OCT 10, 2009

Conservationist’s view: Mr ERC Davidar shares his experiences in a lively imterview. p16

Responsible tourism: A local hotelier explains his contributions towards the eco-balance, but is industry doing enough? p6




Next issue: Tea sector surges

A lone struggle.
Well meaning efforts, on all fronts, are futile if they are disjointed, making it a lonely battle for animals in the wild. p 10, 11.

pic courtesy :N Ravi, WWF, Nilgiris

‘Kumaraiah keeps calling me to Masinagudi, but I haven’t gone in a while. He visits me whenever I go to the hills. But while there, I’m restrained a bit because Kumaraiah likes to take hold of my leg and pull it you see!’ see p 16 for more...


Gudalur Road
Nilgiris in a nutshell
Priya Varghese

Considerable time seemed to have gone into this issue of TheLocal. It was, we believe, mostly due to the nature of stories that we chose to draw your attention towards, especially the one on the state of our wildlife. The primary aspect in that story is that of the well meaning yet disjointed efforts on the part of the various organisations and agencies involved. Towards a more holistic approach, we hope this story will at the least allow concerted effort to happen, before it is late. Readers of the Local have been concerned about the alcoholism issue affecting the people of the district. At several forums, where we have had the opportunity, in recent weeks, to convey the urgency of the problem, people have expressed solidarity and would wish to contribute their efforts. We believe, preventive measures are of utmost importance at this point. Should any of us wish to engage in the school related campaigns, for instance (see article on p3), please get in touch with the paper; we will be happy to have you as an integral part of this awareness programme. Incidentally, members of the Nithyananda Ashram, Bidadi, on invitation, introduced a meditation program to inmates of a deaddiction centre in the district, recently. (see special section and article, p12, 13). Regards, Editor.


When next at Thalakunda, enroute to Mysore, take the lower road. No strain of 36 hair-pen bends, the road takes its cue from the gentle contours of the Pykara river. Water cascades obediently at Kamaraj Sagar and Pykara Dam and skips free in waterfalls by the road. Broccoli-blue and cabbage-green patchwork overlays the rich red soil, farmed by locals.

Anumapuram's little township marks the start of tea plantations, terraces interspersed with water-meadows, clouds-clad hills above - each glance framing a picture by landscape artist Constable. After Naduvattam, (which means central point) tea is displaced by giant eucalyptus, the forest backed by dramatic rock-faces overlooking Gudalur. Theppakadu's jungle completes 'Nilgiris in a nutshell'. 30 mins added to your journey: countless amazing pictures to your memory.

pic, courtesy: Senthil,Compads

Snapshot- shola-grassland: A combination of tropical evergreen forests co-existing alongside undulating grasslands is what is widely termed as shola-grasslands. These small patches of forests are found in hollows, shelters and small declivities, ie,. in isolated pockets. Grasslands dominate. The sholas stay within a restricted boundary. Neither do they spread into the grassland nor does the grass spread into the forest. A number of climatic factors are respnsible for this: a short period of drought, winter frost, wind velocity, fire and a sharp diurnal temperature fluctutation. Source: The Local Dec’08

The Monte Carlo range of winter wear at the Woolen Store, Commercial Rd, Ooty, is available in select colours for both semi-formal and casual wear. Enquiries: (0423) 2442214


Some delightful view-points, enroute Gudalur.
Some of Gudalur roads tourist spots and magnificient view points are just off the main road! Needle Rock View Point: 8 km on the Ooty-Gudalur road, from here, one can see almost every part of Gudalur and Mudumalai wildlife sanctuary, Gudalur town, Bandipur and parts of Mysore. On the other side one can see a part of Kerala. Frog Hill View: The hill is in the shape of a huge frog. Frog hill view point is 14 km. from Gudalur on the way to Udhagamandalam. Pykara Boat house: Situated a little beyond Pykara dam (21 km from Ooty) the placid Pykara lake is surrounded by forests rich in wildlife habitat. The boat house and restaurant is maintained by the TTDC.

‘We know that the main area in Kattabettu (a junction enroute Kotagiri) is very dirty, with so much being dumped all over the place’ said the young boy (in pic, right) shortly after the journalism workshop

Why is Kattabettu Junction dirty?
Students of Govt.High School, Kattabettu begin to ask some questions. In journalistic spirit.

conducted by TheLocal at their school ‘What must we do to create awareness about this problem?,’ he asks. Just stating that open garbage is bad, may be dismissed as your own opinion. Ascertain facts that might, for instance, link the garbage to onset of sickness in the people residing in this locality - ask the local doctor for his/her assesment on the matter. Find out from the veterinary personnel if they have come across, for example, cases of cows having consumed plastics and being put to distress on account of it. See if water ways have clogged on account of waste being disposed of carelessly... When people are presented with an opinion that is based on facts, their acceptance of the opinion is greater since there is credibility - advice that was extended to the young minds, who, the team from the local felt, keenly grasped the nuances of journalism during the brief workshop. Their attention was also drawn to the problems of alcoholism within the district. Quite a number of children of this Std 9 & 10 group, stated that they were aware of alcoholics in their neighbourhoods. They vowed to present facts to the family of the alcoholic, facts that were published in the Aug ‘09 issue of TheLocal. The children and their teachers, in this context, expressed eagerness to find out if the liquor shop at Kattabettu junction was within 100ft of the temple there, which they learnt is a violation of the law.



Statutory disclaimer: TheLocal disclaims liability of any kind whatsoever, arising out of the readers use, or inability to use the material contained in it. Adequate care has been taken to compile stories for the reference of our users. TheLocal makes every effort to maintain accuracy of the information but does not accept responsibility for any and disclaims responsibility for any loss or damage which may arise from the information provided. All opinion expressed in the issue in the form of articles or any viewpoint is solely that of the individual or advertiser concerned and TheLocal accepts no liability thereof. None of the Authors, Contributors, Sponsors or anyone connected to TheLocal can be liable for any reproduction of the material.

Subscriptions to The Local, are opened effective October 09. Please subscribe/ renew your subscription through the following methods: Demand draft/local cheque favouring The Local Media Publishing Co,. (or) by a Money order to The Editor, The Local Media Publishing Co,. 10/363-Y-1, AVK Post, Nilgiris - 643202. Call: (0) 97905 90570. 1 Year subscription: Rs. 180/- for 12 issues, incl. postage & handling.

The Local

quiz on Shola-grasslands
1. When was the presence of shola-grasslands first documented, by whom? 2. What is the average height of a shola tree? 3. What velocity do winds across the grasslands touch? 4. What is the average day-night temperature in the grasslands? 5. Average night temperature within the shola? 6. What is the primary benefit of a shola?

Letters to the Editor
Readers who wish to send letters to the Editor may do so by post to the following address 10/363-Y-1, Indiranagar, AVK Post, Nilgiris - 643 202. Alternatively, you may also email thelocaleditor@gmail.com. In case of any queries or clarifications call: (0) 97905 90570.

1. In 1603, by Fr. Fenicio 2. Not more than 20 metres 3. 80-120 kms per hour 4. -2 deg centigrade at night and 25 deg centigrade during day 5. 17-20 deg centigrade at night. 6. Water retention - It is a perennial source of water in the hills and to the surrounding plains below!


call 108 in any emergency

Mettupalayam-Ooty: Dep:7:10 am Arr: Ooty1200 noon. Ooty -Mettupalayam: Dep:3:00 pm. Local trains: Ooty to Coonoor-9:15 am, 12:15 pm, 3:00 pm, 6: pm. Coonoor to Ooty-7:45 am, 10:30 pm, 1:30 pm, 4:30 pm.

Police: Ooty - (0423) 100, Coonoor - (0423) 2221836, Kotagiri - (04266) 271100, Gudalur (04262) 261246.
Please add the area code if dialling from a mobile phone or from outside the circle

4 tribute
They say, whom the gods love die young… Aeschylus, where is the wisdom you spoke of when you wrote ‘even in our sleep pain which does not forget, falls drop by drop upon our hearts, until, in our despair against our will, comes wisdom through the awful grace of god ?’ Shri H.R.Gopalakrishna was a scion of the close-knit family of the late Rao Bahadur H.J.Bellie Gowder, the late Rao Bahadur H.B. Ari Gowder and the late Shri H.B. Raju Gowder (our father), a family of communityleaders, social reformers and philanthropists. An ardent sports person (which was not surprising-coming from a family of sportsmen as he did) he went on to graduate from the Madras Christian College in 1962 during which time he continued to show his prowess in sports, captaining the college hockey-team in the early 60’s. Under his captaincy, MCC won the inter–collegiate hockey trophy after thirteen years. During one tournament, the headlines in the papers screamed ‘Gopu beats Munir Sait hands down with his famous scoop’ (the goal keeper went on to represent India at the 1968 Olympics in Mexico where India won the bronze medal). Shri H.R. Gopalakrishna was still in college when our father passed away in 1962. He had to shoulder the family responsibilities and took over the family business as the eldest son, consolidating and managing Barnie - a boutique tea estate in those days. He was one for experiments and associated himself with the likes of Dr. K.S. Venkataramani, Director of the Research Station at Cinchona, during its years of infancy, and who pioneered the vegetative propagation of tea. One of the more popular tea clones ‘Sundaram ’, is even today seen in various parts of H.R.Gopalakrishna’s estate. In his quest for improvement and in wanting to adopt the cutting-edge in technology, Shri H.R Gopalakrishna was one of the early adopters of CTC in the manufacture of tea in the region; the factory became one of the very first to do so, reaping the benefits of quality and price. Shri H.R Gopalakrishna was innovative in his approach to problem-solving and during those days of severe power shortage he used the car engine from his Vanguard, a straight6, to run the factory alongwith an oil engine. All this while he continued to take an interest in hockey and was part of a team called the ‘Cousin’s Seven’ which was the leading team in the district for several years. Shri H.R.Gopalakrishna is survived by his wife Indrani, his son Yudhishter, his daughter Harshini and their families. In the increasing desertification of life and its values, Shri H.R. Gopalakrisha remained an oasis of enduring values. Like our father, he was a committed family man and he will be greatly missed by his own family and the extended family. Gopu’s sharp intelligence, sense of humour, and repartee were celebrated by all the families; his witticisms regaled many a family gathering. He had an abiding love of music particularly Hindustani semi-classical and classical music. Some of his/our favorite pieces have a haunting poignancy:

K.L. Saigal’s “Diya Jalao” “Din soona suraj bina Aur chanda bin rain Ghar soona deepak bina Jyothi bin do nain Diya jalao, jag mag, jag mag … (The day is empty without the sun, And the night without the moon; The house is empty without the lamp And the eyes without their light. Light lamps across the world) As my son Digvijay says “He has gone to a better place. If all of us lived our lives with as much dignity as he did, maybe we too will get there.”

A sister’s Kanneeranjali
H R Gopalakrishna (Gopu) 8.4.1941 - 29.9.2009
With the family: late Mr H R Gopalakrishna (second from left) with his family members.

I am not a climate change scientist, but a sociologist who used to be a climate change skeptic, sometimes plain sarcastic at the phenomenon. In my skeptical moments I have felt that a clique of climate change scientists were just eager to establish their new science and in doing so, ended up scaring the rest of us. Remember the media told us there was hole in the Ozone? But during my transition from a non believer to a believer in climate change, I was convinced of one thing- understanding climate change, even if riddled by uncertainty, offered the best chance for the world to attain some state of environmental sustainability. If you told the world that its own food, land and water securities were at immediate stake rather than simply state that tigers are getting extinct or that forests are being felled then perhaps a culture of sustainability can be incorporated into its consumptive excesses. In the last two years, I have been trying to understand what climate change entails, what its symptoms are and how science, policy and public engage with it. And to readers of TheLocal, I would like to extend pertinent information on the subject, using instances from the Nilgiris, wherever possible. The Green House Effect: besides oxygen and nitrogen, the two major gases that constitute the atmosphere, there are minor or trace gases. These are what is called greenhouse gases such as ozone, water vapor, methane and carbon dioxide (CO2) whose effect facilitates life on our planet. The earth receives energy from the sun, and the earth’s surface reflects some of the sun's radiation back to the atmosphere. As they absorb such energy f rom the earth’s surface, the greenhouse gases also radiate energy downwards and in the process warm the atmosphere. This makes life possible on our planet. Now life has become challenging because one green house gas, CO2 that is also produced by humans especially when they burn fossil fuels (fuels with high carbon content and a significant source of energy when they are burnt), has increased in volume. This is enhancing radiation or the green house effect. Our planet is warming and thus climate is changing. The noticeable symptoms are glacial melt and sea level rise that scientists and policy makers, notably the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate

Climate change comes home.
Siddarth Krishnan

Spot the problem: A parthenium plant (pic, centre) was spotted in Ooty by a local, recently. Its pollen is known to cause severe allergic reactions like dermatitis, hay fever and asthma. The pollen quickly disperses with the wind. Picture taken outide Spencer Building in Ooty.

Change (UNFCCC), the Peace Prize winning institution, are stressing upon. Now, the melting of Himalayan glaciers and the flooding of Gangetic India; or the Maldives and lower reaches of Bangladesh going under sea level are large catastrophic eventualities being projected. Local symptoms that we are familiar with is our winter last year which set in at Ooty in mid December whereas it should have set in early November. It set in late, was short, mildly intense and then it warmed again. The south west monsoons failed and set in much later than the metrology department’s prediction for the country. In Ooty it set in late around mid June and fizzled away. And then there were brief sometimes intense phases of rainfall ever since. But as some of us may have realized the most frequent sources of rains of recent have been onsets of depressions in India’s western coast. And sometime during early and mid September, winter skies were visible for a few days. The evenings got cold and ground frost was

evident in the mornings. Whether it was an early sample of winter or if it was it our shortest winter we don’t know. Patterns are erratic and extreme. They are linked to climate change. My farmer-friends too believe that something is fundamentally wrong. There could also be biotic symptoms. As high elevation Ooty get warmer, lower elevation plants could ‘climb’ up. ‘Parthenium’, for instance, was recently spotted in Ooty town. While it could also be a case of general weed invasion in a locality, we don’t know anything for sure as yet. We can only observe. Science must subject our observations to scrutiny and verification. Science needs to do its own thing too and communicate to us, the local citizens, about meteorological and botanical symptoms of climate change. Shorter term predictions or ‘weather models’ consisting of monthly or bimonthly weather forecasts must be provided to our tea and vegetable farmers because long term forecasts e.g. ‘normal or
Continued on p 13

THE ‘obnoxious weed’ Parthenium hysterophorus is a thermo insensitive herb. It is a prolific seed producer with seeds having long storage life and can quickly dispersethroughwind.Vegetativegenerationoccursfromthecrown. Theconceptof`Oneyearseeding,sevenyearsweeding'is trueforParthenium.Itproducesabout 5000-10000 seeds per plant, which are viable even at immature stage. In dry summer months Parthenium appears in a rosette form. But during rainy season it grows up to 90 cm. height, with profuse flowering and green foliage. It flowers throughout the year. It causes contact dermatitis in livestock and is reported to be poisonous to sheep. Humans are also affected by this weed with respiratory malfunction and dermatitis. Main toxin responsible for the effect is ‘Parthenin.’

6 environment
The Kurumba Village Resort is built on approximately 5% of a total land area of 10 acres of an old but still productive cardamomnutmeg-pepper estate on the slopes of the Coonoor-Mettupalayam Road. ‘We hear from some of our guests that their little children are thrilled on seeing nutmeg for the very first time,’ exclaims secondgeneration-hotelier Sanjay Narayanan, who shared his perspective on the subject of responsible tourism in a recent interview. Was social responsibility covered as a topic in hotel management school? ‘Not when we did our course’, says the resort owner referring to the early 90s when he and his partner-old schoolmate, Sanjay Avatramani, pursued their catering degrees together. ‘It is probably taught now but I would be happy to invite young entrepreneurs-to-be to visit here and study what we have been trying to incorporate at our property with regard to environmentally-friendly practices’. Kurumba Resort is one of few in the region to install a sewage treatment plant, something that they had planned for at the time of inception itself. ‘The water that is generated from daily utilisation in the bathrooms, wash areas and the kitchen is treated and reused daily for the nutmeg plantation’, says Mr Narayanan. The water source at this luxury resort is generated internally from a well on campus, making the cycle of use and reuse optimum. What is the essence of responsible tourism? ‘All tourism must anyway be responsible. It is not necessary to be regulated by anyone if we understand that it is in our own interests to preserve and protect our environment.’The 10-acre area is unfenced. ‘There was no need to fence our property. We do have a chance sighting of some wildlife in the summer months, crossing over on the opposite hillside, but we have never felt inclined to cordon off our perimeter.’ The presence of rare birds on the campus was an accidental discovery. ‘We were surprised to see at least 30-40 different species when we first explored the idea of a holiday resort in this 90 year old estate; a keen birdwatcher can spot many more. We had then decided that we must plant trees that will retain and enhance the bird life of the area. Around 2000 trees of different varieties were planted here in 2004- the year in which we formally opened the resort to tourists.’ Why is there a recent lack of goodwill for resorts in particular and tourism in general, with the sentiment being that the industry is losing focus and that it is short term in its outlook with almost everything that is being planned and executed, seeming haphazard and opportunistic? ‘I am not sure if any one of us hoteliers is adequately qualified to answer a broad question such as this because it involves several components including the Government agencies with sectors such as public transport, infrastructure etc., but we must all primarily understand that over several decades, tourism has been the mainstay of the local economy just as it is elsewhere, in other leading tourist destinations of the world. It is not correct to label it negatively.’ To a question on what extent of revenue is generated annually by the local tourism industry, the hotelier states that he is not aware. Whether the Nilgiri Hotels and Restaurants Association will have this information is also unlikely as the membership of this can-beinfluential body is not representative of the sector, having only less than half the hotels and resorts in the district, as its affiliates. This is the time when the hotel industry needs to reflect inward, rally itself together and revisit its pivotal role in Nilgiri tourism by integrating with concerns of the environment or else it could find itself uprooted by the rapidly increasing momentum of conservationism in the region no matter how well planted it might be.

Planting a Resort.
Understanding the essence of responsible tourism from an environmentconscious hotelier. But is enough being done by the hotel industry?

Recipe Dhal Ladoo
!/2 kg Green Gram Dhal !/2 kg Sugar powdered !/4 kg Ghee 50 gms Cashewnunts broken and Cardamom powdered Roast the dhal on a low flame until golden and a fine aroma arises. Cool and powder the dhal. Fry the broken cashew in ghee and mix with the dhal powder. Next mix the powdered sugar and cardamom with the dhal powder. Take small portions of the mixture add hot ghee and make into balls of required size. Dhal ladoo is ready to be served.

Recipe sent in by subscriber of TheLocal, Mrs Vijayalakshmi Ramachandran, Ooty.


Botanical Gardens
Garden Road, Ooty. Layout completed: 1867 Varieties of flowers: over 2000 Total area: 55 acres


Choose from an exclusive variety of sweaters at the Woolen store, Commercial Road, Ooty. The Monte Carlo range of winter wear is available in select colours for semi-formal and casual wear. You could also visit our branch at Botanical Gardens, while there. Enquiries: (0423) 2442214

Wildlife sighting. By chance!
Not so long ago, when people traveled by the public transport system from Ooty to Bangalore, it was with great anticipation that they crossed the Mudumalai-Bandipur stretch - will they be lucky to sight a wild animal? Today, hordes of cars pass through the sanctuaries at tearing speed, only to screech to a halt or honk with misplaced excitement at seeing deer or elephant herds, unmindful of the repercussions.

pics: Staff Photographer


Three little piggies...
Life goes on, as it always has, for our animals of the wild. For us, ‘have road, will travel’, might seem a fair perspective but it is not without its responsibilities. Not many really care about speed regulations. Which is why today, after several gruesome accidents, involving wild animals, access through this jungle road at the Mudumalai Wildlife Sactuary is now restricted. Probably, till at least when we can self-regulate our actions. The piggy family is oblivious to the situation. They’re off, as the story goes, ‘one to the market, one to school and another, to meet a little friend down the road...

key elements

It is also not uncommon to see many people feed monkeys and deer while the onlookers vie with each other for photography ops. It can only be the fervent appeal to all, locals and tourists alike, to show restraint during their transit through these two sanctuaries, the last of the homes for our wildlife. Remember and remind others too, that jungle safaris, if at all, must be guided by appropriate authorities. It is foolhardy and irresponsible to venture too close to animals of the wild. At best, they deserve the privacy and space that they need.

10 cover story

Are we really on track?
Nilgiri wildlife: Sheer numbers of wild animals are clearly up but the good tidings carry an ominous shadow - porous borders, ill equipped and proportionately under staffed enforcement agencies, increasing man-animal conflicts, an apathetic local population, disconnect within NGOs and of course the looming threat of poachers and their invisible support systems. The Local Correspondent
Committed: The Nilgiri Forest department and its management teams are highly committed to conservation but protection and preservation must be a partnering effort feel senior officers like Dr Rajiv Srivastava (inset) who believes that self-regulation and cooperation are critical factors, going ahead. (Top) Elephant tracks leading into a far off fence.

pic courtesy :NRavi, WWF, Nilgiris

The Government of Uttar Pradesh has sought clearance f rom the Centre to allow unrestrained hunting-down of the Nilgai because the over 3 lakh population of this animal of the wild, is causing damage to 6070% of the pulses output in the State, states an article in Business & Economy (Oct 09). Is this the correct approach to the situation? The question was asked of an erstwhile shikari, a prominent environmentalist and a top forest official, all based in the Nilgiris. The responses were disparate. Dr Rajiv Srivastava the present Field Director, Mudumalai Wildlife Sanctuary, is positive about the future of the wildlife in the region based on the present state of affairs- increase in numbers. ‘While we cannot share exact figures for obvious reasons, it is a matter of satisfaction for everyone that our census is healthy. The Nilgiri Biosphere Reserve is, in fact, one of the model regions for tiger conservation in the country.’ Today, much of the state of wildlife in the Nilgiris is dependent on timely, consensual and long term decisions. Mainly consensual. The Nilgiri Wildlife and Environment Association (NWLEA), a partly government - partly public represented body, was formed in 1972, after the introduction of the Indian Wildlife Act, which, among other things, prohibited hunting - an activity that the association called NGA (Nilgiri Game Association) was engaged in. The NGA wound up and its members paved the way for the NWLEA with a f resh agenda preservation of wildlife and environment. Former member and office bearer of NWLEA, Mr Chandru Raju Bettan feels that the need of the hour today, greater than ever before, is management of wildlife and not conservation. One of the country’s most revered wildlife experts (see interview p16) says that ‘If our wildlife is left entirely to the Government, soon there may be nothing left of it’. His message cannot be misunderstood. Considering his experience and expertise, the message is well placed. In the department’s own admission, the borders of the wildlife sanctuary and parts of the reserved forests all across the district, are porous.The senior government officer with the accumulated experience in his present, rather challenging position, has made headway into what is called ‘social fencing’, which means engaging forest dwellers and those on the periphery of the forests to act as informants and guardians in the drive to protect the forests. However, a more preventive approach is required. One that is inclusive. The obvious

disconnect, at present, evoked responses as disparate as culling to castration to plain protests against the harming of animals when the question of the UP Nilgais was posed to the opinion makers and experts, locally. Why mustn’t a partnership develop with serious researchers, whose study of short and long term aspects of the social implications as the one presented in UP, be pivotal in avoiding future stand-offs? Mr N Mohanraj, senior representative of WWF (World Wildlife Fund), having done extensive study on elephants, reiterates that thanks to pioneering work of naturalists like Mr ERC Davidar and his documentation of elephant corridors, policy making on the part of the government is now concerted, although staggered. He agrees that the problems are multifarious and need greater cooperation and information sharing from all agencies involved. Wildlife research findings are mostly vested. In Dr Srivastava’s opinion, research by itself is not enough, the findings must be shared. The threats to wild animals, in the meantime, are constant - both casual and serious. Cases of people venturing illegally into the forests and drunken driving related accidents still occur. Litter is growing while enforcement is poor, inspite of clear directives of the law (see below). As a solution, the recent closing down of a now busy, highway at night is considered by many to be short term promising great repercussion. Piloting of lorries and bus fleets at night, could be adopted to regulate speeds and ‘spirits’ but for that, the departments, on both sides of the State borders do not have the wherewithal. Patrolling could deter littering but resources are constrained. The issue of poaching, on the other hand, is serious - at least one forest personnel, after the Singara elephant poaching incident of July last year, admitted that ‘What we come to know of, we do, but sometimes we may never get to know. Everything can be cleared off quickly.’ The biggest problem by far, however, are the underlying changes taking place in the animals’ habitat, mostly from proliferation of the fast spreading exotic weed lantana camara. According to wildlife researcher, Dr R. Krishnamani of The Rainforest Initiative, nearly 50% of forest area in and around the wildlife sanctuary could now be infested with this plant which, he says, is a double edged sword - its ingestion causes sickness in animals and the fast spreading plant (birds carry its berries over distant areas) with its hardy nature, is steadily displacing much

needed grass cover. This, he says, could also be one of the critical factors leading to wild animals spilling into human habitats in search of food. Nilgai, primarily found in North-Central India, was supposedly a feral population of the Coimbatore and Salem Collectorates (AC McMaster. Higginbotham, 1871.) It is not clear when and why it completely vanished and if it was a resident of the Nilgiris at all, as is believed by some. In fact, the Nilgai does not find mention in the earliest annual reports of the NWLEA as being sighted in this region! If translocation of the hapless species from UP to the lower plateau of the Nilgiris, will be beneficial to both regions, it is a matter that can be studied. There will have to be consensus and timely conclusions for it may not be long before we are faced with a similar predicament here. But who will lead the way?
A former member of the NWLEA and one of its earliest office bearers Mr Chandru Raju Bettan, recalls a meeting he attended in Delhi, of the Indian Wildlife Board chaired by the then Prime Minister Mrs Indira Gandhi, where as representative of the Nilgiri-based organisation he had stated that wildlife must continue to be managed and not just conserved; the idea was unacceptable to the members. ‘Problems of growth in large numbers (like the one being faced in the case of the Nilgai in UP) are but inevitable if timely and careful removal of ageing animals, planned castration and a constant study-based strategy, including relocation is not regularly resorted to,’ cautions the erstwhile shikari, adding, ‘As locals, we do not raise our voices anymore like we did earlier. As for the NWLEA, I felt it had lost its voice and its waylong ago.’

Objectives of the NWLEA, regarding translocation of animals: towards ‘preservation of wildlife and conservation of nature and natural resources of the Nilgiris’, the association, in its constitution (1977) states, “(Pursuance of) introduction, preservation and management of species of wild animals and birds not resident in the district and the acquisition, import and exchange of any species of wildlife in or out of the district;” Section of the Indian Wildlife (Amendment) Act regarding destruction or damaging of wildlife habitat: Sec 27 (4) states ‘No person shall tease or molest any wild animal or litter the grounds of the sanctuary.’

What is required today, is management of our wildlife and not conservation. - Mr Chandru Rajubettan, Fmr. Secretary, NWLEA (Nilgiri Wildlife & Environment Assn)

special section

Spirituality for all
Paramahamsa Nithyananda is the living enlightened Master of the 21st century. He hails from India, the spiritual hub of the world and home to the oldest living civilization – Vedic civilization. He was born in Tiruvannamalai, home to the spiritual energy field of Arunachala in South India. Right from a young age, he was an intense seeker for the ultimate truth in life – enlightenment. This led to his intense training in yoga from the age of three, which prepared his body to hold the tremendous energy of enlightenment. As a young boy, his keen interest in meditation, sincere devotion to traditional rituals and deep study of scriptural truths are supported by the guidance of great spiritual masters. This intense seeking led him to the deep spiritual experience of enlightenment at an early age. The enlightened consciousness steered Nithyananda to discover the purpose of his avataric mission. He then left home on his spiritual journey as a parivrajaka sannyasi, traversing the length and breadth of India for nine years. With a strict vow of not touching money, his travels through the thousands of villages in India gave him a hands-on indepth understanding of the real needs of the common man. This practical understanding of people’s issues was supported by his deep spiritual studies of the teachings and techniques from Vedanta, Tantra and other metaphysical sciences. The intense spiritual journey led Nithyananda to the ultimate flowering of the consciousness and the deep realization of his avataric mission. Nithyananda Mission today is one of the fastest growing movements for meditation, yoga, healing and spiritual sciences. Its worldwide presence includes numerous ashrams and thousands of centers spreading Paramahamsa Nithyananda’s timeless message of attaining the ultimate state - ‘living enlightenment’ or jeevan mukti. The Mission uses various dimensions and paths to thus raise human consciousness to divine consciousness - meditation techniques, yoga, spiritual healing, traditional rituals, darshan (touch of divine energy), holistic education, practical life skills, social services and many more. The 100% volunteer run mission incessantly works blissfully to spread the inner science of enlightenment by delivering physical health, mental wellness and spiritual awakening for all beings irrespective of their race, gender or nationality. To watch video clips of Paramahamsa Nithyananda’s talks, log on to http:// youtube.com/lifeblissfoundation. Readers may also log on to www.nithyananda.org

Expressing love for one another is a deep radiating feeling, beyond words or actions.
In real life, we always look to express our love towards others in some tangible way. Only if love is demonstrated in tangible form, it is considered to be love nowadays. One thing: true love is like a communion. It is a kind of resonance between two beings. It can be felt without any expression. It doesn’t need communication because it is already happening as a communion. If you really love a person, then your very body language will show it. It will be too much to express in words. You will feel that any words are inadequate and will only bring down the love that you feel. But if you are using words, then somewhere the love has not really happened. When you have to speak to express love, then somewhere there is a lie in it! You are using the words just to decorate the lie. Real love liberates because it doesn’t compel you to express it all the time. It just is. Real love also gives you the freedom to freely express what you want to express. You can easily express anything like disapproval or anger and it will not be mistaken for reduced love. Not only that, with real love, there will be no domination or power play in relationships. Each person will be like a beautiful flower that has blossomed to radiate its unique fragrance, that’s all. With real love, there will be no fear or insecurity either. In normal love, physical distance between two people causes a lot of insecurity and a lack of trust. A small story: A young soldier went to his senior officer and said,‘Sir, my friend is not yet back from the battlefield. I request permission to go
Excerpts from the book, Guaranteed Solutions.

out and get him.’ The officer said,‘Permission refused.Your friend is most probably dead. I don’t want you to risk your life going there.’ The young soldier went all the same and came back mortally wounded and carrying the corpse of his friend. The officer was furious. He shouted, ‘I told you he was dead. Now I have lost both of you.Tell me, was it worth going out there to bring a corpse?’ On the verge of dying, the soldier replied, ‘It was, Sir. When I got there he was still alive. He said to me, I was sure you would come.’ Real love doesn’t look for utility. It operates on sheer trust and is also beyond space and time. These days I see people gifting each other with so many things to show their love. Gifting has become an expression of love. If the gifting happens as causeless overflowing, it is okay. But if it is a condition to be fulfilled, it becomes a problem! Then it becomes a poor substitute for real love. As long as real love is there, no relationship can become boring. One of the ashramites asked me one day, ‘Everyday you see all of us, all our mistakes and confusions. It is the same thing for you every day. Are you not bored by us?’ It was a very honest question! I told them, ‘For enlightened beings, just because of their very love, they feel everybody is unique. They do not look at people as mere numbers. They see each one as unique. That is why, with so much patience, masters continue to work with everybody. If it were just a matter of numbers, it would be very different. When you have this love, your inner space is such that there is no logical reason behind your actions. You will just feel connected and you radiate love, that’s all!

asimplemeditationtechnique(Mahamantra)totheinmatesofCIDSA,ade-addictioncentreinCoonoor(seestory, facingpage).Thehalfhourmeditationincludesasteadychantatanaudiblelevel-thistechniqueissaidto energisetheindividual,allowingdeepconcentration.Sr.KanikaMaryofthede-addictioncentresaidthatthis exerciseshowedremarkablechangeintheinmates:‘Ifoundthemactiveafterthesession.Dayslateritalso , seemedliketheirabilitytoconcentratehadimproved.’

I had my first drink when I was 18-a friend introduced me to it. Initially, it was once a month but soon it became once a week. And then, when would drink with friends, I would be the one to invariably get drunk . On some occasions, my family members would come to know and hence I would try to hide my breath or come home late but when I was drunk, they would get to know-My family then decided that if they got me married, my problem of drinking would sort itself outThey got me married, early. A former alcoholic, in a deliberate attempt to reach out to the present inmates of CIDSA, a rehabilitation home locally, unhesitantly pours out his life’s experiences with alcohol and how it engulfed him and his family. Today, he is reformed. He is fine inspiration to others ensnared by the problem of alcoholism. My drinking, after marriage only got worseMy father stopped talking to me-younger brothers began to avoid me. I started to drink every day-my two little daughters were afraid to come to me. I did not even know, at one stage, which classes they were in. I had a thriving business. It did not last for too long-I started to drink during the day-I would go to the shop having already had a lot to drink-my customers fell out, one by one.Whatever money I had, I used it to drink-if I had ten rupees or if I had thousand rupees, it would all go into buying a bottleIf Idid not have enough money, I would borrow-I even had credit arrangements with the liquor shop. I would be found lying drunk on the roadside, during day or night. My wife stopped going tofamily functionsshe could not bear the shame-I tell you, the wife of an alcoholic suffers twice as much as anyone else. One day she took unwell and was admitted late at night, to a local hospitalI had not returned home yet. A neighbour informed me in the morning about the episode of the previous night-I went to the nearest liquor shop, had some more to drink and came back home and slept. My wife returned home, treated... ...Months later, she accidentally came across a rehabilitation centre attached to St Joseph’s Convent in Coonoor. I don’t know how and when I complied to come to the de-addiction centre but I did. It has since been a long but meaningful journey back to the mainstream.. Today, I am respected in my family, my business is revived, our relatives and the community we live in have not only accepted me back, they have also given me a prominent place in society - I presently head a local welfare association! My brothers now look to me for advice (my father died long ago). My daughters are doing well in college. My wife has been my biggest source of support. Take heart. It is important to understand that getting out of alcohol is important, but staying out, is more critical...

Centre for Integrated Development and Social Action (CIDSA), was established in 1997. It is a deaddiction-centre with medical treatment and counselling provided. The program is residential, with the alcoholic and his spouse staying together. The total duration for this program is 10 days. For more details contact: (0423) 2236604. The de-addiction centre is managed by the sisters of St Joseph’s Convent, Coonoor.

First hand account: The inmates of CHIDSA, Coonoor, listening intently to a former alcoholic who shared experiences of his amazing recovery.

Te s t i m o n y o f a n a l c o h o l i c
duty. Amartya Sen has said, 'droughts or floods need not necessarily cause human misery. Inefficient and indifferent administration and governance does. In the Nilgiris, tea factories and automobiles are big carbon emission sources. While factories must adopt environment friendly technologies and energy sources, the government needs to subsidise the effort. A clean and efficient public transport system that caters to different types of tourists must be designed. We locals need to walk the talk. As for adaptation, planters and small growers could talk to UPASI for scientific input on the links between climate change and perennial cropping. Agriculture college scientists could engage with our vegetable farmers. Poor and vulnerable people living near canals need to be evacuated and settled in publicly built quarters or colonies. The state meteorology department in Chennai needs to open shop in Ooty and help in building local climate models and must constantly impart accessible and reliable information through various channels. We as average citizens with abilities to consume and waste at ease, need to do our bit because every bit matters. It is appropriate to conclude with the Mahatma's advice - 'Be the change you want to see’.

Climate change.
Contd from p 5

13% deficient monsoons this year’, cannot be entirely relied upon any longer. ‘Mitigation’ and ‘adaptation’ are political and scientific buzz words. I'll dwell upon adaptation which entails how humans can adjust to climate change. For instance flood or drought proofing - laws could ban residence and cultivation in low lying areas. A flash flood here could be disastrous. However much our governments are fascinated by the ‘market’; citizens' welfare needs to be a non negotiable constitutional

Legal Provisions regarding removal of a liquor shop from a locality.

14 local enterprise

Correction regarding information on NMR.

Sir, Your quiz on the Nilgiri Mountain Railway(NMR)intheSep10,2009issue ofTheLocalhasmademeovercomemy inertia and write to correct some misconceptionsabouttheNMR. While ‘alternate biting teeth’ is an ingenious expansion, actually the Abt system is named after Roman Abt, a Swisslocomotiveengineerwhoworked forNiklausRiggenbachathisworksin OltenandlaterathisIGBracklocomotive company.TheAbt system using solid bars with vertical teeth machined into them is cheaper to build than the Riggenbachsystemwhichusesaladder rack,formedofsteelplatesorchannels connected by round or square rods at regular intervals. Also, while the NMR is the only rack railway in India, it is by no means the onlyoneintheworld. Forexample,the Snowdon Mountain Railway to the summitofSnowdon,thehighestpeakin England and Wales, is very similar, though it runs over a shorter distance and uses a narrower gauge (800 mm insteadof1000mm). Yourssincerely, JMukund,Coonoor Thank you for your clarification. It will correct the record for certain historical references, locally, that, as you said, haveingeniouslyexpanded‘Abt’aswe publishedintheSept09issue. It is equally interesting to learn that there is a similar type of railway elsewhere,albeitofanarrowerguage. Editor.

Nilgiri Biosphere Reserve (NBR) was constitutedon1stSep1986underUNESCO’S Man and Biosphere Programme. It is the first Biosphere Reserve in India. The total area of NBR is 5520.40 sq.km and falls in Tamil Nadu, Kerala and Karnataka. The Kerala part of the Reserve consists of 1455.40sq.km.TheforesttractintheKerala part of NBR consists of the forest areas of Wyanad Wildlife Sanctuary, Silent Valley National Park, Nilambur South, Nilambur North, Palakkad, Mannarkkad , Kozhikode and Wayanad south divisions. The Nilgiri Biosphere Reserve was incorporated into the world network of Biosphere Reserves byUNESCOon10.11.2000.
Readers write

A perfect fit
Fit and fabric are the key elementstoagoodapparel.
Mrs Geetha Jaiprakash’s responses to each question, in an impromptu interview, recently, are as clear cut as the apparel that she designs. Why did you take interest in dress making? ‘There was nothing much else that we could do then to keep us occupied’, she replies matter-of-fact. Her tutor was the Polish-born (late) Mr Simenes (legendary tailor of yesteryears). What was special about Mr Simenes? ‘He was exacting and he always taught us through practical experience,’ reminisced Mrs Jaiprakash. ‘He would first get us to learn to make a dress for ourselves. It’s a separate matter that initially, it all came out nearly undone,’ she laughingly shares. I did not imagine that much later, I would actually start up a boutique.’ Fine Things came into being after several times of having persuaded her husband to approach the building owners in an upcoming complex at Bedford, in Coonoor, to book a small space for her venture. Today, some fifteen years later, the enterprising lady is delighted to share that she also has customers from beyond the district who just call up to say, ‘stitch me a dress with a fabric of
Continued overleaf

A letter a month
Deena Michael S a’ ar... post! With this announcement, rushing footsteps fight to get to the precious bit of communication first. Every member of the household rushes for the letter hoping it might be for them and eager to know from whom it is. After its contents are shared and the letter has gone through all the hands, it is tucked into the old letters pile for future reading... All of this happened when the Post & Telegraphs department’s systems were at their peak of service. Alas, now in the 21st century, no one bothers about the postman’s call as only telephone bills, some magazines etc., are delivered at the door step and are picked up by the household helper. The art of letter writing is dying. Few have the time anymore, or the patience, to write a full length letter in their own hand writing. People have been led to using machines, gadgets and cell phones, which, though convenient, have led to physical and mental laziness. We do not want to sit and devote time to give our side of news to our dear ones. The attitude is, why waste time, paper and energy. Send an email instead or easier still, an SMS. When a letter is written, it conveys the news. It also conveys the concern, the love and affection to the receiver. Letters can be written to people who celebrate joyous occasions. It can also be written to those who are in sorrow and are bereaved. A letter to those on their sick bed is perhaps the best medicine. Most letters are preserved. If loneliness creeps in, these preserved letters


are retrieved, giving timely solace. On the other hand, envelopes bearing beautiful stamps are carefully put away. Philately is highly educative and stamp collecting is an inexpensive hobby. Letters of world leaders such as Pandit Nehru, President Abraham Lincoln, Sir Winston Churchill and many others are published in book forms and some of the originals are preserved in museums too.



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Preserved: An old letter preserved by the writer.

15 local issue
your choice!’ Obviously the measurements and the tastes of each customer are all put away in Geetha’s little book and her sharp mind. Sharp, because the entrepreneur with no business school background, has a keen eye for changes in trends. ‘Now that you asked, I think it is something that we (referring to her small team of a store assistant and an experienced tailor) learnt over the years, by observation and interaction with our customers. Keen as ever, the lady is observant of the requirements of a defence officer’s wife who had walked in while we were halfway through our interview - ‘We could alter the garment, slightly, if you prefer’, she says across the compact showroom. Salwars are mostly stitched to order. Some readymade pieces are also on display for those who might want to pick something on the run. How long does it take for someone to pick a dress or a dress material? ‘Sometimes in a few minutes, sometimes a few days!’ ‘Geetha, you tell me what is best for me’, say customers who naturally warm to this hands-on lady instantly. ‘I try my best to suggest what might be good for the client. Each individual has a distinct requirement. The shoulders, the height and even the way one carries herself all important while designing a salwar. I learnt early that fit and fabric are key to an individual’s clothing. You could have a great finish but if the fabric is not up to the mark, it will have been a wasted effort.’ Would you think you made the right choice of career, in hindsight? ‘I think I would have been happy doing anything. Even agriculture! My family is traditionally agriculture-based. Would you encourage youngsters to take up apparel design and manufacture? ‘Certainly, yes. It is very fulfilling to get the perfect fit. Time and again.’

Individualistic: Geetha Jaiprakash, a first generation entrepreneur, has fashioned a niche enterprise for herself which is an inspiration to young folk, today.



Subscriptions to The Local, are opened effective October 09. Please subscribe/renew your subscription through the following methods: Demand draft/local cheque favouringThe Local Media Publishing Co,. (or) by a Money order toThe Editor, The Local Media Publishing Co,. 10/363-Y-1,AVK Post, Nilgiris - 643202. Call: (0) 97905 90570. 1 Year subscription: Rs. 180/- for 12 issues, incl. postage & handling.


Two sides of the coin
The iconic naturalist, shares serious thoughts on the issue of wildlife, but not without the touch of his large- hearted and sometimescynical, humour.
‘Kumaraiah keeps calling me to Masinagudi, but I haven’t gone in a while’, shares Mr ERC Davidar, the widely acclaimed naturalist and wildlife expert. ‘He visits me whenever I go to the hills. But while there, my sons restrain me a bit because Kumaraiah likes to take hold of my leg and pull it you see!’ (see pic, p 2). Now, if the famed naturalist was pulling my leg by not disclosing that his ‘friend’ is an elephant or if he simply overlooked the fact, I will not be able to tell but this is the essence of the revered man’s fascinating personality - one minute, deep in serious and contemplative thought and the next moment, jovial, having just cracked a hilarious joke even if it were on himself or one of his own. An old photo album that we were sifting through at his home in David Nagar, Padapai near Chennai, showed a picture of one of his brothers alongside a deer that he had shot. ‘That’s my brother and this shot was a fluke.’ There is long silence. Why was it a fluke? (I was too curious to let it pass). ‘He had gone to answer Nature’s call and the deer walked right into him. You know, we all called it the ‘sh#@ shot,’ says the senior man amid uproarious laughter! Mr Davidar’s game reputation was well known in those circles. He, alongwith his soul mate and friend, the late Richard Radcliffe (of the Nilgiri Wildlife and Environment Association, NWLEA) were considered the best shots of their time. They were, it seems, called in by the administration once, to put away a ‘rogue’. ‘We relentlessly tracked it knowing that if it crossed over at the border, the Maharaja and his entourage would get into the fray.’ However, the shikari turned conservationist’s reputation for intrinsic knowledge and exhaustive documentation of several important wildlife species of South India is twice as large. His documentation of elephant corridors is the single-point source of information for researchers and government agencies alike. His books on the Chital, the Nilgiri Tahr and even a children’s special called Pecky the Woodpecker, are gripping. Favourite animal? The Nilgiri Tahr! Forgettable experience? An angry bison had gored him and then pounded his ribs on one of his lone nature expeditions. Did he think he would survive? The pointless question is dismissed with silence. What is the state of our wildlife today?

‘What can I say now? What is certain is that if our wildlife is left entirely in the hands of the Government, there may soon be nothing left of it.’ Such a serious assessment can only come from a man of his stature. ‘The forest department is illequipped to tackle today’s challenges’, Mr Davidar states, with resignation in his voice. Tackling poachers, for instance, requires more. I used to encounter these dangerous elements on numerous occasions. Regarding research, publicprivate partnership is important. Its the only way we can know more, sooner.’ The role of organisations like NWLEA is also vital. (Mr Davidar was instrumental in framing the association’s bye-laws and its regulations. He was Hony, Secretary of this influential body for several years). I realise that here are more than two sides to this timeless coin - the eldest son of a then High Court Judge, Mr Davidar became a lawyer and practised in Ooty with King & Partridge, before pursuing his lifetime passion that is wildlife conservation. ‘I am master of none’, Mr Davidar grins, but I recognise that smile by now - he is only pulling my leg.

email: glendale@dataone.in

Published on behalf of The Local Media Publishing Co,. by Edwin David from 10/363-Y-1, Indiranagar; Avk Post, The Nilgiris. Printed at Satya Press, no. 50 Kariappa Street; Purasaiwalkam, Chennai - 7. Editor: Edwin David

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