I have often heard many people, both from inside and outside the campus praise the greenery and beauty on our college grounds. I have felt numerous times how different the worlds inside and outside our gates are. And while our “horticulture” department has been doing its job beautifully, there are a few nature warriors among us who have also taken their own efforts in this regard, without recognition or praise.
Harsh Arya, from MBBS-2016, is one such guy. In praiseworthy jugaad fashion, Harsh uses seeds found lying on the ground and discarded milk packets from the canteen to grow his saplings. A corner of the courtyard inside the boys’ hostel has been transformed into a makeshift nursery, with a collection of more than 50 young saplings in various stages of growth. Inhabitants of the boys’ hostel have often been harsh-ly reprimanded when they get uncomfortably close during their nightly volleyball games.
Harsh tells me that not all the saplings eventually make it. Pointing at the ones in front, he estimates that only 4 to 5 of them would make it to tree adulthood. The others would either simply wither, be inadvertently cut by the workers pruning weeds or be trampled by the dogs on campus. Keeping that in mind, he always prepares a huge batch so that at least a handful may remain. There is a visible pride on his face when he mentions the ones that are growing beautifully now.
He doesn’t do this alone though. He enlists a few interested juniors who collect the seeds and mud for him, and help him plant the saplings. With every year he plans to get more people along with him so that the mantle will be passed on. And together, in their own small ways, they will leave a small, green part of themselves for the future to enjoy.
The students, however, are not alone in their endeavours. Many of our teachers have also been bitten by the green bug. Dr. Kirti Chaudhry Dutt has been very active in her efforts to contribute to the campus’ frondescence. From procuring samples for the plantation drives to encouraging and supporting students to take care of them – she has done it all.
I asked her about her source of inspiration. She told me about her brother, who left an extremely lucrative MNC job to take up organic farming and has been running a farm successfully. There is something fascinating about being in tune with nature and life that threads though the leaves and the breeze, she says.
She had initially conferred with her colleagues, and seeing their interest she enquired about which plants would survive and how to take care of them from a local nursery, Afri. It was from there that she came to know of a special root training technique done to enhance the survival of the saplings in our hostile desert conditions. She went on to procure saplings from them and organised one of the first plantation drives on our campus.
It does take effort to take care of the young saplings until they are able to sustain themselves. However, the benefits one would reap are manifold greater than the pain required. I often see many students watering and taking care of their saplings while I take a leisurely evening stroll, and I get a warm, fuzzy feeling inside – that there are still those among us who care for the future, who believe in the potential that a young green bud possesses, and who are willing go put in the effort to see it grow one day into a testament of generosity and providence. And I silently thank those who continue to keep our campus green and alive.