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A Paradox of Plenty

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By Bhushan Parimoo

Jammu and Kashmir wildlife Protection Department appears to be caught in the web of a paradox of plenty. Behaving as if the assignment is too big for its feet. One among the popular questions, which everyone is concerned about is why the Protector of the wildlife by mandate has become the reason to cause irreparable damage to wildlife than it can claim to have protected and improved upon. It gets caught napping all the time to explain this woeful scenario before the full gaze of public to protect to, Preserve and develop wildlife. Unbelievable it may seem but that is the absolute truth about the affairs of wild life protection which leaves much to be desired is speaks of simple apathy that originates in corruption and nepotism that plagues the Department with the nonprofessional management banks upon the power presentations, planted media news, glossy brochures are indeed very catching, appealing for all those who hardly know the area, fact is Department the has all along been in the mode of deceit. It has caused vanishing of Wetlands, widespread encroachments of Lakes, caused pushing on brim the wildlife, be it be in waters, land of in air. Credit to host first international conference on protection of wild life on this planet goes to India. It was held in 1951 at New Delhi. Being the Prime Minister of the host country, Pandit Jawaharlal Nehru was elected as the first President of the Wild Life Congress. Declaring the conference open, Nehru in his maiden presidential address astounded the international delegates by stating: “This beautiful big cat (referring to white tiger) whom man could not tame, hence, declared this animal as ‘wild’. Should these innocent animals ever come to know what we men behave like; God alone knows what they will call us” .Ironically, even after more than six decades these prophetic words echo the truth of wild life , be it be Animals, Birds and Plants protection with regard to this State. It has been keenly observed that the Department seems to be at its wits how to manage the affairs entrusted to them, contain human –Animal Conflict after habitat of the wild Animals has been devastated before its eyes. What to preserve on priority how to preserve where from to start and how to proceed.

 

 

Department concern cannot claim that it had to raise data collections about flora and fauna growing in wild from scratches or build required infrastructure to make department functional to its optimum capacity. The fact is during Dogra rule Wildlife along Forest management was given utmost concern thus elaborately documented in details. Wildlife Game reserves then called used to under direct control of the Ruler, stressed on sustainable hunting and preservation of the Wildlife had been ensured then. With the advent of post 1947 wildlife with reckless exploiting of the Green Gold caused vanishing of the Wildlife at a faster rate even one thinks with little effort to contain it. The roll of achievements with regard to protect any wildlife species in the state is nil, in spite of the fact that the State had been fortunate enough to have second only to Gujarat area for the wildlife in the country. While as the Gujarat has just has just a couple of species to make mention on the other hand Jammu and Kashmir wildlife diversity in plenty of its own known world over for its rare biodiversity rich scenario. This makes one to think that when there is such a large area available to thrive Flora and Fauna in its natural habitat why all this allowed to go in vain. Wildlife protection Department has as per records 15912 Sq kms that comes to 15.59% of total geographical area of the state. Which is supplemented with by21251 Sq kms Forests together makes about 37% of total geographical area of the state. There are 4 National Parks, 14 Wildlife Sanctuaries, and 35 Conservation Reserves and about 3613 Wetlands out of which 8 are recognised under Ramsar Convention one of the Wular is Asia number one area wise Freshwater lake and the deepest in the country is Mansar. With pain in heart it is shared all this is for records only most of it is lost without any trace of these .Which makes the. It had been on consistent plea spear headed by then late Mir Anayatulullah, still fresh in the mind of those who still braved the death opposed it, close to power stressed all the time that unless and until Separate independent Department for the Protection and Development be not created. Wildlife shall be at receiving end which require scientific management .Despite apprehensions and reservation expressed then by the Academicians, retired Forest Officers and the Naturalists off course that Forest and Wildlife are one identity the inseparable part both go hand in hand together. Warned it shall be suicidal for to tear them apart just to please a few over Zealous Officers who conceived it an avenue to further their interest at the cost of Environment.

 

Thus a full- fledged independent Department was got created in 1981 to conduct it started the history to slow but steadily vanishing of the Wildlife in the state .Protection Department has been mandated under law to conservation of wildlife and biodiversity ensure sustainable management of wildlife resources and supervise wildlife activities both within and outside the protected areas to rehabilitate .Ensure protecting the wild life ,control poaching, smuggling and illegal trade in wildlife and its derivatives. And to tackle the wildlife related crimes in the State .But it has failed in its responsibility to discharge its bonafide duties mandated under Jammu and Kashmir wildlife Protection Act 1978 amended up to 2002 .What was handed to it by the Forest Department in 1981, be it be area or the quality and quantity of the Biodiversity, during its 37 years of its control caused to lose forever most of it. Department has neither any reliable list of the Wildlife it possess has in its areas on land, Water, and Air species wise not its number besides animals and plants have been got extinct or threatened with extinction. Doled out against law to please masters Wildlife areas without having it de-notified areas ,Golf Courses, to the Tourism development Authorities, the Ecotourism wing of its own has been made to go in slumber , failed to contain poaching and smuggling of banned wildlife items. Data with it is hardly very little reports of booking any such activity and prosecution rate again at brim. A few years back Moti Parimoo on visit to the state from United Sates brought to the notice of then Chief Wildlife Warden R.D Tiwari in his office at Srinagar that two Hanguls were reported to be killed in Chak Sangari area part of Dachigam National Park, and police case has been said to be registered besides a black bear has also been killed there. Chief Wildlife Warden feigned his ignorance. Parimoo shared another incident that wildlife Skins were being carried on the scooter in the broad day light in Sonwar Srinagar to it Tiwar responded why he has not caught the person. Aghast with this irresponsible response, Moti ji retorted back that he has not been powered to do so. Readers may like poaching of migratory birds during winter season goes on viral, sometime in newspapers, but not a single case is booked. So is the case with illegal hunting in the state being carried? This writer found Chief Wildlife Wardens had either hardly visited the areas under his jurisdiction during his tenure or day time tour of the nearby site, rarely found inspection note to take cognizance of his observation so does this percolates down .And over the years delinking it from Forest, Environment Ecology on the basis of the track record of the Wildlife Protection Department has been ill advised move, it proved so.

 

Cardinal blunder Department concerned is in habit of committing unchecked year after year despite repeated requests to correct its strategy accordingly that has yet to take cognizance of the fact Wildlife covers all undomesticated life forms including birds, insects, plants, fungi and even microscopic organisms .With conservation and Protection the natural habitat of wildlife species, we enrich our planet. To do so, we must keep the animals in their natural place. Conservation of natural habitats will also be beneficial for humans since it helps keep the essential watersheds intact and ensuring clean, fresh water. Which calls for a dire essential to maintain a healthy ecological balance on this earth, animals, plants and marine species are as important as humans civilisation during its evolution realised to protect the Wildlife for sustainable development for its survival. Scriptures emphasised that God created everything through him, and nothing was created except through him. “When a man has pity on all living creatures, then only is he noble.” – The Buddha. He who has a pity on the (even) a Sparrow and spares it’s life, to him God shall be merciful on the Day of Judgement. In Islam, the Holy Quran strongly enjoys upon Muslims to treat animals with compassion and not to abuse them. All creatures are believed to praise God even if this praise is not expressed in human language. Hinduism teaches respect for all creatures and compassion towards all beings is a basic principle of Hindu practice. Many animal seals were found in the Indus Valley excavations, which suggest to their importance in the ancient world. Vedic people gave a lot of importance to animals in their lives and associated them with the deities they worshipped. The Vedas mention several animals by name, such deer, boar, foxes, antelopes, boars, gazelles, jackals, lions, monkeys, rabbits, wolves, bears, beavers, rats, etc. They knew the importance of horses, elephants, cows, bulls, sheep, goats, and other domesticated animals in both religious and economic activity. Yellow Stone National Park is the first to establish in the world in 1872in America. In the Subcontinent it was Hailey National Park, renamed Jim Corbett National Park Established in the year 1936 .But credit goes to late Maharaja Partap Sigh who restricted hunting as far back as in 1872. Point is should State Subjects in particular remain a mute spectator till all is lost?

 

(The writer is a Jammu based environmentalist)


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Opinion

Brazen statements on job shortage

The Kashmir Monitor

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By Mihir Swarup Sharma

Back when Narendra Modi was just a candidate for the post of Prime Minister, he seemed to understand what India’s biggest problem was: jobs. He promised tens of millions of jobs would be created if he were voted to power – India’s unemployed young people would be transformed, he promised, into an army for development.

Four years later, this promise has turned into a weapon for the opposition. His predecessor, Manmohan Singh, pointed out last year that young Indians were “desperately waiting for the jobs that they were promised.”

 

The Modi government’s response has been typical: not harder work, not economic reform, but bluster. Two recent statements from senior ministers who should know better stand out. Piyush Goyal said that the large number of people who are lining up for jobs in the Railways that he oversees – over 15 million applied recently for a minuscule number of vacancies – did not in any way mean that there is a shortage of jobs in India. And Human Resources Minister Prakash Javadekar, whose job is indeed to prepare the Indian workforce for employment, has insisted that each and every sector in India has witnessed job opportunities. “We have to find out why people with post-graduate degrees apply for sweeper jobs in the government,” he said.

Well, minister, the answer is staring us all in the face: that there simply aren’t enough high-quality jobs available. Yes, even low-skilled government jobs provide security; but in a growing economy, the private sector should also be creating enough and better-paid jobs in such a way that security would be rendered irrelevant.

The fact is that when millions of Indians turn up for jobs that they are manifestly overqualified for, it cannot be seen as anything other than a failure of economic management on a massive scale.

There was not even the slightest remorse expressed by the ministers for whatever combination of circumstances may have arisen in the economy to cause this sort of desperation on the part of job-seekers. Nor was there an iota of compassion for these young job-seekers or a comprehension of the lack of choices they face.

Mr Javadekar even said that “people who do not work out of choice cannot be called unemployed”. Is it possible that Modi Sarkar imagines that everyone without employment prefers to watch things on their Jio phone rather than earn a living? It is impossible to overstate how out of touch that sentiment is. Even in the best case scenario, which is that the minister was referring only to the worrying decrease in the labour participation rate of women – fewer women in India are working, while in the test of the world more women worked as development progressed – it still reveals an inability to understand the real problems faced by job-seekers. If women are not going out to work, it is not out of “choice”. It is because neither law and order nor their social relations in their community have allowed them to do so. Is this not something a government should be concerned about – if, that is, it values half of India? Or should it just dismiss the crushing of womens’ aspirations as “their choice”?

The ministers complained that there was not enough data to prove that jobs were not being created. This seems to undercut various other claims made by government apologists that jobs are indeed being created – on the basis of the pension records kept by the provident funds, for example. Many economists have poked clear holes in this theory. At best, that reveals that under pressure from demonetization and the GST, some jobs are coming into the formal sector – but it does not reveal whether or not jobs are being created overall. While it is amusing to discover that not even the Modi government ministers believe its own propagandists, the politicians’ statements are still important. Their complaint about the lack of official data is shared by many.

Yet data is scarce, of course, for a very specific reason: the survey of unemployment in the country, conducted by the Labour Bureau every year from 2010 to 2016, was discontinued by the Union Labour Ministry – in a strange coincidence, the Survey showed sharp job losses after the National Democratic Alliance government came to power in 2014. So when the ministers – and earlier the Prime Minister himself – complain that there is no data on employment, what they should instead explain is why the government chose to stop collecting data on employment.

The reason, of course, is that this government does not want the release of any data that would reveal the true state of the economy. The manipulation of the backseries of GDP data revealed exactly how desperate it is to whitewash its unusually poor record.

The Modi government seems to believe that voters are comically stupid. That they will not only believe that jobs are being created, but also that mobs of people applying for a few government jobs is a sign of how many other jobs there are. That they will also believe that a lack of data that the government has itself organised can be replaced by earnest assurances from the Prime Minister and his Cabinet that large numbers of jobs have indeed been created.

The most reliable independent source for jobs data are the reports from the Centre for Monitoring the Indian Economy, or CMIE. Their latest report, issued earlier this month, indicated that 11 million jobs had been lost in 2018. Think about that – 11 million jobs were lost, not created. This comes at a time when most economists believe that we need to create between 6 and 12 million jobs a year just to keep pace with the number of people entering the job market. Nor were previous years better – demonetization in particular wreaked havoc, costing millions of jobs.

There is little doubt, therefore, that Modi has failed to keep the promises that he made before being elected. The question is whether he will be held accountable for those promises. Perhaps if the Prime Minister or his colleagues had been open about their failures and accepted that they understood where they had gone wrong and how more jobs could be created going forward, they might have been able to retain some credibility. Instead, they have chosen to deny that a problem even exists and to pretend instead that the promises have been fulfilled. This is brazen even by the standards of Indian politics.

There are good reasons for greater urgency. India’s window to create high-quality manufacturing jobs – the sort that helped countries like China move up the income ladder – is closing. More and more processes are being automated, and the scope for mass manufacturing that takes in lower-skilled workers and gives them solid secure employment is narrowing. But the World Bank has insisted in a recent report that there is still enough time. Given its vast numbers of young people, it is India that should be benefiting from these last decades in which manufacturing will matter. But instead the government has failed to undertake genuine economic reform, relying instead on adulatory press handouts and ministerial statements – managing the headlines and not the economy, as Arun Shourie put it. India’s young people, lining up in their lakhs in the hope even of a job as a government sweeper, deserve better than this callous indifference to their fate.

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Opinion

Is Rahul Gandhi emerging as a reliable brand?

The Kashmir Monitor

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By Shuchi Bansal

The Congress’s recent victories in Madhya Pradesh, Rajasthan and Chhattisgarh have put the spotlight on its president Rahul Gandhi.

While an earlier column spoke of brand Modi and whether he has lost some of its sheen, little has been said on Rahul Gandhi and if he, as a brand, has come of age. Or whether, despite his party’s recent wins, it is too early to think of him as a dependable brand.

 

Interestingly, the resurgence of the Congress and that of Rahul Gandhi in particular seems to represent an almost textbook example of a challenger brand.
The Bharatiya Janata Party’s (BJP) unexpected poor performance is also perhaps a classic case of what a market leader should avoid—complacence, overconfidence and petty-mindedness being on top of the list.

“While it’s true that Rahul Gandhi has a long way to go before he can match the perceived stature and the personal popularity of Narendra Modi, he has certainly been able to narrow the gap between them. I would say this is an outcome of some of his bold initiatives helped to a great extent by the missteps of the latter,” says Samit Sinha, managing partner, Alchemist Brand Consulting.

Dheeraj Sinha, managing director (India) and chief strategy officer (Asia) at Leo Burnett, agreed that Rahul Gandhi has emerged as a viable challenger with the recent wins in the Assembly elections.

However, he argues that challengers don’t win the game in India, leaders do. “Will Rahul be able to position himself as a viable leader of the country is the question. Just being a challenger won’t make it happen for the Congress,” he says.

Advertising veteran Sandeep Goyal who has done his doctorate in human brands, says that a challenger brand is defined by a mindset. It has ambitions larger than its conventional pool of resources and is prepared to do something bold. The most common narrative associated with the challenger brand is that of the underdog.

However, challenger brands are today more often focused on “what” they are challenging rather than “who” they are challenging.

“Rahul Gandhi is, therefore, by definition, truly a challenger brand. The important thing that everyone seems to be missing out on is that he is cleverly not really challenging Mr Modi but challenging incumbency, unfulfilled promises, growth agenda, and the performance of the current government, ‘mistakes’ like demonetization and GST (goods and service tax). In politics, these are really the ‘category drivers’. Rahul is also focusing on disenchantment/ unhappiness with jobs/economy, which is really challenging the ‘user experience’ with the current government,” says Goyal.

Sinha feels that Rahul’s underdog image helps him. He began his political career as a fumbling novice, which earned him the Pappu sobriquet.

“It’s because not much was expected of him is why his stock goes up every time he exceeds expectations, even for accomplishments that are less than extraordinary. On the other hand, his rival suffers a huge disadvantage for having set unrealistically high expectations, and whatever be his achievements, they are bound to fall short of the promise. This has no doubt negatively impacted both his credibility as well as popularity, which has helped Rahul Gandhi seize the narrative. When one starts at the bottom, the only way is up. The converse is equally true,” points out Sinha.

Brand Rahul seems to be gaining some traction. “His speeches have improved both in form and content. He is more consistent, more combative.

The hesitant, reluctant brand Rahul of yore is slowly but surely transforming into an astute leader who has pedigree and lineage,” feels Goyal.

Of course, none of this guarantees a defeat for the BJP, or a victory for the Congress, in this year’s general elections. Goyal says that as of now, brand Modi is stronger and better resourced, but beginning to fray at the edges.

Also, a bit hurt, if not bruised. In 2014, brand Modi epitomized “hope” and “progress.”

“In 2019, he cannot stand for Hindutva or Ram Temple or The Cow. That would be a big mistake. In 2014, brand Rahul was untested and nascent. In 2019, he is portraying himself as progressive, secular, empathetic and pedigreed… Both brands have their own appeal,” he says.

As Leo Burnett’s Sinha says, leadership brands need to appeal to the whole market.

Will brand Rahul be able to cover this distance from being a challenger brand to the leader brand in the next few months remains to be seen.

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Opinion

Your waste: someone’s taste

The Kashmir Monitor

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By Zeeshan Rasool Khan,

While we every other day listen to boastful claims that the country India is developing fast. It has become very difficult for most of us to accept the brute reality that here the people die because of hunger. Yes, death due to starvation is the unthinkable, reality of India. According to sources, about 14.9% of the Indian population is undernourished. Half of the world’s hungry live in India. Thousands are those who do not know if the next meal would be availed or not. Reports say, everyday 20 crore people have to hit the sack with an empty tummy. In the year 2018, many cases of hunger-death were reported in India. This bitter truth is being cloaked with bragging. Global Hunger Index 2018, which has placed India at a 103rd place out of 119 qualifying countries, is a testimony to this fact that India is not what media shows i.e., all is not well within the nation with respect to common masses. Howbeit, it is not any matter of berating the nation. There is no question of cutting anyone to size in connection with this issue. Instead, it demands serious contemplation from everyone irrespective of our positions in society.

One of the root causes of hunger is poverty that has been challenging to every developing country and India is no exception. Despite the reports of GHI, which says, the poverty level has reduced by 0.9 % since 2011 we must accept that our efforts have been too meagre to achieve any feat in this direction. Let us accept we have failed in defeating poverty. But, that does not mean we will rest on our laurels and let poverty-stricken die. If we cannot eradicate the gigantic issue of poverty but we have immense potential to secure poor. If we cannot build palaces for indigents, however, we can provide them shelter to hide at least. If we cannot raise their standard of living but there is no doubt that, we can mitigate their problems. Likewise, if we cannot provide them with sumptuous food, at least we can make sure that they will not sleep hungry, die due to hunger and starvation.

 

There is no dearth of food. Credible reports suggest that India produces sufficient food to feed its population. However, access to the available food is lacking. And this inaccessibility is partly due to low income of people and mostly due to our behaviour of wasting food. It has been estimated that nearly one-third of the food produced in the world for human consumption is wasted every year. This wastage starts from processing continues up to packing, supply management, and consumption.Due to imperfect packaging methods and inefficient supplying system, a considerable amount of food is lost. According to one estimate, about 40 percent of fruits and vegetables and 30 percent of cereals are wasted and do not reach the consumers because of improper packaging and supplying techniques. Prevalent ways of processing and subsequent supplying of paddy and other grains result into wastage of a part of it. Common Fruit growers know it better, while packaging, what quantity of fruits is wasted. Fully ripened fruit is often discarded as ‘rotten’ because of apprehensions about its transportation. Same is the case with vegetables and other foodstuffs.

These squandered grains, discarded fruit and vegetables make a large part of wasted food. Imagine if these grains, ripe fruit, and vegetable reach any poor, how great it would be. At the consumption stage, significant levels of food wastage occur. The gluttony, most people are indulged in is itself a form of wastage. Some people eat like a horse without thinking about health risks that overeating leads to. They keep on inviting ailments rather than getting any benefit but never cogitate, how by exercising moderation in eating we can help others. The excessive food that we take can easily become a morsel for a destitute.

Our weddings, events, restaurants, hostels, and houses are a major source of food wastage. At weddings, a huge amount of food is wasted. A large amount of food including multiple dishes are served, which results in leftovers that finally finds a place in trash bins. It would have been far better to have control mechanism at our weddings for prevention of food-wastage. However, even in absence of a mechanism, we can play a significant role in reducing wastage of food by best use of leftovers. Leftovers from weddings and even from our homes, restaurants, hostels, and hotels are often thrown away. But there is an option for us to make better use of it. We can recycle leftovers. We can make many other dishes from it, which can be used for the next meal. Massimo Botturra of Italy – the world’s best chef has come up with this innovative idea. He has founded the association namely ‘Food for Soul’ with the motive to fight food waste. He uses surplus food /leftovers productively to tackle food wastage and nourish poorest people of the city. Most of Hoteliers and restaurateur, across the world particularly India, have followed suit that is a good sign. Others, who are not aware of this idea, should imitate the same .So that more and more necessitous are benefited. In fact, using leftovers to feed the poor living in our vicinity would be one of the finest uses of leftovers. By this way the uneaten edibles from our homes, restaurants, etc. can fill the bellies of many and eliminate their hunger.

Efforts are on throughout India and fortunately, in our state too, to reach out the hunger struck population. No doubt, some NGO’s are working to utilize extra cooked food and give it to needier. But, the challenge is big and efforts are small. Broad-gauge efforts are required that must be started from the individual level. While processing, packaging, supplying, and consuming, utmost care needs to be taken to check the frittering. Through this mindfulness, we can preserve lot of food and can make it available to the poor. In addition, if everyone would refrain from wasting food and take care of penurious people of respective communities, we can ensure food availability for a maximum number of deprived people.

It is worth to mention, feeding hungry cannot obliterate hunger as it is related to several problems. However, we cannot deny the fact that hunger itself is the root of various other troubles. Hunger deprives a person from growth. It increases the vulnerability of a person to a myriad of complications, which can have an adverse impact on social, behavioural, emotional, and physical health of a person. Satisfying one’s hunger can make him eligible to earn livelihood otherwise his destiny is elimination. So, we must think logically to gain the best of both worlds.

(The writer can be reached at: [email protected])

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