Violence of politics and the politics of violence

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‘West Bengal is something of an exception in India’s contemporary political landscape. Whereas many states have experienced political instability over the past two decades, West Bengal has been relatively well governed since 1977. That stability has been remarkable because it has not been the result of low levels of political mobilization; West Bengal probably was India’s most politically mobilized and chaotic state in the 1960s. West Bengal’s restoration and maintenance of political order naturally direct our attention to the issue of how growing crises of governability can be reversed.’

Atul Kohli, 19911


THE above contention no more holds true in ‘absolute’ terms. West Bengal is about to go to the legislative assembly polls in less than a year (early to mid-2001?), and it is being widely conjectured in the media within and outside the state that this election would be especially violent as there are ‘chances’ of a change of guard in Left Front ruled West Bengal for the first time since 1977.

Whether incited by such popular speculation or not, the general law and order situation in West Bengal has been ‘adversely’ affected to create governance problems. The situation has become so critical that the Communist Party of India (Marxist), the LF’s Big Brother, has now demanded that the Trinamul Congress supremo, Mamata Banerjee, be immediately arrested for rabble-rousing while the Opposition has, in its turn, even pressed for imprisonment of the Chief Minister, Jyoti Basu himself – this is indeed a rather disquieting state of affairs.

The CPM has even lashed out against American Consulate officials visiting violence-affected Nanur in Birbhum district while Mamata Banerjee described her rally at Chamkaitala in Midnapore district as the Second War of Independence (9 August 2000) against the state government. General terms of political discourse in West Bengal are changing fundamentally, and civil society in the state has to now interface with a certain language of politics that is bereft of the traditional Bengali cultural baggage.

It is true that the Bengali bhadralok2 had generally helped institutionalize a ‘tradition of unorthodoxy’3 since the days of undivided Bengal. This is perceived in the archetypal Bengali bhadralokian psyche and lineage of anti-establishment, left-of-centre politics since the days of India’s national liberation movement. But whatever is happening in the state today is quite unprecedented in terms of political violence, with the probable exception of the brief Naxalite movement (late 1960s-early 1970s) that was radical(?), iconoclastic and somewhat ‘non-sensitized’ to its clientele among the tea plantation labourers in North Bengal. This movement, in the course of its excesses, was eventually removed from bhadralokian support.

However, it must also be added that ‘progressive’ public opinion in West Bengal was outraged at the coercive manner in which Siddhartha Shankar Ray’s Congress government dealt with this movement. ‘Their (the Naxalites) attempts at making short work of the revolution had the paradoxical impact of strengthening the forces of counter-revolution.’4

The CPM now alleges that the TMC and its uneasy electoral ally, the Bharatiya Janata Party, are allied with big landowners/jotedars – this ‘reactionary’ class equation is responsible for the disturbing spate of agrarian violence in districts like Midnapore, Bankura, Hooghly and Birbhum, to cite just a few instances. The TMC denies this, however, arguing in turn that it is the ruling party that has its back to the wall, and is desperately fighting a strategic battle of position(s) to continue in office even after the next assembly election in West Bengal.

If the bourgeois print/electronic media reports5 are to be given any credence and their contents analyzed, one would come to the conclusion that this agrarian violence is, after all, being provoked by the possibility of a change in the Left Front regime in West Bengal. While the ruling party-led coalition is fighting a battle of dispossession the Opposition is intent on proliferation – and everything is happening rather ‘thick and fast’ in rural Bengal where, according to the West Bengal government, land redistribution since 19776 (the late Benoy Krishna Chowdhury-led ‘Operation Barga’) has almost reached its logical culmination.

Dwaipayan Bhattacharyya, however, disagrees, and points out that, ‘The CPI(M) excelled in what may be regarded as the ‘politics of middleness... Irrespective of its claims to the contrary, the CPI(M) has brought about a gradual de-radicalisation in the character of redistributive reforms in rural West Bengal over the 1980s.’7

This is not to suggest, however, that the cities in West Bengal are any more safe. There was a lot of violence during the by-poll in the recent Salt Lake City civic polls (June 2000) in the neighbourhood of Calcutta. The CPM scraped through by a single seat majority here. The Calcutta Municipal Corporation, however, was wrested by the TMC from the Left Front; this election was also marked by ‘severe’ irregularities, according to the media. Compare this with incidents of violence against newspersons8 in the Uttarpara civic polls in Hooghly district (August 2000) where the TMC won by a considerable margin. Such incidents of rural and urban violence are indicators of non-governance in the state, and able analyses of such problems of rule are required if the situation is to be somewhat salvaged.

The background to this political violence was in the making quite sometime back. The CPM state committee came out with a draft resolution9 in the not-so-recent past where it was admitted that the performance of the Left Front had deteriorated during the period 1987-1997 in West Bengal. This document also conceded that a ‘downhill’ slide in governance was quite evident in West Bengal after the tenure of the first two Left Front governments (1977 and 1982) in the state. This resolution also criticized the lack of coordination in the cabinet as well as in the government.

Apart from the immediate news reports of fresh violence from different areas of West Bengal, another ‘more’ important issue is at stake. This concerns the state’s level of political culture. The Bengali bhadralok as a social category was more or less secure in its cocoon of ‘high’ culture. But the political events of the state are fast proving beyond reasonable doubt that West Bengal is perhaps no more superior, in terms of governance, even to Bihar, the constant reference point of the present Left Front government.

But all this is part of a larger reality. West Bengal is now passing through the ‘doldrums’, so to say. Limited employment opportunities, an indecisive pace of industrialization made worse by a much-criticized education policy (leading to a flight of human resource from the state), little or no health infrastructure and, finally, limited visions of a leadership that cannot perhaps problematize and coordinate liberal democratic decentralized governance with the basic tenets of democratic centralism.

‘The point that is driven home here is that the self-governing institutions such as panchayats and municipalities, or for that matter, popular participation and self-governance, are incompatible with the omnipotent presence of a hierarchically organised and centralised communist party. One can mobilise others, but cannot become the substitute for others’ participation which is an activity valued in itself. The notion of grassroots democracy cannot then, truly be accommodated within the discourse of communist modernity which is dominating.’10

So West Bengal’s history of rule since 1977 till today is largely an account of the CPM’s attempts to expand its support base, proliferate its mass organizations and develop the networks of patron-client relationship among the state government employees, trade unions, the intelligentsia and academics, the panchayats and cooperatives, big business (a much later trend), banking and finance institutions and other similar interest/pressure groups. The Left Front governments and the CPM were gradually fused as a ‘monolithic’ identity in the process.

Harihar Bhattacharyya has interrogated the near absence of democracy at the grassroots in West Bengal and holds both the CPI(M)’s style of local-level governance as well as the ‘conceptual inadequacy of the masses’ responsible for such a state of affairs.11 Prabir Das Ghosh notes that the Left Front government’s attempts at cooperative mobilization coupled with rural development measures are not isolated phenomena from the viewpoint of left politics. Ghosh adds that the Left Front has utilized all the cooperative institutions, politicized panchayats and other left-led peasant organizations as instruments of politics and of rural development.12

Subrata K. Mitra cautions that, ‘If the wielders of power concede the point to those who challenge established values and norms, they risk losing their legitimacy. On the other hand, the failure to give satisfaction to the discontented might deepen their sense of outrage and alienation which can further reduce their legitimacy.’13

It cannot possibly be true that West Bengal’s rulers are entirely lacking in political goodwill or administrative competence; perhaps they cannot effectively implement their collective vision of progress/stability in the state. Moreover, the Bengali civil society lacks a dynamic public sphere (since the days of the Naxalite movement that was prematurely aborted and had, in its turn, effected a paradigm ‘shift’ of sorts in the mainstream Bengali ethos) that could have meaningfully cohered a political dialogue with the state apparatuses.

Nobody can anymore think of a Brave New World in West Bengal; this has, in effect, actively discouraged the evolution of a creative civil society-state interface in the state. Perhaps the reasons are not too difficult to seek; today’s political violence reminds one of the last days of the Siddhartha Shankar Ray-led Congress government in West Bengal14 when Congress ‘absolutism’ had reached a climax of political perversion.

The Emergency (1975-77; a brain child of Ray among others) had been imposed, and Opposition in West Bengal was sought to be gagged by press censorship, political violence and police repression. But democracy ‘bounced back’ with the first ever Left Front government being elected to office in the state. It was now ‘politics as usual’, informed (at least partially) by an essential bhadralokian ethos. In conclusion, this much can be cautioned that those of us who tend to forget history have generally been ‘condemned’ to repeat it – only time would prove whether history has come a full circle in West Bengal since the ‘euphoria of deliverance’ of 1977.

Prasenjit Maiti



* I am grateful to my colleague, Dr Harihar Bhattacharyya, for insights into the Left Front’s governance in West Bengal based on field research and the CPM’s inner party documents (unattributable). I also wish to thank Dr Pamela G. Price, Professor of South Asian History at the University of Oslo, Norway for her kind suggestions regarding how really to go about drafting the paper. It was suggested that the focus should not primarily be on formal political institutions in West Bengal, but that informal institutions (like factions) and values, as well as the (implicit) ideologies associated with them, should also be researched. See Sajal Basu, Factions, Ideology and Politics: Coalition Politics in Bengal, Minerva, Calcutta, 1990, in this connection.



1. Atul Kohli, Democracy and Discontent: India’s Growing Crisis of Governability, Cambridge University Press, Cambridge, 1991, ch. 10, p. 267.

2. See John H. Broomfield, Elite Conflict in a Plural Society: Twentieth Century Bengal, University of California Press, Berkeley, 1968, for both conceptual and episodic treatments of the Bengali bhadralok.

3. See Marcus F. Franda, ‘West Bengal’, in Myron Weiner (ed), State Politics in India, Princeton University Press, Princeton, 1968, p. 249.

4. See Apurba Mukhopadhyay, ‘The Left in West Bengal: Government and Movement, 1967-1982’, in Rakhahari Chatterji (ed), Politics in West Bengal: Institutions, Processes and Problems, World Press, Calcutta, 1985, ch. 4, p. 95.

5. See newspapers like Anandabazar Patrika, Bartaman (in Bengali), The Statesman, The Telegraph and The Asian Age in this connection.

6. See, for related insights, Ben Rogally, Barbara Harriss-White and Sugata Bose (eds), Sonar Bangla? Agricultural Growth and Agrarian Change in West Bengal and Bangladesh, Sage, New Delhi, 1999.

7. Dwaipayan Bhattacharyya, ‘Politics of Middleness: The Changing Character of the Communist Party of India (Marxist) in Rural West Bengal (1977-90), in ibid., part 2, ch. 10, pp. 279-300.

8. This led to debates in the Union Parliament and protest demonstrations in Calcutta.

9. See Anandabazar Patrika, 3 December 1997, pp. 1 and 8.

10. See Harihar Bhattacharyya, Micro Foundations of Bengal Communism, Ajanta, Delhi, 1998, p. 186.

11. Harihar Bhattacharyya, ‘Democracy and Rural Governance in West Bengal Since 1978’, in Sobhanlal Datta Gupta (ed), India – Politics and Society, Today and Tomorrow: Essays in Honour of Professor Amal Kumar Mukhopadhyay, K.P. Bagchi, Calcutta, 1998, pp. 227-240.

12. See his unpublished doctoral thesis (Burdwan University, 1998), ‘Rural Cooperatives, Left Politics and Rural Development in West Bengal Since 1977: A Case Study of the District of Burdwan’, p. 268.

13. Subrata K. Mitra, ‘Legitimacy, Governance and Political Institutions in India After Independence’, in Mitra and Dietmar Rothermund (eds), Legitimacy and Conflict in South Asia, Manohar, New Delhi, 1997, p. 23.

14. During the first half of the 1970s, the so-called decade of liberation; this was because of the Naxalite movement.



Fundamentals of nature protection

WE need to protect nature for our very survival. To do this we first need to know the ways of nature, both in general and in the given climatic condition of one’s habitat, in particular. The grasp of nature’s technology gives the conviction that working in harmony with nature yields far greater dividends than application of force or violating her laws. It also provides clues to processes promoting less expensive, sustainable development and universally shared prosperity.

Unfortunately what dominates is the opposite approach – of managing and controlling nature before even trying to know her ways of working. Virtually all ‘developmental’ activities organised by the state and elite lead to destruction of natural systems – the energy use pattern, choice of technologies for generating the predominant forms of energy, ‘modernist’ farming technologies, high-entropy-energy-based industrial and transport systems, and resource-depleting architectural patterns. Yet, for each of these there are eco-friendly and sustainable though less glamorous alternatives.

The ecological methods of farming are already more productive per unit of expenditure. In other spheres too, knowhow has advanced enough to warrant a phasing out of the old ‘nature-conquering’ technologies. But the mesmerizing influence of the western elite paradigm remains strong. Given the drive of both the state and political parties towards western-inspired eco-destructive development in the name of modernism, legislation for nature’s protection can at best be a palliative, and at worst, a cover-up for destruction.

Some questions need to be faced: Why have we not overcome the hypnotic influence of the western model? What are the forces at the deeper level that drive towards nature-destruction, even though there is an over-lay of consciousness at the national level that nature protection is essential for survival? The answer is: there are several blind spots in our politico-economic-technological thinking, each with lethal consequences. Five such blind spots are mentioned below.

One, disregard of the distinguishing characteristics of our part of the globe. Ours is basically a tropical climatic system, very different from the one in mid-latitude countries. This means that our basic resource systems are different; the manner of working of our life-support system is different. Our soils are poorer in organic matter with little capacity for absorbing inorganic nitrogen. Our rainfall is limited to three-to-four months a year and is mostly torrential while in the mid-latitude countries it is fairly evenly distributed throughout the year, mostly in soft drizzles. Our winds are fitful and low in velocity except during tropical cyclones. Pollination in tropics is more insect than wind-borne, which means biological agents play a greater role. The nutrients are mostly stored in the trees in the tropics whereas in the ‘temperate’ countries these are mostly in the soils.

It seems as if nature has devised this storage system for the tropics to prevent the nutrients from being washed away under the regimen of torrential rains. The biodiversity in the tropics is immense. Nature here has found stability in a much longer chain of interconnectedness. Hence, when we apply ‘nature-conquering’ technology in imitation of the West, the repercussions of the breaches in the chain spread far and wide. Nature-conquering technology in any climatic zone is harmful. But in the tropics it is far more ruinous and its adverse effects are visible in a shorter time-span.

As against the several disadvantages marking the tropics, nature has given us compensatory benefits. The lightning and thunderstorms from tropical skies rain down much higher quantities of nitrogen for the crops; the nitrogen-fixing bacteria in the tropical soils are more abundant; earthworms and other organisms, which are nature’s fertilising agents are plentiful; blue green algae and the soil-enriching floating ferns are abundant. Hence cropping in the tropics requires soil-organism-friendly technologies. Notably, till the middle of the 19th century, Indian agriculture was the most productive in the world because it was most ecological. ‘Modernist’ sceptics may find it difficult to believe, but the testimonies of Colonel Alexander Walker in 1820, of Dr. Wallick, Superintendent of East India Company’s Botanical Gardens in Calcutta in 1832, of Dr. Voelcker, a consulting chemist with the Royal Agricultural Society in England in 1889 are eloquent in this regard. The British rulers ruined this glorious agriculture and dimmed people’s memory of our native tradition. Our nationals too became blind to the positive aspects of our heritage and saw ‘oriental backwardness’ in everything and started treading the path of ‘rape of nature’ whose lure has not yet ended.

Two, decimation of nature-given infrastructure for life’s sustenance to build up infrastructure for commercial civilisation. Forests are the most basic among the biospheric resources and are verily the base camp of oxygen-dependent forms of life’s journey on this planet. It is only after vegetation appeared to absorb the pervasive carbon dioxide in the atmosphere and to release oxygen that aerobic forms of life, i.e., most of the species that now inhabit the earth, came into existence. By whittling down the forest’s primacy in the nurture of life, current development processes make forests the first casualty – to site industries and adjoining townships, to resettle oustees and refugees, to do mining, to settle the growing population, and to extend agriculture. These could be avoided if only three fundamental facts were remembered (i) Forests are the common regulator of the state of air, water and soil. (ii) Forest is the foster mother of agriculture in perpetuity. (iii) Among the forests, the tropical forests are the most important; these being vast reservoirs of genetic resources, endowed with the greatest potential for curative and productive processes of the future.

Among the tropical forests, the moist evergreens are the most precious resource and the greatest releasers of oxygen as well. Most of India’s evergreens have been already destroyed. Luckily, substantial portions still exist in Arunachal Pradesh, the Andamans and the western face of the Western Ghats. Littoral and swamp forests – among which are mangroves – too have been largely destroyed and the effects of which can be seen in the repeated ravages of oceanic cyclones in Andhra Pradesh and Orissa.

Three, overlooking the unique characteristics of the Himalaya has led to enormous destruction and holds the threat of yet greater destruction. What is barely recognised is that the Himalaya has protected us from the icy winds blowing from the North and the hot winds blowing from the deserts of West Asia. What has not been recognised is that it is the youngest as also the tallest mountain system in the world, which is still growing; this imposes rigorous obligations on man. Being the youngest, its rocks are uncompacted and erodible. Being the tallest, its rocks inevitably hurtle down with a terrific force under the impact of rains unless every inch of its space is covered with dense forest with strong rock-binding roots. Yet, the Himalaya has been largely deforested, making the rivers of North India the world’s most siltation-prone waterways and thus placing this entire region under the regimen of high floods during the rains and water scarcity during the rest of the year.

The continuing process of mountain-building has meant that it has been throwing up intensely deformed belts in its ranges. Constructing big dams in this hyper-seismic zone is extremely hazardous. Lacking this awareness, Bangladesh has proposed that India, instead of seeking a Ganga-Brahmaputra link canal through their country, should build a series of large reservoirs in the upstream course of the Ganga, at high elevations in India and Nepal; India’s unwillingness has led to bitterness between the two countries. But India’s own plan for building a big dam at the elevation of Tehri has all the promise of triggering off an earthquake and a dam burst which can wipe out millions in the downstream region. This is inviting destruction, a far cry from nature protection.

Four, ignoring river dynamics has led to disasters and is paving the way for all-round destruction. Imitating the USA’s Tennessee Valley project and getting infected by dam building craze of the US Corps of Engineers, which later came to be called ‘big dam tomfoolery’ in their own country, our political leaders and engineers have developed a craze for big dams, which are very different from check dams. In all high-rainfall areas, despite flood control as one of the objectives, these have become promoters of big floods and other kinds of trouble.

Recently, at a public hearing, people from six districts of West Bengal assembled to describe how the Damodar Valley dams, which had conjured up visions of prosperity, have turned out to be a source of sorrow. The dams in upper Damodar have reduced its seven tributaries to a moribund state, more like storm-water channels. Where the main Damodar and its tributaries (all sizeable rivers) used to overflow their banks every year, supplying gentle fertilising silt-bearing water to the flood plains, people now experience on-rushing floods which leave behind sand deposits.

Millions of people are being forced to move their homes over and over again. Collapse of river banks has increased manifold. Sedimentation of river beds has also increased, aided by the triple processes of bank erosion, topsoil washings from a wider landscape, and flood-tide-borne sands from the sea-shoals which the enfeebled releases from the dammed Damodar cannot flush out. This has choked the main drainage channel of West Bengal and sealed the fate of Calcutta port. To save the port, Farakka Barrage was constructed. This, in turn, has caused uninterrupted sedimentation upstream of the Barrage, increased drainage congestion and flood intensity, and accelerated the erosion of river banks.

The DVC dams and Farakka Barrage are not lone examples of failure of objectives. Everywhere disaster is creeping in. The ecological alternative was to densely reforest the mountain and hill ranges, to build half-a-mile-deep forest on both banks of every river from its source to the outfall, with provision for sluices at regular intervals and to dredge/re-excavate the river. This would have minimised the rivers’ change of course and the collapse of river banks. It would have increased upland water supply throughout the year, cleared drainage congestion and improved navigability. Instead, the solution was, and is being, sought in grossly interfering with the hydraulic and sedimentological parameters of the river. The results cannot but be disastrous.

The Bhakra dam, located in a low-rainfall area, built for irrigation and electricity, is often acclaimed as a success. Only now is its seamy side – waterlogging in vast areas, paucity of water supply to downstream municipal areas, the poison-loading of groundwater caused by intensive chemical fertiliser use which dam-induced flow irrigation made possible – becoming public knowledge.

Nature protection is not possible by banishing common sense. Common sense says that if a river, which is usually 20-30 ft deep, is made to yield place to a dammed reservoir 1000 feet deep and 15 square kilometre by circumference, the self-flowing, self-purifying river transforms into a still-water lake and that this makes the remaining river lifeless. Yet, our scientists and engineers fail to see that a mega dam invariably kills the river. It does this by quickening the sedimentation process downstream. It reduces the tail-end of the river to a lean flow, thereby making possible the ingress of salt water into the delta. It ruins the estuary where the mingling of fresh water and salt water produced a churning process to generate a vibrant growth of various species of aquatic life, the means of subsistence of humans and other animals. By impeding the river’s capacity to carry the toxins to the sea, it causes salt and toxin build-up in the river basin. The fluctuations in discharge from the dam gives shocks to the river and increases bank erosion. While containing the small floods, it inexorably promotes periodic big floods.

Five, like the efforts to unnaturally control rivers, efforts to control nature in farming systems have proved destructive in the past, If we succumb to the lure now being dangled in the form of trans-species genetic engineering and modified organisms, we will become victims of biological holocaust. Chemicalised farming in the name of ‘green revolution’ has greatly undermined the innate fertility of our soils’, polluted our surface, and groundwater causing drinking water scarcity for humans and other animals; loaded our food crops with poison, destroyed the genetic diversity of crops and cattle, and has driven small farmers to ruination. It is only when the American and the European science academies pointed out that the chemical fertilisers and pesticides were causing testicular cancers and steady decline in sperm count in the males and breast and ovarian cancers in the females, that the ‘revolutionaries’ partially retreated.

A view often expressed is that in the given condition of the times, with the USA’s threat of stopping of PL 480 wheat supply, chemicalisation of agriculture was necessary. This is false. If, in present condition of worse soil fertility, farming with organic manure and earthworm castings can produce equally bumper crops with desi varieties, ecological methods of integrative (polycultural) farming, in which the waste products of one become food for another, could certainly have resulted in greater success then. The sad truth is that our leaders were lured by western scientism. They forgot that in dealing with soil, water, forests and living systems in general, nature-harmonic ways are the best and that India’s traditional culture, including agriculture, provided the best basis.

The current temptation for transgenic genetic engineering is far more dangerous. The ‘bright’ idea is to transfer genes to unrelated species that do not interbreed in nature, such as inserting toad genes into potatoes or genes of some bacteria into crop plants. Insecticide producing gene from bacteria and viruses are being inserted into plants. In the state of Karnataka, the US company Monsanto, in the name of fighting Bollworm pest in cotton, inserted a gene from a soil bacterium, Bacillus thuringiensis, (Bt) into the cotton plant. The purpose was to convert the cotton plant into constantly producing insecticide from within its cells. No thought was given to the fact that although the mutation would thwart the existing strains of boll-worm pests, it would poison all other insects, bees and birds. Simultaneously, it would pave the way for far greater mischief. A plant which releases poison throughout its growing life provides the greatest possible advantage for pests to develop resistance to it. Inevitably, cotton will be vulnerable again and new strains of Bt-tolerant super-pests will attack other crops like potato and maize as well, creating an all-round agricultural crisis.

Some giant western chemical companies, together with ambitious scientists eager to ‘play God’, are setting up yet another trap. To increase their share of the growing global market for herbicides, they are creating transgenic crops that tolerate their own company’s herbicides. The purpose is to convince farmers that they can spray herbicides in any quantities to kill the weeds without the risk of harming their crops. The resulting increase in the use of herbicides will inevitably lead to the weeds developing immunity and giving rise to super-weeds. This will introduce a new cycle of greater herbicide use to control the more resistant strains, causing far greater harm to the environment and all species of life. Nature protection and pursuing this kind of science cannot go together.

Space does not permit discussion of the horrendous effects of transgenic genetic engineering on humans and all species of life and nature. It needs to be stressed that transfer of genes from unrelated species can be done only through the agents of infection – bacteria/viruses which have the ability to carry infections across the species. Even naturally occurring bacteria/viruses will not do for this purpose because they lack the mechanism to superimpose their gene by overwhelming the plant’s native gene. Hence several most infectious pathogens have to be combined to create completely new vectors and then splice the necessary gene into these vectors.

Without going into details, it can be said that (i) since the carriers of gene into our food crops will be bacteria, viruses and similar pathogens, the new genes are apt to produce new toxins in our foods; (ii) since no gene functions in isolation, the new toxins will spread across the food chain; (iii) since the genes, once released, cannot be recalled, they will have the potential to multiply and recombine with other infecting viruses uncontrollably for successive transfers; (iv) the foreign genes that force-integrate into the genome will also have the ability to jump out and re-insert in another site in other organisms. Not only will each of these dangers serve the opposite of the declared purpose, each will constitute a threat to life.

In conclusion, to protect nature, foremost attention needs to be paid to the study of nature’s way of working; to keep unravelling the mysteries of nature in the knowledge that nature’s intelligibility is inexhaustible but refrain from ‘playing God’. This is because man, however inventive, can never ordain the co-evolution of all species of life which are interlinked and interactive. Consciousness must pervade that bounteousness is inbuilt in nature and that inquiries with utmost curiosity and reverence will show the ways of improving our conditions by finding new ways of harnessing nature’s gifts.

For that the first task is to understand one’s own environment in all its ramifications.

That is the way to nature’s protection – and survival.

Sailendra Nath Ghosh