DISAPPEARING FREEDOM OF EXPRESSION

Monday, February 9, 2015

“Twinkle Star” – a good children’s supplement

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I am sure many of my local readers visit the Boat Club or the Shahpura Lake for Rahagiri. That is well and good; but, I am sure, quite a lot wouldn’t have cared to know what these lakes are and how these are vital for the environment we live in. In environmental terms, both these lakes, as indeed numerous others that we have in the town or in the state or in the country, are wetlands rendering various services to us that most of us do not even realise and, much less, appreciate. In fact, in many ways, unknowingly we act irresponsibly and harm these wetlands and reduce their capacity to be of help to us in leading a healthy and fulfilling life. 

I don’t know how many among my local friends subscribe to Hitavada, an English daily, which is brought out from Bhopal. It is a very old newspaper of Central India published initially from Nagpur. But a few years ago, when the print media commenced a flourishing run, it commenced its operations in Bhopal. Surely, the satellite technology also helped and, what is more, the readership of English language newspapers also grew so much so that the city now supports as many as five English language newspapers, three of which are national dailies.

 All this is, however, besides the point I wanted to make. And, that is that I have found Hitavad very good for not only for news for the elderly but also for our younger friends. Like none other in the town, Hitavad brings out every Saturday a small supplement by the name “Twinkle Star” for young people that is generally packed with features that provide information, knowledge and other items of children’s interests. More importantly, it generally contains a feature on our environment that explains the concept behind it and issues related to it in very simple and lucid language.

Written by the Programme officer located at Kanha of Corbett Foundation I have found the articles very useful and I am sure youngster would also find them so. For example, in the last week of December this supplement carried a feature with the title “Wetlands – the lifeline of our cities”. The article explains how wetlands function as our lifeline in numerous ways. Take for example our own Upper Lake, the other name of which is Bhoj Wetland. It is considered our lifeline because it provides drinking water to around 40% of our city’s population besides rendering other services like making available to us fresh-water fish, tempering the local climate, recharging groundwater, providing to the people a place for relaxation and recreation – acting like a kind of a stress-buster. Earlier this month the Wold Wetlands Day was celebrated on the the 2nd February the theme of which was “Wetlands for our future” – obviously, hinting that our future wouldn’t be secure unless we have healthy wetlands with us – if not for anything else but for that precious fluid we call “WATER”.

In the last issue of “Twinkle Star” the Programme Officer wrote about “Value of Nature”. It is a very good write-up on nature which is ever-present with us and yet we do not take care of it, though, we know that we wouldn’t survive without it. Nature, as he says, “has been ignored...cut, burnt, choked and destroyed for our industrial gains” but is seldom taken care of. The underlying idea is that if nature is not taken care of and we allow it to be degraded our quality of life too would be degraded making us sick, distressed and unhappy.

 The same with true of wetlands, which too are parts of nature and yet we do not take care of them. In Bhopal we are not treating right this invaluable gift of Raja Bhoj. We forget that while we may exploit it (for whatever reasons) if we do not do so in moderation our Upper Lake, pride of the town as it is, will not be of use to us for long. Already, researchers have revealed that at its current rate of exploitation it would not be of use to us after another 60-odd years.

I think “Twinkle Stars” is doing a good job in educating young and old with regard to matters relating to environment, as also others that help to acquire knowledge and information. I thought its get-up could be improved to make it more attractive for children. Another such very useful supplement known as “Gobar times” is issued along with the fortnightly magazine “Down to Earth” edited by the noted Indian environmentalist Sunita Narain. It is also packed with information on matters that ly relate to environment.

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Photo of Upper Lake, Bhopal taken at night


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