The Nature Club at the National Academy of Indian Railways organized a trip to the Wadhwana Reserve on Republic Day 2016. The irrigation reservoir and wetland is situated about 40 kilometers from Vadodara and approximately 10 kilometers from Dabhoi and was built by Maharaja Sayajirao Gaekwad during 1909-10. It is the main water source for 25 nearby villages, and a popular bird watching site for species including stork, tern, waterfowls, ibis, and spoonbill. It was learnt from the forest officials that over the year about 135 species of birds can be sighted. Most of the migratory birds come from Siberia, China and some Asian countries.
The purpose of the walk was to have an understanding of the migratory birds and to inculcate in the guest officers a respect for the Environment. The Forest officers showed different birds through their powerful binoculars and shared their experiences on conservation of nature. It was a good learning experience by watching the birds in their natural surroundings. The photography club of the academy had a session on wildlife photography and all the enthusiasts captured the birds and scenic beauty through their lenses. The intention of the trip was fulfilled through the emphasis on nature and preserving it for the future generations. As someone has rightly said-We conserve only what we love, we love only what we understand and we will understand only what is taught.
But I did not realize that the students would switch roles and become teachers so soon. As we started our journey back we passed by a road accident where we could see a man down on the road and a few people had gathered around him and were waiting for the others to take action. As any other day we in the bus felt for the poor man but would have moved on had it not been for the probationers who compelled us to stop and many doctors among them eagerly ran to help the man and his family. They checked him out and rang up for the ambulance. Seeing his deteriorating condition and shock they hailed an auto and sent him to the nearest hospital and prayed for his safety. And perhaps in our endeavor to love nature we (teachers) forgot that our fellow human is perhaps the greatest gift of nature and we should have empathy and compassion for him.
Reminds me of the couplet by Kabir:
Pothi Padh Padh Kar Jag Mua, Pandit Bhayo Na Koye
Dhai Aakhar Prem Ke, Jo Padhe so Pandit Hoye
I am sure the officers will make great leaders and Indian Railways has a bright future.