Bibekananda Choudhury 

Did you know that eyes of slow Loris (a species of monkey) have been worn as talisman to woo ones love? Are you aware that a seemingly ambitious but actually ridiculous scheme named REDD+ (acronym of Reducing Emission from Deforestation and Degradation) is sponsored by rich and developed countries in the developing ones shelling out dollars against each cubic metre of carbon trapped in the form of fresh plantation and also growth of surviving ones and, in return, getting the free hand to extend their business empire through highly polluting industries and tying a gag over international bodies in the process? This book is full of such revealing articles concerning our fragile ecosystem, our rampant actions endangering the wildlife, flora and fauna and raising concern and questions on the development principles and policies lack atavistically adopted.

The writer, Mubina Akhtar, is a known name in the writers’ arena and one of those few in the elite club wielding the pen flawlessly in both Assamese and English. A freelance writer and wildlife activist, she is a regular contributor to prestigious international overseas newsmagazines like Huffington Post, The Third Pole, China Dialogue etc.

She ushers in the reader with an article titled “How far is Silent Spring’ bringing in the content of famous author Russel Carson’s heart touching book ‘Silent Spring’ into discussion. In the next article dealing with same subject she introduces us to Petra Kelly, a German Greenpeace worker and her joint effort with Russel. It is followed by her tribute to Wangari Mathai the first Nobel laureate Environment worker. In Seven Billion Dreams she cautions us about the staggering number of human inhabitants in our planet each having ones separate dreams and the issue of feeding so many stomachs. She takes the readers in a guided tour from one sensitive issue to another like the queen putting the king of Arab to sleep for thousand and one nights with a new story in each night in ‘The Arabian Nights’ – the difference here is that you are nudged and jolted to wake up to one issue after another.

The fifty-something pieces included here are compilation of articles published in vernacular dailies in her weekly column ‘Green Reporting’. In lieu of a regular preface, an article of noted columnist Dr. Hiren Gohain referring to the author is included wherein the sordid tale of regular backyard garden replete with flora and fauna making way for small tea-gardens was discussed casting doom to our ecosystem as the myriad life forms dependant on these plants are pushed to extinction.

She has also shed light on how the changing ecosystem has affected the production and quality of Muga yarn and the expanding oilfields and backyard gardens replaced by tea-plants is proving perilous to this unique product found only in Assam. Attention is also drawn to the rhino translocation fiasco to Manas ad Burhachapari where we lost a good number of the species along with calves because of poor planning, handling and lack of insight.

This is a must read book for everyone – each and every article is lucid and concerns matters happening around us – more importantly, affecting our lives. My appeal is that every officer belonging to civil administration, every engineer involved in development activities where one has to alter the form of nature to make way for a road, railway track, a bridge or any structure must learn to read the nature for the forest personnel – it is something to be used as a handbook.

About the author: Mubina Akhtar is a leading wildlife conservationist and writer. Since the early nineties she took up writing on conservation issues along with her field work. Over the years her writing and reporting on environment, tourism and wildlife conservation created a base of readers. Her column "Green Reporting" has not only become popular among the masses, but it had given a new dimension to environmental reporting in the region. She came to be reckoned as an important voice by both the people and policymakers on issues relating to environment and wildlife conservation. She has been constantly advising the state forest department on various conservation issues and also working on trans-boundary projects on water conservation, human-animal conflict, climate change adaptation, climate refugee issues etc.

Her first book Bandukar Pora Gaanaloi (From the Gun to Melody)--a compilation of articles was first published in 2012. Jilmil Xonowali Din (The Twinkling Golden Days)--a book on wildlife for children is based on the life of Dr Robin Banerjee, the doyen of conservation movement in Assam, was published by the Kaziranga Wildlife Society. She completed another researched-based book on “Climate Change and the Future of the Muga silkworm in Assam” for the Assam Publication Board. She was awarded the R. N. Barooah Memorial Award for best reporting on environment, tourism and conservation of nature for the year 2010 convened by The Assam Tribune group. In 2015, she was awarded the Dhansiri Award for Journalism by the Dhansiri group of Publications, Assam.

She completed a 16-minute documentary -- I Spy Sparrows-- on the adaptation of house sparrows to their changing environment, documenting the increase in their numbers as against the popular belief that they are a dwindling species.

About the reviewerBibekananda Choudhury, an electrical engineer by profession, has completed his MS from BITS-Pilani in Systems and Information. He has also earned a diploma in French language from Gauhati University. He has got published works (both original and translated) in Assamese, Bengali & English in popular periodicals and newspapers. His translated poems has been published in 'Indian Literature', ‘Poets International’, Poetry International’, Rupsi Bangla, etc.  'Suryakatha', the  Bengali adaptation done by him of the Assamese novelette in verse in the same title by Prayag Saikia was well accepted. His English translated publications include – one short story collection and four poetry collections and one Information Book on Kaziranga, apart from few others in manuscript form. He hails from Bongaigaon and presently stays at Guwahati.

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