Author Archives: daktre

BUCEROS: A time to review the BNHS ENVIS newsletter

Lovely images and production quality of the BUCEROS magazine/newsletter produced by the BNHS ENVIS team
In the recently arrived Vol. 22 No. 2 (2017) for instance several pages are reproductions of articles (well selected ones) that seem to have appeared in The Times of India

I glance at the two volumes of BUCEROS that arrived a few days back (Vol 22 No. 2 (2017). The least problematic is the fact that I received them in 2019!

ENVIS, short for Environmental Information System is a programme to bring together information on various aspects of our environment in one place and engage a wide range of actors from researchers, policymakers etc “ENVISioned” by the Ministry of Environment & Forests several years back. BNHS is one of the ENVIS centres for Avian Ecology and the BNHS-ENVIS programme lists a rather ambitious set of objectives, and possibly receives public/donor funding to achieve them. While the printing and production content of the newsletter that they produce (BUCEROS) is of high quality, the content is rather poor; the most recent issue I received was entirely made of bird-related articles from Times of India and the rest borrowed from other Internet sources (duly cited but…). In this day and age does it make sense to produce, print and disseminate such high quality printed magazines under public funding with limited content beyond what is publicly available?

The website of BNHS ENVIS sponsored by MoEF&CC; most of the operational parts of the site were last updated in 2016 & 17; BUCEROS is one of the magazines produced by this facility and issues up to 2016 are available online

This brings up a fundamental problem with many publicly funded programmes: they are rarely reviewed openly and external oversight (either technical expertise or lay oversight) is limited. A letter to ENVIS@BNHS follows….

Local language bird material across the country through a network of ENVIS centres

Given that a lot of what BUCEROS currently does is attainable at much lesser cost using social media dissemination of articles instead of high-quality production and dissemination of English magazine, perhaps BNHS ENVIS could think of decentralising local language material in various Indian languages produced through local partners based at other states and districts across the country. Imagine localised material on birds produced in Kannada or in Assamese or Gujarati by government colleges or educational institutions that can be easily disseminated within the state rather than an expensive English language magazine set-up operated from BNHS.

A letter sent to BNHS ENVIS asking for a thorough review of BUCEROS and bringing it in line with the kind of technology platforms and social media engagement available today

Vulnerability: An article for CMJI

From an article for a special issue of Christian Medical Journal of India on vulnerability published in December 2018 [Download issue here]

The word Vulnerability, like many other words in modern English, comes from late Latin vulnerābilis (wounding) or vulnus (wound), according to Webster’s dictionary. In its current use, the word carries a wider meaning beyond impending physical injury or harm, to include the risk of emotional or psychological trauma. It has been widely used in the context of natural disasters. Sudden and often unforeseen natural calamities put a lot of people at physical, socio-economic, political, psychological and emotional harm. However, vulnerability is not only about large populations and natural disasters; individuals or households too can experience vulnerability due to various psychosocial, familial or other life circumstances. In either case – be it individuals or populations – an experience of vulnerability is almost never exclusively due to the individual’s own choices. A large body of work from social sciences, as well as stories and narratives of people who have dealt with vulnerabilities in their life, demonstrates that this experience is almost never caused in isolation.  Continue reading

Intro to the Indian Constitution

In a journey towards understanding health, healthcare and their distribution, one can rarely stray too far from the social determinants of health. Despite various biomedical, genetic and environmental determinants of people’s health, the underlying modulatory effects that social determinants can have on all other determinants is staggering. And a quest towards understanding social determinants of anything eventually leads to the journey towards unpacking the norms, values, traditions and such that have shaped society. After all, many of these social determinants are deeply rooted within political, social, cultural and various other historical processes that shape a given society/community. A foundational document that shapes India’s political-legal-social tradition is the Constitution. And India’s post-independence history and certainly current events are reason enough to critically understand our Constitution.

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LUKOSIN: A classic “magical” remedy

I got drawn to the magical remedies of AIMIL Pharmaceuticals early last year and had tweeted about some of their products, two of them BGR34 and Lukosin caught my attention, not only because of the flaunting of DRDO’s logo on the website of this private pharmaceutical company (for Lukosin and a modest mention of the know how by CSIR on the former), but also because of the claims made about cure (not treatment) of Vitiligo.  Continue reading

Unwilled journeys

Unwilled journeys

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