Window Seat | Mrinal Chatterjee | 19.5.19

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Election Fatigue

2019 elections have been the longest in the history of India. A grueling schedule in the hot summer months is taking its toll on the candidates and their supporters and also the machinery entrusted to conduct it smoothly.

Never before India saw elections, where people are polarized like they are now. Never before elections in India were such bereft of pressing fundamental issues concerning livelihood and development. By far this election has been the costliest and shrillest one. The level of political discourse has touched a new low, even as lumpen elements wearing toupees of different political parties are having a blast.

The other day lumpen elements broke the statue of Iswar Chandra Vidyasagar installed in the college named after him in Kolkata. It probably was a metaphor of the state of the affairs now. Vidyasagar was one of the architects of modern progressive India. His broken statue shows how we are moving back in time and probably in our mental makeup.

Technology for What?

 11 May was National Technology Day.

It is observed to mark the historic feat of test-firing its very first nuclear-capable missile in Pokhran back in 1998.

Look at the irony: we have nuclear missiles. We can send rockets to Moon and are preparing to send to Mars. But we cannot get street lights on after a week of the cyclone that hit the coastal Odisha districts. We are not able to utilise solar energy at this time, even though we talk about using renewable energy. We cannot even clean our sewage mechanically; there are thousands of manual scavengers across the country. We have done precious little in farm mechanization.
Do we have our priorities right, when it comes to using technology?

THE DEATH OF A GIANT

Cyclone Fani has uprooted over a million trees in Bhubaneswar alone. The coastal Odisha, which has had a green cover is almost denuded now. The large trees which have been uprooted need to be cleared off the road. It needs to be cut, sliced and taken off. The very sight of a large tree being cut into pieces is heart-wrenching. My student and a noble soul Moumita De Roy, who loves trees, cats and dogs has written the following in her social media post. It is so heart touching  that I took her permission to reproduce here:

It is beyond heart-wrenching to see the huge trees collapsing as the teeth of the saw is butchering the topmost branches first, middle stems next and then the girth finally. The End.

The inhabitants of these trees, squirrels, birds, dogs, are looking at their home getting butchered from a distance, scared, harrowed and lost. Several colonies of ants and other insects are also butchered along with the green pillars.

These trees which have stood as natural landmarks for people like me are now dead with many secrets tight in their chest. The trees swayed and smiled joyfully when the breeze kissed every part of it. But the same breeze turned demonic and shook it out from the root. The two sides of the same coin can be so colossally opposite. One, a life giver and another, an agent of death.

The sky and the clouds have lost their friends. Now I can see the sky clearly but I don’t like it. The sky is bare, sad and missing its friends. Now two buildings stand tall, Concrete and barren.

The trees have been silent listeners to the stories of drudgery and struggle of common man; people stood under its umbrage for hours and shared their joys and sorrow, Whether in rain or in sun. The trees have enjoyed children playing in its shade. They have laughed jauntily when tots and teens quarreled while playing and shared their trivial tales. The rustle of their leaves have fanned the sweating and puffing hawkers who parked their cartful of mangoes under them and took a few breathes.

This mango tree I am seeing getting butchered right now is not dead yet because its roots are still clasped with the soil. But it cannot be planted back. Right now , the tree must be going through the same unimaginable pain that one may go through if one is butchered alive.

RIP, thousands of green friends.

Greening Initiative by IIMC

Post cyclone Fani, the entire coastal Odisha is denuded as tens of thousands of trees were uprooted. The greenery needs to be brought back to save the environment.
Dhenkanal based Indian Institute of Mass Communication (IIMC) has taken a good initiative. They have decided to present seeds, kernels and saplings to its guest faculty visiting our campus, trainees for short courses and regular students- with a request to plant them and take care of them till they are grown up. They are using  discarded plastic containers as pots after painting them with tribal motifs.

Tailpiece: Fani

 

After getting electricity supply at home after 7 days here is how my friend Mohammad Ibrarullah, a renowned  gastro-enteritis surgeon  reacted in his social media platform:

No better way to realize why electricity is called ‘power’. From ’powerless’ to being ‘powerful’… I shall never forget  zindegi ke woh 7 din. Feeling ‘TooFani’.

Tailpiece: Fani 2

Another comment by my friend J P Jagdev:

The worst outcome of Cyclone Fani is that people are blaming the trees and thanking the diesel generators.

Now we know how we screw up.

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The author, a journalist turned media academician lives in Central Odisha town of Dhenkanal. An anthology of his weekly column Window Seat, published in 2018 has been published as a book. Write to him to get a free e-copy. [email protected]

 

 

 

 

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