The monsoon has always inspired novelists, poets and musicians but it’s the season that also calls to evolutionary, wildlife and conservation biologists. The monsoon, which has set in after a summer that shattered decadal heat records, is the season of renewal and helps maintain ecological balance. To mark World Environment Day, on 5 June, the broad theme of this issue is environmentalism.
Our articles look at the environment movement through the lens of culture, apart from covering efforts to protect and conserve various species. It’s usually the more charismatic creatures that get attention—tigers and elephants, or cheetahs that are being relocated to India—when it comes to conservation but most often the smaller species are true barometers of the environment. Frogs, spiders and small amphibians may not be very pretty to look at but the state of their populations are good environmental indicators. They can act as early warning systems, in a sense, of the dangers climate change and habitat destruction pose for the more exciting tigers and elephants. Our planning and development methods also devalue nature, writes conservation biologist Neha Sinha. Policy promises protection and commitments to reduce emissions on the one hand, and on the other, grants approvals and exemptions for railway lines, highways and other massive public infrastructure projects which cut through biologically diverse and pristine forest land.
Also read: Guwahati gets its very own bird atlas
We also have an interview with New York-based chef Aarthi Sampath, who was recently nominated as a Culinary Icon of India in the US. She discusses the inspiration behind the food she makes, why it’s a great time to be an Indian chef in the US right now, and her dislike of terms like “elevated Indian cuisine”. We also have a great list of suggestions on what to do, watch, cook and listen to not just this weekend but during the coming week too.
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