Tuesday, 6 March 2012

Voice of India


The honourable Cabinet Minister,
Ministry of Forestry and environment,
New Delhi.

Dear Sir,

Sub: A humble appeal to improve the state of affairs associated with the ministry of forestry and environment.

I am a citizen of your country and voted for your government in the last elections. It is with a lot of sadness that I look upon the current state of affairs associated with your ministry.

India today is different from the India of snake charmers and fakirs. India is rising and shining and able to give any superpower a run for its money.

All the other ministries like finance, education, external affairs, railways, defence have performed really well in the recent years and today our exports; rail system and military rival any in the world. The Indian academic has made his mark around the world.

Sir, we live in a democracy and it is logical that the government hears what the majority of the people want and desire from the government. It is with great regret I point out that out of all the departments of the government, it is your ministry that hasn’t delivered what the people want.

People want a strong army (stronger than Pakistan’s): Defence Ministry delivered
People want a strong economy: Finance Ministry delivered
People want a strong cricket team (stronger than Pakistan’s): Sports Ministry delivered
People wanted better transport: Both railways and aviation Ministries delivered

Sir I can go on and on but in a nutshell, all departments listen to the voice of the people and act accordingly. In doing this, your department has failed. As a result the turnover of your department has fallen from 1.7% of the GDP to 0.9% of the GDP.

Since your ministry will not listen to people, I will tell you what people want. They want a stronger India, richer India. This is what they associate with national pride (The following list is limited to what your ministry can help achieve for example there is no point writing to you about Indians’ wish of winning the Cricket world cup). The good news is that you can help with what most Indians perceive to be indicators of development and growth.

Shopping malls: the bigger the better
More MacDonald’s and Pizza huts per city
More luxury hotels
More access to better and luxurious cars (not necessarily less polluting)
Better roads to drive these cars on
Luxury apartments
More properties per person.
Latest model of cell phones
“Branded” clothes

Sir as I see it, you have got your priorities wrong. The people DO NOT want nor care about the following:

More tigers
More elephants
Wildlife corridors
Animal welfare
“Gregarious flowering of Muli bamboo” (your dept. spent Rs. 460000000 on it)

Sir forget the common man, even your own government doesn’t really want all this. Nowhere in the “India rising and shining” types of campaigns and adverts do these useless animals and trees feature. What features are things like industries, bank notes, mega cities, skyscrapers etc. The only place where the above are mentioned are the campaigns and adverts by Ministry of tourism. (Let's not kid ourselves; how many tourists come to India for tigers and elephants? The golden triangle of tourism and the Goan rave parties can do without tigers, nicobar pigeon, golden cat and the clouded leopard).

Sir don’t you feel that the India the land of tigers and elephants sounds more like the land of the rope trick and nail beds than the India of skyscrapers, luxury, purchasing parity? Isn’t the former image something we were trying to get rid of for a long time?

Well all is not lost, I have a list of suggestions which will not only confirm to the present image of itself that India wants to portray and help you give the people what they want but also bring a lot of revenue to your department.

1)      Forests: These green economic wastelands are sitting atop the most expensive rural land in the world. (Even around London, rural agricultural land costs about £5000 an acre, that’s less than Rs.400000; compare that with rural land around Delhi costing upward of Rs.15000000).

According to your ministry India has 71 million hectares of “forests”. However a lot of this is bush land and barren (definition of ‘forest area’ by the govt). Therefore actual area with jungles is around 35 million hectares (exclude POK). Now forests if logged for timber can yield between Rs 50000 to Rs 200000 a hectare. Once we chop down all those trees, your ministry could make (approximately) Rs. 375000000000. Sir this figure is extremely conservative at best. In 1994 in just Karnataka, the amount of illegally felled timber was estimated to be worth Rs. 1000000000. Going by those figures, by chopping down all of India’s forests, you could easily generate Rs. 10000000000000.

Sir, we need not worry about a supply of wood for our luxury homes since there are many countries in Africa logging trees and exporting them to India. The forests of Africa will easily last for more than 50 years. By then most of us will be dead so why worry.

Now we have 71 million hectares of land. Prime land. The third largest mall in the world has a ground area of 42 hectares and floor area of 4.2 million square feet and more than a thousand shops. By the same calculation, constructing the world’s largest mall with the floor area of 7.1 million square feet shouldn’t require more than 71 hectares. Given our government’s lax attitude towards car parking space in malls, we could even do it in 55 hectares. It could have 1200 shops. With each such shop giving an annual rent of Rs 1000000, one could easily make Rs. 1200000000 per year. Make One million such malls and you get Rs. 1200000000000000 per year! And we have only used 55 million hectares.

Out of the remaining 16 million hectares (38 million acres), there’s enough land to make three quarters of a billion luxury apartments overlooking these malls. These, with the right marketing tools can be sold to the people who want more than one apartment. All these luxury apartments would have walled perimeters where no beggars, hawkers or other ‘poor riff raff’ (except maids of course) can enter. That way everyone can truthfully say they have seen no poverty in India.

If these luxury apartments are sold at Rs. 10000000 each, it will fetch the govt. Rs. 7500000000000000. If these are given for 99 year lease, then even more money can be made. Not only will it bring revenue to the department, it will also give people to buy many luxury apartments and a chance to have a choice of one million world’s largest shopping malls. Then the people will be really happy and proud to be Indians.

But that’s not all, every year you save Rs. 1419000000, the money spent on forest conservation, forest research, training officers, salaries, and other such useless activities.

Sir, what I have suggested, in terms of possibilities is only the tip of the iceberg. Imagine what you could do with your team of planners and financers. We could be the only country in the world to have one billion MacDonald’s. Or maybe 10 million Mercedes showrooms or many number of similar things that have come to signify national pride. You can also set up mobile towers for rent to the big network providers. This will help people use those latest model cell phones.

Our deforestation rate is 0.6%, more according to some sources. At this rate, we will lose our forest cover anyways. So might as well make some money out of it.

Oh, and lest I forget, you will also save Rs. 1000000000000 that your ministry has pledged to invest by 2020 for reforestation efforts.

Some fake so-called scientists claim that forests bring rain and are helpful in water conservation. With that money you could import Evian and sell it for a profit. Our ‘brand’ hungry or rather thirsty people will lap it up.

2)      Wildlife: There are so many useless animals living in these forests that have no bearing to national pride. Neither can they bring Pizza hut to villages, neither shopping malls, nor can they satisfy the aim of people to have 10 houses. I mean seriously do you really think we need rhinos and elephants and tigers? Shouldn’t we be setting up factories to produce Ferraris, or Hayabusa?

There are about 1600 tigers, 8000 leopards, 400 lions, 20000 elephants, 1000 Rhinos, 12000 bears, 1500000 deer and antelope (maybe more) and Innumerable wild boar. Add to this millions of birds and we have a veritable treasure trove on our hands. There will be many international hunters willing to pay Rs. 20000000 to kill a tiger or a lion and Rs. 1000000 for a leopard. Rs. 5000000 for a rhino. I could go on and on but I’m sure you have got the idea. In total we could actually make money and get rid of these animals. These beasts won’t have a place to live after we have cut down the forests. So rather than them enter cities and attack people and then having them declared man-eater and then paying a reward for their killing, we might as well get paid for someone to take care of them.

All in all we can earn Rs. 2000000000000 by killing off tigers and lions, Rs. 8000000000 from leopards, Rs.2200000000 from elephants, Rs. 600000000 from bears, Rs.75000000000 from deer etc and Rs. 20000000000 from wild boar. Sir these figures are merely indicative and I have not even started talking about clouded and snow leopards, tahr, markhor, gorhal etc. Lesser mammals like feral cats, wild dogs, badgers, wolves, jackals, hyenas can be trapped and killed for fur and their furs are given to our famous fashion designers to make fur coats which can be sold in our world’s largest malls.

We only have half the world’s tigers so why should we put in the most efforts? 2% of this revenue can be donated to tiger saving programmes in other countries and we can name some of our ultra luxurious malls after lions, tigers etc. You can also make an official “save the tiger-project tiger” page on facebook where people can click ‘like’.

We were the world leaders in trapping and exporting exotic birds but unfortunately have fallen behind due to spoilsport birdloving (birdbrained would be a more apt description) tree-hugging politicians, your predecessors. With your blessings, the bird business can flourish again. Why have these birds disturb our morning sleep and who needs their cacophony when we can have the latest iPhone (bought from the luxury malls) playing our favourite tunes. Ditto for snakes, pythons, lizards which can all be sold off for their skin. Surely India will be a safer place without these creepy crawlies and our malls can do without cobra scares. Also we want to be moving away from our image as the land of snake charmers. These skins may be supplied to European shoe makers with a clause that these have their exclusive world release in the form of fashion shows in India which will bring in more revenue and further increase national pride. Instead of Lakme India fashion week, we could have Prada, Dior, Gucci, Armani, Ferragamo, Jimmi Choo, Blahnik etc having their fall/spring collections launching in India. This could be coupled with a rock concert held in the newly cleared forest land in the arcade of a luxury mall. The people of this country do not care what happens to these creatures they don’t even know, nor want to know the difference between a deer and an antelope or a lion and a tiger. If killing them can help bring a fashion revolution then bring it on!

Sir I can assure you this flora and fauna is overrated. It’s not as if the sun will stop shining if they disappear. The tiger population is going down by 5% a year. They are gonna vanish in a decade. We don't have time to waste. Jim Corbett, the famous killer of tigers before he became senile and advocated saving them called the tiger a "large hearted gentleman". Im sure any such gentleman would want his death to be of benefit to as many people as possible. You will be saving Rs. 636500000 in forest ranger salaries, tiger census, radio collars, wildlife preservation projects etc. Project tiger budget is Rs. 2000000000 per year; that will be add some more coins into the piggy bank.

3)      Environment: Sir this is one of the most overrated things the world has known. It is the western countries’ conspiracy to keep us from driving cars and building our industry. India proudly owns Jaguar and Land Rover; we want more Bentleys, Rolls Royce, BMW, Mercs on our streets rather than deer in the countryside. Global warming is a myth and car-pools are for people who are so poor they have to check the price of fuel. India is now beyond that. For example we are the world’s largest leather exporters and they want us to shut down that industry giving an excuse of river pollution. These people do not realise no matter how many chemicals go into the Ganges, it will always remain holy and pure. It’s not about the nitrite count in the water; it’s about our religious beliefs, something these cow-killing, non-vegetarian foreign scientists and policy makers will never understand.

Sir by removing the ‘environment’ restrictions, you can help India become much more industrialised. We will have more people in the Forbes richest list and more people will be able to afford BMW’s, wear ‘branded clothes’, and have the latest cell phones.

Sir there are many dogs on the streets which are a menace as they aren’t of a good breed. They mate with our good breed dogs and spoil their litter and as a result we can’t sell them. These stray dogs are no use to anybody. Everyone knows only foreign breeds are good and preferably from dog show winning parents. Maybe some of these funds can be used to capture them and sell them to companies abroad for scientific research. That way you can make back the money you spent.

Sir if you implement the steps taken above, your ministry can earn about Rs. 100000000000.
Half of this can distributed within various members of your department, 20% kept by you, 5% given to conservation, environmental, reforestation efforts in other countries, 20% can go back into the Govt. budget as revenue and the rest divided equally amongst the following things so important to us:

i) Money spent on India shining campaigns proving there is no poverty here.
ii) Temples for Rajinikanth
iii) Various charities in need of money like especially those run by various godmen.
iv) If you could allocate Rs. 100 to every person signing this petition, I could easily get enough signatures to enable this letter being taken seriously.

As for the few dozen crazy weirdo eccentrics who might not agree with this and believe in silly ideals of nature, conservation, outdoors etc.... well they are dinosaurs who have no place in the new rising and shining India. Their days are numbered and they don’t make the vote-bank anyways. I feel Wendell Phillips got it wrong. In reality Governments exist to protect the majority. It is the majority who form the votebank. The minorities have a few friends so why bother. If anything, these acts will give them closure. There wont be a sword of Democles hanging over their heads; ever wondering how many tigers there really are; how long they will last, when will they be extinct. Trust me you will be doing these losers a favour; then they could focus their energies on something more meaningful like buying property.

I do hope that this letter opens your eyes to what your voters really want. I would have given more suggestions but I also have to write to the ministry of sports requesting them to ban all sports other than cricket.

Thanking you,
Sincerely yours,

A citizen of rising and shining India

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