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The new Galapagos | The Indian Express

If the army feels it requires continuation of the AFSPA to discharge its responsibilities, no other agency is qualified to credibly challenge that view. A preliminary catalogue of Delhi’s unique biodiversity. Delhi is famed for its biodiversity. It boasts of an astonishing array of animal and bird life. Like Galapagos,it is an ecosystem of its own. So the marvels of evolution,with an extraordinary range of mutations,can be seen in its full glory. More than any other city,Delhi requires ornithologists,evolutionary biologists and zoologists to understand its rhythms. Political scientists and economists are useless. Delhis biological riches have not been catalogued in their full glory. The evolutionary trends are not fully understood. Delhi awaits its Darwin. But here are some preliminary results. They will shake up the fields of behavioural zoology and ornithology alike. Member of Parliament: No law against cruelty to animals has been able to ameliorate the fate of this animal. It is always under a whip. And to make the fate even crueller,it is always found in the well of a House. But it is not allowed to drink. How this species will adapt is the biggest question in evolutionary biology. Homo Lutyens: This is a very Delhi species. All its life it fights to make Lutyens its Habitat. It likes the white nest. And then,come hell or high water,will not leave it. No matter what the cost. No matter what the compromise. The only species known that governs its entire life around a particular habitat. Econocrat: (This species named by Kaushik Basu). This is an economist who turns bureaucrat. A unique species. Like those species that are happy in all kinds of weather,this one also thinks all news is good news. If the rupee falls,it says,good for exports. If it rises,it says,good for imports. Have unusual powers of prognostication. No matter what happens to inflation,this species will repeat: inflation will come down next quarter. No matter what happens to IIP,it will repeat,IIP will go up next quarter. Precise role in ecosystem not clear,except that like a rooster will always be heard. Homo Commiticus: Christened in this column in 2004,this is another very Delhi species. A perfect committee person. Prefers the small group gregariousness of committees. Only raison detre is to be member of more such groups. Is never confrontational,always tilts with the wind and thus ensures its own longevity. Known to sign on command. Bureaucrat: Evidence for the self-limiting nature of the evolutionary process. Nature has designed it to stop all adaptation; so powerful that it can interfere in the growth of all other species. Often upsets the balance of this ecosystem. Retired Bureaucrat: This is a marvel of evolution. Turns on its own kind. After retirement,it tries to devour its own species with an unprecedented ferocity. But alas,by the time it attacks its own,it has no teeth left. Monkeys: Delhi has a lot of them. Beat at the windows of North and South Block. The only species capable of existential questions. Erratic behaviour conditioned by existential resentment: we are smarter than anyone inside North or South Block. Why are they inside and we outside? Party Spokespersons: These are like crickets. They are constantly chirping. Like crickets have different sounds. Some are loud and aggressive to repel other males. Some are courting songs to attract allies. There is an occasional copulatory sound after successful mating. But like crickets their sound is so incessant and part of the background that no one,other than other crickets,take the sound seriously. Central Bureau of Investigation: This is an amazing species. On the one hand,it passes off as a caged parrot. But unleashed,it is also a bird of prey,devouring what is in its path. Ornithologists bent on its preservation are divided over how to treat it: is it a parrot to be released or a bird of prey to be tamed? Auditors: A truly gifted species whose raison detre is counting. It is so gifted that it can allegedly count even irrational numbers. NGOs: They are Delhis own version of bats. They are ubiquitous. Like bats,may constitute more than 20 per cent of known mammal population. They are the only mammals capable of sustained flight. They are usually known to have an upside-down view of the world. They exist in every dark corner. Mostly they are easily shooed away. But sheer numbers mean they keep on coming. Intelligence Bureau: Rarely seen. Never heard. But their presence always felt. Standing confirmation that evolution will produce a species that is in a constant state of vigilance. Even a conference is a potential threat. Independent Regulator: A peculiar twist in evolution. Will never use its strengths. But still survives. It is the species that always asks for,and acquires,more powers after it fails to exercise the ones it has. Contractors: The centre of Delhis ecosystem. It is the species that connects all species in Delhi. The ecosystem would collapse without them. They are the earthworm that turns the earth,the bee that pollinates the flowers,the chameleon that blends. Indispensable. Reliance: A colossus in this jungle. Allegedly,the only species of which even the game wardens are truly scared. Can live off anything,but prefers a diet of hydrocarbons. Has recently acquired an insatiable appetite for gas. Is being fed so that it does not get annoyed. The process accompanied by a lot of burping,and hot air. Rahul Gandhi: A true mystery. A very visible bird,of old vintage. But nothing has been deciphered about its song (we dont even know if it sings or croaks). Movements remain a mystery: Latest (unconfirmed) theory is that migrates to Europe on its birthdays. Narendra Modi: Species classification has not been determined. Biologists of various stripes have put it in different categories: bird of prey,lion,fox,chameleon,lizard,even peacock. Now seen everywhere. But the only species that cannot be comprehended calmly: inspires extremes of loathing or adulation. L.K. Advani: To the ornithologist Sudheendra Kulkarni,a sweet whistleblower. Everyone else has identified it as a dodo. Sonia Gandhi: Still being studied. Has been described as Queen Bee mainly on evidence that everyone around her stings. Her workers insist her hive produces honey; but other species beginning to suspect that what tastes like honey is poison. There are,of course,more species to be identified and catalogued. But for want of research funding,this study of the new Galapagos is in its infancy. But please contribute to the production of this knowledge. The only thing we know is,Indias biodiversity is not at risk. The writer is president,Centre for Policy Research,Delhi and a contributing editor for The Indian Express
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