Tag Archives: species

Sunbird Series

Sunbirds are tiny, but mighty. Always on the move, ever on the look out for larger predators. The male glitters like stardust, and the female is like a pixie. Here’s my little pictorial ode to a Sunbird couple in Delhi.

Sunbirds

Sunshine, starbright,

Bedazzling glitter.

Iridiscent, Stardust-

You must stay forever,

In Delhi’s unworthy dust.

Sunbird M Clear Final (2)
A jewel on my Hibiscus!
Sunbird Treepie
A Rufous-Tree Pie flies past a Purple Sunbird. Notice the size difference!
Sunbird M Crop 2.jpg
Purple Sunbird on my Hibiscus
Sunbird Drinking Aparajita.jpg
Female Sunbird on Aparajita flowers
Sunbird F Tecoma 1.jpg
Female Sunbird poised expertly on Tecoma flowers!
Sunbird Semal Apr 12  (2).jpg
The tiny Purple Sunbird on a Semal tree!
Sunbird Singing.jpg
A slightly different view of a singing Sunbird!
Sunbird M Spear.jpg
The Sunbird’s beak looks like a well-aimed spear in this one!

2018. All photos by Neha Sinha

Please do not use without permission.

Advertisements

The things a Purple Sunbird has to do to get a Lady

I’ve been watching this courting pair of Purple sunbirds over Spring in Delhi. Here’s the male with his bright red and gold shoulder patches, which he eventually dropped.

This image is from March 10. Notice the bright, unmissable embellishments!

Sunbird.jpg

On March 23, the shoulder patches are noticeably less bright:Sunbird Shoulder Patch

Image from earlier today, March 30. The patches seem to be gone.

Sunbird on Semal Mar 30

And that’s because… drumroll.. he’s found his girl! Presenting the female sunbird!

Sunbird_Female.JPG

And here’s one last image of the Sunbird singing his heart out:

Sunbird Siris Mar 29.jpg

All photos by Neha Sinha. Please do not use without permission. 

And quiet flow the rivers…

Multi-crore announcements, damming failures and the ‘birth’ of a new life form – if there’s one thing that has disrupted grandiose governmental plans this year, it has been rivers.

If rivers could speak, they would have a lot to say to us Indians. But since they can’t, the Uttarakhand high court feels they should at least be represented. This year, in a landmark judgment, the court declared the Ganga and Yamuna rivers and their tributaries in Uttarakhand to be ‘living entities’.

There are scores of living entities in our natural and built worlds that don’t always get justice or representation. These include endangered species and species that are imperilled but aren’t yet known to be so, for instance.

But a river is a collection of species rather than just one living being. It contains within itself sentient, appealing species like dolphins as well as lesser known varieties of molluscs, fish and plankton. In its body, a river is a collection of living beings, giving life, habitat and conduit to life. But in calling the river itself a living thing – perhaps in ontological fashion – the high court seems to suggest that the Ganga and the Yamuna should be represented in court if their ‘lives’ are found to be in danger. This also suggests that they have rights and that such dangers should be quelled.

How do Indians really feel about rivers? For one, we know that their ‘lives’ are in danger and yet we seem unconcerned. A CAG report in 2017 pointed out an attitude of almost-complete neglect towards the Ganga: “There was overall shortage of manpower, ranging from 44 to 65 per cent during 2014- 15 to 2016-17 in the National Mission for Clean Ganga. In [state-level program management schemes], the overall shortage ranged between 20 to 89 per cent.”

River rights are violated as well: remember that our ‘holiest’ rivers are also our dirtiest. It is also true that while activists and government departments call for ‘nirmal, aviral dhara’ (‘clean and uninterrupted flow’) and for restoration, notably of the Ganga, other plans involve dredging rivers such as through the National Waterways Act, piping their water for irrigation, creating ‘highways’ on rivers routes and preventing river water from going into the sea in their otherwise natural estuarine form. The Uttarakhand judgment has since been challenged at and stayed by the Supreme Court.

River interlinking – the act of artificially forcing rivers to join – for providing water for irrigation or other use has on and off been the agendas of various governments for decades. Under the present government, it has found vocal support in River Development Minister Nitin Gadkari. “Thirty river-linking projects have been approved, out of which work on three projects – Ken-Betwa, Par-Tapi Narmada and Daman Ganga Pinjal – will begin within three months,” he had said. The swiftly approved National Waterways Act, which envisages the construction of ‘river highways’ by dredging and channelling without environmental impact assessments, is afoot. Some tenders have already been approved.

If the Ganga is a living being, then one must wonder what she would have to say about being dredged and jetty-fied. While the river silently trundles on, carrying both garbage and trashy plans that don’t abide by environmental safeguards, it appears to manifest our bipolar outlook towards them.

On the one hand, there are dreams of the virginal, nirmal, aviral Ganga, a river that will not be touched, barraged or dammed – though rivers have already been irrevocably changed. On the other are the hyper-engineering plans that view the river exclusively as a body of water waiting to be piped, dammed or dredged.

This image precludes the fact that the river is not just a body of water but also a body of life, home to several species that live through various depths and heights of the river bed. Gadkari has, for example, said that it is a ‘waste’ that a river flows into the sea. This argument does not consider that rivers create fertile and life-sustaining deltas as well as biodiverse estuaries in their denouement. This year, the International Union for the Conservation of Nature changed the status of the Irrawaddy dolphin, found in the Sundarbans delta and Chilika lagoon, to ‘endangered’ from ‘vulnerable’. This means that the dolphin, with its severely disturbed habitat, is one step closer to being gone forever.

The prevailing idea seems to be to find engineering solutions rather than environmental ones for river ‘development’, and this idea has enjoyed overwhelming institutional support. Ritwick Dutta, an environmental lawyer, wrote in April, “At the national level, the Ministry of Water Resources has been renamed as the Ministry of Water Resources, Ganga Rejuvenation and River Development. The priority of the Central government is clear: water is a resource to be utilised, rivers have to be ‘developed’ (that is, tapped and harnessed), while the river Ganga is the only river that needs to be rejuvenated.” There is also an excessive slant on rivers being ‘holy’ entities, a narrative the environmentalists Ashish Kothari and Shristee Bajpai have argued is ripe for the embracement by communal discourses.

Then again, there are some indications that a modicum of rights is being granted to rivers as natural, and not ‘engineerable’, beings.

The National Green Tribunal (NGT) has admitted an appeal against the Ken-Betwa river interlinking plan, which stands to drown 100 square kilometres of the Panna tiger reserve, because the water deficit and surplus figures have not been made public. The tribunal has also quashed a clearance granted to the Kashang river dam and asked Himachal Pradesh to take a sustainable approach towards building these megastructures. Interestingly, the body also said that the Gram Sabha should be part of the decision if it wanted a hydro-electric project.

The Uttarakhand judgment had suggested the chief secretaries and advocate generals, as stand-ins of the government, could be a river’s ‘parents’. Instead, could local governance institutions running on sound environmental principles be expected to assume this responsibility?

Beyond the courts and judicial activism, there is also evidence to suggest that rivers can be accorded rights or ecological integrity, even if by non-state actors. In 2017, a first-of-its-kind gazette for the Hindon river was created to deal with land use and river basin details. Its richness of detail recognises both the ecological character of the river basin as well as a representation of how land use has affected it.

The very-polluted Assi river is hardly discussed in the media but a pilot project has successfully cleaned up portions of it using coir logs and site-specific bioremediation techniques.

During deliberations by civil society and academia on ‘India Rivers Day’ in November, much of the discussion centred on wetlands that could be saved. Constructed wetlands have helped clean and restore water bodies. A notable example is in the ancient Neela Hauz lake near Vasant Kunj, New Delhi.

So despite enormous failures in cleaning or rejuvenating rivers, the discourse around these beings has stayed thankfully bifurcated; it’s clear that not everyone looks at a river and thinks “piped water source” or “highway for barges”, as a sterile and compliant entity. Through many small but significant ways, 2017 has shown that the idea of a river as a living thing is resilient and survives.

This piece first appeared here.

Also read: https://thewire.in/67748/ken-betwa-panna-tiger-reserve/

 

World Tiger Day: Miles to Go Before We Sleep

The barometer of India’s leadership in tiger conservation will be both in securing Indian wild tigers in our forests as well as diplomatic heft for Chinese captive tigers.

T-17, a.k.a. Sundari, a female tiger from Ranthambore, Rajasthan. Credit: Neha Sinha

In what distant deeps or skies/ Burnt the fire of thine eyes? On what wings dare he aspire? What the hand dare seize the fire?

Thus wrote the British poet William Blake on the Royal Bengal tiger. The powerful verse was mythical in its own way; Blake had famously never seen a tiger, but like many others, was grasped with the enigma of the animal. In the years since, poachers have successfully deconstructed this enigma, ‘seizing the fire’ of the tiger repeatedly – just this year, more than 30 tigers have been poached, greater than the poaching numbers in in all of 2015. Other than on-site conservation needs, this opens up new catalysts for tiger diplomacy.

Poaching takes place each year, with spikes and troughs. But this year, two further notable developments have taken place. Firstly, India has seized the opportunity of being the ‘natural leader’ of tiger range countries. India has about 2500 tigers, and others countries have lesser tiger numbers: Russia (leads after India with about 400 tigers), Indonesia (about 300 tigers), Malaysia (about 250), Nepal (about 200) Bangladesh and Bhutan (100 each approximately). China (7), Vietnam (5), Laos and Cambodia are also tiger range countries but tigers are considered functionally extinct here. The number of tigers in Myanmar, which ironically has the world’s largest tiger reserve, is unknown. With the most tigers, India has also institutionalised tiger protection (Project Tiger started way back in the 1970s) and is thus keen to project itself as a geopolitical leader in tiger conservation. So it was that no less than Prime Minister Narendra Modi opened an inter-ministerial meeting on tiger conservation earlier this year.

But since the meeting and its several statements, the nexus and difficulties of poaching pressures have reasserted themselves. Thailand’s famous tiger temple near Bangkok, which caters to millions of tourists who take selfies with seemingly placid tigers, has been shut down under allegations of poaching. Following a raid by Thai authorities, 40 tiger cubs were recently found in a deep freezer at the temple, and a monk was charged with trying to get away with tiger parts. For many of those campaigning against the temple – on grounds of cruelty toward tigers as well as poaching – this was a vindication of many years of struggle against a powerful and popular tourist attraction. But does this impact or impede wild tigers in India?

Yes, it does, assert many Indian conservationists. Sanctuary Asia, a wildlife magazine based in India, led a campaign with the hashtag #tigertempletakedown, lobbying to shut down the temple. While countries like China, Lao, Thailand and Vietnam run tiger farms or zoos under domestic legislation, this is a front for poaching, it has been alleged. The nuts and bolts are complicated: some countries (China and Laos) allow a legal domestic trade of captive tigers under a permit system, though international trade in wild or domestic tigers is not allowed under the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species (CITES). While Thailand and Vietnam allow tiger farms or zoos, trade in tigers, whether captive or domestic, is illegal – as evidenced in the tiger temple case.

Sanctuary Asia asked for Thailand’s tiger temple to be shut because it is believed that these places boost trade in tiger parts, thus also spiking poaching of wild tigers. “There is a coterie of Buddhist monks who have been infiltrated by the illegal narcotics and international, illegal wildlife networks. They are a disgrace to Buddhism,” Bittu Sahgal, editor ofSanctuary Asia, told The Wire. The other issue, Sahgal points out, is that it is much cheaper to kill a wild tiger than to actually raise or breed one.

An international movement to shut down tiger farms has been gaining momentum for years. “There are about 7,000-8,000 captive tigers, mainly in China, Thailand, Laos and Vietnam. The fact is, tiger farms have massively expanded in the last few decades, even as the wild tiger population has declined by 96 percent in the last 100 years,” says Debbie Banks from the Environmental Investigation Agency (EIA). Ahead of a CITES meeting, 45 NGOs, including Indian ones, have signed on a statement drafted by EIA asking for the shutting down of all tiger farms. This would imply changing the domestic legislations of China, Thailand, Laos and Vietnam. At the same time, China is understood to be the biggest market.

“All eyes are now on the 17th Conference of the Parties to the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species (CITES), meeting in Johannesburg from 24th September to 5th October,” Banks told The Wire. “It’s the perfect opportunity for the governments of China, Thailand, Laos and Vietnam to announce real action to end demand for tiger parts and products. We want all four countries amending legislation so that tiger ‘farms’ are phased out. That’s not just the massive battery-farm style operations [like in China], but also the facilities that masquerade as ‘zoos’ and centres for conservation across the region; the ‘tiger temple’ being a classic example.”

The question is this: can Indian negotiation rise to the seemingly impossible challenge of influencing domestic policies of countries that favour tiger farms and trade in their goods?

Modi’s speech on tigers at the inter-ministerial meeting included specifics on poaching: “The forest and its wild denizens are an open treasury which cannot be locked up. It is painful to learn about trafficking of body parts and derivatives of tigers and other big cats. We need to collaborate at the highest levels of government to address this serious issue,” he had said.

At the summit, then Environment Minister Prakash Javadekar also said India would give tigers to Cambodia to help start a new tiger population; a move meant to cement India’s leadership on tiger conservation. As gestures go in wildlife conservation, few things can be more culturally and diplomatically robust than more than India’s national animal, feted by poet and politics alike, being gifted to another country.

The real issue though, is still poaching of tigers, which is a pernicious, international and persistent problem. The barometer of India’s leadership in tiger conservation will be both in securing Indian wild tigers in our forests as well as diplomatic heft for Chinese captive tigers.

This first appeared in The Wire.

All photos by me.

More reading:

On CITES: http://www.thehindu.com/opinion/op-ed/shoots-kills-and-trades-in-animal-parts/article4472242.ece

On tigers and linear projects: http://www.thehindu.com/todays-paper/tp-in-school/who-gets-to-cross-the-road-a-truck-a-tourist-car-or-a-tiger/article7086410.ece

Wet/land II: Why the new Wetland Draft Rules are a disaster

The government is trying to refine its wetland rules. It’s a case of throwing out the baby with the waters.

Wetlands need to be reinforced as more than just open sources of water. How they are identified and conserved requires a rethink

The government is all set to change the rules on wetlands. The Draft Wetlands (Conservation and Management) Rules, 2016, which will replace the Wetland (Conservation and Management) Rules of 2010, seek to give power to the States to decide what they must do with their wetlands. This includes deciding which wetlands should be protected and what activities should be allowed or regulated, while making affable calls for ‘sustainability’ and ‘ecosystem services’.

On the face of it, this appears to favour decentralisation and federalism. But the peculiar reality of wetlands shows that local pulls and pressures are not the best determinants for their protection. Both water in liquid form and wetlands in the form of ‘land’ are hotly contested, making wetlands the most imperilled natural ecosystem worldwide. It is imperative that the Draft Wetlands Rules, 2016 (comments for which close today) be looked at with a hard, if not cynical, eye. Three issues are of immediate concern. First, the draft does away with the Central Wetlands Regulatory Authority, which hadsuo moto cognisance of wetlands and their protection. Second, the draft rules contain no ecological criteria for recognising wetlands, such as biodiversity, reefs, mangroves, and wetland complexes. And finally it has deleted sections on the protection of wetlands, and interpretation of harmful activities which require regulation, which found reference in the 2010 rules.

DSC04408.JPG

Experiments with water systems

One of the biggest ironies around water is that it comes from rivers and wetlands, yet it is seen as divorced from them. While water is used as a resource or good, public policy does not always grasp that it is part of a natural ecosystem. Efforts at engineering water systems are thus efforts at augmenting water supply rather than strengthening the capacities of ecological systems. There have been many recent attempts at this sort of engineering — Karnataka had dredged its rivers, for instance; other States may follow suit. The Ken and Betwa rivers in Madhya Pradesh are to be interlinked, and we have a history of building dams and barrages to store water. Parliament has already passed a Waterways Act, which will make navigation channels of 111 rivers, by straightening, dredging, and creating barrages.

While these projects require serious ecological consideration, they are usually informed only by the need to ‘use’ water. For instance, river dredging may increase the capacity of a river channel, but can also interfere with underground reservoirs. Over-dredging can destroy these reservoirs. River interlinking changes hydrology and can benefit certain areas from a purely anthropocentric perspective, but does nothing to augment water supply to other non-target districts. Constructions of barrages have impacts on ecosystems and economies: the commercially important hilsa fish are no longer found in the Padma river after the construction of the Farraka barrage across the Ganges.

In the case of wetlands like ponds, lakes and lagoons, the contestations are more fierce. Who owns the wetland is a common quandary — and what happens to the wetland also depends on this. Asia’s largest freshwater oxbow lake, the Kanwar lake in Bihar, has shrunk to one-third of its size due to encroachment, much like Jammu and Kashmir’s Dal lake. Water sources like streams, which go into lakes, also get cut off, as is the case of lakes in Bengaluru and streams in the Delhi Ridge. The political pressure to usurp water and wetlands as land is high — and for this reason, States have failed to secure perimeters and catchment areas or notify wetlands.

Why then do the Draft Wetland Rules award full authority to the States? The particularly complex case of wetlands warrants more checks and balances. In the proposed scenario, with an absence of scientific criteria for identifying wetlands, it is imperative to have a second independent functioning authority.

What comprises a wetland is an important question that the Draft Rules leave unanswered. Historically, as wetlands did not earn revenue, they were marked as ‘wastelands’. While the Wetland Atlas of India says the country has 1,88,470 inland wetlands, the actual number may be much more: U.P. itself has more than one lakh wetlands, mostly unidentified by the government.

Significantly, the 2010 rules outline criteria for wetland identification including genetic diversity, outstanding natural beauty, wildlife habitats, corals, coral reefs, mangroves, heritage areas, and so on. These criteria would refer to wetlands like Pulicat in Andhra Pradesh which have nearly 200 varieties of fish.

The Ramsar Convention rules are the loftiest form of wetland identification that the world follows. Ramsar has specific criteria for choosing a wetland as a Ramsar site, which distinguishes it as possessing ‘international importance’. An important distinguishing marker is that Ramsar wetlands should support significant populations of birds, fish, or other non-avian animals. This means that it is ecological functioning which distinguishes a wetland from, say, a tank, which is just a source of water. However, man-made tanks or sources of water can also evolve into wetlands. For instance, Kaliveli tank in Tamil Nadu, an important bird area, is fed by a system of tanks and man-made channels forming a large and vibrant landscape. A wetland is more than a source of water, or a means for water storage, though it is often reduced to only that. By removing ecological and other criteria for wetland identification and protection, and the examples of activities that could hamper this physical functioning, the new draft underlines the same malaise which misses the wetlands for the water.

Use and non-use

While the new draft calls for sustainability, this is a difficult concept to enforce, particularly with regard to water. Regulation of activities on a wetland and their “thresholds” are to be left entirely to local or State functionaries. There are insufficient safeguards for the same, with the lack of any law-based scientific criteria or guidance. For instance, it is telling that regulation of activities in the draft rules do not make any obvious connection with existing groundwater legislations because these two aspects are still seen as separate.

The 2016 Draft Wetland Rules also call for wise use of wetlands. ‘Wise use’ is a concept used by the Ramsar Convention, and is open to interpretation. It could mean optimum use of resources for human purpose. It could mean not using a wetland so that we eventually strengthen future water security. It could also mean just leaving the wetland and its catchment area as is for flood control, carbon sequestration, and water recharge functions.

Finally, in a country which is both water-starved as well as seasonally water-rich, it is not just politics and use that should dictate how wetlands are treated. Sustainability cannot be reached without ecology. Towards this end, our wetland rules need to reinforce wetlands as more than open sources of water, and we need to revise how wetlands should be identified and conserved.

This first appeared in The Hindu op-ed

Wet/Land

Land or wetland?

A waste of land?

A look at our curious bipolarity towards wetlands, which teem with life but are valued more as land than waterbody.

This piece appeared in February this year, since then the National Green Tribunal has called for the re-establishment of the National Wetland Regulation Authority.

DSC04321.JPG

(Photo: foggy morning in Yamuna Biodiversity Park, Delhi)

On February 2, the world celebrated the International Wetlands Day. This is fitting particularly for India, where wetlands have always been celebrated and used in some form. We rejoice when it rains, have built our cities next to rivers, and have created acres and acres of paddy fields, all joining up into a living, ethnographic entity.

It is also fitting then that it took years of hard work to create a legislation for the diverse array of wetlands that India possesses, but tragically, this is mostly on paper. Taking note of this, the National Green Tribunal recently sent a notice to the states asking for action taken to protect wetlands.

Our legislation maps out the various corporeal forms of wetlands, and importantly, also the natural forms in which they do not resemble wetlands. The Wetland Rules, 2010, say that wetlands are an area of marsh, fen, peatland or water, natural or artificial, permanent or temporary, with water that is static or flowing, fresh, brackish or salt, including areas of marine water (with depth of six metres or less), which includes all inland waters such as lakes, reservoirs, tanks, backwaters, lagoons, creeks, estuaries and man-made wetlands along with the wetlands’ zone of influence.

Thus, wetlands are waterbodies endowed by nature, or made by us; many wetlands are ecologically water bodies even if they are seasonally dry.

Further, the Wetland Rules set down governance which mandate that wetlands fulfilling ecological parameters need appropriate protection. Yet, despite this legislative definition which considers both ecological and social dimensions, the Wetland Rules have not been implemented.

Consider this: the Wetland Rules mandated the creation of a Central Wetlands Regulatory Authority (CWRA) which will oversee issues related to wetlands identified for protection. Not only have most states not fully identified wetlands for protection, but the CWRA has been defunct since 2012.

At the primary level, this creates a huge gap in the protection matrix for wetlands. Wetlands, as habitats for biodiversity and repositories of ecosystem services, do not get adequate protection unless they are already in protected areas. At the secondary level, this creates conflict in land uses. The Wetland Atlas says there are 1,88,470 natural and manmade wetlands in India. But several times, they are seen as ‘land’ rather than ‘wet’ and annexed for terrestrial purposes.

There is a lot of finger-pointing on the 2015 Chennai floods. But there is a consensus that the floods were exacerbated (if not caused) by building over wetlands and swamps. The fact that wetlands are not considered in planning exercises has led to losses in billions of dollars, and psychological trauma for all those who were flood-affected. ‘Zones of influence’ of wetlands were not protected in Chennai: notably the catchments and water sheds of the Adyar river. While wetlands comprise waterbodies, the zone of influence of the wetland includes run-offs, areas which are swampy (thus turning dry in non-monsoon or summer season), sources of water bodies, drainage outlets et cetera.

If the zone of influence of the wetland is encroached, then the wetland often ceases to exist. With rapid real estate development in National Capital Region, Bhadkal, Damdam and Surajkund, lakes have had their zones of influence gobbled up. A result today is that these lakes have shrivelled up, and for all purposes behave more like land than wetlands. This is likely to further impact the rather desertified, dry Aravali stretch and Haryana’s low water table.

Given the Chennai and the Srinagar floods, are we going to break down the roads, houses and flyovers that we have built over canals, swamps and drainage streams to stop the floods of tomorrow? While the past cannot be undone, surely the future can be better.

If you look at satellite maps of the Great Northern Plains of India, you will see strings of wetlands and wetland complexes, like beads on a necklace. This is the North Plain, where much of our food is produced. Attracted to wetlands, and wetland complexes, each year, tens of thousands of water birds, ducks, cranes and others sweep down on them.

‘Barren land’ for housing

Look at the same bodies in peak summer, and these wetlands are dismissed as “barren land” or wasteland. These are then earmarked for quick housing all over the country (the Commonwealth Games village complex on Delhi’s Yamuna river bed, and Bengaluru’s numerous lake-sides) for compensatory afforestation schemes, and for non-wetland purposes.

Wetland governance needs to involve the community, because of the very manner in which wetlands are being used today. In Srinagar’s Dal Lake — which incidentally, has been built over, shrinking from over 75 square km to about 18 sq km, important stakeholders are traditional horticulturalists and vegetable growers.

In a meeting and site visit there last year, I was told that ‘organic’ flowers and produce — cultivated over generations with no fertiliser or chemical input — are no longer so organic. This is because the lake is so choked with sewage that the bounty is no longer clean. Much of the wetland’s zone of influence is encroached, even as sewage is continuously going in.

Both the Wetland Rules and the International Ramsar Convention say that wetlands which are ‘of outstanding natural beauty’ are to be protected. Unfortunately, many would have us believe that this is a whimsical condition divorced from reality.

Wetlands are not lands waiting to be colonised. Perhaps, real estate and ‘development’ plans would prefer it more if wetlands could float in the sky like rainclouds, thus giving a clear field for colonisation of ‘land’.

We do not need more floods to recognise the ecological and ecosystem services that wetlands provide. What we do need is zonation that clearly sets aside drainage systems and zones of influence in town and city planning. In the case of wetlands, the cost of policy inaction would create a thirst that no engineering would be able to replace.

This first appeared in The Deccan Herald