Vivek Menon


Trunk call from India

Tanuja and Rajesh Khanna starred in the immensely popular ’70s flick Haathi Mere Saathi. The hero can do no wrong in a Bollywood film and in this one the elephant could do no wrong either. Rajesh Khanna sang and wooed, fought and emerged victorious with the haathi by his side. Little wonder then that Jairam Ramesh, the ebullient green hero of today, wishes to emulate the evergreen hero of yesteryears in adopting the elephant as the

The Bharatpur exodus

A wetland is dying. Not just a wetland but the mother of all Indian wetlands: the first notified Ramsar site or wetland of international importance in the country, a Unesco World Heritage Site and a National Park that is visited by thousands of people every year. A wetland that still counts 375 species of birds as park residents

Man versus Ayyappa

On January 15, two weeks into the New Year, more than a hundred people died in a stampede in Pulmedu, deep in the core area of Periyar Tiger Reserve. Two years ago, 50 people had died in Pamba in the buffer of the reserve. Pulmedu loosely translates from Malayalam as “grass mounds”, a climax grassland ecosystem that lies interspersed with low altitude evergreen forests. The forests around Pulmedu, especially the Uppupara and Ponnambalamedu region, abound with wildlife — elephants, tigers, sambar, wild boar, Nilgiri langur, lion-tailed macaques and the great Indian hornbills are all residents and indicators of a mature tropical forest. For two months in the year the region is also home to five million people, temporary residents who visit the most famous Shasta shrine in India, Sabarimala.

A Russian roar

St. Petersburg was as cold and grey this November as the Germans had found it during the siege of 1941.

When a tiger died, so did the forest

So a tiger has died in Sariska. It is big news in the media and possibly will become a bigger issue in Parliament. Wildlife experts are giving quotes a dime a dozen and the forest department of Rajasthan and the National Tiger Conservation Authority are in damage control mode. The initial cause of death was said to be infighting. Now,

Of Vedas, Vedanta and the other Gandhi

Gopalakrishna Gandhi, a model ex-governor, spoke the other day on governance. It was a fascinating, multi-lingual, dramatised commentary on the state of the state that is India. He spoke softly, almost minimally, as is his wont, but as his words swished and swarmed around his rapt-audience, a portrait of India took shape. His talk

Why elephants weep

Three-fourths of my family hails from Palakkad district in Kerala. Palakkad has been known over the years for a crumbling fort, a dilapidated dam, a few failed industries and a dozen or so exceptionally brilliant bureaucrats and diplomats. But of late, elephants are the main attractions in town. A baby elephant was hauled out of a well in

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I want to begin with a little story that was told to me by a leading executive at Aptech. He was exercising in a gym with a lot of younger people.

Shekhar Kapur’s Bandit Queen didn’t make the cut. Neither did Shaji Karun’s Piravi, which bagged 31 international awards.