My Professor friend just returned from a training program on learning Cav – the Crow Language. The idea was to understand conversations by the Crows. It was a two weeks intensive course that was conducted by the NACIT (Native American Crow Indian Tribe – also called the Apsáalooke). NACIT has now migrated to Canada, just south of Lake Winnipeg. This Tribe understands the cav language of the Crows and knows how to teach Cav.
A Crow Native (taken from https://urbannight.wordpress.com/2012/04/13/image-of-a-crow-indian-as-inspiration/)
Teaching Cav to my Professor Friend was one of the major objectives of Indo-Canadian cooperation on Science & Technology (S&T). This was perhaps as important an event as signing of the deal on the sale of Uranium for India’s nuclear plants. But very few knew about this – as the item was not listed in the bi-lateral S&T cooperation agenda, being a top secret. Only the Prime Minister (PM) and my Professor friend were involved.
Let me give you some background. PM Modi launched “Swatch Bharat Abhiyan” in India a few months ago. Since its launch, a number of initiatives were undertaken with several top personalities appointed as the ‘ambassadors’. This campaign was officially launched on 2 October 2014 at Rajghat in New Delhi, where Prime Minister Narendra Modi himself cleaned the road. Swatch Bharat Abhiyan (SBA) is today India’s biggest ever cleanliness drive. SBA is not only a sanitation programme but includes solid waste management and waste water management.
PM has directly linked the implementation of SBA with the economic health of the nation. This mission, according to him, can contribute to the GDP growth, provide a source of employment and reduce health costs, thereby furthering economic growth to reach a target of 8%.
Cleanliness is also connected to tourism and it is time that India’s top 50 tourist destinations display highest standard of hygiene and cleanliness so as to change the global perception. SBA can bring in more tourists, thereby increasing revenue although there will be reduction in those tourists who visit India to experience the filth as a novelty.
Monitoring the progress of SBA was therefore crucial for India’s economy. Although all conventional and routinely followed information gathering approaches were used (e.g. tapping of the telephones), the Ministries of Home Affairs and Information & Broadcasting were unable to report the progress to the PM on a comprehensive and reliable basis. The PM therefore consulted my Professor friend.
Professor came up with a brilliant and unconventional idea. He proposed that we mingle with the crows and understand their perception on the Swatch Bharat Abhiyan. For crows, SBA would matter as they are so intimately connected to the state of ‘uncleanliness’. Certainly, crows must be discussing the impact of SBA on their lifestyles and livelihoods. Therefore we must learn the cav language of the crows.
Given the serious implications of Swatch Bharat Abhiyan on India’s economy, as outlined by the PM himself, Professor volunteered to learn the cav language. Hence the training by NACIT was taken up on top priority.
On returning from Canada, Professor went straight to one of the largest waste dumps in Dharavi in Mumbai. As usual, he took me along to take photos and notes. There was a National Convention on Swatch Bharat Abhiyan going on as organized by the MCC (Mumbai Chapter of Crows) – not to be confused with the Mumbai Cricket Club.
Around 200 prominent crows were attending the Convention. Many crows had flown from long distances. In few minutes, Professor told me that there were different dilects of cav spoken such as Tamil cav, Bengali cav, 22 Punjabi cav etc. He was therefore paying close attention to the speeches and conversations. He was translating all the cav spoken into English so that I could take down notes
The President Crow was giving an opening address.
The President (taken from http://residentevil.wikia.com/File:Art_crow.jpg)
“The Swatch Bharat Abhiyan by PM Modi is something of great concern. We all should be worried. If this campaign actually works, then we and all our future generations will be in grave trouble. There will be a huge issue of food security i.e. food shortage. We must all work together to ensure that the Swatch Bharat Abhiyan fails. Lack of cleanliness is the foundation of sustainable development of crows and we must strive towards the same. Please share your ideas and strategies”. The President Crow ended his speech.
There was silence except the “gur gur” sound coming from the old aged crows who were the past presidents.Then a young crow who represented the Crow Youth Wing spoke “Sir, you are right. I am coming in from the city of Warangal. In this city, a cleanup drive was carried out by the people in just one week. This was a spirited movement. As bulk of the waste was eliminated or diverted, the campaign led to starvation of some 1000 crows. These crows have fled to nearby cities. See the Warangal success story video. http://timesofindia.indiatimes.com/tv/news/hindi/Satyamev-Jayate-2-highlights-the-importance-of-waste-management/photostory/32154207.cms. Apparently, the
Warangal experiment has inspired other cities such as Coimbatore and Vizag. That will lead to more such impacts.
A crow who represented the Political Relations Sub-committee said that all crows of the second generation should consider migrating to non-BJP ruled States. By default, being in opposition, these States will not follow up the SBA seriously, pocket the grants while the filth continues to remain or grow. The President opined that this was an important suggestion and should be kept in mind.
There were many crows living at dump sites or landfills. They had another concern. According to them, the citizens have taken waste segregation and composting rather seriously. Many such plants are being operated in cities on a decentralized basis – some of them are community driven and some operated through partnerships with the private sector. Therefore not much organic refuse has been reaching city landfills. It became a matter of real concern when it affected adequate supply of food. A number of case studies presented by crows living in landfills, offering heart-rending statistics on the issues of starving and malnutrition.
Then came some complaints from the female crows, in a lighter vein. They shared how they now miss the whole fun of perching on the open container vehicles, sampling the
waste food and impressing the male crows sitting on the street lamp posts. After the launch of SBA, most city corporations have started covering of the container vehicles. Female crows have ceased to perch on the containers and the male crows miss the whole thrill of eve-teasing. “This is leading to social fragmentation – an impact to note”, a crow who normally sits at the gate of Tata Institute of Social Sciences said in a serious cav.
A crow who used to regularly sit on the window of the office of the Dean of Indira Gandhi Institute of Development & Research (IGIDR) in Mumbai came up with calculations on how consumption of waste by crows is saving urban India around INR 4000 million in waste management. He made a strong case that the Ministry of Urban Development set up a Crow Welfare Fund of INR 4000 million recognizing the contribution by crows. (See a very interesting article at http://birdsofindia-ssen.blogspot.in/2011/08/in-praise-of-crows.html that makes such estimates. This article shows a working that urban crows in India consume 3,150 tons of organic waste/day or 11,50,000 tons/year)
In the international session, there was a huge commotion when a Crow from Singapore presented a slide that showed how Government of Singapore had started killing crows as they didn’t need them any more due to high levels of cleanliness. The President wondered whether such genocide may happen in India if the SBA really succeeds. Again there was a silence.
The Convention ended with the vote of thanks. While we returned to our car, the Professor overheard the conversation between two prominent crows who had not spoken at the Convention. The first crow said “I am still not worried. In India, abhiyans are often launched, glamorized and later forgotten. Investments get made but projects are not implemented properly. Much of the budget is spent in financing NGOs and not in carrying out actual awareness ampaigns. Waste is shown to have reached the designated locations but the waste is mostly dumped on the way or the containers are loaded with construction and demolition waste. This SBA will not be an exception. However, we need to track the progress of SBA on a regular basis. Let us form a core crow team and after some training, let them sit on windows of the offices of Chief Secretaries of some of the key filthy States. They should be present when meetings on SBA happen. Generally I know these meetings will only review the past minutes of the meeting, with not much action reported on the ground and simply push the agenda for the next meeting”. When Professor translated this cav for me, I wasn’t sure whether I should record this conversation as a part of the brief to the PM. And the Professor agreed not to report to the PM.
A week later, I received a call from Secretary, Urban Development of the Government of Maharashtra to attend a meeting on Swatch Bharat Abhiyan. I told the Secretary’s PA that the meeting should be held in an A/C conference room (where the A/C actually works) and no windows should be open.
Cover image taken from http://collect.trashpack.com/product-modal.aspx?id=286