Among Tigers: Fighting to Bring Back Asia’s Big Cats
Ullas Karanth with PJ Dilip Kumar
P J Dilip Kumar served in the Indian Forest Service (Karnataka cadre) for over 38 years from March 1974 till November 2012. He was specially interested in nature and wildlife from his school days, and used to push off on long solo cycling excursions watching birds and enjoying the outdoors as he grew up in the green environs of Trivandrum and Trichur in Kerala, in the Guindy campus of the IIT Madras, and summer holidays in various out-of-the-way places like Bhadravathi, Sangli. He even wrote to Delhi Zoo for a zoo keeper’s job, and remembers that he got back a kind reply from Mr.Adkoli, the then Director of the zoo, advising him to complete his degree first and keep wildlife as a hobby. Providentially, he chanced upon the Indian Forest Service advertisement while finishing his MSc in Chemistry at the IIT, Bombay, and was selected to the IFS, which he served from 1974 to 2012 on the Karnataka state cadre.
His postings in the forest service were mainly in the forest corporations, research and training, and projects, including stints of deputation to the central government in the Indian Forest College (Dehradun) and the Institute of Wood Science & Technology (Bangalore). One of the more interesting assignments was as Project Director of the UK-aided Western Ghats Forestry Project, which strove to combine forest and habitat conservation with community participation and bottom-up planning methods. The most challenging assignment was the last one, as Director- General Forests and Special Secretary in the Union Ministry of Environment and Forests, which is where he worked in close collaboration with Dr.Ullas Karanth and other members of the Forest Advisory Committee (FAC) and other consultative bodies, with the brilliant and dynamic Jairam Ramesh as the Minister.
Dr. Dilip Kumar has striven to keep in touch with research and academics throughout his working career. Apart from an MSc in Chemistry from the IIT Bombay, he has garnered a PhD in Forest Economics from the University of Wales, Bangor (UK) on a Commonwealth scholarship, and an MA in Economics and other subjects. After retiring from IFS in 2012, Dr Dilip Kumar spent a couple of years on a Senior Fellowship of the ICSSR, at the Institute for Social and Economic Change (ISEC), Bangalore, during which period he prepared a monograph on village communities and forest conservation (Monograph 32 of the ISEC), and another monograph on the Forest Conservation Act (Monograph 44 of the ISEC).
He presently lives in Bangalore and writes in a blog www.forestmatters.blogspot.in and other Media, apart from indulging in his favorite interests like thinking of writing his memoires, going to Bangalore’s awesome bookshops, reading on nature and economics, learning languages, garnering MA correspondence degrees in various disciplines, dabbling in photography, and practicing Hindustani music.