No one knew that it would be like this. The reality of a pandemic is also the stillness of silence.
The nature of this silence is different; it is more an absence of manmade noise. Now there are no errant voices drifting across from the hostels, no sound of autos and sundry other vehicles laboring up the Sameer hill, the distant sound of traffic and horns that drift across the lake, not even the occasional construction equipment.
This is not the first time Fundamatics has dedicated an issue to the campus. This, after all, is not a typical university green space with formal, manicured gardens and lawns but a more naturalistic biodiverse landscape – a beautiful anachronism placed smack dab in the middle of an urban megapolis of Mumbai.
The issue represents the diversity of our natural environs. The visual treat of photo-essays on butterflies by alumnae Amrita Mukherjee and, of course, on birds from two knowledgeable campus residents Arghya & Aniketa (both teenagers!), to that of a talented young amateur like Ikshan Ganapathi, who is closer to his feathered friends often at the cost of ignoring the humanoid kind.
The issue takes you down the narrative path with a story of the Sita Ashok Tree by Mallika Iyer. It also underscores that the IIT Bombay campus does exist as an isolated island, a landscape battling mass extinction of a different kind. Read Ganesh Chelluboyina’s comprehensive study that tracks the steady erosion of the biodiversity of our campus, the role of community participation over the years, what this loss of biodiversity benefits would mean for all, and some steps that can be taken to not only conserve but create a testbed for green living from which communities and cities can learn.
A logical complement to Ganesh Chelluboyina’s piece is a reflective piece by Neha Chaudhuri. It brings home the universal truth of how the IITB campus represents a microcosm of the modern world and how we as individuals act and interact within it. The administration within is representative of the one outside, as it bows to the pressures of population and vikaas/development. What lies at the heart of the contradiction between words and actions, and therefore, worry and spiel is our fundamental disconnection with nature.
The purpose of the issue, however, is not to highlight that we’ve produced all kinds of really smart people who still don’t get it, but to draw attention to the fact that every action and sometimes even inaction, – counts. The issue is tied together by the recurring search for answers and solutions “what can be done to strike a better balance”? Take for instance the efforts of the Green campus initiative by Saieesh Jirwankar or the importance of waste separation at source by Venkata Hareesh Kodi. There are the efforts of Team Zero Waste by Anupriya Agarwal they are indicative of the fact that the elusive search for sustainability starts from the individual to encompass an entire community and at the heart of it all is our effort to recapture that elusive connection to nature.
So , take a pause look up to the sky, it has never been as blue as now. If you listen you will probably hear birdsong outside your window. I look up to the sound of the sight of buoyant kites circling lazily in the sky, the Powai lake is still as a looking glass reflecting the setting sun against a backdrop of the tall towers of Hiranandani. Night falls and the silence is absolute, barring the initial cacophony of crickets.
In my imagination, the crocodiles are sunning themselves along the lakeshore and the leopards are venturing back now that there are no bursts of crackers to drive them away. As we humans cage ourselves to the confines of our four-walled homes, nature restores and rejuvenates. The dolphins are swimming back to the Ganges; Jalandhar woke up to a view of the Himalayas, the first time in 30 years. There is rebirth in death after all.
Declining Biodiversity in IIT Bombay BY Ganesh Chelluboyina
Our lead piece brings out how the biological diversity of our campus not only underpins its identity but also directly impacts all forms of life that thrive within its confines.
Lens View of Birdlife at IITB BY Arghya & Aniketa
A mesmerizing photo essay on birds who are as much at home on our campus as their human counterparts.
Keeping the Campus Green BY NSS Team, IIT Bombay
The story of a dedicated team of students who are preserving and rejuvenating flora and fauna on the campus.
Fly, Fly Thou Pretty Butterfly BY Amrita Mukherjee
Photographs by a butterfly lover whose love for the campus is inextricably entwined with her love for butterflies.
Team Zero Waste at IIT Bombay BY Anupriya Aggarwal
A mountain of disposable waste has become a norm for large scale gatherings and events. This is the story of a team that is committed to changing this.
Tales of Glory BY Ikshan Ganpathi
The odyssey of a young bird lover and his love for the winged denizens of the sky and earth.
The Sorrowless Tree BY Mallika Iyer
Unearths the mythological roots of a tree that once provided shelter to Sita during her exile in Lanka.
Seeds of Change – Segregation at Source @ IITB Hostels BY Venkata Kodi
A story that traces the path of tonnes of mixed waste that is generated on a daily basis on our campus.
Cutting Through Disconnection BY Neha Chaudhuri
A subjective narrative of how humans shape Nature and in turn are shaped by her.
We hope that you will enjoy reading this issue of Fundamatics, the award-winning ezine published by the IIT Bombay Alumni Association, envisioned as one that is by IIT Bombay alumni, faculty and students, and for the same vast community. And, the best part of Fundamatics is that it is completely free and can be accessed by thousands of our alumni who are spread all over the world. But this does not mean that we do not incur any operational costs in bringing the ezine to you. Your financial support can mean that we can continue to remain in circulation and “free” to you, our readers.