Published: Wednesday 15 March 1995

Wilting sacred groves

Sacred groves are a must for every Mahadeo Koli village in Maharashtra as they symbolise tribal assertion of control over resources. They also indicate a system of ethno-environment management. Unfortunately, the Bhimashanker project of the Maharashtra Arogya Mandal has been funding local people in a few villages to make pathways and beautify the sacred groves, like the parks in cities. In some villages, they have even dug trenches around the groves, thereby undermining the system of social fencing attached to the groves. No wonder the saplings planted by them along the trenches have all wilted due to want of care.

All these actions amount to not only disrespecting the tribal ethos but also to resorting to a cheap way of acquiring funds (which they are reportedly receiving from foreign funding agencies). Some other NGOs in the state which receive foreign aid have similarly toyed with the groves after romanticising them. ...

Stopping the brain drain

While it is of some consolation to learn that a Rs 10 crore aid package from the United Nations Development Programme is to involve Indian expatriate scientists in leading areas of research (Down To Earth, December 31, 1994), it is doubtful whether such a move by itself will succeed in creating the needed gradient for the reversal of the brain drain from the country. The reasons behind such a doubt are not the relatively low pay packets they are likely to be offered back home, or even the uncongenial working conditions in our institutions, but the several social irritants they are bound to encounter, thanks to the developed roots of alien culture willingly adopted by them over the years.

While it behoves our governments to create conditions conducive to retaining brilliant young professionals to serve the needs of our country, it is equally imperative to ensure that those going abroad for advanced studies or research do indeed return on the completion of their assignments -- failing which each of them should be made to pay to the Centre or state government a sum of not less than Rs 5 lakh. Also, for their part, young Indians keen on settling abroad in order to pursue a lucrative career with all material comforts will do well to introspect on what they owe to their motherland, especially at this juncture when the country needs a strong technological base for its R&D needs.

Despite being several years old, Sailen Ghosh's view strikes a contempory note and is relevant to the present context: "An action that seeks to pull itself by its boot straps must have nationalism to spur it to action, stir it to its depths and challenge its creativity. To run away from a recognition of this obvious need is to refuse to stop the the drift." We must restore the motivation of nationalism in our society to solve the problem of intellect at all levels, from young students to mature scientists and engineers, so that nobody can rest happily abroad without contributing his best to the country of his birth. Without this urge within, no one can check the rot. ...

Interest in shrimps

I am a regular reader of your magazine. In one of its issues, I read a small article on shrimps. I would like to know more about their cultivation.

Please provide me with more information on shrimps, or give me the contact addresses of people,institutions working in this field.


You can get in touch with:

Central Marine Fisheries Research Institute
Post Box 2704
Kerala - 682 031 ...

Building bridgeshonestly

This is in reference to the news published in the South Asia column (Down To Earth, November 30, 1994) about bridges being built in the Napalese Hills by a Swiss organisation. Although most of the things mentioned in the news are correct, it is only a half-truth that the Swiss organisation is building the bridges. The success of the programme, in essence, is actually due to the honest efforts of all the concerned parties involved in this programme -- the villagers, the district governments which supply cables in some cases and bear the labour cost of the programme, national consultants and NGOs involved in training, supervising construction, and mobilising local communities.

Having been involved in the programme's initial phase -- from 1990 to 1993 -- to develop a successful strategy, I felt I must bring the above facts, which were missing in your news item, to your knowledge. I expected Robert Groeli (in charge of the bridge programme and not of Helvitas-N, as reported wrongly in your news) to have told these things to your correspondent. I hope you will give due consideration to the above comments and include my facts in a relevant column in any of your forthcoming issues. ...

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