Recognizing conservation heroes from the Himalayas

Recognizing conservation heroes from the Himalayas

28.12.2013, Saturday

Avani, a civil society organization of the Kumaon Himalaya region, received the 10th TN Khoshoo Award in December 2013 for its focus on community self-reliance and local, sustainable solutions. The TN Khoshoo Memorial Award and Lecture recognizes researchers and practitioners who have made an impact on the theory and practice of doing conservation and promoting sustainable development. The award has been instituted in memory of late scientist, ATREE trustee and India’s first Environment Secretary, Dr TN Khoshoo.

The first TN Khoshoo Memorial Award was given away in 2004. Past recipients—thirteen awardees till 2013—include Vidya Athreya in 2012, Rebecca Pradhan in 2011, Joss Brooks and the late Girish Sant in 2010, Ashish Kothari in 2009, Anil Joshi in 2005 etc. This year’s awardee, Avani’s founders, Rashmi Bharti and Rajnish Jain, spoke to the audience about their work in Uttarakhand, which includes dissemination of solar technology, dissemination of information on water resource management, natural textiles and paints, and social and economic development of rural communities through better healthcare and micro-finance. Avani, in its role as founder member of the World Mountain Peoples’ Association, has also played an important role in developing a networking platform for mountain communities. This organization promotes networking and cooperation in the mountain areas and helps making mountain voices heard at the national and international level.

A regular crowd puller for the awards ceremony is the TN Khoshoo Memorial Lecture. ATREE takes pains to bring to the audience a speaker with insight, and with new ideas to share on the subject of the environment. This year’s speaker, at the 2013 TN Khoshoo Memorial Award and Lecture, was a person far removed from science—His Holiness, the Dalai Lama. His Holiness, who has made his concern for the environment evident over years past, made a philosophical address on Sacred Values and Conservation, in which he spoke about the ways we choose to live and relate to one another and to the world around us.

With His Holiness as key speaker, and awardee from Uttarakhand, the 10th TN Khoshoo Award had a clear ‘Himalaya’ slant. Lending to the Himalaya theme was the exhibit and sale of coffee table book, Himalaya: Mountains of Life, by Dr Kamal Bawa, founder trustee, ATREE and photographer, Sandesh Kadur. The book, released January 2013, captures, in spectacular imagery, the biodiversity, people diversity, geography and culture of the northeast Himalayas. Dr Bawa’s sentiments on the occasion, “We are so privileged that His Holiness decided to bless ATREE’s efforts to draw the country’s attention to the Himalaya. Considering that Dr TN Khoshoo himself hailed from Kashmir, the focus on the Himalaya to celebrate his life and work is most appropriate,” he said.

Read more about the Khoshoo awards, the endowment committee, past awardees and speakers here.