Writing is like T20 batting. If you block, you might as well retire to the pavilion! -- Pete Langman
Expat in Germany

Saturday, August 2, 2014

The great festival of Trees!

Vanamahotsav literally means, 'the great festival of trees.' It is celebrated at that time of the year when the farmer looks for hope in the skies; the school children look for fun, joy and the occasional holiday; the city dweller prays for his and his motor vehicle's safety lest he never knows where a pothole on the road is - the monsoon time. It was initiated by the then food and agriculture minister, Kulapati K.M.Munshi, to increase the forest cover in India. Though at a meager rate(something like 0.5%), the forest cover has been rising through the decades. India is still among the ten highly forest-rich countries. The forest cover is about 24%, higher than the suggested 19%, but less than the golden mark, 31%. But with the GDP and a significant portion of the population dependent on forests, it is in the best interests of any political party coming into power to maintain the forest cover we have.

The brave women of Garhwal, Uttarakhand
Vanamahotsav is a one week festival at the beginning of July. But since the monsoon is always late like most of the Indians and Indian trains, I, a true Indian, generally celebrate it by the last week of July. Fortunately, I was taught to plant a sapling and importantly, take care of it until it grows significantly, instead of chopping down huge trees, plant a million small plants, call the media, gain publicity, enter the Limca or Guinness records and leave those million "just-planted" to rot! I can proudly talk about the plants I took care of, and feel sad for the tree I could not save from being cut! Adieu to Amrita Devi and the women of Garhwal Himalayas in the 1970s, now, in 2014, with increased awareness about nature and deforestation and with the Chipko movement taking various shapes and forms, there is a lot more to feel happy and pleased about.

Some fifty to hundred years back, every one was taking of colonies, slavery, supremacy, war and subsequent industrialisation and probably not many talked about environmental issues, with exceptions like Mahatma Gandhi. Hence, now we are talking primarily about environment, global warming, climate change etc.(sadly, we are still talking of wars too!) Any international conference, climate change is a topic which finds itself in. Realisation I guess, or probably a necessity for survival since we are vulnerable and no longer "the fittest!"

The following pictures of barren Hyderabad in the nineteenth century by Raja Deen Dayal show what the level of awareness was back then. All the Nizams, kings and the British-generals were interested in was only hunting down hundreds of Tigers just for fun and of course posing for a picture (a luxury) with the hunted tiger. I think the world is better now than a hundred years back and really hope it gets better in the coming years.

All but rocks: Secunderabad in the late 19th century

 If Hyderabad was only a rocky place with a lot of water scarcity, we need not feel bad about urbanising it and making it relatively scarcity free.

The surroundings of Hussain Sagar are greener now

It is very much possible to preserve various natural gifts and at the same time develop. A lot of profit can be made from forests.

Hyderabad...but without those high rises!