IT was my good fortune to reside for over five years at Gour Bhawan during my tenure as the Vice-Chancellor of Dr Harisingh Gour Vishwavidyalaya, Sagar, Madhya Pradesh. Gour Bhawan has a sprawling kitchen garden. We grew corn, but did not get any corn on the cob to eat as the entire crop was devoured by birds and squirrels. The workers were in a dilemma as my wife used to scold them for not shooing away the creatures and I used to admonish them when they did it. Eventually, my wish prevailed — the birds and squirrels freely ate corn all those years. While this gave us satisfaction, it was also a cause for concern. It made us realise that they had nothing to eat except corn.
We are witnessing a similar situation in our bungalow in Civil Lines, Bathinda. It, too, has a kitchen garden. We grow organic vegetables here as well. To our utter surprise, we find the birds and squirrels eating not only corn but also cauliflower, cabbage, knol-khol, brinjal and virtually whatever is grown. They even destroy the saplings. We spread grains for the birds to eat, but vegetables are an attraction for them. This is a telling reminder of how birds and animals are facing an acute shortage of food and are struggling to survive. Due to such alarming situations, birds and animals may eventually become endangered. In essence, we are forcing them to change their dietary habits. We should remember that every living and non-living creature contributes to making the earth’s ecosystem healthy and liveable.
We often claim that we are the wisest and mightiest of all life forms on this planet. However, our conduct negates this claim. Through our actions, we are destroying the habitat of all living forms, including insects, birds, reptiles and fish — and even our own. We have resorted to an individualistic and anti-nature developmental discourse at the cost of a time-tested, collective and nature-centric one. The traditional multi-cropping pattern with a variety of millets and maize, grams, pulses, legumes, etc. has turned into a mono-cropping one. Birds, reptiles, rats and insects used to feed on these grains and flowers. Fruit orchards were also a major source of food for such creatures.
Deforestation and rising temperatures are destroying the habitat of wildlife. Soil and aquatic biota, including marine life, are struggling for existence owing to the indiscriminate use of fertilisers, pesticides, insecticides, plastics and industrial waste. The pollution levels in soil, air, surface and subsurface water are on the rise. The earth’s ecosystem is degrading at an alarming rate. The end of the human race seems inevitable if we continue to traverse the current path. As we are supposedly the wisest species on earth, it is our bounden duty to ensure that the ecosystem is congenial for the survival of all living and non-living entities. This is essential for ensuring longevity of all forms of life on this planet.
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