National Parks in India
One of the advantages of living near Washington DC is the proximity of the Shenandoah National Park and a host of other national and state parks. Shenandoah, as other National Parks in United States is maintained by the National Park Service. It is a very serene place with plenty of stuff to do. I have gone there repeatedly in all seasons and have always been amazed at the breadth of activities and the changes which nature throws back at me. It is truly amazing to have such an oasis so close to the nation's capital and yet find it so beautifully maintained. I have had the fortune of going to equally beautiful national parks like the Sequoia National Park in California and the Cape Hatteras National Seashore in North Carolina.While ruminating about the effectiveness of National Parks in providing a way to recharge your batteries, I was thinking about a trip I took to the Gir National Forest in India, the last abode of the Asiatic lion. Gir is one of the "better" maintained national parks. If Gir is in such a state, I only shudder when I think of other parks in India. Every year you hear about rampant poaching activities in the Sarisika National Preserve or similar other controversies. The usual commissions are promised and nothing happens. How about if we turn over the National Parks in India over to the corporations ? I have always believed that cricket in India enjoys such tremendous popularity is because of the craze of the people for the sport and to a big extent, the muscle of corporations also. For example, IPCL maintains a very good cricket ground in Baroda, India. Why can't National parks enjoy similar popularity. Even national preserves which are in far flung areas would surely attract a big following among enthusiasts in India. Additionally, with a corporation's image attached with the national park, we would surely see an increase in the facilities, better eco-tourism and more importantly, better alignment of the biosphere with the needs of the local population. Local NGOs' in several areas in India are already doing a fantastic job of involving the local populace to keep the forests going. The entry of corporations would only speed up this up. The government has to lay some ground rules - no creation of resorts in the forests, periodic checks by a third party for animal census, general upkeep and the fee structure for the park. There is a a valid argument in this entire theory about balancing the lives of the people who live around such National Parks with the interests of camping enthusiasts, the space problems in India, etc etc. However, we have to make a start somewhere and this could be a drop in the ocean, but at least it could be a small step.
Stochastix has correctly commented on this, "The strain on the natural resources of India is probably the highest in the world given our population density and growth rate. We do not realize how important these natural resources are to the future of our country and her people. The absence of a sense of history is not necessarily a bad thing. But a country without a sense of the future is inviting disaster! Think! Our generation has had the chance to experience some of the most amazing sights in nature - be it a huge waterfall or majestic peaks or beautiful plants, birds and animals. It will not last much longer if this apathy continues"