In conversation with Dr. K. H. Vinaya Kumar, Chief Conservator of Forests, Karnataka and Director, EMPRI
Dr. K. H. Vinaya Kumar’s many imposing educational qualifications include a PhD in Botany from the University of Mysore and a Master’s Degree from the Institute of Ecology and Resource Management, University of Edinburgh, Scotland. Supplementing his educational aptitudes is his tremendous passion and commitment to the protection and preservation of the environment and the planning and execution of a green infrastructure. His mantra is to find local solutions for local problems.
Growing up close to nature
Dr. Kumar lived his childhood amongst the verdant woods and forests of the hinterland of Karnataka, with pristine lakes and fresh air that imbibed in him a passion for the natural world. He became its keen observer and companion, which thereupon led him to a scientific study of ecology and its amazing facets. A career in forestry and the environment followed subsequently.
The raging pandemic, according to Dr. Kumar, is an ominous indicator of the relentless destruction of the environment that is happening worldwide, all in the name of development. From the prolific rain forests of South America to the abundant mangroves of south-east Asia and to the mighty river systems and copious lakes of our own country, we see not care and conservation but wanton destruction. All elements of nature interact closely and constantly with all living species. If we destroy nature we destroy all life. It should be our duty, motive and concern to preserve it.
A career in forestry
Dr. Kumar recommends a career in forestry as a prioritised option for the youth of today. It can be fulfilling, gratifying and alluring, leading to a life-long, wondrous journey of learning from nature.
Bangalore, feted as the garden city, has lost most of its eulogised green spaces in the course of development and growth. But many initiatives, both public and private, are in place to bring them back. There is a growing awareness amongst the citizens and municipal bodies to lead, create awareness, initiate action, educate the public and plan and implement programmes to make the city pollution free, plant trees, save the lakes, and discourage the use and littering of plastic. Bangalore generates about 400 tonnes of plastic every day! Dr. Kumar has a telling message: “Let’s move towards a plastic free Karnataka.”
An ode to nature
Scientific knowledge enriches the mind; but the metaphysical can be expressed in delightful poetic line, a reflection of what the heart feels. Dr. Kumar has compiled a book that contains sublime poetry on nature penned by renowned poets; an anthology all nature lovers must read. His own eloquent poem, written in 1983, on the beauty of the Himalayan abode is published below.
TREK TO DEVBAN Amidst Green velvety grass Thrilled by the morning rays of the sun Amidst dancing sound Of the flowing stream Seeing the bird lending melody To the beauty around Started our ‘Trek to Devban’ With the song of Barney “The green grass grow all around The green grass grow all around” Mingling with cool breeze Was our gasping breath Mingling with the birds’ call Was our pounding heartbeat Mingling with the dew drops Was our trickling sweat drops Flowers peeping out of the crevices Emerging fluttered wings Melody of the feathered wings Shrill tone of the blowing breeze The chill piercing through the skin Bathing in the stream of golden rays Flowing through the valley Fatigue of trekking? Where is it? Fulfilling the childhood dream of Seeing the Land of Shiva! We climbed up the rocks Climbed down the valleys Passed through the streams To reach the ‘Devban Peak’ The curtains rose! Stage scene revealed Amazing sight of the ‘Himalayas’ Picturesque beauty of the Snow clad ranges of Gangotri, Badari and Kedarnath Those who climb up Have to climb down Goes the rule! After quenching the thirst Of the magnificent sight Of the majestic Himalayas Started our downward journey Passing through a valley Suddenly… Heard the voice of a Lonely ‘Giant Tree’ On the steep slope Leaning bravely against The blowing wind Praying the lord for Spreading its breed Seeking our help To spread its seeds I wonder how It came to know That we were the “Budding Conservators” ! -K.H.Vinaya Kumar