02 March, 2021

Grow With Roots In The Earth | By Madhav Gadgil

Kerala must now aim for harmonious development, taking into account natural, human and social capital—and do so by deepening democracy

Poringalkuthu dam took heavy punishment as the reservoir overflowed
Photograph by Jitender Gupta
Grow With Roots In The Earth | By Madhav Gadgil

I have always been fascinated by nature and wildlife, but was really hooked when, in 1973, I first encountered the wild elephants of the Western Ghats. I looked at scientific literature and discovered that nothing reliable was known about their numbers. So, I decided to go ahead and start counting them. I began with the Mysore plateau and the Nilgiris, and then moved on to Wayanad in Kerala. Here, I was struck by the fact that while the elephants were the same, the culture of the people was strikingly different. In Karnataka and Tamil Nadu, villagers and lower forest department staff behaved in a subservient manner towards their superiors.  Not so in Kerala; this was a society where the gulf between different socioeconomic strata was far smaller. One manifestation of this was the vigorous scientific movement, the Kerala Sastra Sahitya Parishad whose motto was ‘Science for Social Revolution’. I was fascinated and have been working with many activists and academics of Kerala ever since. In today’s context, a particularly inspiring experience for me was the...

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