DIVIDED AND RULED

Posted by: Bittu Sahgal on


The greatest environmental tragedy, in my view, is that even as the development brigade purposefully and effectively divided (and thus ruled) wildlife and tribal groups, they managed to sell the Trojan Horse of consumptive development to influential tribal leaders who are currently conspiring to open gate after forest gate from the inside for coal miners, road builders, poachers, timber traders and all manner of carpetbaggers for whom a standing natural forest is an opportunity wasted.

Na rahe baans, na baje baansuri.

Its an ancient Indian truism that suggests that when the bamboo vanishes, the sound of the flute vanishes with it. This is what I see happening to the fragrance of tribal and forest culture in India. And social activists must sit quietly, without their 'arch enemies', the wildlife lot, around and think... can they possibly protect tribal cultures if the foundation of such cultures -- the forest -- itself vanishes? And can they do this without protecting the species (bats and moths) that pollinate the mahua tree for instance? I have tried all my life, and failed, to engage the finest, most ethical, of human rights activists in an attempt to forge unity. But most urban (leftist) social activists consider wildlife conservation an elitist concern... though I doubt very much that anyone has ever seen an elitist tiger, or elephant, or rhino, or ant.