Thursday, January 07, 2010

Streets here had a lot of trees when I had come in 1974

Streets here had a lot of trees when I had come in 1974

This photographer's early visit to India opened his eyes to the eco-friendliness of vegetarianism

Bosky Khanna

He's in the city as his photography exhibition, 'Hard Rain', is on at Lalbagh from January 7-16. Environmentalist Mark Edwards, however, is struck that in the 35 years since his last visit to Bangalore, so many trees have gone. He shares with Bosky Khanna his thoughts on the city, on India and vegetarianism.

What got you first interested in the environment?
I set out to be an environmental photographer in 1969, when the subject was not considered such a key issue. But I knew that it would emerge as an important subject, and I found ways to show people what was in store for them.

You have visited Bangalore earlier. Tell us about your experiences in the city.
I've spent three years of my career in India, doing different projects. I visited Bangalore in 1974. It was still a small Garden City then. There were a large number of huge trees. The streets were shady, the air was clean. Unfortunately, that has changed. The city environment is not as beautiful anymore. The city has grown phenomenally over the years. Prosperity is threatened by unplanned growth.

How would you compare Bangalore with other cities?
Any comparison of that sort can only be superficial. Bangalore still has a wonderful location. The lakes and trees are beautiful. But compared to some African cities, there has been greater decline in Bangalore. However, there is much potential. It is important that the city be designed well, to prevent pollution. The government and the residents should work in tandem to keep the city beautiful.

Would you share with our readers your opinion of the recent Copenhagen summit on climate change?
According to the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change of the UN, nearly 3.5 lakh deaths have been occurring due to global warming and climate change the world over each year. The aim of the international effort is to limit warming to a rise of 2 degree Celsius. This too, however, is an optimistic figure, not easy to attain. The recent Copenhagen summit was a failure. Heads of states could not arrive at a consensus on the course of action to be taken.

Tell us about some things that inspire you?
I am often touched by the emails I receive from people who have viewed the Hard Rain exhibition. I know that I have touched some people with the photographs. I have traveled the world and shot some pictures that have moved me deeply.
It was during one early visit to India that I first started eating vegetarian meals. The taste of Indian food left me quite delighted. I learnt that eating meat puts a lot of pressure on the environment too. Less meat consumption is also one way to limit pollution. India was responsible for helping me turn to vegetarianism. I'm not completely veggie, though. I continue to eat fish

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