Friday, February 7, 2014

In memory of Dr. Prakash Gole

Remembering ‘Sir’
In memory of Dr. Prakash Gole

(A heart felt tribute by his student and my colleague in Kalpavriksh, Sharmila Deo - from the latest issue of the Protected Area Update)

An eminent economist and ecologist, an internationally acclaimed ornithologist, a prolific author of environmental books, and a visionary with a passion for conservation of nature is how the world knew Dr. Prakash Gole, our 'Sir' who passed away recently. He edited the Journal of Ecological Society and his extensive work on conservation and restoration of wetlands and wetland birds, especially the Bar-headed goose, Sarus crane, Siberian crane, and the Black necked crane is recognised the world over.
I was fortunate to have gotten the opportunity to attend the one-year course on 'Sustainable Management of Natural Resources and Nature Conservation' run by  the Ecological Society, which was established at his initiative in 1982 in Pune. Along with various conservation and restoration projects that the society carried out under his leadership, he constantly emphasised the importance of interdisciplinary learning and developing a holistic view, be it in terms of development, landscape planning or any other facet of conservation. He motivated hundreds of people who came to him from various spheres - students from various faculties, homemakers, and professionals - to study and contribute to the field of environment.
               Our classes with him were a mix of many things, all united with one goal - love for the environment. Sir instilled into us that just harbouring a love for nature was not enough and that each of us had to strive for its conservation as well. He made us aware of the rampant destruction of the environment in the name of development, and taught us to observe our consumption levels, both as a society, and as an individual.
               A man of few words, and not one to give in to banter or futile ‘time-pass’, he dedicated most of his time in the pursuit of his varied passions – all through his work. This quality of his was most evident on field trips. After walking in the Himalayan landscapes for hours, he would announce a lunch break of 10 minutes and if we had the energy to protest, he would generously extend it to 15. While most of us utilized that time either eating leisurely or just lying peacefully under the clear skies, he would be done with his meal of one sandwich in a couple of minutes and set off immediately to wander around with his binoculars waiting for his young students to revive.
               Although no one said it in front of him, Sir was not spared the jibes of 'sustainable living' and 'watching his consumption levels' by seeing how little he actually needed even to eat. Even after crossing 65 years, his energy and stamina was commendable. Till date, we cannot discuss or read anything related to Ecology without Sir's memory fleeting by.
Contact  Sharmila Deo at

(For a full copy of the PA Update please write to me at
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