Neelgai and a green rose
Neelgai (Boselaphus tragocamelus), are the largest asian antelope, endemic to the gangetic plains in India. Their name literally translates to blue-cow, but neither are they blue nor are they cows or even related to cows.
Large scale deforestation in the gangetic plains and the nearby foothills of the himalayas have forced these majestic beauties to adapt. And adapt they have; a little too well for modern humans.
Having evolved in the grasslands and dry scrub forests in these parts, they now roam freely across agricultural farms merrily grazing. The increase in sugarcane cultivation has provided them with sufficient safe zones to rest during the harsh sunny days. And oh the menu that the farmers fields offer make for sumptuous early lunches and dinners. The depleted forest covers came well after the big carnivores were decimated by hunting and other forms of killing predators that humans have indulged in for many centuries in these parts. Given their misconceived name as an undomesticated relative of the cow, and the Hindu veneration of anything even remotely related to cows, they are not hunted or killed by most people.
So for a few decades now, there has been plenty of food, shelter and barely any predators – a fertile ground for population explosion. And that is exactly what has happened. So far, farmers have silently accepted that this is their fate and swallowed the bitter pill of loosing their primary source of food. The better off sections of society, in both villages and cities, and especially those running the govt., do not see the farmers’ plight and often make fun of their appeals for relief.
In Sitapur, the small and marginal farmers have decided they have had enough and that things have to change. After meetings within the sanghatan in its different blocks, a rally was taken out in Sitapur Town on 8th Aug 2016. A memorandum signed by members of the sanghatan and affected farmers was submitted to the District Magistrate. In typical bureaucratic style, a consultation meeting with all stakeholders has been promised. In the mean time, the sanghatan is planning a series of discussions in villages to build the momentum for a stronger mobilization on the issue.