A lot of people had told me that Bombay Natural History Society (BNHS) plays regional politics and does its best to exclude people from “small” places like Nagpur. I pooh poohed it saying no body can stoop so low.
However to my shock and surprise I first hand experienced it while tying to send some local school students for the BNHS Vacation Training Programme in Bioresources for students scheduled for the month of May 2006.
The chronology of event is as follows:
The details reached me late (on 22nd April) so I telephoned Dr. V.Shubhalaxmi, (Senior Education Officer, Bombay Natural History Society, Conservation Education Centre) and asked if the admissions to the course are really closing on 23rd April which was a Sunday. To this she replied that she does not have enough students so she would be happy to have students from Nagpur over. She told me to tell the school to send the names of students interested in participating on Monday, 24th April 2006.
I am in touch with teachers of Sandipani school, Nagpur and they are extremely environment conscious people. So, the school sent the names of two of its IX std students, Sujay Uikey and Yaduraj Korde on Monday 24th April 2006.
One of the parents, Mrs. Uikey is known to me and she wanted to know what will happen on non training days. So I telephoned BNHS office again and asked about the lodging and boarding of out of station students. I was assured by the man who picked up the telephone that they will provide lodging and boarding to out station candidates and that the students can just rest and relax on weekends.
The teacher concerned from school spoke to one Ms. Shubhada Nithare of BNHS on 25th April 200t6 and was told that only students that have gone to X std will be considered for the training programme. This confused the teacher from school, as it was clearly stated in the BNHS circular that they will accept students from std IX to std XII
Ø Eligibility: Students of standard IX to standard XII (age : 15-18 years)
When I spoke to Ms Shubhada on phone, on the same day she said it was because the age group is 15-18. On my saying that one of the students has just turned 15 and the other is nearly 15, but both are now in Std IX as per your circular, you should give them a chance in training programme, she relented and said ok.
Then there was another clause stated by Ms. Shubhada saying the the training will be only from Monday to Friday and the out station candidates will have to make their own arrangements for weekend lodging and boarding.
The parents of the students were told accordingly and they made arrangements of weekend stay with their friends/relatives at Mumbai.
And then when the father of Yaduraj Korde, telephoned BNHS he was told by the course director herself that BNHS will not bear the cost of travel of the out of station students – again very contrary to what was stated in the circular
Ø The students would be provided to and from second class train fare or bus fare from residence to the venue, as well as free boarding and lodging during the training.
What irks me most is the facade these high flying conservation body wears. If they did not want out station candidates, there was no harm in stating so. But this kind of politics playing brings down whatever respect I had for BNHS.
Unfortunately for me, I am a life member of BNHS and I hang my head in shame in front of the school and its students to whom I recommended this training programme.
There are many more such stories including plagiarism in research but I don’t have first hand information right now.
How can such a prestigious, and the foremost conservation society of the country stoop so low!!!
< update - 3rd May 2006 >
Our Phone calls perhaps made a difference – the two boys, Sujay and Yaduraj have been selected for the workshop and both of them are leaving for Mumbai by the evening flight tonight
< / update >