Tuesday, July 28, 2009

Dr Salim Ali with S. Manmohan Singh

Vikram Jit Singh adds : My father, the late Sardar Man Mohan Singh (IAS, 1962 batch) was not just a birdwatcher. He was a committed conservationist and a keen shikari. His knowledge of birds was above average but certainly not of the technical brilliance possessed by professional ornithologists. However, he deployed his immense power of office and personal charm to work towards conservation. He his known as the `Founding Father' of Harike, where incidentally I immersed his ashes at the great confluence of the rivers Beas and Satluj in November, 2000. It was his efforts that brought Dr Salim Ali and the BNHS to Harike and the pioneering ringing work in the early 1980s. My father ensured that all bureaucratic red-tape was ruthlessly cut through to provide all facilities to the BNHS. Dr Ali shared a deep friendship with my father and depended upon him to undertake conservation measures in Punjab.

When in New Delhi, on deputation with the GoI, my father ensured liberal grants to the BNHS. In Punjab, his wanderings through the countryside during his shikar ensured that he was of great assistance to villagers in upgrading schools and building link roads where needed. His efforts resulted in the Punjab Wildlife dept publishing a book on the vernacular names of Punjab's birds. In one memorable incident, when he was UT Finance Secy, he was out shooting with his old friend, Flying Sikh Milkha Singh. Inadvertently, we strayed into a reserved forest area and were stopped by a forest guard. Milkha Singh curtly told the guard that the UT Finance secy was on a hunt and he should not stop us. My father was silent. The guard, however, would have none of it. My father turned on his heel and went back. The next morning, he summoned the UT Chief Wildlife warden and directed him to promote the forest guard.

Suresh C. Sharma : I have the honour of interacting with S. Manmohan Singh, IAS when he was posted in Ministry of Education, Shashtri Bhavan, New Delhi. I think it was early 80s.

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