Monday, March 20, 2006

Where shall I go!

Bishnupada Sethi
Leaving this land,
For which I am only a trustee
As a tribal, I am duty bound
To pass it on to the generation next!
Who would shift the banyan tree!
And the village spirits lying underneath.
What would happen to the streams?
Singing praises in the names of God,
And the rocks lying there,
Our monuments for ages.
I will set my ancestors free,
Whose spirits I had installed in the home;
I am not sure,If they won't be angry,
As I failed to preserve things, given to me.
They were lucky,They knew no state,
No king ever ruled them before.
After I leave the land,
They would build the modern temple
For making gold out of earth.
A new era would dawn
With promises of more happiness;
And I know not for sureIf it means anything
To me or people like me.

Lush diversity and freedom

Border War By GEORGE BALL March 19, 2006 Warminster, Pa
THE horticultural world is having its own debate over immigration, with some environmentalists warning about the dangers of so-called exotic plants from other countries and continents "invading" American gardens. These botanical xenophobes say that a pristine natural state exists in our yards and that to disturb it is both sinful and calamitous. In their view, exotic plants will swallow your garden, your neighbors' gardens and your neighbors' neighbors' gardens until the ecosystem collapses under their rampant suffocating growth. If anything suffocates us, though, it will be the environmentalists' narrowmindedness. Like all utopian visions, their dream beckons us into a perfect and rational natural world where nothing ever changes — a world that never existed and never will.
Native plants are the survivalists of the botanical world, and in the appropriate settings — wilderness areas, home and botanical gardens, public parks and sidewalks — they bless us with their beauty and awe us with their tenacity. Our lives would be poor and grim without the strawberry, cranberry, columbine and trillium. They've always been here, in the same way that Native Americans have been; only their arrival and settlement are more ancient.
Their presence illustrates a geologic time, about 8,000 years ago, when the glaciers receded and unimaginably vast deluges swallowed the surface of the future United States — an airplane ride over the Midwest reveals enormous lakes formed by even larger melted ice masses. As the landscape changed, the botanical world sorted itself out, leaving us with the hardy "natives." (It should be noted, though, that many plants now considered natives — like sycamores, magnolias and cinnamon — arrived from other continents, just as we did. They are products of adaptation.)
Like human survivalists, natives are also subject to exploitation by the horticultural equivalent of radical fundamentalists. The anti-exotics argue that gardens should be populated exclusively by native plants, as if the exotics were trying to enter the flower bed illegally. The consequences of such a stand could be dire. Should we eat no onions or garlic, apples or lemons; feast our eyes on no magnificent tulips or roses — all exotics of Eurasian origin? Should Asians not enjoy their distinctive peppers, tomatoes, beans, squash, sunflowers and corn — all from the Americas?
Indeed, the world's most popular root crop, potatoes, started life as a staple of the Andean people and achieved its first international fame as a slave food. By the time it reached France, the "earth apple" was a delicacy likened to truffles; their flowers were featured in tiaras of court ladies. Exotic indeed.
Should we deprive ourselves of petunias, begonias, impatiens and hollyhocks — not a one of them "native"? Must we, on pain of being cast out of the garden as horticultural pariahs, deny the elephant his peanuts? This wouldn't be merely ridiculous. It would compare with the denial of human immigration on grounds that certain ethnic groups breed in numbers "too prolific" for the existing elite to tolerate. Imagine, then, a horticultural ruling class. No "invasives" need apply: let the lily find another valley. Such prohibitions of exotic plant species demonstrate only an elitist snobbery that is as dangerous to a free society as it is to a free botany.
No one, and certainly no gardener, grows truly destructive invasive plants in his garden. The devastating kudzu in the South, star thistle in the West and purple loosestrife in the East were accidental introductions from Asia, most often mixed with the feed and bedding of livestock. Yet the pro-native, anti-exotic partisans also wish us to stop enjoying the charms of harmless and beautiful plants like Queen Anne's lace, yarrow and chicory. Aside from requiring a bit of weeding, exotics are safe as milk, unless one considers gardening a chore rather than a passionate hobby. If so, forget the forget-me-nots.
Let's welcome, as spring arrives tomorrow, as many huddled masses of flowers, herbs and vegetables as can fit in our unique melting pot of a nation, unrivaled in its tradition of lush diversity and freedom to grow rampantly. George Ball, a former president of the American Horticultural Society, is the president of the seed and plant company W. Atlee Burpee & Company.

Wednesday, March 15, 2006

The great Indian train journey

After decades of socialist rhetoric, our nation’s grey (and greying?) cells are now getting stimulated with tons of free-market mumbo-jumbo. Ideas after ideas confuse and confound us. The worst of these “idea marauders” is “Competition.”It is said that Darwin’s Theory of evolution is a difficult idea to grasp. Not so among our compatriots. Suddenly it seems such an obvious theory and we love the Briton for it. To all of us in the subcontinent who are happy to be fed and clothed, Darwin’s thesis rhymes simplistically, monotonously and sweetly in our ears, all suitably adapted to the local milieu.
The fittest shall survive
None but the fittest shall survive
The strong shall inherit
None but the strongest shall inherit
This blessed earth
And all the material (and non-material) wealth
The pious amongst us knoweth.
The point is we do not understand what Competition really means. For most Competition is still the zero-sum games that we all play under inadequate supply conditions, like those we experience with the great Indian train journey. The scramble for body space, leg space and luggage space all define competition for us. It is such rawest forms of human exchange that condition our idea of Competition. And we seem to have difficulty in coming out of this mindset.
The train journey manoeuvres cannot be dismissed as instinctual, unpremeditated animal action. It appears that everyone thinks he or she is being “strategic” -- making complicated calculations to appropriate maximum space, beating the slant of the sun, or making clever manoeuvres to detrain most efficiently. Behind these competitive dynamics with the “other” individual(s), lurks an investment of human intelligence no animal can match. In a supply-choked society, tactical thinking passes for strategic thinking. Business Today, August 15, 2004 posted by Sankaran at Sunday, February 26, 2006 TAPMI, Manipal, Karnataka, India