Wednesday, Jul 28, 2021 07:30 [IST]

Last Update: Wednesday, Jul 28, 2021 02:00 [IST]

Can Love & Compassion for Nature Lessen Covid Anxiety?


Young and fragile Himalayas is endowed with extraordinarily rich Biodiversity. Its rich and valuable resources have traditionally and wholeheartedly served as the foundation for economic and cultural life of vast but vibrant population of India.
Some attitudinal differences and associated climate change developments together with variation in soil conservation create striking changes in the terrain having fabulous flora and fauna. Such a bio diversity is not only a matter of ecological, scientific or economic value, it is a capital of inheritance, passed down generations, emphasizing the need for Sustainable Development(S.D.).
The developments of recent past as also the contemporary ones point out, however, extremes of biotic interference of unsustainable kind. Making wise use of bio diversity inheritance: eco system, plants and animals cannot be tutored. Same has to be felt, understood, imbibed and carried forward in this rapidly changing era when one is confronted seriously with the tantrums and tentacles of Corona Auntie on the one hand and whims & fancies of "never say die" Covid Uncle on the other. Without entering into the popular pastime of discussion on the actual origin of the Virus, strengthening its hold further by the expected or forthcoming Third Wave, one should compromise by believing that SARS II virus is an off shoot of the prevailing environment. An environment ignored and misused by each one of us.
Coming to sustenance of the lost glory and judicious utilisation rather than exploitation of floral & faunal wealth, there is a need for rethinking if not adoption of a fresh approach. Not only farming communities living close to forests have to be sensitized as to how to extract forest and non forest timber products properly but they also be briefed to leave ENOUGH scope for growth and sustenance of grass, shrubs, bushes, water holes, water bodies and other essentials vital for life cycle of animals, such as, Lions, Elephants, Tigers,  Deer etc. While saying so, one is not aiming at touching upon the crucial Food Chain, involving very much last two gifts of nature.
Rather the present purpose is to prick our mental faculty towards the plight of Elephants, who are essentially vegetarian, showing loyalty and non-animist attitude towards their masters. The mere fact that they live, eat and move in groups or clusters, goes on to show their strong family instincts, something reflected glaringly in:
a) Death/ crushing of of 21 elephants in Assam in April-May,2021 and
b) Freak, directionless walk of 500 kms by 15 elephants in Kunming area of Yunan province of China in second week of June,2021.
Despite the inherent friendly attitude of the elephants and many other vegetarian animals, every now and then, reports of straying into the human habitations, hit the headlines. There has to be some reason for such an entry. What they get in return is hectic, irrational and merciless action. The facial expression of the fauna in such a situation shows their State of helplessness. The onlookers, on the other hand, get sarcastic pleasure in having an exciting glimpse of the suffering fauna. Whether it is a case of entry by the loveable Monkeys, Leopards, Tiger or the Elephant even in metros, should not be seen as an act or intrusion by the animals.
In my considered opinion, intrusion, per se, has to be viewed as a valiant act of ASSERTION of the rights by these species of animals to counter the actual intrusion into their established and bonafide habitat by the greedy and shrewd human beings. There is no justification to suppress or subjugate the innocent animals either by mechanical or muscle power.
Will our Central and State Forest Service friends wake up and take requisite action especially during the current tough second wave of Covid, when almost two dozen "positive" tigers and couple of similar infected lions have already left the world? . Lingering threat to the pets, who soothe our feelings otherwise when we are tired and exhausted, also fill the atmosphere, time and again.
Having stated so, I may humbly submit:
"When the animal instinct among the humans crosses conceivable limits, the actual and bonafide sons and daughters of mother earth are left with no alternative but to react and counteract vehemently or justifiably".
 It is not only the competition or tussle factor for a living or habitat between the animals and human beings, but it is a question of displaying adequate love and care for the natural endowments, indiscriminately gifted by the Almighty.
It may not be also out of context to draw our attention to the basic Hindu philosophy of emphasizing reverence to the flora and fauna right from childhood. It goes without saying that for generations altogether, plants, such as, Peepal, Banyan, Tulsi, Banana, Mango, Vat vriksha etc. and the animals, namely, Cow, Bull, Lion, Tiger, Elephant, Monkey, Rat, Cobra snakes etc were being worshipped. Also the early morning ritual of offering water to the Sun God, Tulsi plant and Peepal tree not only has given the requisite faith, confidence and strength to the worshippers but such a practice can also teach us again, the forgotten lesson to do everything possible To Preserve Flora & Fauna, so crucial for our survival.
PUNCHLINE could be:
If we are encouraged or motivated to avoid Social Interaction in view of Corona virus as also more  lethal Third Wave by August end, how can we afford to undermine similar "social" instinct among the animal friends.
Their state of hunger and helpless facial expressions during two rounds of Lock Downs in 2020 & 2021, calls for improving our overall attitude towards them.
Timely food intake and sound health of fauna not only can improve their internal social behavior but may also ensure a better and refined attitude towards their human handlers, caretakers or masters.
Even if we get rid of Covid clinically, the love and affection displayed without any bias, by the pets and  domestic animals is likely to prove much more valuable if not decisive in restricting and reducing our anxiety and depression, ultimately Facilitating satisfactory Healing of the community.
(The writer is former Chief Secretary, Govt. of Sikkim)

Sikkim at a Glance

  • Area: 7096 Sq Kms
  • Capital: Gangtok
  • Altitude: 5,840 ft
  • Population: 6.10 Lakhs
  • Topography: Hilly terrain elevation from 600 to over 28,509 ft above sea level
  • Climate:
  • Summer: Min- 13°C - Max 21°C
  • Winter: Min- 0.48°C - Max 13°C
  • Rainfall: 325 cms per annum
  • Language Spoken: Nepali, Bhutia, Lepcha, Tibetan, English, Hindi