Category Archives: Social Issues

The pregnant elephant and the bomb in the pineapple

Student Opinion : Punarnava Malhotra

One female elephant wandered, away from her herd, in search of healthier pastures for the baby in her womb. If nine months is painful for humans, female elephants carry their young ones for over 22 months of the gestation period (longest of any mammal alive today). Soon as they’re born, like a ritual, where the herd collects around the female in labor to witness the miracle of birth, the mother helps the young one stand up on its legs.

They were living peacefully in the dense canopies of Nilgiri Hills, a tropical forest. It is unusually quiet, rarely buzzing with insects, hence the name Silent Valley. This place is a haven for animals and life sciences experts alike.

The 15-year-old female elephant was optimistic as she wandered outside her protected region. She found a harmless, sweet fruit. But, unknown to the art of deception, as she ate the forbidden pineapple, the bomb inside exploded, while severely wounded her mouth and tusks. No story ever mentioned such fruits in any tale of history. The explosive compound is called Panni-Padakkam, identified as a mix of Potassium Chlorate and Arsenic Sulphide held together by plastic wires.

These lethal explosives are wrapped in a cloth with fruits and then used as baits by farmers to protect their farmlands from wild bores and pigs. Several pigs die in similar mode every day when they chew the bait laden fruit. This certainly does not makes this practice any less evil when there are plenty of simple methods to protect the farm.

And it is also believed that elephants have a keen smell that detects water from 12 miles away and can even recognize bombs through the trunk. It was highly unlikely for an elephant to feed onto such fruits. And these baits were safer to use. Hence, the forest officials were shocked when they arrived at the river on 30th May.  They suspect a case of conspiracy against an elephant. The perpetrators deliberately cleared off the spikes from the pineapple and fed it to her.

The elephant wandered inside the village in pain and agony. She had blood flowing out of the wounds, yet without hurting anyone on her way, or breaking any village house, she continued through the streets. She was in severe pain, but that doesn’t mean that she would be inflicting the same pain on anybody else. Walking in torturous pain, seemingly severe burn, and she was suffering too much to feel any hunger now. This happened a few days before her death. She walked her way towards the Velliyar River. Hopeful that the water will cure her of the ailments. She was not wrong. Water is a marvelous drink, and hydration does heal a lot of kidneys, respiratory and yeast infections. But in her case, it helped keep all the further infectious flies away as she held her trunk dipped inside the river, with a slight relief from throbbing pain.

Until the forest officers found her, they employed two Kumki elephant in an attempt to draw her out of the water. These are the trained elephants who help capture wild elephants, sometimes to provide medical assistance. Sadly she discarded all advances. An officer said that she might have had a sixth sense compelling her that she will die soon.

It had already been nearly two weeks of excruciating pain, and these giant mammals have even greater memory. I believe she could not forget the intense trauma and the horrific moment when the compound exploded inside her mouth.

While tasting their own blood and tissues, how can someone still have any faith left in life?!

She spent the remaining days standing in the river, forgot all the hunger in this new quest of survival, which was unknown to her in the wild.

The autopsy report says she stopped eating, all she had was river water overflowing around her in abundance. And she died at 4 pm, 27th May, as she collapsed in the water, followed by inhalation of water, resulting in lung failure.

Nothing was peaceful at this point! She died with a strong will to survive.

Elephants play a significant role in the tourism industry of Kerala, where even the citizens travel from North towards South to view the giant mammals. These mammals are also often seen on roads. And they are often treated in every household they visit. Keralites are so obsessed with these enchanting beings.   Moreover, they are protected by Schedule 1 of the Wildlife Protection Act, 1972.

Humanism is still intense, but once in a while, we hear a similar case of cruelty against animals. The people who commit these acts for their pleasure are a sadist and a threat to humanity everywhere. If they can’t treat an animal right, they will never learn to act ethically among humans.

The question is if justice shall be served? If we let this case go, there will be plenty more in the future. Can we risk these felons walking the streets again with no strings of the past? Or set a household example for people on what happened to the locals who fed harmless animals with crackers—telling them that the actions are strict against the animal cruelty in India!

Culprits can be prosecuted under the Wildlife Protection Act, 1972 with imprisonment no less than three years, extending up to 7 years and fine no less than 10,000 rupees or both.

This female elephant was respectfully cremated by the officials. And an FIR has been lodged against the unknown perpetrators. If the movement is strong enough, a real change will be seen—consequently, a better country for humans and animals alike.

Though a culprit has been arrested and other detained by the Forest Department of Kerala, however, it is yet to be seen that justice is delivered to the innocent jumbo and her unborn child.

References:

https://kerala.gov.in/total-literacy#:~:text=Kerala%20has%20the%20highest%20proportion,at%20the%20all%20India%20level.

https://elefootprintsblog.com/what-makes-elephants-so-cute/

http://legislative.gov.in/sites/default/files/A1972-53_0.pdf

https://timesofindia.indiatimes.com/city/bengaluru/Cracker-to-kill-wild-pigs-explodes-injures-2/articleshow/31814044.cms

Punarnava Malhotra studies literature at a college of Delhi University and is an environmentalist in her little way.

Veer Savarkar and the Two-Nation Theory

-Dr. Shreerang Godbole

Congress leader Digvijay Singh recently stated (26 Jan) that Savarkar had the original idea of the two-nation theory which was later adopted by Jinnah. This is not the first (and one may safely assume not the last) time that Veer Savarkar has been blamed for putting forth the two-nation theory. Notwithstanding Digvijay Singh’s political compulsions in spreading this piece of disinformation, a factual rebuttal is in order.

The entire case of the Savarkar-baiters rests on a solitary sentence culled out from his nearly 6000-page literature. Fortunately, Savarkar has himself answered the charge that he had put forth the two-nation theory. The sentence in question can be found in Savarkar’s Presidential address to the 19th session of the Akhil Bharat Hindu Mahasabha at Karnavati (Ahmedabad) in 1937. Savarkar stated, “India cannot be assumed today to be a unitarian and homogenous nation, but on the contrary there are two nations in the main; the Hindus and the Moslems, in India. If the critics bother to read the entire speech (available at http://www.savarkar.org/content/pdfs/en/hindu-rashtra-darshan-env002.pdf), it shall be evident to them that Savarkar had not advocated the two-nation theory.

It may be noted that Savarkar was one of the few Hindu leaders who had made a deep study of Islam from its scriptures. He had read a translation of the Quran even while he was a student in England. In the Andamans, Savarkar had read the Quran first in its English and subsequently Bengali and Marathi translations. Responding to the opinion of his Muslim friends that the real beauty of the Quran lies in its original, Savarkar asked them to read each page from the original and then had them translate it for his benefit into Hindi. As Savarkar describes, he heard them recite the Quran with great concentration and after keeping his mind clean and pure as a devout Muslim. In later life, Savarkar read several books written by Western authorities on the Quran.  Savarkar’s deep study of Islam is evident from his numerous articles such as those on Kemal Pasha, Khilafat movement and various Islamic sects. Savarkar had learnt to read and write Urdu. Thus, Savarkar’s views on Islam and Muslims are not those of an ignorant bigot.

The context
Savarkar’s Presidential address is not a run-of -the-mill political speech. After dwelling on the definition and significance of the word ‘Hindu’, the status of the Hindus as a nation unto themselves, the mission of the Hindu Mahasabha, unified Indian State and the cooperation of the minorities, Savarkar turned his attention to the attitude of the Muslims, He stated. “As it is, there are two antagonistic nations living side by side in India, several infantile politicians commit the serious mistake in supposing that India is already welded into a harmonious nation, or that it could be welded thus for the mere wish to do so. Our well-meaning but unthinking friends take their dreams for realities…The solid fact is that the so-called communal questions are but a legacy handed down to us by centuries of a cultural, religious and national antagonism between the Hindus and the Moslems. When time is ripe you can solve them but you cannot suppress them by merely refusing recognition of them.” It is in that context that he made that statement. The Islamscholar, historian and hard-headed realist in Savarkar was simply stating a bland fact and not endorsing it. This is further confirmed two sentences later when he referred to the options before the Hindus under the circumstances. He stated, “…to form an Indian State in which none is allowed any special weightage of representation and none is paid an extra price to buy his loyalty to the State. Mercenaries are paid and bought off, not sons of the Motherland to fight in her defence. The Hindus as a nation are willing to discharge
their duty to a common Indian State on an equal footing.” It is noteworthy that the President of the Hindu Mahasabha was not seeking any rights for the Hindus that he was not willing to grant to the Muslims! Throughout his life, Savarkar advocated equal rights for all citizens in a unified Indian State.

Savarkar’s defence
Misunderstanding was created after Savarkar made the above utterances. Hence, Savarkar clarified his statement to journalists on 15 August 1943 in the office of the Marathi weekly Aadesh in Nagpur. He also clarified his position in an interview given in Mumbai on 23 August 1943. The interview was published in the Aadesh dated 28 August 1943. Given below is an English translation of Savarkar’s clarification as published in the Marathi weekly Aadesh dated 23 August 1943.

“I had clarified this (mystatement that there are two nations in Hindusthan) in my Nagpur interview. But instead of reporting this, journalists simply reported that I accept the two-nation theory. This has resulted in the whole misunderstanding. I am surprised that a storm has been raised now on this issue. Because I have always been referring to the two-nation theory right from my Ahmedabad speech. It is a historic truth that the Mussulmans are a .nation.. I had clarified the historical and racial background of this theory in Nagpur. Islam is a theocratic nation based on the Koran right from its inception.

This nation never had geographical boundaries. Wherever the Mussulmans went, they went as a nation. They also came to Hindusthan as a .nation.. Wherever they go,Mussulmans shall either remain foreigners or rulers. As per the Koran, those who are not Mussulmans are kafirs, enemies of Islam. Even today, after praying in the mosque,Mussulmans ask for atonement for committing the sin of living in a kafir-ruled state. As per the principle of Mussulmans, the earth is divided into two nations: Dar-ul Islam (land of Islam) and Dar-ul Harb where Islam does not rule (enemy land). As per their religious command, their campaign on Hindusthan was as a separate nation. They conquered the Hindu Nation as a enemy nation, not as One Nation.

The Hindu Nation arose again and having defeated the Mussulmans at various places, saved the whole of Hindusthan to establish Hindu Padpadshahi also as a separate Hindu Nation opposed to the Muslim nations. This history certainly cannot be denied. In the recent past, the educated class among the Hindus mostly through the vehicle of the Congress tried its utmost to champion territorial nationalism by saying that at least in Hindusthan, Hindus and Mussulmans are one nation because they reside in one country. Though the effort was well-intentioned, the Mussulmans never gave up their principle of theocratic or scriptural nationalism and the feeling of being a nation separate from the Hindu Nation. And they never shrank from stating this right. Seizing the right opportunity and taking advantage of the Congress. policy of surrender, the Muslim League once again emphatically put forth that same old theory of the Mussulman nation being a separate nation. If one turns a blind eye to this reality, the Hindu Nation is bound to be divided. So we do not care if you consider yourself to be a separate nation. The effort towards Hindu consolidation is to emphatically state that the Hindu Nation is a self-evident and unified Nation. The Mahasabha came forward as a separate and mighty national organization of the Hindu Nation. Hindu Nationalism gave a cutting edge to the effort of consolidation.

People still do not understand the important thing that stating the fact of Mussulman and Hindu nations being present in Hindusthan is not to accept the Pakistani adamancy of carving a country of the Mussalmans. If I call someone a grihasta (householder), it does not make him a resident of my griha (house). Whether the Mussulmans consider themselves a separate nation or not, at least as far as Hindusthan is concerned, they are a minority compared to Hindus. Like the English, they have come here as foreigners and if they want to stay in Hindusthan, they should do so only as a minority community. An independent, unified, indivisible and single State should be established in Hindusthan. Hindusthan is the Fatherland and the Holyland of Hindus and even today they are an overwhelming majority in this their country. Hence, even if there are in this country, by force or tyranny, the English, Portuguese, French or those invaders such as the Americans or Japanese who call themselves a nation., Hindusthan should be considered politically a nation of the Hindus as per the principle of peoples’ power. If they want, minorities may stay here merely as minority communities. This is the objective; this is the oath of Hindu consolidation. This objective should be achieved through consensus if possible. Else, by strength and should opportunity arise, by force, this or the next generation of Hindus shall achieve this objective. While two or two hundred nations that consider themselves separate from the Hindus have presently entered Hindusthan by force and are demanding Partition of Hindusthan, it is not by a woolly-headed and cowardly denial of this fact but rather by understanding, facing and changing it shall an independent, undivided and indivisible Hindu nation alone shall without doubt, remain in Hindusthan. But as in our history when the Hindu Nation successfully rallied under the Hindu Flag, the Hindus should come forward and rise unitedly.”

Savarkar was then asked that if Hindus and Mussulmans are two nations, how will they form a single nation?. He answered, “ We should not confuse between Nation. And State.. Even if the State goes, the Nation remains. When the Mussulmans were ruling over us, the government (State) was theirs. But the existence of the Hindus was most certainly intact. Even so, there is no problem in a common State of Hindus and Mussulmans. In the past, we had nations (rashtra) such as Maharashtra, Saurashtra, Devrashtra (near Berar). Where are these nations? They mingled with each other. The Shakas and Huns came to Hindusthan as nations. But what is the evidence of their existence today? We digested them. So if the Mussulmans want, they could amicably stay with Hindus as a minority community. In the past, nations such as Prussia, Bavaria etc. existed in Germany. But today, they have all together formed the German nation. By law, no one in Germany may call himself Prussian or Bavarian but German only.

“Regarding the Mussulmans in Hindusthan, it may be said that you (Hindus) are trying to rope them with you but do the Mussulmans so desire? In the end, .desire. is the most influential and important factor for a .nation.. If they consider themselves separate, what is achieved merely by saying that you consider them your own? And hence, we need not worry whether they come with us or not. And there is no reason why we should sacrifice Hindu interests and plead with them to perforce say that they are not a separate nation. Hindus are a nation unto themselves. Considering this, the Hindus should continue the freedom struggle by consolidating themselves irrespective of whether the Mussulmans come with them or not. If they so desire, they may stay here, else they shall go where it pleases them.”

Savarkar’s consistent view on this subject was best summarized by him in his Presidential address in Nagpur in 1938. He said, ““It is absurd to call us (Hindus) a community in India. The Germans are the Nation in Germany ad the Jews a Community. The Turks are a Nation in Turkey and the Arab or the Armenian minority a Community. Even so the Hindus are a Nation in India-in Hindusthan and the Moslem minority a Community.”

It is undeniable that Muslims consider themselves as a nation or Ummah. It was not Savarkar’s invention nor did he ever endorse this Islamic concept. It is noteworthy that the Afro-American religious movement started by Wallace D. Fard Muhammad in Detroit, Michigan in 1930 was named ‘Nation of Islam’.

Jinnah’s inspiration

To say that Jinnah adopted Savarkar’s idea is arrant nonsense! Can Digvijay Singh or his ilk quote a single sentence from Jinnah’s speeches or writings where he has named Savarkar as his source of inspiration? In a letter to newly elected Congress President

Badruddin Tyabji (1888), Sir Syed Ahmed wrote, “Is it supposed that that the different castes and creeds living in India belong to one nation, or can become nation, and that their aims and aspirations be one and same? I think it is quite impossible.” The answer given by Tayyabji, the former President of Digvijay Singh’s Grand Old Party is even more revealing. Tayyabji writes, “Now I am not aware of anyone regarding the whole of India as one Nation and if you read my Inaugural address, you will find it distinctly stated that there are numerous communities or nations in India…”(Source Material for a History of the Freedom Movement in India, Vol.2, pp70-73). The idea of an independent, sovereign Islamic State carved out of India was first publicly stated by Sir Muhammad Iqbal in his Presidential address to the Muslim league in 1930. Iqbal said, “I would like to see the Punjab, the North West Frontier Province, Sind and Baluchistan amalgamated into a single State. Self-Government within the British Empire or without the British Empire, the formation of a consolidated North-West Indian Muslim State appears to be to me the final of the Muslims at least of the North-Western India.”

Zulfiquar Ali Bhutto accurately observed that “the starting point of Pakistan goes back a thousand years to when Muhammad-bin-Qasim set foot on the soil of Sind and introduced Islam in the sub-continent”

It is a travesty that Congressmen who accepted the Islamic demand of a separate State on the basis of religion and Leftists who fervently believe India to be a hotchpotch of multiple nationalities should hurl the charge of advocacy of the two-nation theory on Savarkar, a lifelong champion of a unified India.

(The writer is a Pune-based specialist in diabetes and hormone disorders. He has
authored books on Islam, contemporary Buddhist-Muslim relations and played a major role in developing http://www.savarkar.org)

Silent Warriors of tribal India

Silent warriors of tribal India
HIGHLIGHTS

Thousands of tribal women workers across India work to bring education, livelihood and health and make a difference to their own communities, reaching 50,000 villages with 35,000 micro projects

A tribal welfare department official goes on tour to the Bastar region in Chattisgarh.

At the end of the day, as his jeep loses its way in the twilight in the jungle, a tribal woman who is travelling with him, jumps out and tells the driver to switch off the headlights and follow her.

She starts running along the kutcha pathways in the dark and the jeep follows her faint, racing figure until they are back to the road. For five whole kilometres!

This magic guide in the jungle is a member of the Vanavasi Kalyan Ashram and a worker, who runs an education project in the villages of Bastar. And she is as deft in managing large-scale projects as she is leading the way out of dark, dense forests.

She is one of the thousands of workers who are part of a mammoth development exercise across India, focusing on the tribal populations in various states, from Punjab to Arunachal Pradesh, from Bihar to Kerala. For the last 67 years.

This week a hundred such tribal women leaders from across India met in Hyderabad for a national workshop and to share their stories.

On their work in education and livelihood training, self-help groups and viable agriculture, water conservation, prevention of trafficking of young tribal girls. On conflict resolution and rehabilitation. On hostels and health. And on tribal sports and revival of traditional arts and crafts.

“Thirty years ago, I had studied in a Kalyan Ashram hostel and I still remember how our villagers used to run away when they saw a stranger.

We were illiterate, had no potable drinking water, suffered from illnesses and had no access to any of the Government schemes. All that changed now,” says Kimudu Acchamma, in charge of the Paderu centre in Visakhapatnam district.

With more than 200 hostels that offer shelter, schooling, health and sports training, Kalyan Ashrams boast of many successful former students in all fields including sports with sportspersons such as Limba Ram and Kavita Raut among notables.

Apart from livelihood training and self-help groups of women, the VKS also takes active part in resource protection and support to farmer and fishermen communities.

“In Purulia district of West Bengal, water is so scarce that it was difficult to have even one crop in a year. But we revived the tanks and helped each farmer dig a small tank in his land so that groundwater was charged, and they could grow fish there.

And the farmers could actually go for two crops,” explains Malati Soren from Purulia. “The tribal belt there was very backward. In fact, there was a village, which had just one boy who could read and write and he was in a hostel in the town.

The entire village waited for him to come home for holidays so that he could sit and read all their letters from many months,” recalls Beenapani Das, also from West Bengal.

Conflict resolution has been one of the main areas of thrust of the Kalyan groups. “In Assam, in Bastar, Manipur and Arunachal, whenever there was a clash between two tribes, both sides were losers.

We approached both the tribes and brokered. On many occasions, police called women members from our groups to come and cajole the warring tribes,” says Madhavi Joshi, country head of the VKA women’s groups.

The peace efforts also worked in the Bastar region of Chattisgarh and Gadchiroli in Maharashtra where left extremism became an impediment to the development of scheduled tribes.

“In Gadchiroli, there were fierce encounters between Maoists and the security forces and tribes got caught in crossfire. We were the only one who were allowed to get in the middle, go to the remote areas and speak to the villagers,” smiles Jasunda Darro who works in Gadchiroli villages.

“Bastar had a mere 2% literacy among women. Tribal people, especially young people and women faced so much pressure from the extremist groups and they equally suffered due to lack of access to facilities in their own habitations,” adds Madhavi Joshi.

Apart from night schools, free coaching classes, reading rooms, VKA also runs Ekal Pathshalas, single-teacher schools that have young girls from the community, teaching primary school kids and dropouts, often depending on song and story to convey lessons to toddlers. Ekal school teachers sometimes walk kilometers to reach the schools assigned to them.

Terrain is one of the most challenging factors of their work, but workers, such as Omem Bayor of Arunachal Pradesh climb up mountains to reach tribal villages near Tibet, China borders to reach the last tribal woman.

Prevention of trafficking of young girls has been seen as a crucial intervention in some states such as the North east and West Bengal where the kids are sent off across the borders and are never seen again, the women SHGs have focused on bringing girl children to schools, preventing child marriages.

Elsewhere in the bustling metro of Kolkata, Usha Agarwal builds bridges between urban denizens and the tribal areas, organizing Vana Yatras and offering marketing avenues for the tribal crafts.

The venue for the Vanavasi Kalyan Ashram national meet echoes with songs, in Santhali and Gond, in Marathi and Bengali, sung by women, each of whom is a driving force in her own community.

“It is our effort to preserve our music and dance and we interact with old people and document legends, stories, songs and poems and teach them,” says Donshinlu Golmei from Manipur. “We have discovered many lost gems and many tribal festivals,” adds Nayana Gamit from Gujarat.

The work that these women do is mostly voluntary, except for a few full-time workers who are often products of the hostels themselves.

And unknown to the rest of the world, their energy courses through the veins of tribal India, revitalizing whole communities, bridging development gaps and ensuring their holistic development.

https://www.thehansindia.com/featured/womenia/silent-warriors-of-tribal-india-534776