Wanting to ‘leave no one behind’

3 weeks, 4 days ago 0
Posted in: Blog

That is what businesswoman Anju works towards in her daily life. She has also generously contributed funds towards voluntary relocation and wildlife conservation.

Anju at her favourite pastime, shooting birds with her camera

Sometimes when chance encounters turn into wonderful opportunities of service, it can make one wonder if it was, after all, really chance. For Anju too, a businesswoman and disciple of Buddhist philosopher Dr Daisaku Ikeda, it was a meeting with an old friend that opened up a channel to connect with disadvantaged sections of society.

Meeting her college friend Prakriti Srivastava and learning about the work of WCS-India gave her an idea “about the noble cause” of working for voluntary relocation and environment conservation, making her eager to be a part “as it resonated with her own prayers “to leave no one behind as we progress”.

Contributing towards voluntary relocation was the immediate thing that came to her mind. Not only would it help improve the condition of people living in protected areas, but also secure wild landscapes. A win-win scenario for everyone.

No wonder the cause appealed to Anju, a lover of nature. “I love forests. There is an aura to them that is attractive,” she says, while confessing that she talks to plants. Connected to nature that she is, Anju spends some time daily in her terrace garden where she grows her own vegetables. She ensures that the family contributes to zero waste, and as part of that effort, she converts all kitchen waste to compost and uses in her terrace garden.

Naturally, a person in tune with nature will love all things wild and beautiful. Anju is fascinated by birds and has spent a lot of time ‘shooting’ them with her camera. She also is a street photographer capturing stills that encapsulate everyday life. She dabbles in penning Hindi poetry, painting, plays the piano and above all, practices what Dr Ikeda and the Soka Gakkai International teaches.

“It has been life transforming for me. Rather than attempting hard to change the world, the Soka Gakkai philosophy teaches inner transformation. This is what Dr Ikeda says is the key to peace and happiness. It has changed my perspective,” says Anju.

This post-graduate in Zoology has dabbled in many things since an early marriage. Beginning with a chemist shop, to being a director on the board of a company for the last three decades, she has not lost sight of her yearning to find meaning in life and creating value for others.

With her latest valuable monetary contribution, Anju sets an example for others with the financial ability and wish to pitch in towards conservation.

Voluntary relocation from protected areas is a two-step process where the land occupied in the forest is acquired and the person compensated with an equal or more area of land outside, with all basic amenities provided. In the experience of WCS-India, the process has been a win-win scenario where both the people and wildlife benefit.

The organisation has been working with the forest departments of many states to facilitate the process in a fair and equitable manner. It has assisted in relocating and rehabilitating over 1000 families from remote pockets in the forests of Karnataka and around 250 families in Kerala.

In some cases where land documents are missing, or some complications make it difficult for the government to help, WCS India has pitched in by privately buying the land and helping to consolidate Protected Areas. In Kudremukh National Park, for instance, it has assisted the department by relocating 62 families or 262 people at a cost of Rs 4.25 crores, thus freeing up a little over 111 acres. Donations like Anju’s will help such work.

All relocation schemes, initiated since the MoEF first proposed it in 1999, are voluntary by nature.

(Below are some images from Anju’s collection of bird photography.)

Tickell’s Blue Flycatcher clicked from Nandi Hills

Asian Brown Flycatcher from Silent Valley

Yellow-billed blue magpie at Kasol, HP

Nilgiri parakeet, Silent Valley

Nilgiri flowerpecker

Hanging parrot

Bee-eater

Russet sparrow

Malabar whistling thrush

Crimson-backed sunbird

Ultramine flycatcher (sighted in places ranging from Silent Valley to Himachal Pradesh)

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