The more I read about the gharial episode in the Indian media, the more I am disgusted with the petty politicking that has driven me away from a career in that industry. And just for that, I am grateful.
I saw some ridiculous coverage on the websites of NDTV and CNN-IBN (where one journalist has posted an idiotic blog) – and they all try to skirt the issue and fabricate connections that are irrelevant, irresponsible and dangerously speculative.
The principal points – that of possible pollution of the Chambal and Yamuna rivers, at whose confluence these ancient reptiles breed, and the clear evidence of disease and the urgent need for authorities and experts to work together to control it – have been swept aside. I know from friends who are wildlife researchers that the Yamuna-Chambal confluence is perhaps the last stand not just for the gharial, but for otters, many species of waterbirds and quite likely even the Gangetic Dolphin.
All this lobbying could put the wrong kind of pressure on the wrong authorities who will, inevitably, blunder with their decisions. And so, instead of investigating the issue and finding a timely and scientific solution to it, we will see the activism over this issue again deteriorate into the sad charade of appeasing vote-banks.
And what of the gharial? Well, time will tell.
Postscript: Some nut has stolen my copy of Tehelka from my postbox. I hope he/she/it develops a decent opinion on the Gharial crisis.