24 Apr 2009

Remembering the Jackfruit tree

Where is that jackfruit tree that stood in the left corner of the field?”
Which jackfruit tree“, I asked puzzled and a bit amused too. “There wasn’t any as far as I can remember”, I confidently added. But that wouldn’t pacify the old lady. When she met up with my mother a minute later, she fielded the same question and got her answer. “Oh the one that sprawled out in the western corner of the field. It was cut down 5 years back. Remember that tree was planted when he (pointing towards me) was 3 years old.

The old lady then looked smilingly at me. “Well he didn’t remember it”. I smiled sheepishly trying to put on a normal “So what?” face. She added “These youngsters don’t seem to remember anything else than their bikes & movies”.

It’s been years since that conversation took place but the ground fact remain the same. Visiting my village hometown brings me into a totally different perspective of things – a different world of its own where things that matter may not be the ones that matter to you and vice-versa. And more importantly a differing culture where people take a genuine interest in everything that’s related to the ecosystem. The fact that the jackfruit tree was cut isn’t the thing to focus here. The fact that people do remember trees and shrubs and stuff like that whether in their own backyard or in the village vicinity.

Recently, in the metros people suddenly seem to have woken up to the fact that the environment is precious. So water must be conserved, trees must be protected and pollution must be controlled. Every IT, FMCG & consultancy firm worth its weight in bytes/ideas is now launching environmental awareness campaigns. A nice move definitely. However at this stage it’s more of lip-service and complying with standards to further business and not get left behind. There was one such drive in my stint with one of the respectable IT firms. At a place called “Vetal Tekdi” in Pune. Early morning 7am we assembled in our corporate T-shirts brandishing “Save the World Now” heroic messages. The CEO and a few of the executive staff arrived in their fuel guzzling “inter-cooler turbos”. A few gulmohar saplings were planted with flashbulbs popping & local scribes covering the event. Couple of weeks downs the line, I visited the place on a casual stroll with a friend. I was eager to show him our achievement and was dismayed to find that the saplings had wilted away.

Do I sound pessimistic? Sounds like I do and am sorry for that attitude (still trying to change that ;-). But the fact is that we are light-years away from a genuine care for environmental concerns. The average guy looks at it assuming he’s not a part of the problem but actually part of the team gunning for the solution. And that will never result in a solution. The problem is compounded because the environment is degrading at a rapid pace and our solutions are geared to work at a leisure pace. Watch “Discovery” for a week and every documentary screams out the need for environmental concern and displays frightening simulations of ice-caps melting and eco-balance being disturbed.

“So what does Mr Knowhow propose?” – you may ask. Aha nice question. If I’d have the power to enforce things – my 5 point program would go like this.
  1. Educate the next generation – Yeah, we are beyond education and acceptance of new ideas but let the young minds have compulsory courses and activities educating them on the need & means of preserving and restoring their environment & eco-balance.
  2. Enforce policies to ensure that industries have to replenish for their consumption/degradation of natural resources. For every business, there should be a compulsory ecological contribution and it should be strictly monitored and enforced – something as akin to how aggressively the government monitors income-tax ;-). Development should not be stopped but every development project must mandatorily invest in an equal amount of ecological contribution.
  3. Fund quality research programmes to help engineer programmes to reverse the global ecological trends and depletion of natural balance.
  4. Institute awards for exemplary environmental contributions and use the media more effectively to educate the need for tackling the problem head on.
  5. The most important one – Let us pledge to support these 4 points but at the same time take it as a personal initiative to stop contributing to environmental damage. Let that thought be pinging in the back of the mind when we do anything from “throwing away a chocolate wrapper’ to buying “that second car” to getting away with a shady roadside “P.U.C” test.


  1. Wonderful thought da...Following all the 5 points as a single person may be difficult, but is possible as a group or corporate. But defining individual responsibility for saving environment can help.
    ~Senthil~ (Don't call me copy cat...lol)

  2. A ray of hope towards a better tommorow and practical suggestions for improvements. I appreciate ur efforts to represent the forgotten thoughts.