Friday, November 25, 2016

Forest-Community Interface – A new lecture series under Sanskriti Anveshak

VKIC has started a new lecture series on ‘Forest-Community Interface’ considering its relevance to North East India. Sanskriti Anveshak is a platform of VKIC that provides scope for intellectual discussion and research focussing primarily on traditional culture of indigenous communities of this region. The first lecture was on November 25, 2016, on “Climate Change: Forests and Forest Communities” and for this curtain raising lecture VKIC invited Dr. Alka Bharagva IFS, Additional Chief Conservator of Forests, Govt of Assam. Dr. Pradip Sharma, Associate Professor, Dept. of Geography, Cotton College moderated the session.

According to the speaker both rainfall and temperature across Assam are likely to be affected by Climate Change, which will impact the dependent Forest Communities in particular. The mean temperature may see a rise of around 2 degree Celsius based on present day computer projections. 

Pointing to the emerging concerns in the largely agrarian economy of North East India, she pointed out that increasing area under moderately dense forests and open forests especially in the hilly areas adjoining Arunachal Pradesh, Nagaland and Meghalaya will contribute to loss in biodiversity. Dependence on fuelwood, mining, logging, and urbanization, encroachment, higher frequency of jhum cultivation etc. are some of the factors leading to serious degradation of forests of the region. She added that projected warmer and wetter climate is indicative of “minimal changes in vegetation types” in Assam.

On Assam, Dr Bhargava also identified some of key interventions to make Majuli’s land and people environmentally more secure as: shelterbelt plantations on reclaimed and vulnerable land, Green buildings (e.g. bamboo based), cultural and ecotourism, E-transport, communication and awareness campaigns and plantations.

The senior forest official provided information on the plan to make Majuli in Assam become the country’s first Carbon Neutral District. The plan involved greater stake for local communities in forest management and benefit sharing. Apart from protecting the largest river island of the world, the objectives also include putting more emphasis on environment-friendly agricultural practices. When completed, the project will result in a range of benefits, which will ensure positive outcomes both for local communities and biodiversity. 

Saturday, November 12, 2016

10th Vedanta Vachaspati Radha Nath Phukan Memorial Biennial Lecture

India has made rapid strides in space research within a short span of time, and we can expect significant breakthroughs in the near future. Today, the world recognizes India’s capacities in this field, which was not the case earlier. This was one of the views expressed by distinguished scientist Dr Jitendra Nath Goswami recently. 

Delivering  the 10th Vedanta Vachaspati Radha Nath Phukan Memorial Lecture – ‘From a Fishing Hamlet to Moon and Mars’ – organized by VKIC, he said  there is a whole range of technology that ISRO has mastered in the area of space exploration through the dedication of its scientists, many of whom are women. 

Working in six or more separate areas they have come up with ideas and inventions which have been synergized to develop technology for producing both satellites and launch vehicles. Many of the technologies were created indigenously because those could not be purchased by India from foreign countries which own them. 

The success of the Chandrayaan 1 has shown that India is capable of planetary exploration containing many challenges. “Space exploration, including one like Chandrayaan Mission is unforgiving. There is no scope for error.” 

On ISRO’s Mars Orbiter Mission he said that its success is significant, because India achieved it through a relatively modest budget, and did it on the very first attempt.    Currently many nations have come forward to collaborate with India taking the country’s space technology very seriously. 

Today ISRO’s payload delivery system is so reliable that many other countries and foreign companies use its launch vehicles put their satellites in orbit.

He said that sending a space craft beyond Mars would present some hurdles. The propulsion system needed to carry them over very long distances would have to be very sophisticated and unlike those which are currently available with India. A foreign country will not easily sell such a technology to us. 

The occasion was also marked by the release of the book, Development Through Culture written by eminent thinker S. Gurumurthy. Published by VKIC, the volume focuses on the traditional cultural strengths of India being used to create and sustain comprehensive economic development in the country. 

Earlier, Dipok Kumar Barthakur, Chairman of VKIC delivered the welcome lecture and spoke about the institution's activities, which centre around protecting and promoting the culture of Indigenous communities of NE India and showing the commonalities they have with the rest of the country.