Sunday, May 31, 2020

Homeless Tigers!!










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“Tigers, except when wounded or when man-eaters, are on the whole very good-tempered...Occasionally a tiger will object to too close an approach to its cubs or to a kill that it is guarding. The objection invariably takes the form of growling, and if this does not prove effective it is followed by short rushes accompanied by terrifying roars. If these warnings are disregarded, the blame for any injury inflicted rests entirely with the intruder"... Jim Corbett. 

“The ache for home lives in all of us. The safe place where we can go as we are and not be questioned.”... Maya Angelou

Later quote is by Maya Angelou, was an American poet, singer, memoirist, and civil rights activist. She inspired many young minds not only in USA but across the globe via her writings. And do I need to introduce the earlier quote’s writer which is regarding tigers! Well for the ignorant souls, Jim Corbett was an Englishman who spent most of his life in Indian forests & is an authority or say pioneer about studying India’s wild life & has wrote many books about the same & yes he is known as man eater’s hunter also! Well, one will wonder what can be co-relation between these two, as if Maya represents modern times & has been vocal for human rights then Jim’s words are said nearly a century back (80years) & are about tigers. And I don’t blame those who wonder as even in today’s times most are ignorant about correlation between humans & tiger which represents wild life or say trade mark of wild life in India. But then that’s the irony as well core of my sharing as this week which is fourth phase of lock-down, my wild lifer friend Anuj khare & his team arranged a zoom inauguration of their web site at the hands of few senior names in wild life conservation. On that webinar many great names in wild life as well govt authorities from forest dept were present & later on the audience was allowed to ask them questions related the present scenario on Indian as well international level. And obviously there were bound to be many questions as any ways forests are also under lock-down & many forest lovers, visitors are keen to know what’s happening around. Main question was about a news rather two news trending regarding tigers in Maharashtra State , one is some fifty numbers of tigers are being shifted or relocated from Chandrapur district  which is on east side of State & is home of Tadoba Sanctuary. As well one of the forest officer’s video clip has gone viral where she is saying about need or plans of forest dept to neuter the male tigers in Chandrapur i.e. to remove tiger’s generation power or reproduction capacity in simple words!

No wonder in the lock down period when most people has nothing to do but forward the messages, the clip went viral in wild lifers & even non-wild lifers are commenting & asking questions & forest dept’s intentions about the tigers! One friend who has never been to any forest called me to ask how the forest dept can neuter the tigers, are they stray dogs? And then as I said on the webinar I referred above, this issue was addressed by the senior officers of forest dept of the State.  And all the senior officers even those who are retired from the services were honest & candid in addressing these issues & even welcomed the radical (this is important) ideas about the problem. Best part is any govt dept accepting the problem in first place. On one side world is facing grave danger of many wild life species getting extinct, its great success of forest dept to not only save the tigers but grow their numbers. Many wild life lovers won’t agree with me that this is forest dept’s alone success, it may not be but had the tigers gone extinct then whom we could have blamed but forest dept, isn’t it? Then if the tiger’s population is increasing then why not give due credit to the forest dept of the State as well country’s other State’s forest depts’ too, is the question I will ask to all these wild life lovers!  Now coming to the main issue, in Chandrapur district with total area nearly 11,000 sq km & out of that nearly 1/3rd i.e. 4000 sq km is forest but only some 2700 sq km is protected or dense forest( all this is not guess but info on web site of forest dept). Now a male tiger has a territory of approx 50-60 sq km (correct me experts, if I am wrong) so protected forests available to the tigers is 2700 sq km means this much forest can accommodate only some 42-43 odd numbers of tigers where as there are nearly 100 plus tigers in this region, again a guess & even if 50% of that we consider as male then it’s over crowded place for the tigers. And outcome is in last five months i.e. in year 2020 nearly fifteen tigers have got killed, mainly males which are sub adult, over territory fights. For those who doesn’t understand what is territory fight, its same as shown in our Bollywood movies where two Dons’ or two Bhais’ of underworld gets Mumbai divided for their operations of extortions & smuggling & what not. And when one Don Gangsters enters in other’s territory, gang-war starts! Same way but for natural reasons & survival, tigers divide or distributes their territories i.e. part of forests & if one tiger for any reason enters in other tiger’s area, then the fight till death of one of them is the only way out!

Now you can imagine, numbers of tigers is more but the space every tiger needs is less so the tigers are left with only two options i.e. either kill (or get killed) another tiger & survive or encroach on humans land i.e. nearby villages, kill their cattle & eventually in the process (which we glorifying call man-animal conflict) get killed by the humans as act of their survival or punishment of encroaching on human settlements! So in both cases end is sure & that is death of some tiger! This is why forest dept is considering shifting the tigers to other places where they can live at peace with neighbours, is the proposal under consideration & no concrete decision has been taken yet is what has been shared by the authorities. As well to neuter the male tigers can be one option but it is not being used at any cost as it’s directly intervention in nature is what authorities have cleared! Though sterilization of the tigers to protect them from the domestic disease is a regular process as they can come contact with village animals, is also authorities cleared.

Yet this clarified one thing that growing population of the tiger is problem for not just tigers or forest dept but for every person rather human!  And alone forest dept is incapable of handling this space for the tiger’s problem & it’s not because they don’t have will but they don’t have authority or support from others, is the main problem! And that’s why State forest authorities are open to any good & positive suggestions regarding tiger’s population & their safe upbringing. Indeed shifting or relocation of tigers is one sure option but it’s not as easy as relocating a dog or a cat. Agreed a tiger is king of survivals & has survived not just in ideal Central Indian conditions but even in extreme conditions like sub zero temperature of Siberia to dry lands of Rajasthan to marshy lands of Sunderbans to rain forests of Java-Sumatra! Yet the tiger needs some basic habitat which includes his prey base like deer, wild boars which eventually needs water bodies, grass land for their feeding. As well tiger needs hiding places & mix of forests with thickset foliage etc. And yes all this has to be cut off from human settlements or else poor tiger doesn’t understands boundaries marked on maps by the humans is a sad fact.
Now, to find the land or create such land & mark it as tiger’s residence means as forest is job of Urban Development named dept & there is no post of any forest officer in this dept! Do I need to elaborate more about the difficulty of creating spaces for the tigers? And then the neighbouring villagers where you will be shifting these tigers is another aspect as to write a blog & post Save Tiger captions on FB sitting in AC rooms is easy but to live  with a free tiger roaming around your hut’s compound, well again do I need to elaborate the problem? Here is where forest dept & the tigers are stuck.

One option (immediate) is find the tiger density of exiting project tigers & relocate the excess tigers at these places chronologically where the tiger density is least. Though again why to send our State’s tigers to other States, type arguments are bound to be there but then such arguments won’t save lives of so called our State’s tigers is a fact! Even forests like Melghat in our State, which has a vast expand can be ideal shifting place. As well revive or clear the migration corridors connecting forests so the tigers on their own can travel safely on their own from one forest to another like Tadoba to Melghat or nearby habitats! At the same time try expanding exiting forests boundaries by shifting villages as shifting of humans is easy than tigers but then to make this fact understand to the govt (read as rulers) is the main difficulty! The govt which can make effective lock-down for entire State for three months can definitely show dedication to shift villages near by forests which are homes for tigers is what I think. Another long term solution is appointing forest officers post with power & authority in every local municipal body like PMC as then only the spaces (habitats) will be created in every district for tigers as well other wild species. Or at least the forest connecting corridors can be maintained & it’s not about only tigers but major hunting animals like leopards & wild dogs & jackals etc all of which are running out of space & time! As well make a regional plan of entire State creating enough space for tiger survival & with provision of budget to create habitats in these spaces as often good ideas as well intentions & efforts has gone to waste if not backed up by proper infrastructure support & money is the key aspect of any infrastructure!
Now about present crisis of lock-down, open up as much wild life tourism you can (even in rains) as surviving tiger means surviving people around tigers also! And on top of that I haven’t understood ever this opening of just 20% of reserved forests for tourism as what you gain by restricting tourists which wont understand unless they sees what magic sight of a tiger can do to the human beings! You can open up entire forest area & control numbers of vehicles, isn’t the effect will be same if at all you think its intrusion on wild life, apply some logic guys, I know it’s a rare thing in this country yet there are some minds yet left with logic, listen to them! Target is conservation of wild life & if that is a common agenda then solutions shouldn’t be a problem!

To conclude, over-population & space for the homes will always be at cross fire, may it be tigers or humans! Only difference is unlike we the humans the tigers are not on any voting lists of our Netas’!  That’s why the tigers neither are allowed to build their slums nor have entities which can build illegal homes on govt lands or reservation lands for them, so they just helplessly looks at us for their space & die, when we fail to give it!
--
Sanjay Deshpande 
Sanjeevani Dev.

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Sunday, May 24, 2020

The Virus Within!






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“A wise man accepts himself as a fool when put in the company of fools”...

Well, who else but me (read as a fool) & its outcome of final phase of lock-down (hopefully) philosophy & bound to be bitterest of all, can’t help it! Well, the bitterness isn’t outcome of lock-down, rather comparing to many other (read as men) I personally feel I have accommodated lockdown in much better way yet when I come across stories from those who are not as fortunate as me in term of profession or say circumstances, then it does makes me bitter feeling the frustration of helplessness for them! Usually when it’s writing about someone’s experiences about the system I share it last but here I felt like starting the sharing with what has been shared with me, then will comment on it! Here is first hand experience of my cousin who came back along with his family which includes twin kids of just one year old & after listening to him, I asked him to write his entire experience  to me, so here it is in his own words...

1. Thank you Vande Bharat Mission for arranging Rescue flights. Me, My Wife and my 1 year old Twins were able to get a flight from Singapore to Mumbai on 10th May 20. The boarding experience in Singapore was very nice and well organised. Thanks to Mr. Deshpande- Deputy High Commissioner Indian Embassy.
The flight was also very good and all precautions were taken to avoid physical contact. 
The problems started when we landed in Mumbai. They were taking us in a batch of 30. So by the time they reached our rows at back it was already past 45 mins. Some kind lady took notice of my babies and decided to let us go ahead without any further delay. However we had to waste another 45 mins at the Arogya Setu app downloading counter as international numbers were not accepted neither the network. Only Tata wifi has to be connected to get the OTP. But to understand this procedure it took us 45 mins. Finally we cleared immigration and collected our luggage. No help was provided to drag the trolley, however looking at our condition one kind hearted person decided to help us. He came with us until we got out of the airport. We saw there were counters for people going out of Mumbai. We saw there was a counter for Pune. I went there and was given a bus no. Which was of MSRTC and was supposed to be an AC Volvo bus. However to our horror we were given a regular Red ST bus. I somehow managed to put the 30 kg bags inside with help of fellow passengers. No safe distancing rule was applied. My kids were hungry and thirsty for 3 hours now and they were crying due to 3 pm heat in the afternoon. I spoke to the bus contractor but he showed no compassion or mercy and said he can’t leave the bus until 22 passengers sit in the bus. He said that I can complain if I want. I went to talk to another officer in charge. He said once the money is collected he can allow the bus to move. People from Singapore are used to cashless Payment system. However the payment machine which the ticket collector had brought was not working. I decide to buy tickets for those people who did not have cash as I could not see my children suffering anymore. The bus finally started and reached Pune at Apte Road after 5 hours. We were treated like dogs. The bus stopped at the Orbet hotel where we were supposed to be quarantined for 14 days. The hotel manager was very welcoming and was trying to attend to us one by one. We could clearly see that they were short of staff and were struggling. The rooms were dirty and toilets unclean, as the hotel was closed from past 3 months. However the authorities forced them to open the hotel and informed them at the last minute that there were people arriving. However within 3 to 4 days the hotel managed to get more staff and things improved. Authorities did not inform us when the tests would be done until 10 days. On 11th day they said that tests will be conducted tomorrow. We also don’t know how we will go home after 14 days. By the way all of this is self paid - charges for ST bus from Mumbai to Pune - 750 rs per head + Hotel stay 3,200 Rs + tax per day + 3400 Rs for test per head. All in all I spent around 1 lac Rs for 4 of us in 14 days...

Well, I think what my cousin has gone through gives clear idea about the way we (read as govt) handling the situation; I am not disclosing his name & details (can provide if he permits , if someone wants to know). As not all citizens are ready to take on the system head on, that’s the main problem of this country! And then most of the people thinks what’s difference it’s going to make any ways as this is India & I think this is why I keep on writing as some where someone will feel & make the change , at least will try to! And I do believe there are good people around in the system we call govt as well out of it but collectively we fail to act & majority is of non-doer. My cousin isn’t the only one who has such horrific experience  as earlier also I have come across one such on FB but then it’s when your own blood spills you feel the pain, & I am no exception to the law, though I  do feel pain every day, sometimes its bit more!  Now if you have read my cousin's sharing then you must have understood the problem started when he landed in "Aamchi Mumbai"! I have few questions keeping in mind due respect for every authority concerned as well its intentions...

...such as, when you (Indian authorities) knew how many planes are arriving at every hour & from which destination, why were not adequate separate channels with man power has been in place at Mumbai air-port? What’s purpose of making compulsion to download Setu app & why this has not been informed to the airlines so the passengers could have done it right at the beginning of their journey only? Why some particular net work to down load this app, how the people who had been residents of foreign countries can have local network immediately after getting out of plane? The why not enough AC busses has been provided for travel to the destinations for the people coming from out of India, especially looking at the summer season? How can we say only in case the bus will start only when full i.e. 22 passengers as this doesn’t happen even with regular public transport, the public transport runs on time table & not its full or empty isn’t it? Why there was no basic facilities like water, snacks type things on these buses (well, sorry I asked this question like a fool)? How can be there no arrangement for e-payment when you are dealing with foreign returned people & other side Hon PM requests for cashless transactions? And most importantly how come there was no officer in charge to monitor this entire operation (read as mess)?

Now coming to “Aaple Pune” episode, why it was not allowed to take these people to test on first day itself than making them wait till eleven days? Again reading the hotel was not ready part, why these basic arrangements are not don’t in advance? How can you ask some hotel on some random day to open & accommodate guests with families & small kids on very same date of arrival of the guests? Why there was no choice given to these people to quarantine at their homes as they are not slum dwellers? Who decides the room rent & why it’s supposedly to be paid by these people when PMC has given free accommodation to thousands, as agreed they are foreign return yet looking at the figures Rs one lakh something is not small amount for nay higher middle class family also? And again who decides all such arrangements & why it’s not been made known to the international travelers in advance? Lastly, who was in charge & person to take action if any of the passengers or traveler (read as many) had so many problems which are genuine? Unfortunately no authority even bothered to inquire all these travelers in fourteen days about their well-being barring the hotel management, thanks to them!

And post this incidence does any system (read govt dept) has guts to acknowledge the botheration or humiliation it has caused to my cousin & sure all other families along also must have witnessed the similar treatment of our great country’s hospitality! And this is story of one family whom I know in person, hundreds of people are travelling back from other countries & imagine what all image they will be carrying back of their own country & then our rulers (as well many so called big names) appeal our fellow Indians to come back & we cry over brain drain from the country! On one side we portray our image as welcoming, warm & friendly treatment to so called investors of foreign countries & on other side we can’t even take care leave apart treating well our very own countrymen, indeed India is Shining!

And by such criticism, I am not taking away credit of many people who are fighting hard in this war but somewhere the victory will have a black border or say taste of bitterness whenever it will come, is a fact with all such incidences along! And if this is case of foreign returns then another story is labour class who wants to move out of Pune city & is the scene in many major cities in the State & social media as well news papers are full of these images. Just two days back while driving back from my site to home I saw big queue of people in front of one police station in my residence area. These are faces of typical work class of our country & they are standing in queue for hours in harsh sun with their kids along with luggage. I asked one fellow named Charanprakash from MP what he is standing in the queue for, he said he lives in a slum along sinhagad road & is afraid that infection may caught up with him & his kids so he was going back to his native place so he wants police pass to travel. He want to do the job as he knew at his village he won’t be having any means of earning but here he has no place which he feels safe as where he lives there tin huts are cramped together with one toilet block in nearly fifteen families & social distancing is impossible! He was asking me after he knew I am a builder too, can I give him & his family some place to live so he need not have to leave this city! I had no answer as today even being a builder I felt ashamed that I can’t give him a safe home he wanted to have! And if this is with labours from outside more chaos was & is about house maids which are back bone of our so called upper society! Right from the day one of lockdown the confusion about allowing house maids which are again living in the slums or illegal settlements is going on. And problem is no authority is taking lead to clarify the confusion creating heated arguments among society members on this issue. And when an individual approaches to the so called authorities, then every individual gets different replies from the different authorities. I repeat in all this lockdown period the most “kamjor kadi” (weak link) was clear definition of whose responsibility of managing epidemic As its okay in Brazilian total football concept where every player plays on every position but here in lockdown game, even the goal keeper was running around with no one to guard the goal post was the scene!

I think our real fight is not with some flue or external virus but it’s with the virus in the form of shameless, emotionless, selfish, egoistic entities which have occupied or say infiltrated in to every organ of our society, making it weaker every day! Till we don’t kill this virus within, no victory will be ever final, mind it!

link of labours waiting at a police station...

--
Sanjay Deshpande 
Sanjeevani Dev.

Please view my sharing about real estate in Pune at U-Tube link below..


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

Creating Togetherness; team Sanjeevani Way(Click link below)

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

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Monday, May 18, 2020

Tribute to the Writer Jim Corbett !









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“In that dense foliage of greens you may feel lost but that’s one sure way to find your own self”...

Indeed I only have wrote it, as these words I felt is the best way to write a tribute to my idol, guru, inspiration, mentor or whatever you call, none other than the Jim Corbett! Actually I have been writing as a passion or as an outlet to my emotions for many years now & yet I wonder how I never wrote for my guru of not just wildlife but life actually. But then it takes right time for everything to happen as they say in Jungle, so be it & thanks to Harshada Abhyankar of Nature Walk Katta as in responding her one post about Jim I referred about reading Man Eaters of Kumaun, a book by Jim & she replied why don’t you write about the book of his, you have read! That was the moment & when I thought of writing about his books, a boy in small town of Virdrabha came in front of my eyes, engrossed in Kumanunche Narbhakshak (Marathi Version) as English version was not available in my town & I am from Marathi medium so reading English books was out of imagination then! And that started my journey in forest even before I actually later visited Melghat forest & trust me its Jim’s word power through his all four books (by then its four books only, for me), which never ever made me feel that I am venturing in some alien lands when I visited actual forests. 

And then as the journey of wild life begin for me, its Jim’s words which were guide for me & are still doing that job.
To my knowledge Jim wrote nine books out of which eight are available as the first one was a private circulation & must be now preserved with few lucky ones as best of souvenir. I am fortunate to read all eight of them & though my first read was Man Eaters of Kumaun & then Leopard of Rudraprayag & then Temple Tiger & then Jungle Lore, all these in Marathi & much later the Tree Tops, My Kumaun, My India & Jim Corbett’s India followed, in English. Best part was with Jim is, language was never a problem as he wrote nature’s language, I am proud (many may say egoistic also) that I am a good reader & has read much more literature on every subject than many around me. And I am mentioning here not to display my wisdom but just to tell that I am certainly eligible to comment about level of Jim’s writing. That way in our Smart City (of course Pune) you are entitled to comment about any topic & judge any person’s calibre, its free license which came along with citizenship of Pune! Joke apart, what I wanted to say or share is Jim’s was not a writer in a conventional way & that’s why his language or style hits you strait in mind & that’s best part of it. He need not have to exaggerate things or paint some dream world when he is explaining forest or nights in forest or the thrill or even fear factor while chasing a man eater, yet you can feel all that happening around you! That’s why it made such a powerful impact on me that even when I was reading his books while I haven’t been to any major forest yet I could imagine very clearly how it must be & that’s not easy job, mind it. To explain someone who never had been to forests & never seen a tiger in actual or never knew what is an alarm call or how pitch black dark the forest nights can be, to make such person feel all of that, needs something more than just a writer & that was Jim!
Indeed he rose to fame as a writer by Man Eaters of Kumaun & Rudraprayag’s Leopard but by me the maximum impact which has made on me is Jungle Lore. Many won’t agree with me but then Jim was not just a Tiger or Leopard Hunter(man eater), he was in & out a wild lifer & only because of that he could become a successful  hunter as he has learnt language of jungle & that we come to know via Jungle Lore as well My Kumaun. Again many won’t like my this comment that Jungle Lore is ok for a moment why My Kumaun. This is why Jim was great  & is my guru as he was the first person (even being Firnagi) to understand forest doesn’t mean just tigers, deer & trees & mountains but forest means the people in & around it & the place i.e. habitat! 

Unless you understand the mindset of the people here, you won’t be able to understand the forest as well its these people living in hundreds of villages & tribes which has helped Jim to trace the man eaters he has killed! Imagine that was time way before independence, no cell phones, not even telephones, no electricity, no four wheel drive gypsy at your service & you are alone on your feet in the forest for days & nights chasing some man eater tiger! Do I need to remind,  even today with all modern equipments along with satellite mapping it took two months for forest dept to locate Avani (god bless her soul) tigress in open non forest area when she allegedly become man eater & to kill her. As well those who has been lucky to spend even one night in real forest surrounding will understand the situation, even a gun along how help less we are as the gun can’t make us see in darkness, neither makes us listen the smallest of the sounds nor can give us more ability to smell than tiger! All this Jim could do, only because he learnt to live in the forest like an animal & no animal makes humans enemy without reasons. In 2019 year itself, one tiger travelled nearly 1800 km from one forest to another crossing two States, many highways, towns & villages & nobody was hurt neither even can see it, it’s only because the tiger know to harm a human is unnecessary risk which he didn’t take. Same way Jim made friends with locals & it has helped him in many ways right from understanding topography of unknown terrains, ways & places used by the tiger or leopard, getting domestic animals as pray for luring the man eater & information of attacks by the man eater. In that time also information was the key & you don’t get information if you make people living around forest enemy & if you want to make them friends then you need to learn to know them, this Jim knew & did!

This all is mentioned in Jungle Lore & then he learnt the language of trees, birds, and other animals like different species of deer as well reptiles & use all of them to track the man eater. This is what makes Jim special, in Jungle Lore he says, “The time I spent in the jungles held unalloyed happiness for me, and that happiness I would now gladly share. My happiness, I believe, resulted from the fact that all wildlife is happy in its natural surroundings. In nature there is no sorrow, and no repining. A bird from a flock, or an animal from a herd, is taken by hawk or carnivorous beast and those that are left rejoice that their time had not come today, and have no thought of tomorrow.”  If you understand even basic English, do I need to write anything more here after about Jim & his fusion with jungles but as this is my tribute, I will decide where to stop, lol! Jungle Lore is in a way like text book language of not just Himalayan forests but any piece of nature as right from butterflies to various creepers to fragrance of jungle flowers to finding your way in forest, it tells you how to become part of the forest, in simplest of words & in small pieces. As many people don’t like (read as no patience) to read novels or long paras & chapters, but Jim as wasn’t a writer in first place never needed that, he write thousand of words in one small set of lines & that’s enough for reader. It’s in Jungle Lore, Jim actually tells us many of his adventure he was able to dealt with in future & the book if you read after his popular ones, will make you smile by remembering the incidences in his adventures. Like Marvel movies script spread over numbers of episodes & characters, the story keeps on turning & twisting in past& future, making entire eight (actually nine) books as one saga!

Most important aspect of Jim’s writing is penning down his observations about the jungle & things happening, even smallest of the details he doesn’t miss, just the way Sherlock Holms does while solving a murder mystery! And it’s these observation made nearly hundred years ago are still helping wild lifers (even researchers) know the language of the jungle! He is the one who noted that every animal & bird makes a peculiar sound when they saw a tiger or a predator which we now know as Alarm Calls!  Merely by observing pug marks of a tiger he can follow its movement as well could predict age, size; gender of the tiger, is one more art Jim has gifted to us. It’s because of the Jim we now know the behaviour pattern of a tiger & how smart this wonderful animal is when it’s hunting the prey! And for Jim he not only taught us about language of animals & birds but even the grass as in one of his chase of a tiger, he mentions tracking the tiger with the help of grass! Confused, it’s a grass lawn patch of land, so pug marks was impossible to read & no wind, so he couldn’t smell nor there were any deer or monkeys around for alarm calls but he was sure tiger has passed from this part, so he keenly observes the grass & he has wrote, “and then I saw, grass on a particular track has been pressed & slowly the grass leaf were rising again to their original position, this was the sign that the tiger has walked over it just before me!”  For me, this is the biggest gift Jim has given to me as a guru, that in Jungle be extremely observant & don’t miss anything, as even the smallest & most irrelevant thing counts here. As in jungle nothing happens without a purpose, a lesson which has helped me in my daily concrete jungle life also!

And then his study about human psychology was equally great & it reflects in many of his encounters with hundreds of characters which keeps meeting us along with the main story of tracking a man eater. One of the best I remember is in last chapter of Rudraprayg’s Leopard, where Jim was sure that his bullet has hit the leopard & injured it. But the leopard lay hidden behind a small bund on the boundary of a farm. It already dark so he ask villagers to burn torches (mashal) so in that light he can see what has happened to the leopard & some fifty odd villagers marched towards the bund with torches lit & held above their head. Jim has admired their courage, as walking towards a wounded leopard in night which has been a threat for entire Kumaun region for more than ten years with just a torch in hand & one gun man to protect, is no small job! As soon the parade reached the bund, suddenly the leopard roared & charged with vengeance & Jim shot him in chest to end his life in the torch light & when he looked back every person from the group has fled throwing the torch way! After seeing Jim has shot the leopard & its dead sheepishly all the villagers emerged from the hiding & said sorry to Jim for running away leaving him alone to face the leopard. Well, till here all is fine but what Jim concluded shows the greatness of that man & it still brings tears of emotions in my eyes, Jim says to those villagers, “don’t be ashamed of what you did, had I not been the man holding the gun & instead would have a torch in my hand, I could have been the first to ran away, hearing the roar of the leopard”!  What an humble attitude, words coming from a man who spend nearly  twenty years alone in most fearful places living by day & night on edge & yet has survived, well that’s what makes you a legend!

To conclude my tribute, when some fifteen years back, first time I went to Corbett Park, I took out time to go to Nainital at Jim’s residence ( Gurney House) which is now a monument. I sat on the steps of that house, silently telling him, man, this may be your physical monument but your real monument is in my heart as well in every that person’s heart too who has understood what being wild lifer means & till there will be roars of a tiger in the open jungles around us, Jim you will live within us, ever! 
--
Sanjay Deshpande 
Sanjeevani Dev.

Please view my sharing about real estate in Pune at U-Tube link below..


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Wednesday, May 13, 2020

Lock-Down Lessons for the Smart City!







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"There are millions of options to chose when its future, what you chose today will decide yours"... Dr.Strange from movie Infinity Wars, Marvel Studio.

These are not my words as even the fifty days of lockdown won’t make me that philosophical but then, that’s why Stan Lee was greatest philosopher among us in recent times & his hundreds of characters speak it via Marvel movies, problem is we just clap & forget it! And when its subject is of future of the Smart City, possibly I couldn’t have chosen anything better than his above words! Well, we are at the end of the tunnel named lock down season 3 (hopefully) though there isn’t bright light awaiting us at the end of the tunnel for sure. And as expected lock down season four has been announced by our Hon PM & I am not frightening or exaggerating but lock down over doesn’t mean  exit of the virus is a fact which by now few wise minds among us must have understood & that’s why wisdom is such rare thing, it’s always with a few. But like there are just few tigers in the forest so most tourists went to forests to have a glimpse of the tiger even once; wisdom being rarer than a tiger yet never chased or even acknowledged is the main problem of our society!

Anyways don’t want to get too philosophical as people like Marvel movies for action more & not philosophy is also a fact, so let’s speak about future of the Smart City i.e. “Aapale Pune” post this lock down. That way every ruler (political or bureaucratic) loves to speak about the future of this city (any city actually), how it will be pollution free & green & clean & Smart anyway we are (don’t ask how?) by the end of next year or their tenure whichever is earlier but as that future has been self chosen, it always ends up something different is what we all have witnessed over the decades. Every year budget of this city is made with thousands of crores of rupees for the development works & next year again same works have been repeated in the agenda. Indeed with due respect to everyone associated with the city’s future (mainly PMC) we are much better than many other cities in the State or even Country but then in the class you don’t excel by comparing with dumbest of the boy, do you? If you want to excel in whatever you are doing then there are two ways, one is compare (i.e. study) with the student better than you & another is self analysis with third eye (or mind), so as to know where & what you lack in! And what better opportunity there could have been than this virus outbreak to test ourselves for worst of the scenario on many fronts, indeed we have failed on most of them but that was bound to happen!

Many won’t like it (especially my friends in the system i.e. govt) & many will be happy (so called social as well political figures) but I am not saying this to make someone happy of unhappy but stating the facts I have been observing. First & foremost no one knew, who is the boss of the city to control the spread of epidemic because every govt dept was running their own agenda with noble intentions (of-course) but outcome was confusion, this has to be corrected in future! Indeed just imagine total population of Maharashtra is nearly 11.50 cr while area of the State is 300,000sq km. Out of this 11.50 cr nearly 1.10 cr lives in Pune region (pmc,pcmc, pmrda fringe of both) with area of approx 1500 sq km, imagine the population density here! These are guess about population, as from here only, the failures starts, we don’t know exact figures of how many people exactly lives in Pune region i.e. pmc, pcmc & pmrda area on fringe of these two municipal corporations along with cantonment population! Then there is issue of floating population which includes labour class in various trades & white collared ones i.e. IT type sector! So we don’t know how many people fled from Pune during outbreak time. At the same time when we don’t know exact population & its nature how we are going to decide future of this population. Some standard questions are asked often which I bluntly answer that even gods can’t be knowing it & they are, how many flats are unsold in Pune (read as homes), how many workers you think will be on sites, how many of them are from out station, how many buildings (read as flats) are under construction in Pune & the list is on. As these are important questions when you are fighting a worldwide epidemic type disaster & this data will help you on many fronts is something we need to understand. There has to be an apex body of PMC/PCMC & PMRDA as on record these may be different entity but just as in forests a tiger don’t know core zone or buffer or village & he roams in all three areas same way a citizen of Pune region doesn’t understand such differentiation & it has caused many issues during lock down which was a big headache for the govt also to monitor!

Then coming to the infrastructure, just a small example; the biggest public hospital i.e. medical facility of city is Sassoon hospital with say staff of some one thousand people. Each of them if need a mask to wear which has to be changed every eight hours so two masks a person makes 2000 masks a day. One N95 mask costs  Rs 180 then 2000 x 180 makes nearly Rs, 3.60 lakh per day just for mask & they don’t had budget, so what the staff should do? This has been shared by one of Sassoon employee to me, I am no medical expert but even police dept was not having that kind of supply support of essential things like sanitizers, gloves, is a fact. Then comes most important factor & that is quarantine facilities for the patients especially poor people as well shelter facilities for homeless people in such times! It was only our luck that the outbreak was right in school vacations so we have saved as many govt (pmc) schools were used as shelters but for how many days & what about sanitation of these spaces as some day the kids are going to use it again, are we no risking their lives. Indeed this is virus & will die eventually but what about some radiation outbreak & patients of that type which will leave radio activeness back even they are gone from the place? Well, this may sound weird & too much hyped but then have any of us ever witnessed the kind of outbreak & lock down of entire country for fifty days ever yet entire country experienced it & still going through & I think that’s enough price to pay to learn our lesson!

So, high time for basic changes need to be done in City Development Plan (DP) as well budget provisions. Things like converting at least fifty percent of the existing amenity spaces in temporary shelter buildings has to be done now instead using it for things like Samaj Mandir  or Sr Citizen Centers type useless  activities ( sorry but that’s fact). As well lease them to private genuine parties (that’s important) to use it on basis of rent as well making them available on notice of 24 hours for accommodation of shelter as & when needed i.e. in case of disaster or emergency. Also every school public or private must have an attached toilet block to each room as then it can be used for additional shelter in case needed extra space. As well budget provisions for fighting disasters must be done in two ways i.e. for making infrastructure as well creating contingency fund or reserve which can be used in such times so every time govt (pmc) does not have to beg to other agencies which are already bleeding due to impact of such disasters yet keep on doing their best possible help! Most importantly ward wise there has to be full-fledged disaster management center with basic facilities like essential equipment stock for major disasters & accommodation facilities as well quarantine facilities for the people working on rescue or awareness mission. As or else families of constables & nurses & ward boys are at threat of getting contaminated which has happened this time.

Coming to spread of epidemic in Pune as well in major big cities & one thing everybody has witnessed, it’s only because of density of population & in illegal settlements i.e. slums mostly! I am not blaming slum dwellers as nobody lives in hail with will but I am definitely blaming or charging the system named Govt which allowed these slums to come in existence & grow! At least now the govt will wake up (I wonder about it seriously) & start doing actually something about slums instead just forming a puppet named Zopadpatti Punarvikas Mahamandal i.e. Slum Redevelopment Scheme  something something. And please don’t allow any new illegal building as well stop playing Tom & Jerry with illegal buildings issue. For those who don’t understand the reference, these two are characters of Disney where Tom the Cat is always chasing Jerry the mouse but never catches it & even if catches yet somehow Jerry gets free & the chase is always on for nearly now sixty years. Same way the govt (whatever party it may) keeps playing the chasing game with illegal homes in entire State & keeps regularizing the existing illegal buildings & keeps announcing new laws for not formation of new illegal buildings which like Jerry keep coming in existence! As not even Super Man can stop spread of any virus in these slum settlements & imagine what will happen if some bomb or radioactive thing goes off here or even a major fire or earth quake, anything. And yet we haven’t reached the peak of the epidemic because local body (pmc) & police along with Collector are fighting hard to keep these people in their homes but has anybody seen what we call their home? And what will happen if every this slum resident ran out of slum & start occupying (read as mixing) every available open space just out of fear, have we thought of that? The people in slums share one room between average five to six persons & everything right from bed to toilet to kitchen is common, so how are you going to maintain a social distance here? And what about their hygiene as these areas doesn’t have drainage lines itself leave apart proper toilet blocks! One of my friend  (no name please) from govt & who is part of a squad responsible to make one slum settlement residents aware about social distance & use of masks & sanitizer, he was in tears looking at the situation people were living in & who is responsible for this situation? Well, off-course the builders, some gentleman has said as, builders make homes so costly that people have to live in these slums! Agreed, but do think, what makes a builder to sale a home so costly & who still buys that costly home, can anybody answer it please? Hon PM Sir, high time for us to demolish the slums & every single illegal building, please read carefully, I am saying demolish the slums not the people or slum dwellers & rebuild it in such a way that never anybody has to worry about spread of virus or any disaster here; please take this subject on your agenda as no PM ever has touched this nationwide cancer & you can do it. The police  which are so perfectly (read as a times ruthlessly) abiding the curfew, why can’t they use the same law (read as power) to curtail as well demolish a slum or illegal structure, that time how come govt thinks of these poor people &   their emotions out break type things! Today govt is telling slum residents  to remain in homes for their safety then why can’t in a dedicated time span we make them leave the slum & make a brand new good building & why can’t our we make a dedicated fund available for this noble cause? And till then at least start a full-fledged awareness campaign as well give the existing slums basic hygiene facilities so they will be protected from epidemic. Yet full marks to every that person who is part of the system for giving hundred percent to fight this war but...

Today it’s just one virus & look what havoc it has created making 130 plus crore country at stand still. Speaking about future, what will hit us next, we may not be able to predict but will we be lucky to survive again, that depend only on what future we chose to have today, is all I can tell to the rulers (and citizens) of this Smart City!

--
Sanjay Deshpande 
Sanjeevani Dev.

Please view my sharing about real estate in Pune at U-Tube link below..


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

Creating Togetherness; team Sanjeevani Way(Click link below)

https://www.flickr.com/photos/65629150@N06/albums/72157627904681345

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

www.punecorporation.org
Take your issues to Hon PM at link below..
Think Green, Think Life