By Dr. K. Javeed Nayeem, MD
Last Sunday, I wrote about the parking problems in our city. Very strangely, this Sunday too, I’m writing about the parking problems in our city, albeit very briefly, so that I don’t bore you with repetition and waste my breath too, addressing what seems like a clearly deaf and unresponsive city administration.
The proposal to introduce paid parking at some of the busier parts of our city, now looks like an ‘open and shut’ case. It was opened last week and shut this week! And, it is shut without giving it a fair trial, although I do not understand what we would have lost in implementing it on a trial basis, keeping everyone concerned, informed well in advance, that it would only be a test run to see how things work out. But we seem to be very frightened of experimenting, although it seems very evident that it is not the fear of the outcomes that is deterring us, as much as the fear of ruffling the feathers of some very powerful lobbies, who stand at the two ends of the playing field.
Paid or unpaid, begged, borrowed or stolen, one thing is clear. Parking space is not easy to come by or create. We are in a very tight situation as far as our parking woes are concerned and we are certainly not going to see any improvement in this area, unless we dare to act in a way that is going to be as fair as it can be, for all affected parties. On this point, I think all of us can only agree.
When I suggested that we should reserve the upcoming Town Hall parking facility exclusively for our shop owners from the surrounding areas at a nominal monthly fee and make paid parking the norm for shoppers close to shopping areas, I had a reason behind my logic which seems to have escaped the notice of those who are opposed to this idea.
Shop owners come to open their shops in the morning and remain there all day long and so their vehicles too can remain safe a little distance away, all day long, till they have to shut their shops and go home. But their customers who are only short time visitors to shopping areas, will find it easier and more convenient if they can park their vehicles briefly, only for as long as necessary, and go away once their work is done, thus leaving the space available for the other visitors who come there. This will not only keep parking space available in small intervals of time, all through the day but it will also generate more income for the City Corporation.
On the other hand, reserving the Town Hall parking lot for the public, can only make things very painful for the shoppers. Imagine the plight of elderly persons who have to necessarily park their vehicles far away from their destinations and walk all the way, when all they need to do is to make a small purchase, that is not likely to take more than a few minutes. Does it not seem illogical and cruel too?
So, my suggestion is that instead of consigning this matter arbitrarily to the dustbin, without opening the package to see what it holds, let us have a calm discussion, involving all affected parties, before acting in haste. Let this be our attitude, both while accepting or rejecting the proposal. Lastly, there is nothing to lose in giving it a trial. Who knows, we may all be surprised by the smiles which it may generate, across the city. And, if it leaves us fretting and frowning, we can always toss it away and keep driving in circles, happily or sadly, as we are now doing!
Why this discrimination?
I was deeply pained with something that I read in my newspaper very recently. It was a report that said that India would be making extensive safety tests mandatory for cough syrups meant for export to other countries. Manufacturers will now be required to get their random samples tested by Government-designated laboratories before shipping will be permitted. This seems to be a fallout of the few very sad incidents of cough syrups of Indian origin, causing the deaths of nearly seventy children in some African countries like Gambia.
On three occasions, the WHO too issued alerts on Indian made cough syrups that were said to contains toxic levels of ethylene glycol and diethylene glycol. While this move to have additional safety tests and audits seems very timely and pertinent, what pained me and seemed very inappropriate is why they are going to be insisted upon only for cough syrups meant for export?
Why are we not talking or thinking of making them the norm for all the cough syrups and their cousins, that are being manufactured and sold across the country, for our own population? Are we a little less privileged and thus less important where our safety is concerned? Don’t we deserve the same amount of concern? Does someone have an answer?
The sad fate of our imported Cheetahs
The Cheetah, one of the most graceful animals, very sadly became extinct in our country in the year 1952 although there have been some very unconfirmed claims of sightings, as late as the year 1970. Till then it was an animal that roamed some of our wild regions and was also tamed and used in packs, by our royalty for hunting other game, like deer and black buck.
If you open a pictorial book about our erstwhile Maharajas, you are more than likely to find pictures that will testify to this practice. Although I am unable to say whether this is true and also because there is no one left now, who can enlighten me about it, some accounts say that before letting them loose, a sufficiently tight metal band would be put around the necks of these hunting cheetahs, to prevent them from carrying away and devouring their catch, in defiance of their training and in accordance with their instinct!
Sadly, it was also one of our Maharajas who is said to have shot the last three Cheetahs, known to have been hunted in our country, in the year 1948. After doing this, he even sent a report about his action to the Bombay Natural History Society, whose members are said to have expressed much outrage over his inglorious act.
Although I know his name, I feel there is no point in pointing it out here, long after he and his helpless prey are both sharing the happy hunting grounds, now, probably in a spirit of friendship and peaceful coexistence!
In a bid to undo the wrong that had been done, seventy-five years ago and coincidentally in the seventy fifth year of our independence, our Government decided to import Cheetahs from some African countries, and reintroduce them into a habitat where they were once abundant. But this corrective action has been generating much controversy ever since it was proposed, let alone being carried out,
which was done, last year. While some of us may feel happy that we are justified in attempting to reverse what went wrong due to indiscriminate and completely unnecessary hunting, some others, including some very reputed wildlife experts say that this is a wrong move, that will only see very sad consequences. And, they seem to be right too, going by the fact that six of these imported Cheetahs have died in quick succession. Five female and three male cheetahs were brought from Namibia and released at the Kuno National Park in Madhya Pradesh, on 17th, September, 2022.
Another twelve were brought from South Africa in February this year. Although the average life span of a cheetah in is ten to twelve years, our overseas guests have been dying very young, in very quick succession. And, it is also reported that of the ones that are alive, not all seem to be in good health. Our wildlife managers say that this is because they are not yet acclimatised to the high summer temperature of their present habitat. But it is a well-known fact that the summer temperatures in the countries they have come from, are not much different.
And, what is also noteworthy is the fact they started dying, even before the summer started here. So, while dealing with nature, it looks like man should remain man and not play God, in matters that we do not understand very well !
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