Thanks to a recent British library membership acquisition, I got hold of this book by Peter Forbes – Dazzled and deceived: Mimicry and Camouflage. The book effortlessly leads the reader through a journey that begins in earnest with the comma butterfly flying across a garden and slowly winding its way through personal lives of luminaries in biology, through the private struggles and public lives of the proponents of various sorts of camouflage for both sides in the two world wars, artists and naturalists. There has been much talk about the role of camouflage nets in the winning of the Second battle of El Alamein in World War II. The battle was quite important – it got Churchill to apparently ring bells all over Britan, signifying the impending end to the war. Continue reading
Hitchens died two days back fighting oesophageal cancer for over a year now. How many people wished that he would in the last days of his life renounce the acerbity with which Continue reading
An unusually punctual gathering on the dais greeted me at Rotary Club. Thankfully, this was a gathering of unimportant people both on and off the dais; none of those species of “Very Important People” often sporting Anna-like caps were invited to the gathering and things started on time. P Sainath was supposed to be speaking on “Rural India after two decades of liberalisation” and the gathering included a fair mix of people across age groups, occupations and stereotypes, yet so unrepresentative of rural India. A lot of those ‘civil society’ types that Sainath loves to decry and dissociate from were there too. Continue reading
The Zoological Survey of India has an illustrious history. On 1st July, 1916, the organisation was instituted with a mission to “…to promote survey, exploration
and research leading to the advancement in our knowledge of various aspects of exceptionally rich life of the erstwhile British Indian Empire” (Emphasis mine). Alfred William Alcock was a British physician-naturalist, a common breed in those colonial days when doctors were still excited about working in “difficult” Continue reading
The story was tragic. A Tuberculosis patient from India who died because the system which was expected to provide for his treatment failed to deliver… and then the dessert arrived.