Real heroes have no audience


The loss of ecosystems and species in India is incremental. We are used to small losses, whereas natural resources disappear bit by bit. What can we do about it? Where are the heroes that will save us from this state of affairs?

The movies got us to think that the heroes are good looking, fair, intelligent, tough and accompanied by gorgeous women. The Mahabharata or the Greek Mythology have a different view: a hero is a person who strives after excellence as a duty towards himself or herself. He or she has no spectator.

Recently, I witnessed a quantum of progress in Pondicherry. In this city, migratory waterfowl, i.e. birds flying in from the north to winter in the lakes in and around Pondicherry, are trapped, hunted and illegally sold in the market place for large sums of money. This has been going on for years and we all thought nothing could be done about it. Dr. K. Muthamizh Selvan, of the Department of Ecology and Environmental Sciences, Pondicherry University, started recording facts and took pictures of the hunted displays at risk to himself. Somehow, the governmental authorities, including the highest in the territory, geared up and took action. The markets were raided, the culprits, both poachers and their customers arrested and fined. Right now, the public will think twice before purchasing and eating endangered birds and this winter the migratory species will find a little respite in this region.

This is what a real hero is: lonely, terrified, and doubtful. But he or she first takes a stand and this literally saves the world. Heroes have no spectator, but may have witnesses. Sometimes.

Jean-Philippe Puyravaud