#Art + Culture

Padma Shri Tulsi Gowda Is Proof That Age Is No Barrier To Changing The World

tulsi gowda
The world needs more Tulsi Gowdas. But there is only one of her and she recently received the Padma Shri award. The 70-something changemaker was conferred with India’s fourth-highest civilian award for her efforts in bringing about a green revolution in Karnataka.

Notably, she is credited with planting over 30,000 saplings and caring for the environment in her locales over six decades. A tribal from the Halakki community, Tulsi Gowda has no formal education but is known as the encyclopaedia of forests. Her kindred link to the greens runs as deep as her very identity, her first name derived from a healing herb considered holy.

A photo of President Ram Nath Kovind presenting the honour to Gowda has gone viral on social media. Gowda’s simple dress, bare feet and humble demeanour before the audience in the national capital have won thousands of hearts.

Tulsi Gowda: A Nurturer Of Greens, A Global Inspiration

Tulsi Gowda is a force of nature, literally. She is giving back to the soil she comes from. Having lost her father at an early age, Gowda began assisting her mother in tending to plants in her rural tribal community in the Honnalli village settlement very young. Even as a child, Gowda, who never learned to read, worked to reverse the stripping of local forests by replanting trees. Reports suggest she was married as a girl, even before she entered her teens.

In 1983, government conservation policies had changed. That year, a top Indian forest officer, Adugodi Nanjappa Yellappa Reddy, arrived at a government nursery in Karnataka with a daunting task: to reforest large portions of land in the area.

“There was some magic in her hands,” said Reddy, 86, and now retired. “Her knowledge to identify indigenous species and collect them carefully and nurture trees can be found in no book.”

The plants she raises are like her children; she knows each one down to its last roots. “She can’t explain how, but she knows this because she speaks the language of the forest. Seeing her work is an incredible experience,” Reddy was once quoted saying.

Gowda through the years involved herself closely with the environmental efforts backed by the Karnataka Forestry Department in her neighbourhood. She took charge of work at the nursery and with the state department’s afforestation programs. After decades of service, she was made a permanent employee with them. She retired after 15 years of work and presently lives on the pension she receives, as per reports. More here.

Having planted over a lakh trees in her area, Gowda is honoured as a tree goddess by her tribe. She is advancing in years but her spirit is unstoppable. Barefooted, she is walking on and on to encourage awareness about the need for green preservation and nurturing the planet we call home.

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