All the money in the world can­not give your life mean­ing, says wildlife film­maker Shekar Dattatri

DEMOC­RACY WAS the buzz­word as Jus­tice San­tosh Hegde and wildlife film­maker Shekar Dattatri im­parted their wis­dom to students at Air­cel’s The Power of In­spi­ra­tion lec­ture at the Ox­ford Group of In­sti­tu­tions in Ben­galuru. Ox­ford Ed­u­ca­tional In­sti­tu­tions Di­rec­tor Dr Narasimha Raju, Air­cel’s Re­gional Busi­ness Head Hamir Bak­shi and TE­HELKA Foun­da­tion FounderTrus­tee Puneeta Roy were also present.

Jus­tice Hegde set the mood for the lec­ture when he was asked about his idea of democ­racy. He replied: “In 1946, when the Con­stituent Assem­bly was set up, the first ques­tion that came up was, ‘What kind of a po­lit­i­cal sys­tem should In­dia have?’ The con­sen­sus was that we should adopt a po­lit­i­cal sys­tem whereby ev­ery In­dian feels that he is in­de­pen­dent; ev­ery In­dian feels that he is part of the sys­tem that gov­erns this coun­try. And, there was such a sys­tem avail­able — The Demo­cratic Repub­lic.”

“The Con­sti­tu­tion be­gins with ‘We the peo­ple of In­dia…’ Un­for­tu­nately, the def­i­ni­tion of democ­racy had changed over the years to be­come, ‘Of the elec­torate, by the elec­torate, for the elec­torate”, he said.

While re­count­ing his days as the Kar­nataka Lokayukta, Jus­tice Hegde spoke about the many scams that were ex­posed. “There is no dearth of politi­cians in In­dia but there are no states­men,” he rued. “Greed is in­sa­tiable. It has no lim­i­ta­tion. Learn to be con­tent. The true mean­ing of con­tent­ment, sat­is­fac­tion is when you ac­quire what is le­git­i­mately yours,” he added.

It was then Dattatri who cap­ti­vated the students with his anec­dotes. The award­win­ning wildlife pho­tog­ra­pher and film­maker wanted to do more than just make money or win awards. In 2000, he gave it all up be­cause he wanted to make “films and present them to the de­ci­sion-mak­ers and tell them what was go­ing wrong”.

“All the money in the world can­not give your life mean­ing. I wanted to make films that made a tan­gi­ble dif­fer­ence. I urge you to take a back­pack and roam the coun­try. That’s the only way you will know the ‘real In­dia’,” he said. Re­count­ing how Ger­ald Dur­rell’s book changed his life at the age of 10, Dattatri said he was hooked on to wildlife by the time he was 13 and he was soon roam­ing the forests with lo­cals to learn and dis­cover the magic of na­ture.

“Na­ture is the Ka­mad­henu that sus­tains us,” he said. “With­out na­ture, we are noth­ing. In the name of de­vel­op­ment, we keep de­stroy­ing na­ture. Fresh wa­ter and clean air can­not come from a com­puter screen. I’m not against de­vel­op­ment. But there is a place to de­velop and a place to con­serve. Just be­cause forests and wildlife don’t have a voice, just be­cause they can­not vote, the first land that is be­ing sac­ri­ficed for the so-called de­vel­op­ment is the forest­land.”

Pained at the rapidly dwin­dling for­est cover, he urged the students to get out and do some­thing. He showed his wildlife clips and ar­gued how im­por­tant it was to con­serve our rich her­itage. So poignant were Dattatri’s clips that it took some time for the au­di­ence to find their voice. That too, to give him a stand­ing ova­tion.

Air­cel’s The Power of In­spi­ra­tion book was then re­leased by the dig­ni­taries and the func­tion ended with Puneeta Roy giv­ing a vote of thanks to all the part­ners.

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