Change is often not as drastic or inevitable we think it is. More than 80 years ago, Edward James Corbett reached Kumaon, a beautiful landscape where the people were terrorised by a maneater. Once he got to the village the hunt began and the Mohan maneater was finally killed by “Carpet Sahib” as he came to be known in the region. It was man-animal conflict and a reluctant hunter had rescued the people. Last month another tiger—not a maneater but a slayer of cattle—was killed, with great willingness, in Kerala’s Wayanad in the face of massive public demand for the animal’s blood. Frail, aged and diseased, the animal stood no chance against the people calling for its blood.

Our cover story “Tiger tales” looks into the killing of the Wayanad tiger (it became in Kerala, a political issue) and revisits Kumaon, Corbett’s country. Travel writer Anil Purohit followed Corbett’s trail in Kumaon, slept in old forest rest houses Corbett stayed in, and talked to people of the area. He found that conversations, in Corbett’s time as well as today, remain the same—man or animal, protected areas and human settlements, and who pays for conservation?

Chennai’s music season or the Marghazi season as it is known is an important part of the city’s cultural calendar. It’s a celebration of Carnatic music and tradition, and musicians are not encouraged to break away from the rigid format of the music and the concerts. However, a new generation of performers, schooled in the classical, are changing the contours of the landscape. They are introducing new musical instruments, and forming unlikely partnerships with fellow artistes to create new sounds. Our narrative “The new sounds of music” documents this phenomenon.

Free speech and expression has in the recent past come under attack from various quarters. The essay “Rage and outrage” examines the trend. It provides a historical context to it and draws a link between liberalisation of the economy and the rise of intolerance.

Our cover story this month has been set in a new layout, and is a part of the designs tweaks, more of which you will see in the months to come. Do write to let us know how you found the reading experience in the new format.
Happy 2013.

Saurav Kumar, Editor

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