Prof. Raghavendra P. Tiwari
It was my good fortune to reside for five and half years in Gour Bhawan- the official residence of the Vice-Chancellor of Dr. Harisingh Gour Vishwavidyalaya, Sagar, M.P since I served this Vishwavidyalaya as the Vice-Chancellor. Gour Bhawan has a sprawling kitchen garden. Since I am fond of vegetables produced organically, I started growing vegetables there. We grew corn also but did not get any corn on the cob to eat as all was eaten by the birds and squirrels. The workers were in a dilemma as my wife used to scold them for not driving off these birds and squirrels and I used to scold them for doing so. My wishes prevailed and birds and squirrels happily ate the corn and other fruits for all those years. While this gave us satisfaction, it was also a cause of worry. This made us realize that the birds and squirrels had nothing to eat excepting corn.
We are witnessing a similar situation in our Bungalow in Civil Lines, Bathinda where we reside, as the official residence of Vice-Chancellor is not yet ready. This bungalow too has a kitchen garden. As usual we grow organic vegetables here too. To our utter surprise, we find the birds and squirrels eating not only corns but also cauliflower, cabbage, knolkhol, brinjal and virtually whatever is grown. They even destroy the saplings. We spread grains for the birds to eat but vegetables are the attraction for them.
This is the telling truth of how birds and other animals are facing acute shortage of food-stuff and struggling to survive. Due to such alarming situations, birds and animals may eventually become endangered species. In essence, we are forcing the animals to change their dietary protocol. This may eventually lead to behavioral, structural and habitat change. We should remember that every single living and non-living creature contributes in making earth’s ecosystems healthy and livable.
We often claim ourselves as being the wisest and mightiest of all life-forms on this planet. Contrarily, our conduct negates such claim. Through our actions, we are destroying the habitat of all living forms including insects, birds, reptiles, fishes and even our own. We have resorted to individualistic and anti-nature developmental discourse at the cost of a time-tested, collective and nature-centric ones. Traditional multi-cropping agriculture pattern with a variety of millets and maize, grams, pulses, legumes etc. has turned into mono-cropping one. The birds, reptiles, rats, insects used to feed on these grains and flowers. Fruit orchards of various types were also a major source of food-stuff to such animals.
Deforestation, apart from temperature rise, is destroying the habitat of wild-life. Soil and aquatic biota including marine life are struggling for existence owing to indiscriminate use of fertilizers, pesticides/insecticides/plastics and industrial waste. Pollution level of soil, air, surface and subsurface water is at constant hike. Human indulgence with nature currently has become a serious threat to biotic and abiotic components and earth’s ecosystem is degrading at an alarming rate. Climate-induced stress is adversely impacting all animal and plant species. The end of Homo sapiens seems to be inevitable, if we continue to travel along the current developmental contours. As we are supposedly the wisest species on the earth, it is our bounden duty to maintain ecosystem congenial for the survival of all life-forms and non-living entities. This is essential for ensuring longevity ofall forms of life on this planet.
(Prof. Raghavendra P. Tiwari is Vice Chancellor, Central University of Punjab, Bathinda)