The quality of mercy
We support the Delhi Agricultural Cattle Preservation Bill, passed this March, which bans the slaughter of cows, calves and bulls, and hope that it is transformed into an Act enabling strict implementation at the earliest.
With respect to this issue, several questions have been raised regarding our so-called "unpractical and emotional" approach. Casting sentiments and religion aside, live cattle have greater "monetary" value than dead (slaughtered) ones: they spell prosperity to our farmers, providing them with milk, manure/fertiliser, transport and, in addition, ploughing their fields. After their natural death, their hide, bones and horns fetch a decent price.
There is a definite decline in the cattle population; the growth rate has dwindled and there has been a substantial rise in their slaughter for export as well as domestic use. Not banning cow slaughter will expedite their complete destruction, forcing us to import milk and dung (as is the case now). In any case, killing of animals cannot be considered a trade or profession. It is unconstitutional and unethical....
In the mad rush for progress, humankind has forgotten its most important friends -- trees. I have in mind those arboreal giants one finds languishing along roadsides, in private compounds, government wastelands and even in forest areas. Instead of pandering to the whims of VIPs, can't state governments look to the wellbeing of these "senior citizens", declaring them as VITs (Very Important Trees)?
Such large, old trees deserve to be protected, watered and loved. Of superior growth and survival capability, their gene pool should be collected. The forest and horticulture departments can take the initiative by preparing a register of all such species in the states and declare them Protected Trees; the government will not have any claims of ownership on them, and will also provide adequate funds for maintainence. Long live the Mahakay Uttam Vriksh!...
Power to the people
As a participant in the Environment and Economics seminar, I have immensely benefitted from professor Roxas' meditations on community accounting.
Any accounting system which incorporates community aspirations, and reflects a comprehensive measure of growth and development, would be more than welcome. However, there are problems in treating communities as analogous to enterprises in non-business accounting systems. This is because communities have an overwhelming proportion of non-quantifiable and non-business components more closely woven with the lifecycles of the people.
But there is no disputing the fact that Indian communities must be given legal rights to make their own decisions about resource use and accounting thereof. I think there should be a full-fledged debate on incorporating "community", rather than "enterprise", as an unit of operation in accounting systems.
Methods of doing this will have to be carefully considered, or it will remain as an experiment to be forgotten as soon as the institution is withdrawn. The matrix system suggested by Prof Roxas needs to be considerably improved upon to capture the social fabric of Indian communities. If the method is to be applied to the macro-accounting system in a country of India's size, case studies covering communities in different agro-climatic zones should be initiated as a pilot project. This could then help generate the database for future improvement in implementing the accounting system....
Look to our Lakes
In the Hyderabad Mega-City Protection Plan, floated in October '93, and circulated for public opinion, we must state that there is no mention of the preservation and beautification of the 21 lakes in and around Hyderabad and Secunderabad.
In the past, Hyderabad was famous for its lakes and gardens and the resultant soothing climate. But rampant urbanisation and industrialisation have gradually destroyed them. Today, landgrabbers have virtually gobbled up the Saroonnagar Lake, the Durgam Chenuvu of Jubilee Mills and the Mir-Atam-Tank. Illegal occupation has converted the Kanchanbagh Lake into the Deccan Medical College. Talab Katta, Mir Jumta Tank, Maa-sab Tank and the Ramanthapur Cheruvu are already lost.
While the city reels under acute drinking water shortages, and underground water is fast receding, water recharging agencies, viz. lakes and ponds, are wantonly destroyed. The lakes maintain the ecology of the area; employment generation and tourism are also part of this eco-heritage.
The Hyderabad Urban Development and Administration (HUDA), while revising its plan outlay, should give utmost importance to lake protection, desilting, preservation and beautification. HUDA and all the municipalities together need to constitute a lake protection cell and chalk out a fool-proof "lake conservation plan". Lakes should be declared "reserved" and no conversion of lake land be allowed. We request HUDA and other concerned municipal authorities to give a serious thought to our concern for "lake protection" in their Mega-City plan....
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