IFSA was something that I’d first come across in my third year of undergrad whilst I was surfing almost aimlessly on the web. I was in all probability just looking up at organisations that worked in the forestry sector globally. I also remember, much of my undergrad was spent in mourning over the fact that not much or hardly any meaningful work seemed to be getting carried out in the forestry sector in the Indian sub-continent. Despite whatever the actuality was, atleast I’d presumed it to be so. I was an ignorant ass back then, maybe which I still am. I was kind of more resentful of the idleness that prevailed in our department (*Insert the scene from 3 Idiots- the one between Rancho and Virus after Joy’s death.)
I did spend some time on the IFSA website then, more so to discover opportunities for myself than to learn more of their activities in pursuing and promoting forestry across the globe. It was without much effort that I could gather the fact that IFSA was that excellent platform which united forestry students from the world over under an umbrella, the sole motive being progress in forest sciences which might be broken down as encouraging students in forestry to widen their spectrum of thoughts by way of sharing experiences and ideas with one another, providing students with worthwhile and life-changing opportunities to work upon, thus effectively creating impact with our learning of the forests. I’d looked up on to know if there was an Indian LC whose membership I could possibly seek. I found the contact details to someone in NepaI and I left it at just that.
Sometime later on, I went to Bhubaneswar to attend a certain National Convention on Forestry, one of whose sidelying motives for us forestry graduates was the formation of an All India Forestry Student’s Association. There I was told of an already functional IFSA LC under the HNB Garhwal Central University in Srinagar, Uttarakhand by our very own Prabhakar Manori who’d himself been pursuing his post-graduation from the same university and had come with four juniors to attend the convention. I did imagine wistfully about the niceties of an LC, had it been located at FRI, Dehradun. Such an LC would’ve been instrumental in furthering the interests of forestry students in INDIA considering the central role FRI has always played in Indian Forestry, I believed. This was one thing I remember bringing forth in one of the initial sessions of the now archaic *AIFSA* regarding the role that linkages between IFSA and Forestry student bodies in INDIA had to play.
Years later, when I did get into Forest Research Institute, Dehradun for my Masters in Forestry is when IFSA again swung back to the front burner. I was in the same batch as Sunya Nani and Anand Anil. It was during one of our class and post-class conversations early on in the first semester that IFSA came in as a subject. I remember her speaking with much interest about IFSA, its activities and the unexplored potentials that were there. She knew most of it firsthand since she’d graduated from HNBGU herself where INDIA’s only IFSA LC was operational till then and whose active member she’d been. She even had the opportunity to have attended the International Forestry Students Symposium 2015 in Philippines. This she’d said was made possible since she could secure funding with IFSA’s assistance and her own efforts at the same. We both had without doubt agreed upon the relevance of an LC at FRI and resolved to set one up at the earliest as was possible. We initially thought of seeking out students in our class who were from forestry background for their views and contributions. Some efforts were indeed put in; a whatsapp group was formed in our midst for realising our efforts towards our LC. But time passed and nothing concrete took shape soon. I personally was very skeptical of how people interested would respond or act. This was attributable at least in part to the failed collective effort for a different cause I’d been a strong part of in my undergrad. I felt as if things were grinding to a halt again. I know very well of how I was also to blame for the same. My efforts were overshadowed by my own lack of conviction in getting the things done.
In between we planned to have a class meeting to sensitise our own class fellows regarding IFSA. I clearly remember having failed to make a decent slideshow worthy of presenting. That discussion then had happened between Sunya, Anand and me. Months passed and there was hardly any discussion regarding our LC. Much later, the class meeting was actually convened to obtain the consensus of our class regarding formation of the LC and also ascertain the roles each one of us was to play in the LC. Little had I realised of the ground work initiated by Sunya and Anand behind establishing our LC, all this time. The two, I must say worked tirelessly behind the same for months on end. They completed the requisite formalities, corresponded with their contacts in the IFSA HQ for our LC application and months down the lane, by late 2017 I and the rest of us were told of the formalities being almost done. Sunya asked me to pen down a few words about our FRI for the purpose of forwarding to the IFSA page. Anand was again the one who designed the LC logo as well as the membership forms. And by the second week of December, IFSA LC FRI was proudly introduced by IFSA and thus began the operations of the second but ‘hopefully most-happening’ IFSA LC in INDIA. Sincere efforts by our people had borne fruit and the ball had begun rolling…
The governing body of our LC is as follows:
President – Vishnu Satheesan
Vice President – Sunya Nani
Secretary – Anand Anil
Treasurer – Freddy Thomas
Matters regarding commissions, other wings, intended plan of action etc. were discussed in the first general meeting that was held soon after. Another general meeting took place recently. For the rest of the story, please do follow ifsalcfri.wordpress.com (LC Blog) and @ifsalcfri (Facebook page).
Although I am fully aware of the fact that our LC is still in its infancy, I believe there is no denying the fact that much needs to be done in our limited time as students at FRI. What we achieve is what will get carried forward by our successors. The LC needs to scale up its activities towards intended goals in the times to come. All of us must strive equally to realise the benefits and possible impacts from our LC.
PS: The Desi JungleMan wishes all the very best to the Team, IFSA LC FRI and is particularly happy about this opportunity of getting to shed some light on what went into getting this LC up and running. As always, thanks a ton for reading through.