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Wednesday, May 31, 2017

Beef Ban -- Religious Conspiracy or plain foolhardy decision????

The central government has issued a rule banning the sale of cattle including cows and buffalos to slaughter house though out India has sparked protests and intense debates in non-Hindi speaking belts i.e. in North East and Southern states. It is said that this ban has been enforced to appease the Hindu conservatives who have been advocating that beef should not be consumed as Cow is considered holy and sacred. The fundamental right of the people that is guaranteed by the Constitution of India is being trampled by the Government of India by issuing this order is quite surprising. Enforcement of this rule would mean that India’s export of beef which stood at the second place behind Brazil will plummet down and the entire beef industry in India is going bust and livelihood of millions of people in this industry destroyed. Chennai High Court today has issued a Stay order on the ban and we will have to wait for the reactions from those who want the ban.

It is hypocritical for the Hindus to claim that Cows are sacred and beef eating was perpetrated by the conquering Muslim clans. It is recorded in ancient Indian scriptures that Brahminical communities consumed beef and also certain Hindu gods like Indra and Agni had preference for beef. So when did the Hindus change their stance on the cow being sacred and has to be revered???.  Delve deeper into history and you would notice that it was after the advent of Buddhism, the followers were appealing to the public to convert to Buddhism. One of the reasons given to convert was protection of cattle and wealth that was needed for agricultural economy. Brahmins felt the threat to their Bramhmic values from Buddhism was severe and were losing their grip on the low caste people. In order to regain the upper hand had to forego various practices and sacrifice of cows and eating their meat was one of them, and was then successful in banishing Buddhism from India. It was during these time that the Brahminical ideology took up cow as a sacred animal. It may be interesting to note that Buddha’s reason for calling to stop cattle sacrifice was based on reasoning that the cattle would be of help in agriculture and economy only and he did not turn a vegetarian and was not a cow worshiper. Despite the rigid stance taken by Brahmins to project cow as mother and being sacred,  the followers of Buddhism continued eating flesh including beef and so too the low caste people. As the Brahmins were dominant during the times of Mughals, Barber specifically asked his son Humayun to respect cows and avoid cow slaughters. 

Image Courtesy : Google Images

I think it is enough of history lessons now here … the ban slaughter call by the RSS & Hinduvatas has been going on for quite a long time but was not imposed nationally till such time the central government issued a rule recently. This in turn has affected the people who are used to eating beef as you would not be able to buy legally now. The type of food consumed is an individual’s choice and this cannot and should not be enforced by the Government of secular India. Tamasha’s is happening in various parts of India especially in Kerala & Bengal where beef festivals were organized in defiance of the ban, moral policing by Hindu groups by beating up beef eaters or cattle transporters and so forth, protests in Chennai and beating up of a PhD student at IIT Madras for having participated and eaten beef is the top news now a days in India. 

It is very sad to see that will of few is being imposed on entire country and we call ourselves largest democratic and secular nation. Is there a conspiracy behind these actions to divide India on basis of eating habit or religion will come to fore in days to come. I hope some sanity prevails among the leaders instead of making such a big hue and cry on this issue … few even demanding to name the cow as a national animal. Most do not know their history well and it was because of it had to resort to writing about ancient Hindus in patches( Lot more extensive write up is available on Google for people to look up about this)

For the record I am a Hindu Brahman and do consume meat but not beef and the reasons are that I do not like the taste of it. I have no issue a Hindu if somebody else in my friend circle have beef at the same time I have my meals unlike the hardcore Hinduvatas who get riled up with frothing mouths the moment they hear the word BEEF.

Sunday, May 28, 2017

Wildlife Photography and Post processing ---- Few thoughts of then and now

A lively discussion about photography on a friend’s face book timeline made me pen in few of my thoughts. What I write here are my opinion and observations.. Not meant to hurt anyone’s feelings

Gone are the days when very few wildlife photographers in India were struggling to get decent image of animals in their habitat as it involved lots of hard work, hardship and had to face dangers in the forest not to add in the expenses for the films, travel and so forth. In the event they did get their dream shot their only medium to showcase their images were newspapers and magazines or exhibitions that they held to raise fund for their next sojourn into the forest. 

Advent of electronic media and social media networks has spurred an increase in the number of wild life photographers who are generally brash young professionals with lots of money to spare who splurge on high end cameras, and big lens. By the way high end cameras and assortment of lenses does not guarantee better images if they are not aware of the basics of photography. A creative photographer can take a great image even with a mobile phone since the end product depends on the composition of the image and the knowledge of photography in general. 

Most of the current day wildlife photographers are being driven by peer pressure to get one up on the other person who has posted an Image on the various social media network.   Be it wildlife, landscape or the street photography there is an intense unseen competition to get a “wow” image on your face book page. Please note my stress on most… as I do know very good photographers exists among the current lot who carry out their photography out of pure passion and are hardly bothered about the responses they get on the social media networks.

Another trait I have noticed among the current day lot is that there are no dearth Ego issues... and they are very quick to belittle other photographer’s images either the way it has been captured or post processing done. During olden days one needed a darkroom, chemicals and other tools to do the post processing but now all is done with a click of the computer mouse. One needs to understand that all images captured by anyone is first processed within the camera itself based on the manufacturers setting so nobody can quote that no post processing is done . Coming to the post processing the images on a computer where does one draw the line on this aspect. In my opinion there is no issues in doing all the processing required just to make the captured image look good as the individual had envisaged the shot. This may involve even digital manipulations, but then those images would not be accepted for photojournalism or photography contests.  Few persons are gifted with good knowledge of creative processing and I have seen them use this tool to bring out “Wow” images that only can be in our dreams and is acceptable to me as long as they do admit to having digitally altered instead of palming of as shot images. 

I do know my statement may rake up intense discussions  but then here is a quote for you all from a 13thcentury mystic from Persia  named Jalal Al Din Rumi  and  I do believe holds good for everyone in whatever field it may be.

When you do things from your soul, you feel a river moving in you, a joy”

Enjoy your photography hobby earnestly and I am sure you would feel the joy and fulfillment of capturing your images without any thoughts of what the society or the virtual friends on social media networks think of it.

Wednesday, May 24, 2017

Kabini Diaries -Spot Bellied Eagle Owl

 Scientific Name :Bubo nipalensis

The spot-bellied eagle-owl, also known as the forest eagle-owl is a large bird of prey with a formidable appearance. It is a forest-inhabiting species found in the Indian Subcontinent and Southeast Asia. 
The overall plumage of these spot-bellied eagle-owl species is dark brown on the head, upper wings and upper parts. The throat and the under parts are pale brown. The upper parts are barred and mottled pale brown. The flanks have black and white horizontal stripes. The breast, belly and under tail have broad dark brown spots. The ear-tufts are long and slanting, having feathers of different sizes. The facial disc is pale buff. The legs and feet are feathered except for the terminal digits of the toes. The nostrils are round. The beak is curved and yellowish. The long curved talons are steel gray. The irises are dark brown. The juveniles are much paler. The call of spot-bellied owl is a deep, booming "hoo hoo" sound. They also make loud screaming sound.

These spot-bellied eagle-owl species are highly forest dependent. These species occur in altitudes from 300 to 3000 meters. The natural ecosystem of these spot-bellied eagle-owl species includes subtropical and tropical moist lowland forests, foothill forests, moist deciduous forests, subtropical and tropical moist montane (mountainous or highland) forests, dense evergreen forests and montane wet temperate forests.
Spot bellied eagle owl is considered to be rare and as one naturalist stated that a sighting of one owl of this speices is equivalent to having sighted 5 tigers or 8 leopards on a single safari at Nagarhole  We have been fortunate in sighting this rare beauty and that too on a clean perch giving us good photographic opportunities. 
Information Courtesy: Google 

Friday, May 5, 2017

Ghost of the forest - Elusive black panther

I was very fortunate to sight for the first time in my life the elusive black panther of Nagarhole forest twice on back to back safaris during my visit beginning of this year after three years of being sighted there. This sighting did make me read and learn more about these elusive creatures  and I have penned down few interesting information from Wikipedia and other sources

Color of the skin:
The Black Panther is merely a colloquial name given to a melanistic colour variation of a leopard or jaguar, and is derived from the genus name, Panthera. Black panthers in Asia and Africa are black leopards and black panthers in the Americas are black jaguars. Melanism (a Greek word meaning black pigment) is an over development of the dark-colored pigment melanin in the skin or its appendages and is the opposite of albinism. Close inspection of these cats will show that the spots and rosettes are still present but much harder to see due to the darker color of the coat.

Black Panther’s Historical Connection:
Ancient Egyptians revered black panther as goddess  whose name is Bast ( daughter of Amon-Ra) and later the name was tinkered by the Greek to mean  (Soul of Isis) Ba-Aset .  She is one of the well-loved goddesses of Egypt; especially lower Egypt.  Many temples and statues were built to her honor by her cult following in the cities of Memphis, Heliopolis, and Herakliopolis. However, of all the cities, none could surpass the reverence she received in the city of Busbastis near the Delta, which was named after her. Every year, in the months of April and May, the historian Herodotus noted that her yearly festivals drew some 700,000 people in huge ships singing songs and dancing as they head to the city. Prodigious amounts of wine were drunk in these festivals. Upon reaching Bubastis, great sacrifices were made. This annual festival went by different names including “Festival of Bast”, “Procession of Bast”, “Bast Goes Forth from Bubastis” and “Bast Guards the Two Lands”. The festivals continued until the destruction of the city in 350 BC by the Persians. What remains today are just ruins to remind us of its one-time glory and splendor  

 Black panthers are very shy and in the event you have been lucky to have sighted one it would more or less lounging on a distant tree. Due to the black color skin the black panther would find it difficult to camouflage itself like the normal leopards for  it can be seen quite easily even if the stalking their prey… possibly this is the reason for its shyness . But during the recent days I have been seeing the reports of regular sighting of this magnificent animal often which makes me conclude that the animal is becoming bolder day by day. The image above is with lots of clutter.. dry branches of the tree but then we may never get the perfect background and the foreground settings in the wild. I hope that you like these images and enjoy the same.