Tuesday, 17 October 2017

The Basai Wetlands, Gurgaon

The Basai Wetlands are slowly but surely being swallowed up by development that is taking place all around it. The last remaining Wetlands of Gurgaon, the area is home to quite many migratory birds. Just recently when I visited the place, I was surprised to see that it has more birds than the much-hyped Sultanpur National Park, a few kilometres away!

Located right opposite to the water treatment plant, a mere five kilometres from Gurgaon, the Basai Wetland is accessible through a very narrow lane on the right-hand side after you get off from the flyover adjacent to the water treatment plant. My favourite companion is a V-15 bike that comes on its own while riding on loose mud. Its wide tyres and comfortable stance will not let you slip.

In the years to come, the pictures that you are seeing in this blog post will be pictures only and few will remember having seen the spot-billed ducks, or the cormorants, or even the lapwings. The Haryana Government needs to do something urgently to preserve the flora and fauna of the Basai Wetlands. It is an unfortunate fact that unsustainable development, rampant clearing of forest lands, wetlands, and the destruction of the Aravali Mountain's ecosystem has cost us greatly. When these birds go, when all the wetlands go, then man too will have to go!

The kingfisher was seen fishing in the waters. It looks like there are a lot of fish in the wetlands and they are able to sustain a large number of water birds. At stake, therefore are not just the birds, migratory birds, but also the fish that dwell in the waters of the wetlands. I just hope that people wake up to the disaster that would take place if these remaining wetlands of Gurgaon were to be destroyed!

Sunday, 15 October 2017

Animals of the Sultanpur National Park, Gurgaon

Although the Sultanpur National Park is a notified park, a sanctuary that is meant to protect migratory birds, one can find all sorts of animals, domesticated or wild. I don't know what I have done with my photographs of dogs chasing Asian Antelope across the lake, but then that is the truth! The Sultanpur National park is also home to domesticated cattle and dogs vying for space with the migratory birds that arrive every year to a lake that is dwindling in size!

While the Asian Antelope might be condoned for their presence in the National Park, (being wild themselves) the presence of oxen and cows, especially during the nesting season of migratory birds might be a bit of a danger for visitors. In many cases, I have had to walk past many an Ox with my heart beating in my chest wondering lest the bull should lunge at me. It is my request to the park authorities not to allow oxen into the park!

However, one is equally likely to come into confrontation with a full grown male Asian Antelope while walking on the tracks and paths inside the Sultanpur National Park. This happened the day my brother and I were walking back towards the interpretation centre after spotting a couple of Saras Cranes.This huge specimen of the Asian Antelope stood at the end of the path and stared at us for a couple of minutes. We stopped where we were and waited to see what the fellow would do. Fortunately, he left after some time!

Some of the Asian Antelopes, the does and their fawn might be as curious of the people with their cameras as people might be about these beautiful creatures. The Asian Antelopes should continue to be protected.

Yes, those are definitely clothes hanging on the branches of the tree. This snap was taken on the first of October when the part had just opened. There were apparently hired workers who were gathering stalks of grass to make nesting islands in the park.

Of course, squirrels too range the trees and some of them like this one might even confront you. Most of these animals form part of the fragile ecosystem of the Sultanpur National Park, others, like domesticated ones should be re-located.

Saturday, 14 October 2017

Saras Cranes Serenading at the Sultanpur National Park

Just today, my brother and I had a pleasant surprise when we visited the Sultanpur Nationaal Park close to Gurgaon. The surprise came towards the latter half of our visit, on the second half, to be precise. I was leading the way and I had reached a path jutting into the lake when we heard a strange sound of perhaps a few really angry birds. We paused, wondering what could have made such a ruckus when lo and behold, a couple of Saras Cranes stepped out of their hiding places in the bushes and then they made a stately stroll towards the waters of the lake right in front of us. What was amazing was to see how synchronised their movements were. When one of them bent down to groom itself, the other mirrored it! It became clear that we had passed what had probably their nest on the ground, and they had made a noise to frighten us away. 

Saras Cranes are monogamous and they stay together for good. These cranes are characterised by their large size reaching 1.8 metres in height. and eight kilos in weight. Saras cranes are found in Australia, and parts of Asia. Their numbers are dwindling in India and very few remain. These beautiful birds have a red patch on their heads reaching down to their necks. Their habitat is close to human settlements with abundant wastelands. They build their nests on an island of weeds and grass a few inches above the water level.

I could not, unfortunately, get very good photographs of these birds as I was shooting into the rising sun and the lighting was really bad!

Wednesday, 11 October 2017

Are Computers Going to Replace Teachers? Just a thought

Are computers going to replace teachers? The teaching profession has undergone much change during the years. The advent of computers, digital technology and now A.I., have all fueled this change. Gone are the days when Gurus were Gurus and Eklavya gave his thumb to his Guru! The title Guru changed into Teacher and now Teacher is, Facilitator or even Supervisor! The role of the teacher has shifted from expert to facilitator, centre stage to side stage. Teachers are more expensive than computers, imagine, you could buy a computer every month for the salary that a teacher gets every month! All this change has been driven by the advent of computers into every sphere of life. Flipped classrooms, research methods, collaborative learning, online tests and surveys, like Socratic, for example, have proved the teacher is no longer the expert he once was, and he can be challenged at any time! I guess a time will soon come when computers and Artificial Intelligence will make it possible for schools to have half the number of teachers and yet run effectively! The teachers who remain will merely have a supervisory role and the work of ten teachers will be done by one supervisor/facilitator and computers. Students will have their personal computers and one facilitator will have five hundred students to supervise, thanks to the support given by A.I. and virtual classrooms. Students might not even need to come to school. There will be less traffic on the roads, you won't have to even run a school with electricity expenses, nor would you need to spend on infrastructure. This will be a sad state of affairs for a large number of teachers who do not take up the challenge of becoming future proof! They need to be well versed with the use of A.I. computers, LMS modules, ERP modules, infographics, Blogs and so on.