Global citizen : Part 1

Olive RidleyHere comes a globe trotter who takes offense at what Aristotle says about illegal immigrants. He is loud and strident as he makes his point.

Dear Aristotle,

I am shell-shocked by your use of the expression “illegal immigrants”!

It is one world for all, in case you have forgotten! We have no political boundaries; we are not illegal immigrants anywhere! We are global citizens! If you, my dear friend with a modest IQ, find it hard to understand that, listen to a colourful account of my travels across the planet.

I live –

“Where the world has not been broken up into fragments

By narrow domestic walls”

Does that ring a bell, you self-proclaimed scholar?

I belong to a species of Olive Ridley sea turtles that swim the length and depth of the tropical and sub-tropical waters of the Pacific, Atlantic and Indian Oceans of the world. Even you, a mere plodding donkey, would have guessed that our grey-green carapace or outer shell gives us our name. We are the smallest of the sea turtles, weighing up to 45 kg and reaching about two feet in shell length. Yet dare I say that we are smarter than you!


We forage in one part of the world and breed in some other often separated by four or five thousand miles. Our biggest rookery is on the beaches of the eastern Indian state of Orissa. There, every year between January and March, nearly a million females go ashore en masse to lay their eggs. People call this event arribada. Everybody welcomes us, never been called aliens or illegal immigrants, mind you. In the narrow beaches of Gahirmatha Marine Sanctuary and at the mouth of the rivers Rushikulya and Devi, there is a mad scramble for space. Into a hole she has dug up in the sandy beaches, each mother turtle lays about 100-150 eggs before covering it with sand. All mother turtles then leave for the seas. Now comes a problem — or should I say, problems? Crows, dogs, gulls and pigs make a feast of turtle eggs. After two months, the eggs hatch. Very few of the black, inch-and-a-half long hatchlings reach the sea safely. Believe it or not, only one in every thousand survives to become an adult.

Who is killing Olive Ridleys? Man, I guess. If it were not for his fishing trawler nets, gill nets and drag nets, his off-shore oil explorations and his poaching on us for meat, we wouldn’t be an endangered species today.

The message for you Aristotle — Think bigger and deeper! Talk less!

Write not at all!

Olive Ridley

Reply from Aristotle

What is the point of this letter? Who doesn’t go globe-trotting these days? You may be a global citizen but you are also a victim of man’s laws within his political boundaries. If you are half as smart as you are loud, you wouldn’t be on the IUCN red list as a threatened species!


Published as part of a series titled ‘Aristotle’s Mailbag’ in Young World, The Hindu, dt. September 10, 2013


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