Bird enthusiast Ashish Loya, in an interview with The Daily Guardian, tells how his childhood hobby of birdwatching turned into a purpose to conserve and protect Haiderpur Wetland with the support of locals and authorities. Excerpts:
Ashish Loya all set to shoot.
Q. What sparked your interest in birdwatching which later made you rigorously document and record various species of birds?
A. Birdwatching was my childhood hobby which began from 6th grade. I used to regularly indulge in birdwatching during my school and college days and also visit Bharatpur every year. But then it took a backseat during my life in New York. Years later when I came to Bijnor for Art of Living work, the flocks of Painted Storks and Bar-headed Geese on Ganga Barrage attracted my attention. Out of curiosity I started exploring the area and was stunned to find thousands of migratory waterfowls. This revived my hobby and I started birding regularly here since 2015. I understood the importance of this area and wanted it to be conserved. I started preparing checklists regularly and uploading on eBird, documenting my findings, hoping that it will attract the attention of the right people.
Q. What can a birdwatcher absorb and learn from spending time at Haiderpur Wetland?
A. Birdwatchers can see a diverse and large number of species in pristine undisturbed habitat. Some are not found so easily elsewhere, like the White-tailed Eagle. Greylag Goose flock is estimated to be the largest in the country. There is a watch-tower, beautiful and strategically located viewpoints and 15km of walking and cycling trails, all of which makes this an unforgettable experience. There are many undiscovered secrets here which they can unravel.
Q. You have been instrumental in conservation efforts to turn Haiderpur Wetland into an attractive abode for native and migratory birds and work is underway for it to be made a Ramsar site. Would you like to throw light on your contribution?
A. For a site to be declared a Ramsar site, it needs to satisfy at least 1 of the 10 criteria laid out. My reports, observations, documents, photos and videos have helped establish that Haiderpur Wetland meets 5 out of the 10 criteria, making for a very strong case. When I first started birdwatching here, I immediately recognised the importance of this place as an important site on the central Asian flyway. I started making a checklist and also uploading it on Ebird. I have created a checklist of 280 species.
I have spotted some very rare species like Penduline Tit, White-tailed Eagle, Bristled Grassbird, and Indian Skimmers which helps to satisfy the Ramsar criteria. My videos and pictures have documented the presence of >1% population of Greylag Goose, Ferruginous ducks etc which is another Ramsar criteria. I was also the first to record 145 swamp deers and otters, which suggests that the wetland supports other endangered forms of wildlife as well. I have observed the breeding behaviour of Bristled Grassbird here, establishing that species depend on this wetland during critical phases of their lifecycle.
I have also conducted bird counts, as part of Asian waterfowl census, national bird count etc and helped tabulate over 27000 migratory birds here. For Ramsar site declaration, we need to have 20000 waterbirds.
I shared my findings with the forest department and made them realise the importance of this place. My pictures and videos awakened administration to the richness of biodiversity here and have been valuable evidence to establish the case for Ramsar site declaration.
Q. What can be done to encourage more children to care about wildlife, engage in bird watching as well as conservation initiatives?
A. I believe children need to be exposed to birdwatching through some programs, like the Art of Living children’s program. They have a natural affinity for nature and can easily take up birdwatching, as it stimulates their curiosity. They are by nature very curious. For the first few times, we need to take them on guided trips, encourage them to find and discover nature. Today’s children are just not exposed to nature so much. I think parents should expose themselves and their children more to nature.
Q. Do you believe that initiatives like organising Haiderpur Wetland Birdwatching Festival will help to draw more visitors and put Haiderpur Wetland on the environmental tourism map?
A. Surely as the festival creates a buzz in the media, it helps popularise the place and brings like-minded people together viz conservationists, nature lovers, experts and newcomers together who learn from each other.
Q. Will Haiderpur wetland’s conservation and promotion of ecotourism create more livelihood opportunities for locals?
A. Yes, it will and it already has. I have trained a few youngsters in birdwatching who can act as nature guides. There is a boat safari on the Ganga river which is generating income for local boatmen. There are a lot of opportunities to develop homestays, tours, local handicraft for tourists and more.
Q. What is being done to increase the awareness of locals about conservation practices?
A. Forest Department is having regular meetings and workshops for the local community. Art of Living programs are also helping in reaching out to the area’s youth and spreading the message of conservation. Also, I provide regular updates to local media on important sightings and developments at the wetland which also helps in increasing the awareness of the locals.
Q. Is wetland conservation an even greater priority owing to climate change?
A. Wetlands are a valuable part of ecosystems, economic activity as well as social and cultural life. Many species depend on them for their survival. We need to make people aware of the fact that a healthy wetland means a healthy planet.
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Co-joined twin Veena and Vani pass intermediate exams with flying colours
In a sheer display of determination and will power, a co-joined twin named Veena and Vani have passed the Telangana Intermediate exams with flying colours. The twins scored first class marks, sending out a strong message of where there is a will, there is a way. While Veena secured 712 marks out of 1000, Vani scored 707 marks out of 1000 marks with CEC (Commerce, Economics, Civics) stream.
Satyavathi Rathod, Minister for Tribal, Women and Child Welfare, congratulated Veena and Vani on achieving the feat. The minister further said, «All the necessary facilities will be provided for their higher education. Veena and Vani will always have the support of the state government.» She also praised the staff personnel, who assisted the two girls.
Elated with their scores, Veena and Vani expressed the desire to become Chartered Accountants (CA). In the tenth standard, Veena and Vani had scored 9.3 GPA and 9.2 GPA respectively.
It is noteworthy that Veena and Vani were eligible to opt for special priveleges, which could have ensured additional time to write their exam, but they refused and submitted their answer sheet to the invigilator five minutes ahead of schedule.
The results for the 1st and 2nd year were announced by Telangana State Board Of Intermediate Education (TSBIE). Telangana Education Minister Sabitha Reddy announced the results. Among the 9 lakh students who appeared for the exam, the story of Veena and Vani stood out and is garnering praises across the country.
Born in 2003 in Mahabubnagar district of Telangana, Veena and Vani were cojoined from birth. Due to this, their parents stepped back from taking their responsibility and refused to take them, citing lack of resources for their treatment. Thereafter, the twins stayed in Nilopher hospital till they turned 12 and later shifted to State Home.
Despite several attempts by doctors, medical and surgical experts from not just India but also the United Kingdom and Singapore, no way has been found to separate them.
While it was earlier estimated that the procedure to separate them would cost around Rs 10 crore, it is very complex and risky as their veins are tangled up. This is the reason an operation has not be done yet.
A STEP TOWARDS SELFLESS PURSUIT OF HINDUTVA IDEALS
The party’s philosophy of “nation first, party second and self last” was drilled into every cadre not just through words but through actions.
In 1895, Swami Vivekananda was to give a public lecture in London. When it was time to stand up and speak, Swami Vivekananda suddenly announced that it was Swami Saradananda who would deliver the speech instead of him. Though taken by surprise, the learned Swami displayed his scholarly mastery over the scriptures as Vivekananda sat overjoyed intently listening to the teachings. In the following years, Swami Vivekananda would delight himself by hearing about or pouring through the newspaper cuttings sent to him of Swami Saradananda’s lectures from Boston, Brooklyn and New York. Whether it is the success of Swami Saradananda in America or pushing Swami Abhedananda to deliver the teachings of Vedanta at a club in Bloomsbury Square, Swami Vivekananda created leaders who would work on the mission while also surprising his audience. Good leaders merely create followers. Great leaders create leaders and influence generations of leaders through their selflessness. Even after his Samadhi, a whole new generation of freedom fighters right from Lokmanya Tilak to Subhash Chandra Bose drew inspiration from Vivekananda.
Devendra Fadnavis pulled a shocker by announcing the name of Shiv Sena leader Eknath Shinde as Chief Minister. As media personnel took a moment to absorb the gist of the announcement, the CM-Designate let out his profound understanding of politics saying, “Nowadays, not even a Nagarsevak (Municipal Councillor) or Gram Panchayat member lets go of his position. I am thankful to you.”
It was not just a sacrifice or selflessness of BJP Leader Devendra Fadnavis but also a victory of the ideological cause, which every BJP karyakarta works towards. A Shiv Sena leader, who stepped down from government for the cause of Hindutva, was rewarded by fellow brethren, working towards the same Hindutva mission. A political leader moving away from the position of power is a rare instance as 50 rebel MLAs from Shiv Sena proved. However, a BJP leader himself taking a backseat for an ideological cause isn’t rare and Devendra Fadnavis was walking in the footsteps of great BJP leaders. When the founding fathers of Jan Sangh instilled selflessness as a philosophy in its cadre, it was Atal Bihari Vajpayee, who was a leader (Member of Parliament), with Advani working as his secretary and later as editor of a Hindutva publication. Over the next few decades, Vajpayee and Advani alternated between roles selflessly working under each other’s leadership building the party brick-by-brick. The ideological mission was supreme and not individuals. This selflessness of the party was again on display in 1977 when the Janata Party government came into power and Jan Sangh took a backseat despite a higher number of seats – the mission was more important than the individual goals. The party’s philosophy of “nation first, party second and self last” was drilled into every cadre not just through words but through actions. The Modi era brought in a fresh wave of ideological strength with the BJP selflessly taking non-RSS Hindutva leaders like Yogi Adityanath into its fold.
Over the past few days, the Maharashtra government under Uddhav Thackeray had resorted to attacking the rebel Shiv Sena MLAs for insisting on sticking to the Hindutva stand. The Shiv Sena leaders, who were once foot soldiers of Hindutva under Balasaheb and made their way up from humble backgrounds, were portrayed negatively. Their insistence on sticking to the Hindutva cause was painted as a power-hungry move of Shiv Sena rebels with the backroom connivance of the BJP. “Will you get the Chief Minister’s chair by rebelling against me” taunted CM Uddhav Thackeray in a LIVE address to the state.
“Yes”, replied the BJP and Sangh Parivar in unison when Devendra Fadnavis made that unexpected announcement at the press conference. In one stroke, BJP under Devendra Fadnavis destroyed Uddhav Thackeray’s anti-Hindutva propaganda and honoured the rebels for taking an ideological stand. In a message to every Hindutva ideologue, he made it amply clear that the stability of Maharashtra, development of the state and ideological cause is more important to him than the Chief Minister’s chair itself. The real Shiv Sena of Balasaheb under Eknath Shinde finally leads the state with the support of BJP MLAs.
The press conference by Devendra Fadnavis will be written in golden words in the history of the Bharatiya Janata Party as a step towards the selfless pursuit of Hindutva ideals. A karyakarta like me, who has tirelessly worked for the party under the leadership of Devendra Fadnavis. saw first-hand what selflessness towards the cause is all about. I have witnessed how faith in leadership trumps every personal consideration and makes BJP truly a party with difference. Detractors often resort to attacking the Sangh and its ideals while taking a gibe at BJP. The BJP under Devendra Fadnavis in Maharashtra has once again demonstrated how these Sangh ideals are the strength of the party.
In the words of Swayamsevaks, BJP Leader Devendra Fadnavis acted true to the lines in the Sangh Prarthana – (TvadiyayayKaryayaBaddhaKatiyam) – We are committed to the cause- The cause of Hindutva, the cause of Maharashtra.
The author is BJP spokesperson, advisor to former Chief Minister of Maharashtra, Devendra Fadnavis, and executive director of Maharashtra Village Social Transformation Foundation.
ON DOCTORS’ DAY, NETIZENS THANK DOCTORS FOR THEIR IMMENSE CONTRIBUTION
As India celebrated National Doctors’ Day on Friday, politicians, business leaders and social media users took to Twitter to thank doctors for their immense contribution and serve to the nation. #NationalDoctorsDay took the top trend as wishes poured in on social media. Leading the celebrations, Prime Minister Narendra Modi shared a video on social media and said, “Doctors Day greetings to all hardworking doctors who play a key role in saving lives and making our planet healthier.”
Union minister Nitin Gadkari remembered Bharat Ratna Dr Bidhan Chandra Roy, who was an Indian physician, freedom fighter, educationist and philanthropist. “Deepest gratitude to all the doctors on National Doctors Day. I salute their tireless efforts in keeping us safe during the global pandemic,” he said.
Union minister Dharmendra Pradhan also remembered Bharat Ratna Dr Bidhan Chandra Roy and tweeted, “Remembering Bharat Ratna Dr Bidhan Chandra Roy, one of the pioneers of healthcare sector on National Doctors Day. Today , let us express our gratitude and take a moment to appreciate all our doctors for their round-the-clock efforts for a healthy and fit society.”
Fearing a layoff? Devise an action plan
India›s workforce has been at the receiving end of the economic impact of the pandemic. While many of the employees faced salary cuts up to 40-50%, there are a significant number of people who were laid off. One might assume that layoffs were a phase and the time to recover losses that occurred due to Covid-19 is not too far, but the recent layoffs in EdTech giants like BYJU’s and Topper paint a different picture.
In such uncertain times, there are certain strategies that one can adopt to evade a powerful economic blow. Having an action plan might not help in retaining the same job, but it will sure help in sustaining a huge financial blow as well as finding more opportunities.
The trick to retaining a job is to be invincible. Be so good at your job that it prompts the employer to think twice before taking a decision on laying you off. This does not happen in a day. Daily actions translate into a long-term commitment. Show up on time, learn as much as you can, deliver more than expected, come up with new ideas, maintain good relationships with your colleagues as well as your seniors, and you will carve out a space for yourself in your organisation.
INVEST IN YOURSELF
Learning is a process that must never end. Skills like creative writing, social media marketing, video editing, graphic designing, machine learning and others are skills that are highly in demand. Even if you are working an 8-hour shift and are not actively looking for a job, these skills will give a boost to your resume, enhance your skill set and set you apart from others.
Social media has made it possible for us to stay connected all the time, not just with our friends and family but also with potential employers. Building a positive relationship with your colleagues, ex-colleagues, seniors and people who are working in other organisations will ensure that you never miss an opportunity. Showcase your work on websites like LinkedIn to ensure that you don’t look for an opportunity, rather it comes to you.
No matter what your current pay scale is, it is always advisable to have multiple sources of revenue. That is only possible when you start investing early. Whether it is your 1st paycheck or your 300th paycheck, make sure to save a portion of your salary. Spend that amount on things that will give you a bigger return and not just dig a hole in your pocket. It is always advisable to have an emergency fund. As the term suggests, this emergency fund will help you sail through a difficult time. Even if you are laid off, you will be financially secure.
POSITIVE SELF TALK
Finally, it might get difficult to stay unaffected by what is happening around you. The uncertainty can take a toll on you but staying positive can help you not only manifest your dream job but also avoid the stress. Have a positive self-image, eat nutritious meals, dance your heart out, spend time with family and wait for life to surprise you.
Having an action plan might not help in retaining a job but it will help in sustaining a huge financial blow as well as finding more opportunities.
‘THE TERMINAL LIST’ FAILS TO LIVE UP TO THE HYPE
Despite the promise, ‘The Terminal List’ doesn’t really offer anything new to the world of action thrillers.
Over the last decade or so, Chris Pratt seems to have overtaken everybody else to become a leading blockbuster action hero in Hollywood. He brings with him just the right mix of charisma and rugged machismo. Not many are aware that there was a time when Pratt failed the auditions for J. J. Abrams’ ‘Star Trek’ and James Cameron’s ‘Avatar.’ But, it all changed for Pratt with ‘Zero Dark Thirty,’ wherein he played one of the soldiers who took part in the eventual assassination mission to take down Osama bin Laden. He followed it up with ‘Guardians of the Galaxy,’ wherein he essays the part of a brash space adventurer named Peter Quill who gets hunted by relentless bounty hunters after he steals an orb coveted by Ronan, the Supreme Accuser of the Kree Empire. Subsequently, he went on to star in films like ‘Jurassic World,’ wherein he undertakes the seemingly impossible task of training raptors, ‘The Magnificent Seven,’ wherein Pratt stars as a member of a band of cowboys who are hired to protect a small town from an evil baron, and ‘The Tomorrow War,’ which stars Pratt in the role of a man recruited to fight an invasion taking place in the future.
With such hard-hitting action thrillers under his belt, Chris Pratt looks like the ideal choice to play the part of James Reece in the new Amazon Prime Video series ‘The Terminal List,’ which is based on the best-selling novel of the same name by Jack Carr. The series follows Reece after his entire platoon of Navy SEALs is ambushed during a high-stakes covert mission. Reece returns home to his family with conflicting memories of the event and questions about his culpability. However, as new evidence comes to light, Reece discovers dark forces working against him, endangering not only his life, but the lives of those he loves. The series stars Constance Wu, Taylor Kitsch, Jeanne Tripplehorn, Riley Keough, Arlo Mertz, Jai Courtney, JD Pardo, and Patrick Schwarzenegger, among others. Antoine Fuqua, the veteran director of films such as ‘The Equalizer,’ ‘Training Day,’ serves as an executive producer (he also is a director) on the series. The show is written by David DiGilio (‘Strange Angel’), who is also an executive producer on the show alongside Fuqua and Pratt.
To help with authenticity, ‘The Terminal List’ engaged veterans and their families as part of multiple aspects of the series production. For example, half the show’s writing staffers are either veterans themselves or have veterans in their families. ‘The Terminal List’ adds to the list of action thrillers which are already a part of Amazon Prime Video’s catalogue such as ‘Jack Ryan,’ ‘Hanna,’ ‘Reacher,’ and ‘Bosch,’ among others. And, despite the promise, it doesn’t really offer anything new to the world of action thrillers. Yes, there is Chris Pratt and the wonderful supporting cast, Jack Carr’s bestselling novel, and Fuqua’s direction. But, it just doesn’t add up in a way the makers would have hoped and fails to live up to the hype of this big game-changer of an action show that marks Pratt’s highly anticipated return to television.
A show like ‘The Terminal List’ could have been a trendsetter had it come out a decade back but today there is so much solid action content out there that it’s very difficult to stand out in the crowd. If anyone could have delivered it, it’s the team of Pratt and Fuqua but unfortunately ‘The Terminal List’ falls short by some distance. A much better option with the story on offer and the chosen treatment perhaps would have been a four-episode miniseries or a feature film rather than a full-fledged series. However, the show isn’t without merits. There are loads and loads of action on offer and even though most of it is pretty predictable the action lovers wouldn’t be disappointed. Fans of Chris Pratt too wouldn’t mind seeing him beating the bad guys to pulp. Some of the old action buffs might even be reminded of films of Arnold Schwarzenegger and Sylvester Stallone, notwithstanding the lack of novelty or surprise on offer.
ON SOCIAL MEDIA DAY, NETIZENS CALL FOR CAUTION AND VERIFICATION
On the occasion of Social Media Day on Thursday, netizens took to social media to spread the message of caution. The official Twitter account of United Nations shared, “We all love to share. But sharing misformation is harmful and it spreads faster when we are upset. On Thursday’s Social Media Day, we ask you to #PledgeToPause and verify content before you share it online.”
UN Secretary General Antonio Guterres also tweeted: “Lies and misinformation spread around the world at the touch of a button. We can do our part to stop the spread. On Social Media Day, I encourage you to pause and take time to verify facts before you share something online.”
A social media user said, “Social Media Day is a day to celebrate the freedom and opportunities that this platform has given us,” whereas another social media user said, “Happy Social Media Day to all. Let us pledge to be more sensible, factual, responsible and positive on social media platforms.”
In today’s day and age, when the world is going digital, social media is paving its way to become an information age. From getting to know which celebrity is partying where, who got a promotion amongst your friend circle and sometimes, getting your daily dose of news, social media has emerged as one of the most important tools in our daily lives.
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