Guwahati, Thursday, December 20, 2012
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Need to build bridges stressed
Shambhu Boro
 TEZPUR, Dec 19 – “The reality of boundaries that separate man from man, nation from nation cannot be wished away, yet as young people today, who live in a world of great flux, with greater opportunities, we know that these boundaries come in the way of self-actualisation, peace and progress. We need to be able to first ascertain and then determine the ways in which we, as individuals and communities, can build bridges, not boundaries,” said noted social worker of Tezpur, Dr Lakhi Goswami, while addressing the last function of the four-day programme of South East-Asia regional Round Square Conference’ held at the Assam Valley School, some 20 km from here, recently.Addressing the function which was held with participation of 14 different schools including the Welham Boys’ School, Dehradun, Uttarakhand; Vidya Devi Jindal School, Haryana; The Scindia School, Gwalior, Madhya Pradesh, Trivandaram Industrial School, Kerala; Maharani Gayatri Devi Girls’ School, Jaipur, Rajasthan; The Daly College, Indore, Madhya Pradesh; Motilala Nehru School of Sports, Haryana; Sarala Birla Academy, Bangalore; Karnataka. The Punjab Public School, Nabha, Punjab, Pathwaysa World School, Gurgaon, Haryana; Chittagong Grammar School, Bangadesh, Millennium School, Dubai; Yadavindra Public School, Patiala, Punjab and the host school Assam Valley School with the theme, ‘Bridge, not the Boundaries,’ the prominent social worker observed that through the senior regional round square conference 2012, “we have learnt that this is to be attained by first believing in the and then living the ‘ideals’ of Kurt Hahn and the round square society through our own lives.”

“We have understood that fundamentally we need to break down the narrow boundaries of stereotypes that exist within our minds for only then will we be able to understand and then value the differences around us,” she maintained adding that we can reach out the world around us by serving those less privileged than us, by being responsible for the earth that we have not inherited but are only the custodians of, and by being fearless leaders who would build a fair and free world, we have understood that it is possible through our thought and action to bridge one human life with another so that our every new tomorrow would be better for having broken the boundaries of our yesterday.

Prior to it, Dr Gautam Narayan, Director, pigmy hog Conservation project attending the guest of the day programme and speaking on the Pygmy hog (Porcula salvania) said that it is an endangered species of small wild pig, which was previously spread across India, Nepal, and Bhutan but is now only found in Assam. “The current world population is about 150 individuals or fewer. Recent conservation measures have improved the prospects of survival in the wild of this critically endangered species” he said adding that they are about 55 to 71 cm long and stand at 20-30 cm (7.9-11.8 inch) with a tail of 2.5 cm (1 inch). They weigh 6.6-11.8 kg (14.5-26 lbs). Their skin is dark brownish black and the fur is dark. Piglets are born greyish-pink becoming brown with yellow stripes along the body length. The head is sharply tapered and they have a slight crest of hair on the forehead and on the back of the neck. Adult males have the upper canines visible on the sides of the mouth. They live for about 8 years, becoming sexually mature at 1-2 years. They breed seasonally before the monsoons giving birth to a litter of 3-6 after a gestation of 100 days. In the wild, they make small nests by digging a small trench and lining it with vegetation. During the heat of the day they stay within these nests. They feed on roots, tubers, insects, rodents, and small reptiles.

The pygmy hog is the sole representative of Porcula, making the conservation of this critically endangered species even more important as its extinction would result in the loss of a unique evolutionary branch of pigs. They used to be widespread in the tall, wet grasslands in the southern Himalayan foothills from Uttar Pradesh to Assam, through Nepal and north Bengal. However, human encroachment has largely destroyed the natural habitat of the pygmy hog by development, agriculture, domestic grazing and deliberate fires. Only one viable population remains in the Manas Tiger reserve, but even there threats due to livestock grazing, poaching, fire and tigers persist. The total wild population has been estimated at less than 150 animals and the species is listed as “critically endangered” (Oliver, 1980; Oliver & Deb Roy, 1993; Pigs, Peccaries and Hippos Status Survey and Action Plan, 1993; Narayan, 2006). Their rarity contrasts greatly with the massive population of wild boars (Sus scrofa) in India. However, conservation of the species has been hampered due to the lack of public support, unlike that for charismatic South Asian mammals like the Bengal Tiger or Indian Rhinoceros. Local political unrest in the area has also severely hampered effective conservation efforts, but these conflicts have now ceased, the noted environmentalist added.

Meanwhile, Kirit Pradyut Deb Barman, Chairman, Royal Tripura Foundation being the chief guest of the second programme urged all living in the region think everything positive breaking the boundaries and the narrow-ness thereby building a one world where peace could gain first priority. In the first day’s programme on December 11, Gaurav Gogoi, founder of Youth Forum on Foreign Policy, addressing the delegates of different schools from across the country and outside India, emphasised on building a bridge for good self because the bridge among ourselves helps to explore our own path. He also urged the young citizens to give value to ‘time’ because ‘time’ has a very important role to play in everyone’s life. “Time is wealth, if we respect time, we can build the bridge for ourselves” he said and added that the youths should present to create bridges with people around us, so that we can explore our own place before exploring other countries. “Read your life in a manner that when you die be proud by what the tombstone says about you. Be a reader … not a follower,” he maintained.

It may be mentioned that the four-day South East-Asia regional Round Square Conference ended with a fashion show by students of the schools in attires of different ethnic groups of the region, reflecting a deep sense of unity in diversity which also attracted the audience on the occasion.

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