AHMEDABAD: Ashoka PillaróRepublic of India's symbol of poweró embodies the lion. But this icon has been systematically hijacked in Gujarat by the same politicians who encourage slogans like, Dekho Dekho Kaun Aaya , Gujarat Ka Sher Aaya .'
As political leaders of all ilk usurp the majesty of the lion, the real king of Gir finds itself cornered. Poachers on the prowl are a potent threat to the Asiatic lion in its only retreat in the western tip of India.
It is around the coast of Saurashtra that the retreating lion was allowed to thrive by local people after it got upstaged by the more powerful tiger who invaded from the east, rapidly capturing what was once lion territory.
But that man-animal relationship has long got strained. Now, hunters find it easier to target lions than tigers. For money, of course, as the worth of a dead lion in the international market is around Rs 37 lakh.
And most of it is paid by those who think that consuming powdered 'tiger bones' - even though they are sold lion bones - would help them regain lost potency.
This fact - that even in the age of viagra, the ancient system of medicine is driving people to fulfill such myths by slaughtering animals ó should serve as an eye-opener for Gujarat Inc, which must take steps to prevent this kind of mindless poaching of beautiful animals like lions and tigers.
If not the government, then Gujarat Inc must rise to the occasion to save the lions. After all, Gir is what your foreign guests and business partners like best about Gujarat.
Can some shers rise from the corporate world, given that politicians have failed? Gujarat Inc has, in the past, taken initiatives in many areas like health and education, wherever they've felt that steps taken by the government were not enough.
Can corporate Gujarat lead the community in pitching in for the lion too?