Friday, September 23, 2016

Architect, the Creator!






"It is not the beauty of a building you should look at; it’s the construction of the foundation that will stand the test of time"... David Allan Coe.

With above words from American singer, who is wise enough to utter such quote, I started my speech at Sinhagad Architecture College. Occasion was construction technique workshop & most of the students were beginners of architecture i.e. first or second year. When I got the invite from my friend Shilpa Pande who is an architect herself & professor there, for a moment I thought what I am going to tell the budding architects as an engineer by myself. Though I am used to share my environmental aspect of planning with architecture students but that’s mostly senior cadre of the course. Never I have took on the younger lot of architecture who yet to have crossed the basics of designing or planning. Yet I always love to meet with fresh minds & think that’s the best way to gear up our own brain as to fulfill those minds you always have to remain one step ahead & think as fresh as them! It was very clear to me that I should not be speaking too technical or about the course structure but make them understand what is an architect’s job that lies ahead, when they will be passing from here as well what makes an architect so special in any structure? At the same time I was happy for college’s initiative to make them expose actual construction techniques as if a building is a coin then architect & engineer are two sides of the coin! The architect is happy in just making drawings & rarely bothering about the way that drawings execution will be done. At the same time the engineer is happy in following blindly the drawings he receives from the architect, without bothering his brain in the planning aspect of the structure! On such background trying to induce execution knowledge in beginning to the architects is really good initiative & obviously I wanted to tell them importance of this aspect for their career ahead.

That’s why I choose the quote which defines the importance of foundation of the building than just its beauty. I started with confession that I accepted this invitation in first go just to take the opportunity to lecture the audience of architects as rarely an engineer gets to say something to the architect & I wasn’t going to miss such chance! Because in the field it’s always the architect who has upper hands in giving instruction which the engineer has to follow! After the laughter got settled, I then showed series of photographs of world’s some of the recent iconic structures; it covers two aspect , first a visual support plays vital role with younger lot of listeners to make them stay with you focused as well they can correlate your spoken words more easily as they haven’t yet started imagining! So I showed them images of PETRONAS’s Twin Tower in Kualallampur, The Guggenheim in Spain, Burj Khalipa & Burj Al Arab in Dubai, as well Lotus Temple from Delhi. I told them these all are modern world’s icon & don’t just get awww with the images as you can Google for them & get thousands of more such. What is more important that when you Google for information of these structures then first comes the name of the architect. Cesar Pelli designed PETRONAS’ Towers, Frank Gheri imagined Guggenheim, Adrian Smith dreamed of world tallest building Burj Khalipha & got it in reality, Tom Wright sketched world’s tallest hotel in form of Burj Arab & Fariborz Sabha made India proud by his Lotus Temple at Delhi! Even if you search Google, in all these structures which now stood proud to man kind’s development in creativity, the first names pops out is of the architect! This is the difference between an architect & other who may be equally part of creation but its one single mind that sees that form first & get it on paper so others also can visualize it!

Agreed it takes an engineer too, to build any structure but first that structure has to be imagined in the mind of one single person & that’s why architects are so special! That’s why the building is usually named after the architect & not the engineers. After all let’s remember architecture is creator of the building where as an engineer is executioner of this creation. Imagine any structure as a coin of which two sides are architect & engineer, so a coin gets complete only with both sides in place. Yet as an architect one should mind that it’s an art to create, to visualize which is not in existence & that’s why the architect has to be within you. I told them, engineering is a science & anybody with better brain can learn engineering as ultimately its game of formulas! Whereas in this course nobody will be making an architect out of you but they will just show the path to become an architect to you on which you only have to walk! But at the same time an architect should understand whatever form he or she imagines has limitations of existing formulas of engineering as well material knowledge. And that’s why it will be always helpful for them to learn engineering techniques which we call construction practices. As what better combination it can be an architect with understanding of limitations as well knowledge of the way his creation is going to be built! Rather for ages building industry is in shackles of technology because R & D was never forte if this industry, especially in our country. So if any architect ever comes up with some innovative idea about the way buildings are built i.e. other that concrete & steel, then that will be best contribution to the industry. 

At the same time the architect should know the local geography & construction material available around. Imagine a concrete home in Rajasthan where sand stone is easily available or a marble clad structure in Konkan region where red stone is in ample; the outcome will look ghastly in contrast with the surrounding. The best building need not stand out from other structures but it should get merged along with the surrounding is what I personally feel & for that knowledge of what is available locally is vital. It has another aspect & that is making cost of the structure as no client will like to get his pocket burnt by the design you make!
Then comes along the question, what is an architect’s job? Many will say what an obscured question is this! Isn’t it very clearly defined by me only that an architect’s job is to create, to design the building or structure? Indeed yes but there is one hitch, the architect is not free to design the building as per sheer imagination or whatever he or she feels, but it’s as per the clients requirements only! That’s the boundary as if a client wants to build a hospital then you can’t design a hotel, however wonderful it may be! So the architect’s first job is get in to mind of the client & understand what the client wants & what are his needs! Remember there is difference between what a client wants & what are his needs & here come the philosophy or psychology in picture as many a times even the grown up men doesn’t understand the difference between what they want & what they need in actual! For example I am your client & I want a home to be built for my family, but I may not know what exactly I need in that home as how the home will serve my purpose in best possible way. This covers aspects like knowing the clients family to understanding their life style & likings to minute details like what color every member likes & how their time is spent, individually as well jointly in that home! Here the architect’s role is talk to the clients family like a family doctor, analyze their life style, make them understand what they are missing in getting the concept of the home & then design the best home for them; as most persons never know what is best for them! This is applicable for every structure as each structure you will be designing will be different & so will be its clients & their needs!

When you all be getting out of this school, you will be getting opportunity to design every type of building or call it structure, may it be a bridge or a school or exhibition center or even or laboratory; what’s the most important aspect of the design is the people who will be using that structure. It’s not you but the user will be deciding the success of the structure & its design. Off late the term “Sustainability” is used very often in modern architecture or urban planning most of the time without knowing its real meaning. Apart from environment what I feel is an architect must know what he is going to sustain through his creation & most important thing you will be sustaining is peace of mind for the user of the structure. As a wrong design can take away the peace or happiness whatever you may call it from the user or occupant of the building & that’s real challenge for the architect. If it’s a public park then try to understand how the people will be at ease in park & create the spaces accordingly. If it’s a school then the teachers as well students should feel it’s easy to use every corner of it right from class rooms to even the corridors &again for that the architect needs to know why he is designing the structure; here why is in actual meant, for whom you are designing your building!

And while doing all this as today’s genre the biggest challenge you will be facing is how to balance peace of your client along with the nature. Do mind, nothing is Eco friendly as any new man-made structure replaces some natural habitat may it be even for earth worms or ants living happily even on so called barren lands. And except humans no other species have privilege of hiring an architect neither to design nor to engage an engineer to build a home for them! So while getting knowledge of architecture you need to understand your responsibility towards every other specie than the humans. While you create your dream project just see that it damages minimum to the natural landscape or habitats & it has space for birds, for butterflies & even for earth worms to grow along with us. Because earth is not only human’s inheritance, every living object has equal right on smallest piece of the land & it’s only you who can give that right to them by your designs. In our greed for maintaining our life style we make thousands of species extinct by taking away their residences, agreed we can’t go back to ancient times & start living in caves or trees but just keep that aspect alive in your mind while designing & rest will follow!

To conclude I will share few tips for becoming successful architect, it’s simple; read, watch, travel, write, absorb & share! Read as much you can as that will make you think about people & their needs. Watch movies right from cartoons to super hero’s to romance as it will keep your imagination flying. Travel to places as then only you will come to know places & habitats across the world & diversity the earth offers to us. Write as that’s a way to express what we feel & do mind as an architect drawing is your language, so your designs will speak what you have learned. Absorb whatever you have seen & listened as there is difference between seeing & observing, hearing & listening! Lastly share whatever you have understood & share with your family, friends, and teachers as then only there will be more space available to accumulate more knowledge within you!

Lastly to conclude I will say, a successful architect is not the one who charges fat fees or has wealthiest clients list but a successful architect is the one who brings smiles on the faces of the occupants of his buildings! All of you will be designing many structures in your career ahead but whenever you will be standing in front of the building you have designed, you should be able to look at it with pride & compassion, which will make you a true creator! So go on, make this world a shade better by your creations, is my wish for you all!
--
Sanjay Deshpande

Sanjeevani Dev.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?t=1415&v=blgni8HSfDU

Please do visit my blogs to know about our philosophy at Sanjeevani !
(Click the links below)



http://jivnachadrushtikon.blogspot.in/

Social Side of Sanjeevani ! (Click link below)

http://www.flickr.com/photos/65629150@N06/sets/72157627904681345/

For any of your complaints about city, log in at link below

www.punecorporation.org

Think Green, Think Life

Thursday, September 15, 2016

Difference Between a Project & a Society!








“A Society does not consist of individuals but expresses the sum of interrelations, the relations within which these individuals stand”… Karl Marx

Karl Marx was a philosopher, economist, sociologist, journalist, and revolutionary socialist. Born in Prussia to a middle-class family, he later studied political economy and Hegelian philosophy. Well, if words fail to describe someone then this is classic example, as I have no words to describe the greatness of Mr. Karl Marx! He changed the worlds thought process with his thoughts! His views about human being as social animal got thousands of followers & being tagged as Marxist philosophy became religion in itself!  Why I recalled his words about society is recently I have been called at two of our completed projects & the similarity doesn’t ends here. Both the projects were completed now more than a year, one was nearly four years! At both places the cause of inviting me was being part of cultural festival the society members were celebrating. At one of the projects was my real estate blogger guru Ravi Karandiakar was with me & he was so fascinated by the member’s devotion, he went there next day to shoot the entire Pooja the members were performing!

Without pulling the anxiety to extreme, will share the details; first project was Dawabindu, which is like a tailor made project for group of young IT engineers & all of them are from Jain community which is famous for its religiousness. And another is Ashtagandh, a small society of some thirty odd flats, both projects in western suburbs of Pune. Both projects are not having any so called luxurious amenities like swimming pool or gym not even well decor entrance lobbies, neither the specifications are of high standard like Italian marble or central air conditioned homes type; yet one thing was common there, the immense joy & happiness on the faces of the residents when they welcomed me at their place! 

In Dawabindu, as all the residents are Jain, they have used their open space to build a small Jain temple. Here again many will say, is that proper use of the open space, which they could have used for club house of gym or party lawn like most of the projects have. But then what we call open space is meant to make the residents happy & at peace as well it’s the space where people come together, I feel that’s real utility of such spaces in the projects. And if they are happy & at peace with a small Jain temple where families can come together & pray, who are we to take objection for the same? Rather these youngsters have came together with the very thought of cultivating their religion’s culture in their life style so they wanted to stay together & have a commune of their own & not just a project named as some society! And I was very happy to see the outcome of what we have built for them is serving the exact purpose why they have come to me! Ravi interviewed them & asked many awkward questions (he is best at it) but they patiently answered him like a monk, which most of them are actually by their life style! 

Here is bunch of some young IT professionals who don’t spend their week-end nights boozing up long hours at pubs but have food before sun set & wake up early morning & take cold water shower to get ready for prayers in their temple! And we were to provide them space where they could have their temple right within their complex! So the residents of Dawabindu invited me on occasion of “Prayushan Parwa”, it is ending of auspicious month during which all day long most of Jain people does fasting & there are lectures from Sadhu & Sadhvi i.e. Monks from the community, about peace & good living. I took along Ravi who wanted to interview them about their life style & know about their experience in buying a home. Most of these youngsters are from other States like MP or Rajasthan & what best thing they shared is earlier their parents wasn’t ready to come & stay with them leaving their home towns but once they saw the culture as well community living of Dawabindu now they are opting & come along & stay with their kids in Pune!

I think that’s best thing which could have happened with what we have built as its people which we call family who makes home & not the amenities we provide. And if our homes are making people to become a family, then what more we could have asked for? One more thing came out in interview was, what this younger genre feels about communication with their builders; they think proper communication is the most vital factor in deciding a good builder. As they have met enough of builders & never they could get reply to their quarries in time, which by them is sign of lack of commitment towards the work! And it’s not just the builder alone, here builder means his entire team, this is something the real estate has to take cognizance. On this background the members praised our team for reverting back in twenty four hours at most of times when any of them has communicated to us on emails, which is common platform now days! This I am sharing not showing how great we are but this experience can be helpful for other & in any way communication is the today’s key may it be any profession & we Indians with due respect lack on this front is a bitter fact!

Second incidence was at Ashtagnadh in Baner of which first phase we have completed & handed over nearly five years back! For those who are unaware about real estate industry they may not appreciate importance of a builder being called by his flat holders as chief guest along with wife, for their cultural gathering that too after five years of handing over! It takes courage as a builder to visit his own complex after handing over, this I can say confidently! The Ashtagandh residents were celebrating Ganesh festival & have arranged various competitions like dance, musical performance, cooking etc amongst them & they requested me to join them as chief guests for prize distribution. I happily accepted the invite as any such rendezvous is in a way to meet my clients & understand their life style is best way to learn about my own profession. Though being a builder there is always a risk factor that as you can’t satisfy all the clients so any such invitation may turn out a bit problematic as such clients can knock you down publicly. But then if you have been committed to your work then why to worry & then I personally always like to take on such challenges. And to my pleasant surprise not only the Chairman/ Secretary, felicitated me but thanked for giving them a home which they feel like heaven! It did touch my heart as not a single complaint about any problem with the building but what I experienced was sheer happiness & joy amongst the residents. All ten days Ganesha’s aarti (prayer) has been conducted by different family & the “Prasad” (call it holly food for god) is strictly homemade from the residents. Everyone has been given the prize for their performances from small kids to elder people, even for their support & participation! The society doesn’t have big open space or even a common room but they have used their parking lot for all the events happily.

This is how a building becomes society, as in both projects I don’t say we have done some extraordinary job building these projects. They are simple buildings & it does faced problems like leakage occasionally & seepage in rains. Infrastructure front like no drainage net-work in the locality sometimes is beyond our control & the residents have to suffer, yet the dialogue & trust in each other’s was always there! 

As a builder what these two events at our projects have taught me is something no business school would have done; it taught me that way to keep my customers happy doesn’t need some costly gifts or state of the art workmanship. All it needs is stay committed to what you have promised them, be sincere in your job which is building a home & most important is be available to them as if you are part of them & not just as a builder! As a builder we rarely think about our projects which we have completed leave apart visiting them but the trends are changing now. Leave the philanthropist aspect but even as marketing aspect, being in touch whenever possible personally with your clients is the need of the business. Rather we can promote residents of our completed projects to come together & celebrate such festivals & we can even think of funding a little bit from our business for such events. Because when we call something as home, which is our product then lets understand coming together is the foundation of any home & as a builder you only have to lay that foundation! High time for real estate people to understand this simple fact of the business & which doesn’t cost much but yes needs sincere approach towards the job at hand.

At Dawabindu & Ashtagandh get together, I found answer to the question, what should be my target as a builder? Agreed to make some money is one but more than that those happy faces of the residents were telling me you have built a society where generations will live & prosper with culture & we are thankful to you for that; this is my job as a builder, I reminded myself. I shared with the residents; actually I am thankful to you for making me realize my job, as what’s life without a cause! As the great man said about society, its interrelationships amongst the individuals is what most important aspect of the society & a builder only has to take first step; this is the way to build a society & not just counting one more project under our name!

Sanjay Deshpande 

Sanjeevani Dev.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?t=1415&v=blgni8HSfDU

Please do visit my blogs to know about our philosophy at Sanjeevani !
 (Click the links below)





http://jivnachadrushtikon.blogspot.in/

Social Side of Sanjeevani ! (Click link below)

http://www.flickr.com/photos/65629150@N06/sets/72157627904681345/

For any of your complaints about city, log in at link below

www.punecorporation.org

Think Green, Think Life


www.sanjeevanideve.com

Thursday, September 8, 2016

Where are Happy Customers in Real Estate?






“Your most unhappy customers are your greatest source of learning”... Bill Gates

No need to introduce boss of Microsoft & a  man in top three of world richest persons for last so many years that possibly he also would have left counting the numbers of those years! There are few names in this world which doesn’t need any introduction, though I really wonder how many people really know these names? For e.g. when I say knowing a person, yes most people know Mr. Bill Gate is  the richest person, a college dropout yet how he build Microsoft &  is creator of Windows named system etc. But how many people actually knows the person Bill or his philosophy & why he has reached where he is now? I bait most people won’t know anything about this aspect of Mr. Gates! It’s not easy to become world’s richest person in first place & it’s more difficult to retain that position year after year, especially when you have a business which serves millions of people across the globe; because unless you learn how to keep those millions of customers happy you won’t remain rich! That’s why his quote tells us what Bill Gates is, what he thinks of his product & his philosophy in making his clients happy! 

Unfortunately in our country, with most numbers of unhappy customers, the real estate industry hasn’t learnt a bit from them. This statement of mine not liked by many my fellow friends but that’s what past & present of the industry shows is a fact. As per a latest survey nearly over fifty thousand disputes or call it law suits, are pending in consumer courts, filed by various clients of real estate, across the major cities of the country. And this is highest number in respect of complaints by any product’s consumers, which means real estate has maximum numbers of unsatisfied customers. And then experts vouch this is just tip of iceberg as most clients don’t come forward to launch a complaint against the builder due to lengthy procedure involved & no guaranty of justice! Certainly something is wrong with real estate industry or the system governing this industry as why so many unhappy clients or disputes are here? In a way looking at the volume I won’t say the figure is big because every year in only Pune city nearly one lac & above new homes are built. But to analyze this issue we have to first understand nature of real estate & then we can analyze what real estate needs to do on understanding what its clients wants? At the same time no exact or official govt data of any information or statistics is available in real estate, all what we get is usually taken from surveys by some private company.

Not long back i.e. in early 80’s when real estate was restricted to only cities like Delhi or Mumbai, there were less players as well lesser expectations also by the customers. Land wasn’t a scarce commodity like today & mostly the builders were known entity. Yet real estate was never a professional industry like Auto or Pharmacy, as it has been relying always on human interface, with very less or nil R & D or mechanized working system in place. Here most deals depend on what has been committed by the builder in person or printed in his so called brouture. Again the laws governing real estate were complex so were the sanctioning authorities as well procedures involved like agreement & registration which isn’t required while buying any other product. Transparency was the word unheard of as everything used to be in one to one basis; right from rates of selling to carpet area all was clear & most importantly the builder named person was always available to his clients! Unlike today where not only the sale rate varies project to project but it can vary even client to client of the same project; back then rates were steady & there wasn’t rat race to launch the projects in frenzy.Come 90’s & there was money in hands of middle class, suddenly land become new gold & everyone wanted to be associated with real estate. No more it remained an industry to take care of basic need of homes for the needy ones but it become a gold mine. I think the biggest curse real estate got is, the people in real estate forgot its basic reason for the existence i.e. real estate is supposed to serve the society’s need of homes but it become just a money earning business for most! 

Like Henry Ford has said once, “any business which makes only money is a bad business”, real estate soon became a bad business by 20thcentury! And then every passing year saw the new low, not on money basis but on the scale of reputation & unhappy clientele of real estate!  Reason was simple as most people joined real estate just for the sake of appreciation or returns it was generating & at the same time as land prices around cities started souring the fight to acquire the land got bitter. The outcome of fight to acquire the land was basic requirements essential for any business i.e. quality, morals, values; customer focused approach etc started disappearing from real estate industry. The new criterion for becoming a successful builder were changing fast; money & muscle power are the most needed things now to become a builder. Anyone neither was caring about any tradition of fair practices in real estate & terms like those nor was it required to think about the client’s needs. Anybody who has enough money to buy the land & has muscle power to wipe out every obstacle coming in the way of developing the land was most eligible builder.  Unfortunately clients also got used to this new genre of builders, many without having any choice & many out of greed just to save some money though still there were/are some fools in real estate, doing business with old fashion of transparency & thinking customer as god! Obviously they don’t have capacity to match the new age builders as the can’t advertise full page in all news papers to tell the world about their way of doing business or about their project’s plus points. So most buyers were running behind the new developers & their dream home offers & here is where first unhappiness wave started hitting the shores of real estate.

Nothing wrong in full page advertises or various offers to sale your product but in the zest of launching projects & trying to cover the huge investments made for land buying as well to get all sanctions, many things were overlooked. The terms like carpet & built-up were replaced by salable named factor & now day’s its just two bhk at some X amount is the scene. This wiped out the clarity in the deal as most customers never understand what & how they are paying for their homes. Prelaunch is another term which roped in, it means just conceptual plan of the project is ready & all other sanctions are awaited yet you can book a flat as you get choice as well you save on rate which is claimed to be much higher after getting all sanctions! Another such addition in real estate dictionary was infrastructure charges; I really don’t know what it means but can assume, it means the amount you will be paying for all the amenities like golf club to spa & gym which will be part of the project.  Clients were also happy thinking they are making great deals & responded by booking in these projects like its last chance of getting their dream home! But slowly the dreams started turning out as nightmares as many projects just remained in prelaunch state only or the possession dates got delayed beyond patience of the clients. Layouts of the projects shown at prelaunch started changing, where garden has been shown came another concrete tower or in some cases the infrastructure charges got doubled or else the entry in many of the facilities in brouture get restricted for few members only, carpet area of the home in actual seems to be like in the Disney movie “Honey I shrunk the kids”, quality of construction is so poor that in first rains the costly interiors got damaged due to seepage of rainwater & the list for unhappiness went on increasing! On the top of it the builder was never available for clarification of any of the complaints, all you could meet was some new employee every time & his promises of cut paste types “we will look in”!

I think in a way real estate is most controlled industry when it comes to obtaining sanctions & on other hand it’s most uncontrolled industry when governing sale rates. But even the rates of raw material i.e. land are uncontrolled & so are the rates of basic ingredients like steel & cement! Baffled by unhappy customers pressure the Govt started trying to come down heavily to protect the consumers with laws like MOFA & then later on RERA. On the background of all such unhappiness or wrong policies, the outcome with real estate was obvious, recession! People started delaying their decision of buying a home mainly for two reasons, one they are not sure about the product they will get delivered & another is its valuation! It’s the first part which I think is more important as rate is something every individual has to decide as what rate one person should sale or other to buy! So if we really want to have “Ache Din” back in real estate then first thing for the builders is stay committed to what you have said to your customers. And trust me my own experience is most of the clients wants one simple assurance & that is delivery of their home in time! I think if as a builder you can do that then ninety percent of unhappiness has been taken care! 

Another important aspect is be transparent in whatever you are selling; means right from carpet to salable, it’s not about the ratio but put specifically area details from carpet to built-up. Today’s buyers are smart & they know value for their money so mention very clearly what you are charging for & how; be logical & specific than just beating around the bushes! Most importantly be available to your clients for anything they want to know. It’s not necessary that you should be meeting them in person though if you can then that’s best way but you can build a team in such a way that they will represent you properly instead just passing the buck. If all the documentation is in place & so is a system which delivers what has been promised, then the customer will like to meet you just to say thanks & that’s what true “Achhe Din” for real estate will be! Agreed there will be always some nasty soul who will be always unhappy in spite of your sincere efforts but then it’s part of the business! Though Mr. Gates might have said using unhappy customers for learning yet all the time we can keep just learning is we should remind ourselves!  

At the same time the customers should also need to understand one thing that most of the unhappiness they get in real estate is either outcome of their own ignorance or greed of saving few rupees! As a client instead blaming every time to the builder for you being cheated, it will be better to do a bit cautious survey before you shake hands with your builder. Remember there are both types of builders in market, good as well bad & your happiness solely depends on whom you make a deal with! 

-- 
Sanjay Deshpande 

Sanjeevani Dev.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?t=1415&v=blgni8HSfDU

Please do visit my blogs to know about our philosophy at Sanjeevani !
 (Click the links below)


http://jivnachadrushtikon.blogspot.in/
Social Side of Sanjeevani ! (Click link below) 

http://www.flickr.com/photos/65629150@N06/sets/72157627904681345/

For any of your complaints about city, log in at link below

www.punecorporation.org

Think Green, Think Life

www.sanjeevanideve.com

Wednesday, August 31, 2016

Maldhok's Fight For Survival!







“Unless someone cares a whole awful lot, nothing is going to get better. It’s not”… The Lorax.

I love cartoon movies like Lorax & it does give a wonderful message of saving the trees along with dash of entertainment. Above dialogue from the animated character Lorax, remained in my mind & when I met Dr. Pramod Patil, I felt like I am seeing a real life version of those words! At the age of just twenty nine odd years with a medical degree under the belt when many will be working on hard to make own carrier in profession, this guy is trying to save “Great Indian Bustard” named bird! I am sure not many will be even knowing such bird exists rather the name Bustard often used as a term with slight different spelling, that term many of us knows for wrong purpose as a curse! Many will be as usual saying, what’s big deal? Have we not more important cause to live for than wasting our time for some bird which we even don’t know where it lives & how it looks! At the same time, many will laugh at foolishness of Dr. Pramod as he should use his medical degree to make human life a shade better which is more important than some brown white bird which lives in barren lands. Well, best part of Dr. Pramod is that work also he is doing i.e. his research is on one of the biggest threat to human of modern times, diabetes. This research he is doing in parallel with his passion to save maldhok. And it’s this quality of Dr. Pramod is what makes him my subject of writing but before that lets know about his passion i.e. The Great Indian Bustard which we call in native language as Maldhok.

With our love for so called progress & development & urbanization, god knows how many other species we are making extinct i.e. gone from the face of earth forever & top on the list i.e. extremely endangered is Maldhok. In a way it’s just another brown gray white bird though pretty big in size, may be largest Indian bird which can fly but right now only some two eighty odd birds have been left all over the country & India is the only country where maldhok is found. Worst to that in our so called forest friendly State only some fifteen odd Maldhoks are there. Few of them are in Varora near Nagpur & fewer in Nanaj near Solapur. Once found all over the grass lands & even dry lands of India now only in few patches the birds is taking its last breaths. Ironically it’s the only bird for which there are nearly eight sanctuaries in the country but hardly in four or five of these sanctuaries, now we can see this bird!

What’s so special about Maldhok, is the question many will ask as aren’t there thousands of birds species in our country many of them are more beautiful as well exotic in looks than maldhok. Well agreed there are beautiful birds than maldhok & rare too, but it’s the habitat which makes maldhok special. All the poor bird needs is, open dry grass land with very less vegetation that’s why the biggest numbers of them are surviving in Rajasthan that to arid lands of Jeselmer near Pakistan border. And along with dry grass land it needs little bit of privacy which we don’t give to him & extinction of maldhok is sign of human encroachment on natural habitats around us! Because it’s a sign that how fast we are driving away every living specie around us, even those whose requirements are not very special. Unlike maldhok, which lives in dry grass lands which used to be plenty of them around every town or city; the very same habitat of maldhok also survives many other species like hare or rabbits or mongoose, wolf, hyenas. All these are slowly getting extinct along with maldhok & its habitat & main reason is we the human! A bird like maldhok which mostly stays on ground & lay egg also in open ground has many enemies, right from snakes to jackals to lizards. Though the egg is like stone & gets camouflaged in the rocky brown background. But more than these natural enemies which it has survived over the years, it doesn’t have a chance to survive in front of humans. We have not only directly killed maldhoks by hunting for eating it, but our other activities also has driven the bird to extinct. First we encroached its habitat for hundreds of reasons, right from making roads, digging canal, using the barren grass lands for plotted layouts of home making & yes laying power lines which also kills not only maldhoks but many birds. And then we have our cattle’s which roam in habitat of maldhok eating all the grass as well its hideouts & at the same time damaging its eggs which are on ground. And on the top of it, the female maldhok can conceive only once in a year & that too one egg at a time, making it very vulnerable to extinction! And if we can’t conserve even the dry barren grass lands for maldhoks, how we will be protecting the ever green forests & species like tiger living in those forests?

On this back ground there are people like Dr Pramod who are like saviors of the maldhok, trying their every bit to make the bird survive amongst our concrete jungle! He goes to the villages surrounding habitats of maldhoks, speaks with them, make them understand importance of the bird. He meets school kids in these villages around maldhok’s habitat & tries to make them friends of maldhoks. He urges them to keep an eye on the bird & its enemies, mainly human hunters. He works along with forest department & try to help in whatever best way he can, right from providing basic infrastructure like binoculars to jackets as well make them aware about the importance of the bird’s habitat conservation & every possible way to make the maldhok survive! He write articles in media & make people in cities aware about their responsibility for the bird as well he goes visiting school/college kids here & ask them to donate some time for spreading awareness for the birds conservation. In a way it’s not the captivity in which we want to make the maldhok survive but its open free natural living which counts most. Because that means protecting the entire dry grass lands around & that will result in survival of many species few of which I have mentioned above.

Maharashtra is one of the six states of India where great Indian bustards are still seen so let’s have a look at scene here. In Maharashtra Maldhok Sanctuary is at Nanaj, near North Solapur which is some 200km from Pune. Though it’s been declared as wild life sanctuary way back in 1979, means highest priority to conservation of Maldhoks preventing any human interference in this habitat; yet right from its area i.e. coverage to protecting its boundaries, all the things are in controversy. There are power lines, which the poor bird can’t see in its flight & collide with the same resulting instant death. There are roads going through the sanctuary, so are canals & every type of excavation goes on damaging the very grass land structure as well domestic animals grazing is on rampant along with human moments! Result is despite of having a tag of wild life sanctuary there are just three maldhoks, which also rarely seen here! Sometimes I really wonder whether we in true sense have understood the responsibility we carry as “Being Human’, towards wild life conservation; because with every possible power i.e. right from machinery, money to man power & more than that power to make policies, still we can’t assure a specie like maldhok, its right to live & survive happily! On the top of it even when there are same ruling party’s govt in Rajasthan & Maharashtra, we can’t get eggs for incubation to conserve more numbers of maldhoks here in our State from Rajasthan which has maximum numbers of the bird. Remember just declaring some land as wild life sanctuary isn’t going to increase the numbers, as how we expect the numbers to grow if the existing single maldhok pair is going to conceive just one egg per year? So many such questions needed to be not just answered by catchy announcements from our rulerts but by action.

Here is where person like Dr. Pramod’s dedication & efforts are eye opener not just for govt but every that individual who just makes comment on social media about incapability of govt to save maldhok & other species of wild life & considers his job towards conservation is done! And when it comes to doing something by our own self, we have every reason for not being able to do anything; we have to look after our job, career or profession & then most favorite question, what govt is doing? Well, surely one Dr. Patil is doing it on his own despite being in profession like medicine instead making money he is donating his time to save the bird which is not even part of his studies! We also can take inspiration from him & start doing something & trust me, sky is limit. You can help financially to people like Dr. Patil for his fight for maldhok survival, you can visit maldhok sanctuaries & help people like forest staff or villagers who are working or living there, you can make people aware about species like maldhok survives, you can write to so called govt or every person you know about his or her duty towards maldhok & its habitat on social media & what not! There are nearly One Twenty Crores of we the Indians, imagine if like Dr. Pramod, each of us decides to adopt at least one specie around & start doing something about wild life conservation! You may call this thought as day dreaming but then if we don’t see such dream & make war of survival for maldhok as our war then the reality of our future is one day poor maldhok would lost its war & gone extinct. Once every such specie is gone extinct, all that will remain on the earth is human bodies residing in our concrete jungle & then who will save us?

--
Sanjay Deshpande 

Sanjeevani Dev.


--
 
Sanjay Deshpande 

Sanjeevani Dev.

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