Category Archives: Campaigns

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

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

Painting with a broad brush: Stereotyping “tribal” identity

Yet another “tribal” story in a national newspaper. Based on my reading, the story is based on the seizure of a consignment of ghee packets at a forest checkpost by the department. Clearly this indicates that some of the ghee packets under a government scheme are finding ways into private markets for sale. Several reports abound about such “hand-outs” entering private markets. Often, these instances are cited as reasons for not giving subsidies or hand-outs.  Continue reading

Of absurd letters and misplaced priorities

It is not too rare to see very bizarre letters. In fact, there have been letters unearthed from over 2000 years ago from the dawn of writing itself often written by people who wanted to complain about services or to authorities. More recent funny letter compilations abound on the Internet, many of them quite lame leave letters supposedly written by staff of  IT companies around Bangalore. But, this letter I chanced upon at one of Karnataka’s tiger reserves (BR Hills) definitely takes the cake on absurdity and ad-hocism, let alone other  more serious issues with the letter like making a mockery of people’s rights for starters. Continue reading

Open government (data)

Comment is free, but facts are sacred

Thanks to the exceedingly good central government run website to file applications under the Right to Information Act (see end of this post for details), I got the opportunity to look at some useful data on implementation of large nationwide schemes. I have been trying to obtain data on such schemes across subjects, disciplines and departments with the objective of understanding what ails the management and utilisation of data in government services in India. Continue reading