Tuesday, January 6, 2009

Elephants, Tigers & Ethical Democracy

In these Blog pages much of my focus is on India's path to Ethical Democracy. It is both a process and a destination. Given the unequalled and unprecedented example of Maulana Azad and Mohandas Gandhi, India can do no less. India is at a remote distance from both the process and the destination towards ethical democracy but it is reasonable to state that India has started on that path which it began at least 2500 years ago. I say this because Democracy is not a western invention but a universal human impulse towards fairness, which in its ultimate analysis is an evolved behavior that we share with certain mammals especially the great apes.

Recently there were two separate but obviously related news articles in the Indian press, one on protests against the establishment of a Tiger Reserve in Mudumalai and another, on "marauding wild elephants" allegedly 'wreaking havoc" in North Eastern India.

I don't have time (will do so later) to develop the points raised by these two articles, these points being 1)balancing livelihood needs with animal protection and 2) habitat loss

It is clear that a humane and vigorous policy of protecting and increasing wildlife as part of a larger longterm policy of increasing and exploiting biodiversity resources for purposes of furthering health and employment opportunities have to be seen as keystones to ethical democracy. Demonizing wildlife, causing habitat loss and promoting livelihoods that don;t provide returns on investment in employment are faulty cost ineffective pathways to irresponsible governance. None of these quick fix options that are inimical to wildlife conservation will help build ethical democracy in India. Nature and Culture are inextricably interrelated.

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