SK Das


Shri SK Das has a post graduate degree in English from St. Stephen’s College, Delhi University and in Development Economics from the University of Bradford, U.K. He has worked in the undivided state of Uttar Pradesh in a number of capacities. He has also worked as Director in the Department of Economic Affairs, in the Ministry of Finance, New Delhi and also as Joint Secretary in the Ministry of Labour, Government of India. He is currently President of The Himalaya Trust, a long standing NGO founded by the reputed administrator N.D. Jayal. He is also a member of the Board of Governors of The Swami Rama Himalayan University, Vice Chairman of REACH, an organization setup to promote the Art & Culture of this region and a member of the Board of Directors of the Doon Library & Research Centre.

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What is your opinion of the RST Forum that is going to be held in the upcoming Art and Literature festival, Valley of Words?

The developmental issues that Dr. Tolia had introduced were indeed momentous for they all carry relevance even to the world of today. Hence, it is worth to honour this legacy not only once but as far as one can. His Himalayan legacy has albeit been captured in many books that poured in during his illness and ultimately after his demise.This book, however, besides being another tribute to his commendable contributions to the soil, is also a reminder of his good intentions. I perceive this as a wonderful initiative to celebrate the goodness of Dr. Tolia and I welcome it whole heartedly.

Kindly share with us a little about your association with Dr. Tolia. What influence did he have on you?

I fall short of words when I intend to begin describing him. I knew him ever since I can remember as I have spent a reasonable chunk of my life with him, yet to specify, my association with Dr. Tolia cameabout in the year 1973 when we both were pursuing two different courses from the same academy. He was a man who in his meteoric life time had not only captured the finest of the Himalayan spirit and concerns of this region but who had gone even beyond that to explore other horizons. Through the span of his worthy life, he straddled many worlds and connected with vast sections of people in his many public roles, which certainly gave him a perspective way different from others. Each friend from his milieu called him ‘Tiger” for that is the one whose qualities are best consonant with that of Dr. Tolia- “A large hearted gentleman with boundless courage”, best described by Jim Corbett.

Migration is one of the greatest complications that come to our mind when we talk about the Himalayas.How do you think can this be mitigated?

The best known way to discourage migration is to cultivate job opportunities in the Himalayas. The promotion of small and cottage industries for say, horticulture or organic development is the most basic solution to the problem of migration. However, more than migration it is the inability of the region to develop adequate human resources -that is what should attract much of our concern. We have not been able to create enough opportunities in Uttarakhand that would allow the manpower to evolve. Same was the dream of Dr. Tolia, to create a blueprint of modern Uttarakhand and start working towards it.

People like Dr. R.S. Tolia continue to do so much for the environment but our youth is not even aware of it. Why do you think does the youth refuse to pay heed to these struggles?

The stark reality is that we, as Indians, are oblivious to our history. The only way to get the youth to understand the struggle of materialising Dr. Tolia’s great ideas, for instance, is to have them participate in the discussions related to it quite often. One such occasion is soon going to be offered by the Valley of Words festival but besides this several other platforms should be encouraged on a regular basis. Moreover, it is the own sense of responsibility of the youth towards the environment that they must be sensitive toso that each deliberationis based on the latter. Hence, we must instil in them respect for the environment they happen to grow up in.

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