The Many and the None By Bansuri Taneja and Ashish Kothari

The essay highlights the importance of diversity in life. This says the variety adds flavour to the existing boring life and brings meaningful taste to life. It is very irritable that the same boring life with one thing to do all the time. Many means large, and none means nothing. People are comfortable with you when you have wealth and when your wealth is lost everyone will abandon you. When you’re poor, only God and true friends are close to you. It shows the value of naturally-gifted biodiversity.

This essay is of great relevance to the modern developed world. It deals with the challenges we have to overcome to secure and stabilize the biological diversity on our planet. We must struggle to strike a balance between economic development and conservation of biodiverse life in order to ensure a happy living on this planet.

Summary of The Many and the None

In “The Many and the None” the writers talk about biodiversity and its disappearance at a fast rate. Human beings, being superior in the food chain, are responsible for the extinction of many species because of their greed. In order to sustain an ecological balance in the world, species are a necessary part of the food chain. Variety is the spice of life and life without variety becomes dull and boring. Variety of things around us makes life interesting. Variety adds to excitement and interest in our life. Each day of the week is different. So we enjoy the days of the week. This is also true of the dishes we eat. If all days of the week were alike and we were to eat the same dish every day, we would find life quite dull and boring.

The variety and variability of life on this planet earth is called biodiversity. It can be seen in about a thousand varieties of mangoes in India. It is present in the fourteen different kinds of wood that we see inlayed in a wall painting. Biological diversity is present in the exciting colours of Holi and Indian clothes and the beautiful and attractive animals like tiger, rhino and the elephant. Finally, it also includes the ecosystem both natural and human-influenced, forests, lakes, rivers, coasts, seas, grasslands, agricultural fields, pastures, deserts and snowbound peaks, etc.

Then comes the genetic variety which is the basic building blocks of all life and is also the base of continues evolution. We, humans, are a product of the same process of evolution. It is because of genetic diversity that species decrease and they ultimately become extinct. In fact, it is such loss of resilience which makes some vegetables lose their characteristic taste. No doubt the yield is maximized but at the cost of genetic diversity. We all depend on the genetic diversity of species and their loss is a direct attack on our survival diversity of species, of animals, of plants and micro-organisms, is valuable to all of us. But sometimes we feel proud of our technological superiority and start thinking that we are apart from nature. It is diversity in genes which also provides the basis for continued survival against changing environment. When the number of species of an animal or plant decreases these species lose their strength and ability to come back to their previous condition.

The writers have given us a very good illustration to explain to us the alarming reality about the biodiversity of life on earth. When a ship loses one nut, the loss seems very minor. But if the ship goes losing nut after nut, the loss becomes alarming. The sinking of the ship then seems a foregone conclusion. In the same way, if we go on losing species and genes that sustain the earth, our survival will be impossible. Global changes in climate, hydrological patterns and other ecological functions on which we all survive continue to assume threatening proportions. These warnings are not to be taken non-seriously. It will be dangerous to forget that biological diversity is closely linked to our lives and the loss of biodiversity will affect the coming generation. We should not be selfish to think that the earth is meant to serve our needs as we are capable of thinking and feeling, we must realize that loss of biodiversity will have its negative impact on the rest of the living world as well. Biodiversity concerns all of us but it is very directly related to the everyday lives of India‘s ecosystem people. Hundreds of small farmers, fisherfolk, herders and hunter-gatherers depend on the diversity of species, genetic varieties and ecosystem services for their livelihood and cultural lives. Any loss of it is a direct attack on their survival. Diversity of species of animals and plants and micro-organisms is valuable to rural communities. Jagat Singh Chaudhary of the Kumon Himalayas has rightly laid due stress on the diversity of species as of the greatest importance to the ecosystem people in the country.

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It has to be realized that biological diverse farming systems are the future of our agriculture. Talking too much about high tech biotechnology is not enough. Agricultural scientists must know this in the future interest of India‘s agriculture. The widespread bio-piracy is a danger. So it has to be stopped. Individual interests must be subordinated to the corporate interests for the wellbeing of humanity.

It is undoubtedly true that India has benefitted from commercialization and globalization. This fact must not lead us to ignore the bad effects of globalization and commercialization. The interests of the majority of the Indians must not be ignored. We shall have to strike a balance between economic development and observation of biodiverse life. If this is not done our survival will be at stake. Seattle, the Native American Chief, has rightly said that when all the eagles and the fish have gone and the waters killed by pollution, only then people will realise that money cannot be eaten.

Theme of The Many and the None

The essay is based on the theme that no doubt we have benefitted from commercialization and globalization, but we must be concerned about their adverse effect. Biodiversity concerns all of us. It is directly related to India‘s ecosystem people. People in cities have benefitted from commercialization and globalization. But people in the countryside can survive only if biodiversity is preserved. A balance between economic development and conservation of biodiverse life has to be devised at all costs. Otherwise, our survival will not be possible. Loss of biodiversity is linked to the survival of people.

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