Nature-al Instincts

Nature-al Instincts

Ecosystem \’e-ko-sis-tem\ n: Any group of living and nonliving things interacting with each other.

According to this definition, we are all a part of an ecosystem. A city, in spite of its concrete development and high density human population, is still an ecosystem. We are surrounded by nature everywhere – birds, insects, animals, trees, plants, clouds, atmosphere, lakes and other water bodies and many more living and non-living   things around us. But how often do we stop and think about it? Every morning when you look up in the sky, you’ll find hundreds of small and large birds crisscrossing the sky, but how many types of species can you identify? Do you ever stop and wonder which lakes supply water to you?   What about trees and their impact on attracting rain? Our busy urban life disconnects us from nature. But NGOs such as HOPE, Hariyali and Jidnyasa consistently work to remind us gently that we’re an inseparable part of the ecosystem.

The city, as an ecosystem, is in fact an ideal classroom for science as Jidnyasa Trust showed us by organising a bio-diversity camp for city students. 20 enthusiastic participants, all college students between 16 and 21 years, toiled for six hours every day for seven days to learn about the ecosystem they inhabit. Every evening, from 5 to 8 pm, the participants would sit through an audio-visual presentation followed by a field trip the next morning from 6.30 to 9.30 am. The camp was made possible by several experts who work in the sphere of environment protection. Dr Sanjay Deshmukh, world renowned expert on conservation of mangroves, and Dr Madhuri Pejawar, principal of Bedekar College, also known for her work in the same area, explained the importance of mangroves to the ecosystem. Hema Gupte and Amol Patwardhan from HOPE helped them in bird-watching and nature trails. While the audio visual lessons were at the Jignyasa-run Science Exploratory at Court Naka, the field work included trips to Yeoor and Thane Creek, which is on the verge of dying. The trip to the creek was particularly adventurous as the group embarked on a two-hour boat-ride from Vasai Bridge and then made a one-hour trek on the other side of the creek.

To assist participants on bird-watching Jidnyasa also circulated a small booklet authored by Hema Gupte. Manasai Apte, one of the participants, said, "We were enthusiastic throughout the camp and as we gathered vital information about the ecosystem and also the importance of maintaining a healthy balance."

Just like the 20 campers got up and close with nature, the rest of us can do too. Simply resolve to spend some time to contemplate the beauty that surrounds us, the miracle of trees growing, flowers blossoming, birds chirping and rain falling. Develop a habit of appreciating and respecting nature. Commit to memory what the legendary US architect Frank Lloyd Wright once said, "I believe in God, only I spell it N-A-T-U-R-E."

The Reach of Science
At 9 am today, DD national will telecast a special documentary called Vigyan Gaatha (Maharashtra’s Science Glory) produced by Jidnyasa Trust. The documentary will highlight the reach of science and technology and its impact on rural areas. Conceived and directed by Rajiv Shah and assisted by Santosh Deodhar and Balchandra Bhave, the documentary is part of the Year of Scientific Awareness, which the government of India is observing and of which Jignyasa was appointed as state coordinator.

Surendra Dighe, Managing Trustee of Jidnyasa revealed, "The documentary captures the tremendous spread of science and technology in rural Maharashtra and to what extent it has managed to change the habits and approaches of the villagers." The documentary covers four villages including Kadam Wadi, which was declared as Ideal village by the Maharashtra Government and which enjoys 100 per cent literacy. What the documentary reveals is extraordinary – for instance, willage women draped in traditional saris working on computers, or innovative methods of producing and conserving energy. Dr Anil Kakodkar, chairman of Atomic Energy Commission took a personal interest in this documentary by donating Rs 1 Lakh towards underwriting the cost of production. So make sure you switch the idiot box at 9 am today.

The 20-minute documentary seems to have impressed DD officials also, since they have now given their go ahead for a second part of documentary. This one will focus on the role of science and technology on health and agriculture. The cleaning of Masunda Lake is also likely to feature in the second part. We’ll keep you updated on this one.

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