Ranjona Banerji: In stupidity lies our future

20 Sep,2022

By Ranjona Banerji


Ranjona BanerjiWe’ve gone from “O Yaaay, the cheetahs are coming” to the “cheetahs never should have come”.

Or, I misrepresent facts.

The “O Yaay” “media” brigade has moved on to some new “Praise the Emperor” drama while journalists have started asking questions of experts.

It’s all a bit lopsided but unfortunately that’s how life seems to work. Debate is better than prevention and who needs cures anyway.

From a personal perspective, any conversation about the environment, wildlife and ecology brings me some measure of satisfaction. We have brought eight cheetahs to India under somewhat dubious motivations and high uncertainty levels when it comes to their acclimatisation and survival. We could have had these conversations before but that is not apparently how we do things.

Because we pay more lip-service to the environment than we actually do anything about it, and because high drama is our oxygen, misinformation rules and information and regret comes later. I know, I know, regret usually follows stupid behaviour unless you’re too stupid to even understand that much. Cue in Indian TV “news”.


It is interesting that the Supreme Court put an end to this cheetah scheme, initiated in 2009 by the UPA, in 2013.

It was revived by the Narendra Modi government, all in time for his birthday celebrations last week.

A long investigation into forest rights, industrial demands and the environmental impact of both is examined in this article from Article 14:


The problem once again is that we do not in fact have a consistent policy on the environment. Like with the cheetahs, one government proposes, another disposes. But the fact is that we the people suffer. And once again hindsight will rue what has happened, when all along we could have foreseen and prevented the destruction and devastation that will follow.

The irony is that India makes a lot of noise in international fora about our commitment to the environmental protection and to mitigate the terrible effects of global warming and climate change. However, we do not follow any of these promises through at the ground level.

The massive flooding and loss to live and property in Bengaluru has been blamed on “encroachments”, “outsiders” and “municipal neglect”. The ill-considered unplanned growth and lack of control when it comes to permissions, to destroying lakes for buildings, for maintaining the natural drainage areas have been subsumed in the floods and the anger about details rather than the big picture.

The danger to the town of Joshimath in Uttarakhand will largely be ignored – this is my prediction – because the news is not glamourous enough. It also interferes substantially with government plans of road construction and hydropower development. This is the same area severely damaged by the glacier burst in Chamoli in February last year. The burst was dramatic: so it got covered.

Joshimath’s fate lies buried in the aftermath.


As we know, in the current climate, experts are anathema to our self-delusional notions of past greatness and ancient glory. Anyone who objects to “development” projects is anti-India, anti-growth, anti-progress and so on.

In this stupidity lies our future. For the media, for the rest of us.


Ranjona Banerji is a senior journalist and commentator. She writes on MxMIndia on Tuesdays and Fridays. Her views here are personal


Post a Comment 

Comments are closed.

Today's Top Stories