Politics

Ridiculing Hema Malini’s Concerns For Mathura’s Monkey Menace Is Uncalled For; She Has A Point

Hemal Malini, Mathura’s MP raising the issue of monkey menace in the Parliament.
Snapshot
  • Addressing the monkey menace in the Vrindavan temple complex is extremely important for the safety of visitors and of the local people too.

    It is also important for the revival of tourism in Mathura. Hema Malini has raised a valid point in our Parliament.

On Thursday, Member of Parliament (MP) from Mathura, Hema Malini, raised the issue of monkey menace in Vrindavan in the Lok Sabha.

Hema Malini has raised the issue in the context of citizen safety, especially in residential areas. She said that their growing presence could be the result of shrinking forests.

An NDTV report says: She said attempts to sterilise monkeys had turned them "very violent". "They have made life-threatening attacks. People have been killed in Vrindavan," she claimed.

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Hema Malini mentioned in the Lok Sabha that tourists feed the simians "Mathura ka peda" (a local dessert), "samosa and kachori" (deep-fried snacks), and Frooty (a packed mango drink), which adversely affects their health.

Sections of our old media, however, are taking Hema Malini's concerns in a lighter vein. There appears to be no end to the condescending amusement for her concerns -- as seems to be the norm in reports dedicated to her raising this issue in the Parliament.

To her credit, Hema Malini has spoken with sensitivity towards the animal. “Bandaron ko bhi hifazat se rakhna chahiye (we must keep the monkeys safe as well),” she says in a video shared on Twitter by ANI news.

In this video, she points out that growing fruit-bearing trees in surrounding forest areas should be encouraged to help confine the monkeys in their natural habitat. She also made a valid point of how the monkeys have developed bad food habits by ingesting food items not meant for them.

NDTV chose to report these concerns as follows:

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“Frooti, Samosa” In Hema Malini's Parliament Discussion On Monkeys

The Mathura MP also said that she has been constantly making suggestions towards developing a monkey safari but the matter has not seen progress.

A monkey safari might be a good idea. The forest areas of Barsana, Mathura, Brindavan and Govardhan might be best suited for it and the concept could even help boost the green cover in those areas.

And the green cover is a vital part of Mathura's cultural rejuvenation and temple movement as highlighted by this author previously.

Mathura, Govardhan and Brindavan are known for monkey menace, especially around the temples. Here, the human footfall is high and in order to escape a possible attack, devotees can often be seen offering an approaching monkey some ‘edibles’. This adds to the problem since those edibles are unhealthy for the animal.

This reporter has witnessed another interesting phenomenon. There are some temples, such as the Bankebihari mandir, where monkeys often run away with visitors’ eye-glasses/spectacles.

The monkeys perch on a parapet or a wall nearby and return the spectacles after some cajoling and convincing from local kids, who seem aware of the possibility of such thefts and even have a solution. These kids offer to help for a fee.

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An NDTV report says: Trinamool Congress MP Sudip Bandyopadhyay said his spectacles were snatched by monkeys during a visit to the temple town.

While this entire experience might be laughed off and even considered adorable by Hindu devotees who are Hanuman bhaktas, it can be daunting and even dangerous for others. Shopkeepers in the Bankebihari temple area often warn devotees beforehand.

Hawkers at the starting point of the Govardhan parikrama advise devotees to carry a good stock of bananas to ward off the monkey swarms. It is good for devotion and safety, they suggest.

Devotees give in willingly, as their purchases contribute to sustaining local small businesses in the process. However, monkey swarms are often considered a discouraging factor when it comes to tourism.

Hema Malini’s concerns on the monkeys are similar to concerns raised by canine lovers in urban areas, who discourage the offering of certain food items to stray dogs.

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Monkey menace has been in the news previously in the context of New Delhi’s North and South Blocks and parts of Lutyens’ Delhi. Milder-mannered Langur monkeys have been used in the past to keep their rougher cousins, the Rhesus monkeys, away from government buildings.

The phenomenon of monkey menace has been the subject of environment-centered documentaries in the early 2000s. In a larger context, during recent years, monkeys have begun to pose a threat to agricultural lands in other areas of west Uttar Pradesh and also in Uttarakhand.

Addressing the monkey menace in the Vrindavan temple complex, which is a centre of Hindu devotion, is extremely important for the safety of visitors and of the local people too.

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And it is also important for the revival of tourism in Mathura. Hema Malini has raised a valid point in our Parliament.

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