Text of the Vice-President’s Address to the Indian Forest Service (IFoS) Probationers of 2022 Batch (Excerpts)

azadi ka amrit mahotsav

A very good afternoon, everyone!

I am sure you must have had inspirational advice from the Honorable President of India. Our President is highly gifted; she knows, more than anyone else, the importance of forest, environment and relevance of this service. It will be difficult to measure up to that level. She talks out of heart, she always talks out of conviction and I am sure it must have been a lifetime memorable event for all of you. I can share it with you- whenever I have the occasion to interact with the Honorable President- we both happened to be governors also at one point of time simultaneously- sublimity, elegance, authenticity are all around and all of you must have felt blessed. he must have given you some advice; please never forget that.

I must tell you, a very important tip that will sustain you all your life, always remember your batchmates and always be in touch with them. Never ever forget them, and you will realize as you grow senior in your profession, and as you grow older you will know how energizing it is. Never ever forget to be in live connect with your batchmates, in the process you will be connected to the entire country.

You are joining this elite service in the largest democracy at a time when India’s rise is unstoppable. World is looking at India from a different perspective. You are lucky to be in Amrit Kaal, and you from every consideration with age, experience and rise in your service will be warriors for attainment of Bharat at 2047. My congratulations to you, for having made it to this service.

I gather from a few of the probationers, the kind of training that has been imparted is very comprehensive, inclusive, which was narrated by both the probationers with passion, I could see a mission in their address and that is why if you start loving the service to which you belong, you have a passion for performance, dedication for a mission, you will make a difference. Fortunately, yours is a service where you will have the opportunity to serve humanity by making a difference in the lives of those, who are close to forest, in the forest. I am speaking not only of mankind but living beings. You will have such a direct connection with the environment and ground reality. This opportunity has come to you, I am sure you will make the most of it.

One of the trainees said that the credit goes to parents, teachers, friends and well-wishers; never forget this. It is a great credit, you must always remember it. You cannot imagine the kind of happiness your family members got when you joined the service. Each one of you would have found another profession, another occupation, and chances are you would have made much more money but the kind of glory, the kind of satisfaction which you will get by being public servants of this stature, in our democracy, it is a rare opportunity. That satisfaction and happiness will always gallop you to achieve higher and higher for yourself and for the nation.

I congratulate the 54th batch and we are happy that in this batch we have two of the trainee officers from our neighbouring country, our friendly nation that evokes a lot of interest, Bhutan. While I was Governor, State of West Bengal, I had the occasion to receive officials from other services as well and trainees from Bhutan were a part of it. I am sure they will carry home, not only the fruits of training, also the connect they have with the friends of our country. My best wishes to you. This greatly reflects the kind of friendship we have with our neighbours. As a matter of fact, let me tell you, neighborhood is all important and that is why when the honorable Prime Minister, after three decades of coalition governments brought forth single party majority in 2014, he invited SAARC countries. Carry our greetings to the people in Bhutan.

Nature has always been integral to our civilizational ethos, not many countries can claim the kind of historical legacy which we have. It is more than 5000 years old but all throughout you will find there was greater connect with nature, preservation of environment which was reflected in varied manners. It will be for you all to be innovative and think out of the box on how to recreate that scenario, I am sure you will succeed.

Harmony between man and his environment has always formed the foundation of life. As a matter of fact it is not only foundation, it is beyond that: It is the nectar of life. You are entrusted with the great responsibility of upholding and preserving this harmony for well being of not only our country but of the entire planet.

My young friends if you look around, every service has a facet, there are several services, you are in big league, but your service has direct connect with the planet, every nook and corner of the planet. You are more imminently suited to make your contribution to climate change and that is a very special position you all possess. I am sure, no one likes the Director and other functionaries because they subject you to rigorous training, very tight schedules; they mentor you and mentoring is not easy. Mentoring can sometimes be very severe and rigorous but the moment you leave the institute, you will ever remember them, that they mentored you. They made you perspire so that you can take care of others. Never forget the contribution they have made in your life.

I urge you to dedicate yourselves towards helping maintain the judicious balance between the need for development and conservation of Mother Nature. In the process, you will have several challenges. We must always remember that as mankind we are trustees of natural resources. We are trustees of nature; we cannot recklessly exploit natural resources for personal gains. Our pocket, our financial capacity does not justify the use. Someone may have more money, that does not mean he or she can use petroleum, water, energy because he or she can afford it. We have to inculcate a habit in ourselves and persuade others to have a habit for the optimal utilisation of natural resources.

Let me narrate to you a small incident, an IFoS officer came to me about two decades ago, I took to him a question-why there is so much resistance to forest produce being taken out? Why should you object to trees being cut and the product being used? It makes sense, only to those who are ignorant. He was happy to tell me, that I need to know what a forest is. Forest is not a plantation area; in a forest, a tree has to grow and the tree has to fall there, something else has to grow thereafter. Now, the moment you share this knowledge and counsel the people, who are taking what is known as transgression pay, to take forest produce outside. Secondly, you will have to be highly sensitive to human nature, the habits of the people who live in forest area or live close by, you will have to be highly sensitive and considerate of their needs, I have no doubt you all will achieve it.

The Father of the Nation, Mahatma Gandhi one said:

“The earth has enough for everyone’s need; but not for everyone’s greed.”

The father of the nation has really focused our attention to something vital. We have to distance ourselves from greed so that we have optimal utilisation of natural resources.

I appeal to you to create a Jan Aandolan, Jan awareness, your role will be more important not in exercising your authority, you will have power under the statute, your role is more as a counsellor, as a motivator, as an inspiration and that will go a long way, I have no doubt, you will do it. We all must be cautious, conscious, and proactive as our individual contributions have a larger impact on society.

As you all are aware, India is among top 10 nations of the world in terms of forest wealth. For those of you who come from villages, or semi urban areas, you know that चारागाह land is being reduced every year. Ponds were dry, a good mechanism has been set up in motion now, for their rejuvenation. This, I am hinting, particularly that not only while being on official duty you have potential to contribute, you can spend your energy also when you go to your village, go to your urban town and that will go a long way.

We are a nation that at this time is in a state which my generation never dreamt. I was elected to Parliament in 1989, I was a Union Minister; we had a situation, that our foreign exchange reserve then was 1 billion USD, and Gold in solid form had to be sent to sustain our fiscal credibility. Now we are close to 600 billion USD in foreign reserve. I keep on telling everyone, we as Indians must take pride in our historic achievements. We must always be proud Indians; we must keep interest of our Bharat at number one. Keeping your country’s interest at top is not optional, it is not imperative, it is the only way.

Let me deviate slightly: no country, no system could flourish or blossom without discipline or decorum. The moment discipline and decorum are compromised, our institutions suffer severely. If you work in an organization, if you can’t generate discipline via your seniors and people who work with you, you cannot be on a progressive trajectory. As Chairman, Rajya Sabha, I must share it with you; I am working in a manner using everything under my command to ensure the temple of democracy, in the largest democracy, has decorum and discipline. To enforce decorum and discipline, sometimes we have to take recourse to unpalatable situations, but we must never hesitate because decorum and discipline are connected with our growth, with our reputation, with our prosperity. The moment we take a lenient view, we do not serve well to society. I therefore appeal to you, to have zero tolerance for lack of decorum and lack of discipline. If you do that, it will bring change dramatically.

You would have seen in recent times, as a result of several steps taken by the government, the power corridors have been sanitized. There are no power brokers, there are no middlemen, we don’t have people now visible, who can extra-legally leverage government decision-making on governance aspects. It is a big achievement. But we all need to reflect, on our nationalism. Those who are suffering heat, because of corruption, those who are facing heat because the law is set in motion… How can youngsters like you who are future of our nation withstand a situation… that rather than taking recourse to rule of law, if you are summoned by an agency, if you are under investigation, you get a notice, we have a robust judicial system and a robust dispute resolution mechanism, how can we see people taking to streets? That is not the way. We cannot allow those accused of corruption to get away with it. I am happy to tell you that in the last few years nearly all escape routes of these corrupt people have been plugged. If a person is corrupt, we cannot have a different view- if he or she held a position earlier, the lineage they have. Corruption has to be dealt with in an even-handed manner; that is what is happening in the country at this moment.

Friends, you will be happy to know that our country is on the rise beyond the dreams of my generation. A decade back we were the 11th largest global economy, in September 2022; we became the 5th largest global economy. In the process we over took our erstwhile colonial masters. By all indications, by the turn of the decade, we will be third largest global economy. The world bodies have indicated, IMF in particular, that India is a shining, global-favourite destination of investment and opportunity. That is what we are witnessing. In such a scenario, your contribution will have to be geometric not arithmetic.

Our people have come of age, our people have learnt very fast. If we talk of digital transfers, in 2022, the digital transaction dimension was so much, that our transfer constituted 46% of global transactions. Our transaction in 2022 was four times more than that of US, UK, France and Germany. That is on account of the resilience of our people, they learn skills very fast, otherwise, how come we can send more than 2,25,000 crore rupees to about 11 crore farmers thrice a year?

Being equipped and sending is one part, but the recipient has to have the capacity, which is there. We people, in our country have a strong DNA for genius. Our people have made impact all over the globe. Look at our internet usage for last year; we had 850 million Smartphones, we have 700 million plus internet users, per capita data consumption of our country was more than that of China and USA taken together.

You in the process will also come to know, something which you may not have known so far. When you deal with people living in forest areas, with different cultures, different habits, different backgrounds, you will be exposed to that kind of cultural wealth which you may never have imagined and how they use produce to make artifacts, items, how they sustain themselves will be eye opener for all of you.

Friends, this opportunity which you have got, you are required to work every day while in office or outside, to be role model citizens of this country. The work you are doing is amply reflected in our Constitutional prescriptions. You will find in Directive Principles of State Policy, care and concern have to be there for environment and ecology. You will also notice this in the Fundamental Duties. I wish you great success in your career, I wish you a happy life, healthy life.

After getting into service, you would have seen for yourself, a body of change, you would have seen yourself, from within there is a sense of responsibility, there is a sense to serve the nation at large. I would therefore leave with you two thoughts.

One, carefully read Fundamental Duties and try to ensure that everyone comes to learn about them, it doesn’t require investment, it doesn’t require physical effort, it requires just intent. That intent will have a revolutionary impact. Let me give you a small illustration, before PM started the Swachh Bharat Abhiyan, anyone who had been abroad had never thrown a banana skin out of a running car, but that very gentleman, when he comes to India, finds it his fundamental duty to throw that banana skin immediately out of the car. It has changed now; a big change has taken place. So once you will focus on fundamental duties, then serving the society will be very effective.

Second, economic nationalism is a concept which is being ignored by the consumer, by those who are in business, trade and industry. Just imagine, does this country need furniture from outside? It doesn’t. But billions of dollars go outside because furniture is imported. Why? Because it is slightly cheaper. Can we compromise our economic nationalism for fiscal gain? No. Kites, Diwali Diyas, candles all those things which are imported. Once every Indian national strengthens his quotient of economic nationalism, our country will be financially far more superior than it is today.

I am sure you will be ambassadors of this country in forest, people living around forest. You will be contributing massively to make sure that we do not have that kind of climate which is challenging beyond our bearing. Wish you good luck and a great journey in the service of Bharat.

Thank You.



Source PIB