Mar 9, 2015
Down in Jungleland has recently obtained, at great personal risk, excerpts from Top Secret discussions between key government officials and representatives of tigers from all major Indian tiger reserves, regarding the fate of India’s national animal in the years to come. Excerpts:
Government of India (GOI): Congratulations! Your numbers have increased substantially in the last few years, thanks to Project Tiger. There are over 2,000 of you now roaming about in the jungles. You must be having fun! But do be careful, or we might have to introduce a one cub per family policy, like they have in some countries, ha-ha! And please, no public displays of affection at waterholes that have machans in the vicinity, or where gypsies gather for a sighting of you in national parks. Little children may be watching and asking their parents questions like, “Why is that tiger sitting on top of the other one? What are they doing? Where do tiger cubs come from?”
Tigers: And you are what? One-and-a-quarter billion strong? No wonder! If you don’t teach your kids where they come from, well, they will keep coming. But we are very concerned about your plans about linking rivers and flooding our forests and building highways through them…
GOI: There’s nothing to worry about! You’ll also benefit from the roads. You can walk up and down them — no need to use thorny jungle paths which can hurt your paws. Maybe, we could introduce a shuttle bus service for you, so you can visit your relatives in far corners of the park. You should take part in the ‘davlopement’ process too. As for inundating forests, arre baba, we are only making huge swimming pools and jacuzzis for the likes of you, so you can cool off in the summer. And you know climate change is making summers hotter! Tiger experts everywhere say you love swimming…
Tigers: We’ve noticed you get after tiger experts too and harass them.
GOI: See, you have to be careful of these fellows. Putting collars and GPS systems around your necks like you were their personal Pomeranians and following you around! Peeping into your private lives! Hai! And those National Geographic and Animal Planet filmwallahs: be careful of them. They’ll make you all do Bollywood item numbers soon and that will upset sentiments.
Tigers: Have you got any vision for the future?
GOI: Yes, of course! We want to ‘davlop’ you too. Why risk your lives hunting in disease-infested jungles? What do we need jungles for? Only wild animals live there. You are our national animal. We will build comfortable homes for you, where you can be served food and don’t have to hunt. People can come to admire you there. You can have heaters in winter and
coolers in summer. Even air-conditioners if the power situation permits.
Tigers: You mean you want us only in zoos?
GOI: Arre baba, we can always change the name if you like. Like we made those Redline buses into Blueline buses and whatnot…
Tigers: When one of us kills (and sometimes eats) one of you, you come after us with guns. When your motor vehicles kill 1,50,000 people every year you do nothing. You don’t shoot them! Why?
GOI: There is a vital difference: you kill and eat us. Motor vehicles hit us and run away as fast as they can. That means they are already sorry for what they’ve done! Really, you should become shudh shakahari — vegetarian — and eat only ghaas phoos! All problems will be solved.
Tigers: (Grinning and licking their chops) Yeah, we will! Over your dead bodies!
By Ranjit Lal
As posted in Indianexpress.com