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Window Seat: Amygdala Hijack

18/10/2020 at 7:00 AM

Dr Mrinal Chatterjee

I was researching  to write an essay on Empathy Deficit and came across the term ‘amygdala’, which is a collection of cells near the base of the brain, responsible for emotional memories.

As I read more, I came across another term: ‘amygdala hijack’. It refers to a personal, emotional response that is immediate, overwhelming, and out of measure with the actual stimulus because it has triggered a much more significant emotional threat. The term was coined by Daniel Goleman in his 1996 book Emotional Intelligence: Why It Can Matter More Than IQ.

I feel as a nation, we are experiencing collective amygdala hijack as the death of an actor becomes more important than the slow march to death of millions of migrant labourers, as Rhea Chakrabarty smoking grass becomes more important that HathrasNirbhaya and TRP scam becomes more important than the gradual encroachment on the freedom of the press and shrinkage of public sphere.

Fishing Cat becomes the Ambassador of Chilika Lake

The largest brackish water lagoon in Asia and India’s oldest Ramsar Site, Chilika, located in Odisha has an ambassadornow– Fishing Cat. For the uninitiated, it is the only wild cat species in India that is a wetland specialist – the Fishing Cat. The globally endangered felid was found to be present all around Chilika.

Header Fishing Cats

However, the marshlands fringing its north and north-eastern sections was where most evidence of its occurrence was found according to a recently concluded study conducted by the Fishing Cat Project (TFCP) and the Indian wing of Fishing Cat Conservation Alliance (FCCA), in collaboration with the Chilika Development Authority (CDA). This exercise was a part of the monitoring of the health and well-being of the Ramsar site.

The future plans of this collaborative venture between CDA and TFCP includes regularizing protocols to estimate Fishing Cat populations in Chilika and to create a Fishing Cat conservation network by involving local stakeholders, college students, researchers, non-government and government organisations

Fishing Cat is a Schedule-I species and deserves conservation measures of the highest accord in India like the Tiger and Elephant. Unfortunately, marshland and mangrove ecosystems, which are Fishing Cat habitat are in decline.

Chilika has one of the country’s largest extensive marsh-ecosystem spanning around 100 sq km. Welcoming CDA’s proposition, Tiasa Adhya, co-founder of The Fishing Cat Project says “Projecting Fishing Cat as the face of marshlands will raise the profile of Fishing Cat and marshland ecosystems globally and nationally which are otherwise neglected ecosystems. Locally, it will nurture their value among multiple stakeholders in Chilika.”

These marshes receive the maximum freshwater flow from the tributaries of Mahanadi and seasonal rivulets. Analysis of long-term data collected by Chilika Development Authority (CDA) shows that this area also has high fish abundance. This is significant given that fish is the lifeline of Chilika sustaining 2 lakh fishermen families and globally threatened piscivorous mammals like Fishing Cat, Smooth-coated Otter and Eurasian Otter.

The Naked Truth

This is a story about the Truth and the Lie.

The Truth and the Lie meet one day. The Lie says to the Truth: “It’s a marvellous day today”! The Truth looks up to the skies and sighs, for the day was really beautiful. They spend a lot of time together, ultimately arriving beside a well.

The Lie tells the Truth: “The water is very nice, let’s take a bath together!” The Truth, once again suspicious, tests the water and discovers that it indeed is very nice. They undress and start bathing.

Suddenly, the Lie comes out of the water, puts on the clothes of the Truth and runs away. The furious Truth comes out of the well and runs everywhere to find the Lie and to get her clothes back.

The World, seeing the Truth naked, turns its gaze away, with contempt and rage. The poor Truth returns to the well and disappears forever, hiding therein, in shame.

Since then, the Lie travels around the world, dressed as the Truth, satisfying the needs of society, because the World, in any case, harbours no wish at all to meet the naked Truth.

A Pessimist’s view

Nadal was French open champion in 2005.

Since then, most of us got married, had kids, struggled in our respective careers, managed to get a decent earning, gained weight, greyed hair…

This is 2020 and Nadal is still the French open champion.

Some people never progress in this life!
(Courtesy: Social Media)


The author, a journalist turned media academician lives in Dhenkanal. He has co-edited a book titled Mahatma Gandhi: Journalist and Editor with Snehasis Sur, which was published in 2018. Its Odia version is being published shortly.

[email protected]

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