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The demons of the past:

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“Paangshu”

 

By Uditha Devapriya

How Baba Nona sees her son, for what he is and what he does, drives much of the drama in Paangshu. Visakesa Chandrasekaram, the director, doesn’t let us into what she’s thinking at once. But there are clues lingering beneath the surface. Through them we gather that she vacillates between her intense love for him, and her disapproval of his activism. And yet she doesn’t really condemn much less discourage him; at one point, reflecting on the past, she confesses that she was helpless to stop him.

Because this dominates the narrative so profoundly, Visakesa doesn’t let the other elements of the plot take over. Hence there aren’t any drawn-out sequences of her pursuing the men who took away her son: right after he’s kidnapped by a paramilitary squad one night, we get to the courthouse years later when she identifies a member of that squad, a soldier. There is also no mystery about his fate: at the police station Baba Nona pleads with an officer to let her see her son, and while the officer denies that they have him, the camera moves back to reveal that he is, indeed, there; bloodied, bruised, and blindfolded after an interrogation, his torturer pointing a gun at him, lest he try to speak through the gag in his mouth.

The drama, in other words, grows out of her responses to the world around her, including the soldier, his wife, the tuition master who befriends the son and convinces him to help him spread anti-government propaganda, and wealthier villagers who, while sympathising with Baba Nona, stays quiet about her son’s activities. The story doesn’t just depend on one performance. It literally moves and flows with it.

Paangshu is the best film based on the second JVP uprising I’ve seen so far, and I say this as someone who critically admired Anuruddha Jayasinghe’s Ginnen Upan Seethala when it first came out. Even in that film, the violence, the human dimension, came up in pianissimos: we became so engrossed with the lives of the men who founded the movement which led the uprising that we simply didn’t have time to dwell on how those led by them ended up dying in prison. Not surprisingly, I left Ginnen Upan Seethala a little dissatisfied, even frustrated; there’s so much to tell about this era, so much from both sides, and Jayasinghe’s version of events, great as it was, relegated them all to the background.

Visakesa doesn’t let them remain in the background; he brings them to the fore. Though he doesn’t pretend at a faithful reconstruction of that period, he takes great effort to recreate the sense of despair, of futility, which lingered on in the minds of all those affected by that period. For tragedy, as a friend of mine who lived through the insurrection once told me, was inescapable then. It was a fact: you acknowledged it, or you didn’t, but it affected you all the same. Everyone had to take a side, and those who didn’t had their fates determined by the side they seemed to take right before they were killed, or made to disappear. As with history, so with the movie: the characters in Paangshu have all unequivocally taken sides in the past. But the past is what was, and the present, when they reflect on what they did or did not do, is what they must move on to. In Baba Nona’s quest, Visakesa tells us about the journey of one such person who tries, fails, and succeeds, in moving on.

There aren’t many landscapes in the film. The narrative unfolds, for the most, in courtrooms and houses. Because of this we focus on the people, not on what surrounds them: on what they feel, think, and desperately want done. We also focus on the relations that bind them to each other: not just politically, but also socially.

Thus Baba Nona isn’t just cast in the stereotypical mould of a mother searching for a missing son, detached from the world around her. She’s very much a part of the village, and as much a member of her community. When she consults a Buddhist priest on her son’s horoscope to get to know where he is now, for instance, he brushes her aside: why bother telling the future of Che Guevara type revolutionaries and murderers? Yet moments earlier, a wealthy villager whose daughter had been killed by those revolutionaries had expressed concerns about her granddaughter, now on the cusp of puberty, growing up without a mother. The monk had consoled her: she’ll grow up just fine, he had told her.

A low caste washerwoman, Baba Nona doesn’t try to defy these codes and taboos. And to be fair, the director doesn’t make it out that she’s being persecuted because of her status or of her son taking up arms against the establishment either. Indeed that wealthy matriarch, played with characteristic weariness by Grace Ariyawimal, invites Baba Nona to her house on more than one occasion. While she’s treated less as a guest to be entertained than a servant to be tolerated, they are not unkind to her. After the granddaughter goes through her coming of age, they share a moment in her room together: the little girl tells her of her mother, a contestant at the 1989 parliamentary election from Vijaya Kumaratunga’s party, and Baba Nona tells her of the night she was killed. It’s an otherwise trivial moment, but to me it’s also one of the most illuminating: it reveals their shared sorrow.

Paangshu is about the pain of waiting for justice, and the cool indifference of those who try to ensure that justice comes out. The only other character who becomes more than a prop on Baba Nona’s side, then, is her lawyer, played here by Jagath Manuwarna. Manuwarna’s intentions are inscrutable and hard to grasp: does he want Baba Nona to find her son, or does he want to bask in the glory of his practice? Visakesa doesn’t provide us with the answer, though as he once told an interviewer, his disenchantment with his profession – for he too studied law – was what partly encouraged him to direct the film.

 

Manuwarna, at any rate, wants to win the case, and does everything to pin the soldier to the wall. But there’s a sequence where after much consideration, the mother changes her mind. The lawyer is furious: he did everything he could to get her son’s torturer to prison, and here she is refusing to let him proceed. She stares on, reiterating her decision. He begs her. She refuses. Then he shouts at her to leave. She leaves. Defeated, furious, Manuwarna stares at her walking away. The relationship between these two make up for very little in the plot, but it forms its bedrock. To see these two interact is to see through the surface of the story. At times it is hard to watch, and at others, edifying.

Which is what you could say of the whole film. Malinda Seneviratne once remembered the tears in his eyes as he heard the news, from far, far away, of Rohana Wijeweera’s capture and murder. He was hardly sympathetic to the neo-fascism of the JVP, even less so the neo-fascism of the government. And yet, despite my lack of sympathy for those from both sides who let a whole country bleed, those tears came back to me as I sat through the end credits of Ginnen Upan Seethala, at the names of those killed flashing on the screen. I couldn’t help it then, and as I saw Baba Nona searching for her son, I couldn’t help it now.

Not all viewers would share that sentiment. In fact one of the most frequently invoked criticisms of the film has been that it fails to rise above its material and offer an analysis of why the second insurrection took place. Speaking to Meera Srinivasan of The Hindu, for instance, ex-JVP MP Bimal Ratnayake, admitting that his party has to confront the demons of its past, argued that “while the film tells the story of an individual, it doesn’t capture the ‘true nature’ of the struggle or the socio-political context that led to it.”

This, of course, is to demand of a work of art the criterion one would normally use for a documentary. And yet, misplaced as Ratnayake’s critique may be in the context of the film, it does shed light on the unwillingness of most critics to examine the “true nature” of the insurrection in their reviews; all of them barring none, for instance, seem to have been able to recall that hundreds of thousands of mothers like Baba Nona lost their children to government and government allied anti-JVP Marxist squads without as much as a flicker or a frown from Colombo’s self-proclaimed NGO and journalist gatekeepers, a phenomenon that Susantha Goonetilake has comprehensively covered in his book, Recolonisation. However, that is a different kettle of fish, one which I hope to explore in another essay. The subject of this piece, meanwhile, is the film, not the history underlying it.

As the plot unfurls, Baba Nona becomes more than just the protagonist or the centrepiece. She becomes the plot. That tells a lot, obviously, about the performance. Nita Fernando does her best to capture the weariness and the indomitable spirit her character would have embodied. The result is the finest performance she’s ever given; even finer, I should think, than that of the widow in Prasanna Vithanage’s Pawuru Walalu.

Nita, in her performance, revels as much in what she reveals as in what she does not. We see that nearly everyone – even her kindly neighbours and her nephew (Xavier Kanishka) – treat her as a simpleton, a woman incapable of resolve or decisiveness. The triumph of her playing hence comes out at the end, when, in a flashback, she reveals to the tuition master who got her son involved in anti-government activities how she tied up the story’s last loose end. It is here that we encounter her true face, the resolve and the decisiveness she was capable of, which she had hidden from all those around her.

It’s only fitting that the story ends there, literally after she Baba Nona looks at her son and swims across the screen. If Paangshu was about how at what became of him, after all, it can only finish at the point when she confronts her demons, and lets them rest.

In that sense Nita’s performance reminds me, somewhat, of Joe Abeywickrema’s performance as Vannihamy in Purahanda Kaluwara. Like Vannihamy, Baba Nona refuses to accept the official version of things, and persists with her belief that her son is still alive. Like Vannihamy, she seems credulous, naive, an elderly figure who exists to be humoured. Thus everyone expects her to follow through her case against her son’s murderer, as they expect her to follow through everything else: to its logical end. When she refuses to do so, they fail to understand her motives and castigate her. But like Vannihamy, the consolation of relief comes to her only after she does what she feels is right.

One of the many motifs which crop up in the story is a dream Baba Nona has: her son is caught adrift in some otherworld, and he’s imploring her to release him. At first she thinks she can liberate her son by putting his killer in prison; after she changes her mind, however, she lights up a lamp, prays, and tells her son that he can finally seek the freedom he craves, since she has chosen to forgive his murderers. It’s no doubt the most powerful moment in the story, and arguably the most heartbreaking; it’s a testament to Visakesa’s direction, and Nita’s acting, that it comes through so convincingly. This is a touchingly absorbing film. Yet as scenes like this show, it mustn’t simply be seen; it must also be experienced.

The writer can be reached at udakdev1@gmail.com



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Sat Mag

Teach students animal rights for a better world

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Five years ago, I requested the Head of the Bar Council of India to get animal welfare introduced as a subject in the law colleges. He did it immediately. The result has been much more sensitive and informed lawyers, an annual moot court that is hosted by NLU Bangalore, PhDs in animal welfare (the first one was in NLU Cuttack), more people aware of animal welfare activism and far more sensitive judges. A big thank you to Shri Manan Kumar Mishra!

22 years ago, at the instance of Shri Atal Behari Vajpayee, who supported all new ideas, we built the National Institute for Animal Welfare in Ballabgarh. Unfortunately, the government fell when it was ready. The Congress shut it down, and now the BJP is in its seventh year without restarting it. The Minister for Environment gave it to JNU. They fooled around for 2 years and then returned it to the Ministry, who slept on it for two years and then handed it to Lala Lajpat Rai University of Veterinary and Animal Sciences, who have ignored it for three years and only now have appointed a retired vet to make a course. I have lost all hope. In 2002, I wrote out all the courses, made some textbooks, contacted Oxford, Cambridge and the University of Edinburgh, for teachers, got a grant from UNEP for the library. But nothing has happened and nothing ever will. The magnificent seven-acre centre now houses ten people of the Animal Welfare Board of India and runs “awareness” courses of three days each for the student vets of The Lala Lajpat Rai University of Veterinary and Animal Sciences (LUVAS).

But there are huge job opportunities for trained animal welfare people: shelter managers, gaushala managers, laboratory managers, forest and wildlife officers, city management of animals, elephant rescue centres, city snake rescuers, poultries, slaughterhouses, to begin with and hundreds of others. I simply cannot understand why it has taken so long for even one course to begin.

A huge thank you to the Vice Chancellor of IGNOU, Prof. Nageshwar Rao, and to Professor P. V. K. Sasidhar, for starting the first-degree related course in India for animal welfare. Prof. Sasidhar has been labouring at the modules for over three years now. The first session itself has over 800 students!

It is a PG Diploma in Animal Welfare (PGDAW) and the admissions are open for the January 2021 Session. The Online Admissions ink: www.ignouadmission.samarth.edu.in/.

The PGDAW programme is meant for animal welfare volunteers and professionals across India, and for graduates / post-graduates interested in studying animal welfare. I have seen the learning module and I like it. I wish I had been able to compile the 3000+ articles I have written on every aspect of animal welfare. They could have been part of the course. But my editor has been fooling around with the 7 volume compilations for 5 years now, and I have no idea when she will be done. National Book Trust had offered to print them all, but not even the first volume is ready.

The IGNOU course has four core components: Animal welfare science and ethics, Animal welfare issues, Animal welfare laws and policies, and Animal welfare practices and standards.

Animal welfare is concerned about the welfare of all animals that are managed in some way by humans. Farm animal welfare means the care of animals grown for milk and meat, and that is where animals suffer the most. Welfare issues, pertaining to working, performing, companion, zoo, lab and street animals, need a great deal of attention as well. The PGDAW programme, in 85 modules, has covered welfare, science, ethics, issues, laws and standards, of all farm and draught animals – cattle, buffaloes, sheep, goats, pigs, poultry, working animals like donkeys and horses, performing animals, pets, zoo and lab animals. These modules have been developed in collaboration with The Jeanne Marchig International Centre for Animal Welfare Education, University of Edinburgh, UK.

It’s a one-year course, and graduates from any discipline can take it. It has two objectives: To impart science-based animal welfare education through open and distance learning. To build the capacities of stakeholders to take socially responsible decisions concerning animal welfare. The total fee of the course is Rs. 5400/-.

Who should take this course : Obviously all young people interested in animals, Employees Working in Animal Welfare Organizations/NGOs/Gaushalas, Faculty, Researchers, Technical Staff & PG/PhD Students in Universities, Research Organizations and Veterinary Colleges, Veterinarians / Para-veterinarians in State Central Government/RVC & Para-Military Forces, Members of State Animal Welfare Boards/SPCAs, Members of CPCSEA/ Institutional Animal Ethics Committees /Animal House Facilities, Civil Servants, Officials and Researchers Working in Forest Departments, Zoos and Wild Life Institutes, Faculty and Research Scholars under Zoological Survey of India and Zoology Departments, Law Professionals and Police Personnel dealing with Animal Welfare Laws and their Enforcement, Graduates Seeking Career as Animal Welfare Professionals.

Ideally, I would make it compulsory for all schools – if we want a better India.

The Programme Coordinator, Prof. P.V.K. Sasidhar, School of Extension and Development Studies, IGNOU, New Delhi (e-mail: pvksasidhar@ignou.ac.in), has great credentials himself. He has been in the Agricultural Research Service of ICAR (2003-09), a Norman Borlaug Fellow of USDA, Tuskegee University, USA (2008), USAID Fellow, Michigan State University, USA (2015), and an OIE Performance of Veterinary Services Evaluator, OIE (2018).

 If you want to join this, now is the time. Also, if you have suggestions to make it better, write to the Professor. I would recommend it for activists in Sri Lanka and Nepal as well, as the issues are the same.

( To join the animal welfare movement contact gandhim@nic.in, www.peopleforanimalsindia.org)

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Sat Mag

SUPUN JAYASINGHE’S RITES OF PASSAGE

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A tale of a boy’s courage

By Uditha Devapriya

Situated at Stanley Wijesundera Mawatha, the Planetarium continues to captivate and fascinate, yet unless you strain your eyes, you can easily miss it. It’s one of those places you go to, through a prior appointment, and emerge from wishing you could go back in again. I must have been in Grade Five when I visited it on a class trip in 2004. Supun Jayasinghe was in Grade Five, too, when he went there with the rest of his class seven years later. The only exception, apart from the year of the visit, was where he came from: a 100 miles away, in Dambulla. It was the first time he had been to the city.

Intriguing and exhilarating as such a trip may have been, he had other things in his head. A few months later, he wouldbe sitting the Grade Five Scholarship Exam. How would he study for it? What marks would he score? Where would he go, if those marks turned out to be high? These questions nagged him, yet for the moment he let them off.

In any case, the ride had been exhausting: having started at four in the morning, it was about nine when the bus entered the city. It made its way to Independence Avenue, and from there towards the University of Colombo.

Between Independence Avenue and Stanley Wijesundera Mawatha, the Race Course faces Royal College. Intrigued by the Arcade, then the College, Supun and his classmates turned to their teacher. Standing up, he looked at them and described what they were, laying emphasis on the school more than the complex. Having described it in detail – the oldest public school, the most popular such institution, and so on – he brought the discussion back to his audience. “You have your scholarship exams this year,” he reminded them. “Try scoring as high as you can, because if you do, you’ll get a chance to come and study there.”

The memory of those words remained in Supun for a long time. The moment he heard them, he vowed to get as high a mark as he could, to get that chance, to come here.

Whatever the shortcomings of the Scholarship Exam may be, there’s no denying that it has opened up a world of opportunity for an aspiring lower middle-class. Supun’s father, a businessman, and mother, a teacher, hailed from this middle-class. Having attended a local Montessori and a Model School, he spent the whole of 2011 studying for the exam, forfeiting what little free time he had poring over books under a tree in his front yard. Yet, while he hit the books as hard and as much as he could, he did not push himself to compete with his peers. He’d told everyone he would ace the paper, but that owed less to a desire to be the best in the class than to a yearning to enter the best school he thought there was.

In any case, he got what he wanted. The marks came home somewhere in December 2011: having aimed at 180, he had scored 186. An even better piece of news came soon afterwards: the cut-off mark for Royal in 2012 happened to be 182. This meant only one thing: he would be boarded at the College Hostel, the following month, the following year.

The decision to go to Colombo did not come easy. Supun’s mother had opposed it at first, claiming it was too far. The marks were what convinced her. Even so, going to a city he’d only heard about and seen just once, and choosing to stay there for the better part of the next seven or so years, was a challenge. How would he fit in? What would he have to adjust to? Did people act there the way they did here? Did they differ in how they studied, read books, wrote answers? How they ate, drank, walked, and talked? He had much to think about, and as the weeks drew the year to a close, not much time to think them over.

Before everything, of course, there was the question of visiting the Hostel. On January 8 a letter arrived at his home, notifying them that the new term would commence a few weeks later, and that an orientation would be held before it did, on January 20.

Excited as he was, Supun nevertheless felt uneasy. On January 19, he and his father made their way to a rented house at Mount Lavinia, where a not-so distant relative lived. The next day came slowly, excruciatingly slowly. “I couldn’t sleep, I did not want to,” he remembers it today. Somehow, the night passed, and the following morning, having consulted and checked out at an auspicious time, the two of them made their way to Colombo.

Sri Lanka’s public schools, in particular those whose origins go back to the 19th century, are distinctly British in their architecture. The historian K. M. de Silva not unjustifiably calls it bland, unremarkable, and passé, when compared with Portuguese and Dutch architecture. For all their blandness, though, the British invested these buildings with an aura of expansiveness, with corridors giving way to gardens, quadrangles, and still other corridors.

Finding their way through an endless maze of entrances and exits, Supun and his father could not locate the Hostel. When they finally did, they were ushered into an orientation. Supun remembers two things from that day: his new class (6N), and the school song. The latter awed him: he hadn’t listened to many English songs, let alone school anthems, until then.

Having returned home after the orientation, father and son were told that the new term would begin five days later, on January 25. The second time around they came to Colombo in a car. Starting the journey of more than a hundred miles at four in the morning, they arrived at their destination at one or two in the afternoon.

At the Hostel the usual procedure was followed. The seniors directed him to his room. Each room had bunker beds. Not used to sleeping on them, he chose the first compartment, sharing the bunker with three others. When the last of the parents left, he predictably felt his nerves on the edge. The old fears returned: would he be able to fit in?

As with all public schools located in the city, the history of Royal College has woven itself into the history of its surroundings. Confusing at first, its topography extends from one end to another, covering a great many sites. To socialise into and familiarise himself with such an environment physically was not, however, tough for Supun. The real challenge lay elsewhere: the all too ubiquitous presence of English, and the melange of race and religion within the classroom. In other words, language proficiency plus cultural assimilation.

Glancing through his achievements from then, it struck me how his resolve stood out in them all. Back in Dambulla he had neither let the achievements of his peers ruffle him nor allowed himself to be overtaken by a desire to do better than them. He always, for instance, came first at his first school, but not because he wanted to beat everyone else to it; he just wanted to do something, and when he put his mind to it, he tried to do it somehow, on his own.

In Colombo this remained his philosophy. Whether it was winning creative composition and literary criticism prizes, becoming Junior Prefect (2015) and Junior Steward (2018), right before winding up as Steward (2019) and Chairman or Secretary of a great many clubs and societies (to list just some: Philatelic, Science, Library Readers), he let himself into whatever he took a fancy to. He did not, however, abandon his academics; studying for his O Levels, he ended up with nine As. Needless to say, on the field and in the class, at studies and sports, he confronted, and got over, those two challenges of proficiency and assimilation.

Supun’s story, I realise when I read through it, at once reflects and deviates from the norm. Reflects, because it conforms to the general pattern (initial difficulties at getting used to life in the city being followed by assimilation into the cultural and social patterns of that city), and deviates from, because his willpower is hard to find among his peers, or at least most of them. There is a reason for that: born with congenital anomalies on his right hand and leg, he has refused to let them get in his way, having won medals at the Para Games (2018) as well as for volleyball, boxing, table tennis, hockey, baseball, scouting (with a President’s Badge in 2019 to boot). By all accounts, this is to be admired, as it should be even now.

Steven Kemper dedicates the last chapter of his book on advertising in Sri Lanka (Buying and Believing) to a Sinhala lower middle-class family, residing in the outskirts of Colombo, who manage to realise their aspirations through their second son gaining entry to Supun’s school. Kemper, ever sensitive to the vagaries of class, points out how two-pronged entering a better school can be: a “singular opportunity”, yet one that comes with the price of accommodation “in a hostel.” Boarding their son, the family later relocates to Colombo. They make that move because they have to: the son is their link to the city, and to all it represents.

This country is home to a great many families who aspire for a better life, and one way through which they seek that life is education: not merely what you study, but where you study. Supun’s case is therefore illustrative: it’s the story of every other middle-class child. What’s interesting is how their integration to the city has brought about a transformation in the country’s elite schools. In that sense Supun’s story, as with that of the family in Kemper’s book, is not only illustrative, but also instructive. A Senior Prefect today, waiting for his A Level results, he finishes the conversation with a simple personal credo: “I’ve always aimed high and big, and I think I’ve always got there.” I am inclined to agree.

The writer can be reached at udakdev1@gmail.com

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Sat Mag

Cleaner production – an urgent need

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By Dr. Debapriya Mukherjee
Former Senior Scientist
Central Pollution Control Board, India

If we look into the areas close to the industrial sector, production of pollutants particularly from Small and Medium Scale Enterprises (SMEs) has damaged the natural environment by excess emission of wastewater, gas or other solid waste. Environmental agencies are failing miserably in controlling pollution from most of the SMEs across the country. SME contributes asignificant fraction of total environmental burden in developing countries like India, Sri Lanka, Bangladesh. Despite enforcement of environmental acts and regulations, the consumption of huge quantities of resources and energy, within a remarkably short period through industrial production had a far-reaching influence on natural environment. Reducing this burden needs environmental improvement at the micro level, a goal which has been stubbornly elusive in India. 

According to my observations, the major problems in SMEs, are old technologies, poor management practices, limited availability of funds, inadequately trained officials, lack of appropriate inspection and monitoring and overall sustainable gap between enforcement agencies, industries and communities because impassivity of top management in environmental sector and political will have impeded sustainable environment management.  Regulatory pressure on the SMEs could not implicate positive effect on environment to maintain sound ecosystem as observed in many areas close to SMEs such as foundry, sponge iron, electroplating industry, food processing, tannery and others. 

Environment Sustainability (ES) to maintain wholesomeness of the environment by controlling production of pollutants has been practically jeopardized. The possible reason is that several industrial complexes have been established without considering environmental and social impacts and thereby sustainability of industrial development is not gaining momentum. This dismal ES remains well hidden because social aspects (such as human rights, corruption, poverty, child mortality, land degradation, illiteracy and health problems) and their interrelation with economic and environment aspects are not considered with due emphasis by the regulatory agencies. The traditional approach of enforcing environmental acts and regulations is unable to explain and address the complex dynamic inter-relation among economics, environmental and social aspects with time. Though environmental impact assessment and environmental management system as per the Environment (Protection) Ac are mandatory to establish and to operate any project but, ES, and social benefits are always questionable. Industrial growth without ES under prevailing socio-economic condition is definitely neglected and delayed.

Survey of these industries reveals that SMEs are mainly dependent on end-of pipe(EOP) technology and their functionality are not consistent. Regulatory pressure compelled these industries to install a pollution control system for compliance with standards. But non-compliance is a common feature due to non-availability/ non-operation/ failure of pollution control system. Though regulatory agencies inspect the industries once or twice a year they are unable to ensure consistent control of pollution. Also, the regulatory authority cannot evaluate the different compliance level and thereby violation of standard to any extent is subject to the same penalties as it is marginal violation. Environmental managers can easily control the pollution level within a permissible limit during inspection by manipulating raw materials feeding and/or by operating the pollution control devices. It is not always feasible with limited trained/experienced personnel to conduct in-depth study on material and water balance in order to justify the quantity of pollutants emitted to environment based on the monitoring data. Enforcement agencies put emphasis on performance evaluation of EOP technology as per the stipulated standard without considering ecological crisis and social problems in the area closed to the industries.  As a result, owners of the industries are not serious to initiate CP despite economic benefits associated with its implementation.  On the contrary, owners of the industries are well versed on how to tackle an adverse situation temporarily and make their units in operation. Regulatory agencies  issue time to time   closure notices or directives to improve the performance of pollution control system to the non-compliant industries.  In response to these notices, owners of the industries with the help of outside experts, find out temporary solution with little financial investment just to fulfill the legal requirement and not “real” requirement. As a result, actual compliance status over time remains well hidden and thereby environmental and social problems remain unattended. One ofthe reasons may be vested interests of the concerned officers entrusted for verification of the report. Otherwise why water, air and soil are still so much polluted?

In this context it may be  mentioned that the majority of residents are poor and do not have access to higher authorities for solving their problems as well as they are not well educated to explain their sufferings to the media/press highlighting ecological crisis created by these industries. Government has already launched various projects to remove poverty, to educate the people, to provide health facility and to create environmental awareness among the people to highlight the  pollution problem,  but implementation status of these projects is not always satisfactory. This has resulted environmental and social problems reaching alarming proportion in many industrial clusters in India and simply visual inspections supplement these findings. Limitations in government’s actions to solve the problems are not disseminated via media for public awareness for various reasons. Moreover accountability of government employees for implementing the projects in terms of success and failure is not properly evaluated because knowledge and hardship required for evaluating degree of success are practically lacking. 

This problem in regulatory organization, may be attributed to top management persons because they often recruit either new scientists/engineers or retired government engineers/scientists on the basis of political connections or bribes or nepotism to look after activities related to environment management but their style of management clearly exhibit impassivity towards CP implementation because of their poor technical capability. Whereas huge potential offered by the country’s young population is far from being leveraged. Also many highly qualified young scientists/engineers refuse to take up the challenging works related to environment management in these organizations because of the lack of knowledgeable and skilled experts to guide the newly recruited personnel, hostile environment and bureaucracy. 

This is really a disturbing situation. Thereby, India needs innovative minds to meet its formidable challenges. For this, both the state and central governments should take urgent action and must appoint highly qualified, broad-minded top most officers, who will recruit qualified competent engineers/scientists and give them state-of-the-art technology based on sound scientific evidence with no external interference. Fixing our organization system will require a complete overhaul of the recruitment system, changes in environment policy and implementation of CP concept in these SMEs. According to UN Environmental Progrmme (UNEP) CP is the continuous application of an integrated, preventive environmental strategy towards processes, products and services in order to increase overall efficiency and reduce damage and risks for humans and the environment. However this will be difficult with the present disconnect between science and policy in these organizations.

My experience clearly established the economic efficiency of CP through incremental innovation based on  production process optimization and thereby the payback period of investment towards CP technology was short.   Unfortunately, in India actual level of implementation of CP in industries in particular all SMEs as found in other countries  to deliver environmental advantage is not determined. Therefore, evaluation of actual environmental and economic performance improvement is an emergent need to maintain sustainable industrial development, social welfare, social equity and sound ecosystem. In India, the manufacturing industries and the government can play a major role in this sustainable development.  However, community pressure followed by enforcement of environmental acts and regulation has slowly changed the attitude of these industries but overall success towards consistent compliance is still a distant dream. 

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