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Rooted in the soil

My aunt’s village went through turmoil as stray cattle had been entering farms and damaging crops. Earlier, people used to tame them for ploughing, threshing and other farm work. But with the Green Revolution, machines replaced them. Consequently, the problem posed by stray cattle aggravated, and people wanted to get rid of them.

The villagers held discussions to find a solution without harming the cattle, as they were sensitive to the well-being of these animals. The plan was simple: they will gather the cattle and carry them in tractor trolleys to some place at night so that the cattle could not remember the way back. On the planned day, some youth volunteered to herd the cattle together in the evening. The cattle were boarded on the tractor trolleys and after dusk, the volunteers rode off with the animals. They travelled for a few kilometres and released the cattle on a grassland with a few trees.

The volunteers began their journey back home, and it took them a little longer to return in the fog. But on reaching the village, they were astonished to come face to face with the same cattle they had abandoned. They had no clue how the cattle outsmarted them. After a while, they realised that while they returned by the long road, the cattle took the shortcut of dirt tracks. The animals were not ready to leave the village.

Their behaviour showed that the idea of “home” is not a preserve of humans. All animals are deeply attached to the place they inhabit, but humans have inflicted heavy damage to their habitats by deforestation, agrarian expansion, and urbanisation. Moreover, we cannot adjust with other living beings in our surroundings, as our lifestyles have drastically changed. Now, “untamed” animals are deemed to be violating our sense of aesthetics. The only way we agree to coexist with other beings is to pet them, in a display of our paternalistic attitude. “Speciesism” has resulted in blatant exploitation of non-human species. But the planet does not belong to humans exclusively.

This problem is omnipresent and intensifying. In my city, a troop of monkeys have moved in to a park near my house as their habitats have been destroyed. These animals are struggling every moment to find a place to live. The increasing human-animal conflict is a result of changing economic dynamics. Earlier, we exploited animals for our benefit but now when we have technology for doing things, we just wish to get rid of them. This cannot be termed ethical from any perspective.

There are various solutions to the problem, but all of them require sacrificing some of our economic interests. This problem becomes even more complex in the face of the question of who shall sacrifice those economic interests because not every section of society is on the same page.

Of course, the solution to such problems is not easy, but to get an easy solution, we should not sacrifice the humanity within.

emailtoaakashbajpai@gmail.com


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Printable version | Dec 3, 2021 1:39:31 AM | https://www.thehindu.com/opinion/open-page/rooted-in-the-soil/article37136733.ece

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