Prasar Bharati’s Flora & Fauna of India Series: Namdapha Tiger Reserve

My Youtube feed offered me a suggestion from one of the recent uploads by Prasar Bharati, the Indian government public broadcaster. It was a documentary film about Namdapha Tiger Reserve, nestled away in the north-eastern corner of India with “pristine” but peopled forests. Literally within seconds, the film became uncomfortable to watch and as the 20-odd minutes of the film rolled by with very little of the flora and fauna of Namdapha, and a complete lack of mention of ANY local person, let alone a mention of the several tribes including the Lisu people who have lived for decades (if not longer), I thought of putting together my thoughts on the fillm in this thread.

The Biligirirangan Hills: Tracing history of the land, the people and the forests

A shorter edited version of this article appeared in JLRExplore in two parts (read part 1 and part 2). Thanks to Dr. Santosh Kumar (IFS) & S Karthikeyan for help and inputs.

The epic song and lyrics of Enjoy Enjaami communicate the intersections of slave labour and alienation from one’s land and the connectedness betwee a People and their land very well. Listen herehttps://youtu.be/eYq7WapuDLU
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Of babbers & bulbuls: BR Hills birds at the intersections of Biology Anthropology and Geography

At the 2021 edition of the Karnataka Bird Festival held at BR Hills somewhere neatly between the damp squib of a first wave (in Chamarajanagar) and the severe second wave, a small F2F gathering with online streaming of talks was organised. I did a broad sweep of birds of br hills overlaid on how the hills’ unique geographical location and social history.

Recording of the talk at the Karnataka Bird Festival at BR Hills

Open letter to President Kovind

APJ Abdul Kalam as then President of India amidst Adivasi children at BR Hills on October 15, 2006 after his talk at VGKK tribal residential school campus in sharp contrast to President Kovind’s visit on October 7, 2021

Dear Mr President,

It was another October in the year 2006, when a vehicle bearing the national emblem instead of a license plate (as is the norm for vehicles transporting the President) stopped at B R Hills in Chamarajanagar district of southern Karnataka. It was an exciting time for the Solega people who were among those who welcomed him. And why not? It was after all their lands and forests that the (then) President was visiting, and it was with pride and anticipation that they received President Kalam. School girls from Vivekananda Girijana Kalyana Kendra (VGKK) school welcomed him. In complete breach of the blue book which is prescriptive of protocols and behaviours during Presidential visit replete with colonial referencing to visits by (then) royalty, President Kalam insisted on going everywhere that the local district administration had forbidden. He met patients at the tribal hospital that he inaugurated, shared thoughts in his speech on his vision for rural and remote areas, and later on hugged and was hugged by scores of Solega Adivasi children. As a doctor at the hospital, I watched in awe as he demonstrated his familiarity with the name of the local Adivasi community and asked me about the status of Sickle Cell Disease (known to be prevalent among several of these communities). He even naively promised that in a decade genetic engineering would find a treatment for it (which is not yet the case).

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Social embellish

Whose son you are

Whose you’re not

Daughter not by any

Coupling double Xs

The neighbourhood, The house

the hand that rocked the cradle

the hand that didn’t

love that wasn’t

The unfair social embellish

Over one’s random gene bounty

For one brings luck

For another just muck

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