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Signs of other times

india Updated: Sep 27, 2009 22:03 IST

Hindustan Times
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Just when India was getting set to roar on the world stage, bad news regarding the dwindling population of its national animal, the mighty tiger, started making headlines. Now we hear the lotus is wilting, nay, dying. And before there’s a burst of celebration in certain camps, let us warn you that this is not a reference to India’s main opposition party’s diminishing fortunes, but the very real possibility of a rare species of our national flower being lost forever.

According to a BBC News report, the extremely rare Nymphaea tetragona — a rare species of the lotus — will be gone soon, as conservation efforts to save this unusual flower have come to naught.

Add to this mix the rise in peacock poaching, and the fact that no one even remembers what a hockey stick looks like, then swirl the thought around in the muddy waters of a shrinking Ganga, and you might chance upon the very real possibility that our national symbols could be disappearing one by one. Perhaps we need a new, easy-to-recall list, including icons that represent the signs of our times, and are not nearing extinction. For example, we could replace the peacock with the pigeon as a tribute to the Great Indian Communications Revolution. Given the abundant reminders these birds liberally leave behind in our offices and homes, they’d be pretty hard to forget.

Well, we never hear the strains of Vande Mataram every time the Boys in Blue lift a championship cup, or Leander Paes his doubles partner, so maybe it’s time to tune in to that other national song of jubilant times — ‘Chak de’. But for the handful of our readers who fear that all will soon be lost, here’s some good news. That wily ol’ banyan tree has a long innings ahead and mangoes are always just a season away. As for the rest, maybe it’s time to give ourselves a national makeover.