking Deer, Wild Pig, Gaur (Indian bison) became the most preferred species of huntsmen. Animals like tigers, rhinos and elephants were hunted as they have high mercantile value in the international markets. All, however, is not lost. There is hope in the crusade against annihilation of wildlife by persons like Karanth.

Even in his teens Karanth resolved to save tigers. He is now in the forefront of the campaign to save wildlife in India. The Earthcare Award is a big step in that direction.

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Modesty and righteousness have disappeared; and falsehood marches in the van, O Lord!
— Guru Nanak

The Wind God exults in his strength. But that too comes from the Supreme.
— The Upanishads

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