Oct Dec 2011

Oct Dec 2011
Community and Commons


This issue marks the completion of two years of our journey with Eternal Bhoomi – and this has coincided with the historic civil society movement in India led by Team Anna. Over the two weeks of high drama and sheer grit, the movement saw several small communities spontaneously forming across the country and stoking the fires of revolt against corruption; there was anger converted to determination and the people of India felt that they had discovered their voice.

Only two human-made structures on Earth are large enough to be seen from outer space: the Great Wall of China and the Fresh Kills landfill in USA. Startling, and not a very pleasant fact to know!

I’ve had a relationship with islands since I was a young man. My attraction has not been to the clichéd tropical fantasy of palm trees and white sand: it is something deeper - island as metaphor for our existence on Earth, representing independence and interdependence, natural limits and boundless space. Island as paradox.

This is a story of how an elderly lady in the village of Andhra Pradesh had tears in her eyes when after 20 years of globalisation, I gave her seeds of an indegenous millet variety. For the happy old lady, the seeds brought back smells and tastes of her childhood and a hope that all is not lost.

I pulled my hat down, making sure the neck-cover exposed nothing of my skin. I tightened the mosquito net around my body and camera, and then swore!! It was 47 degrees of baking heat and not a leaf moved for want of breeze. I wondered what madness it was to be wrapped from head to toe like this when the temperature was making water evaporate like gasoline.

(Translated From the book ‘Aaj bhi khare ha italaab’)

Patience pays. This Flameback decided to pose for me at sunset when I was all set to leave my perch. Shot in Gudalur, in a coffee estate.


As yet another example of the desperate ‘science’ of Monsanto, it is now being argued that genetically engineered Bt cotton – introduced in India in 1997 – has liberated Indian women. In a paper authored by Arjunan Subramanian, Kerry Kirwan, David Pink and MatinQaim, the argument is that the crop produces massive gains for women’s employment in India.


As 74 year-old Anna Hazare broke his fast in Delhi’s historic Ram-Lila Maidan after 13 days, one message was impossible to miss: cynicism can’t. Not in a country with an overwhelmingly young population.