Why is the success rate of massive global meetings like the ongoing CoP of biodiversity abysmally low? There are many reasons but the main one is the official superciliousness that tabs the issue a high-brow status, leaving the real stakeholders — common people — away.
Take for instance the CoP in Hyderabad. A year and half ago the city was allotted to host the event. The State, the Centre, the City administrations had a golden chance to use the occasion to make people aware of the need to have biological diversity. All things on earth are finite and all creatures live by this rule, except the technological man. Mindless exploitation of the flora and fauna, therefore, leads to imbalance and that ultimately affects the human race.
What all we saw was an advertisement gimmick. Chief Minister Kiran Kumar Reddy was portrayed welcoming the delegates to “Hyderabad, the city of biodiversity”. I have often wondered, what if a keen observer among the delegates asked the Chief Minister, what happened to crows and vultures. The CM may look puzzled.
The government, be it Centre, or State, or local, played a Rip-Van-Winkle. No efforts were made to inculcate the need to preserve the urban flora and fauna. Why, even a few days before the CoP, a massive banyan tree was axed in the City for the atrocious reason that the tree was sucking bore well water! Need we a better example of the environmental apathy of citizens?
This apart, the occasion could also be used to infuse in citizens civic sense. Everybody agrees that civic sense is woefully lacking in Hyderabad. The HMDA painting flyovers over and over to cover up the “bloody” stains of pan spit explains why the British used to call us “Dirty Indians!”.
No effort was made by the educational institutions and NGOs either despite both in the best of positions to do the maximum in this regard. The lack of governmental initiative and the lackadaisical attitude of educationists left out the event from their agenda. How nice would it have been if schools and NGOs organised quiz and other efforts on biodiversity to enthuse the future generation!
To my mind the only public entity that did something was the Nehru Zoological Park (Hyderabad zoo). They made special vehicles portraying biological diversity and wildlife and launched many programmes besides deciding to make entry free for children up to 14 years during the 19-day CoP.
Biological diversity is too important an issue to be left to pundits. It is a matter of survival of man, and each one of us has to understand that we depend on each other — every form of life. Awareness is the key. If there is awareness that the loss of a tree is a tragedy, things will change. Today, the rich but illiterate people building homes or offices on either side of arterial roads axe a 100-year-old tree without compunction because it “blocks the view”! Could it get any worse?
Belated though, the civic administration must capture this historical moment when the City is hosting a world conference on biodiversity, to launch a mass awareness programme that will tell in the simplest of terms: reduce pollution and preserve the flora and fauna. The alternative is doom.
Heard at a hi-tech city joint:
A: Arre yaar! How clean has the city become! What is happening?
B: Some sort of world conference is taking place.
A: Oh… for how long?
B: I think some three weeks
A: God, I pray to Peddamma, may it continue for a year!
About the Author (Author Profile)
PK Surendran is senior editor at Postnoon.