Ambika Khare And Devidutta Chaturvedi

Green Teacher Award (2016)

Ambika Khare and Devidutta Chaturvedi From the time of its inception in 2010-11, the Panna Nature Camps have been conducted assiduously by Panna residents – 84-year-young Ambika Khare and 74-year-young Devidutta Chaturvedi, both retired school teachers.

Ambika sir, as he is fondly called, taught mathematics, science and English. An educationist to the core, even today a school is run within his extended house premises in Panna town. Devidutta sir taught Sanskrit, Hindi and also was responsible for the scouts and guides. The two have an old connection, that of teacher and student – Devidutta sir was a student of Ambika sir’s. Their relationship dates back to the 1950s and they continue to work as a team even today.

Devidutta sir regularly visits schools in the area to ensure that the children are keeping water for the birds in summer, have planted saplings and are taking care of them, recycling paper, not throwing away waste, avoiding the use of plastic, and using electricity judiciously. The proactive measures of these students warms their hearts and gives them the energy and inspiration to continue. Despite their age, their enthusiasm is infectious and their love and curiosity for nature unending as they continue to engage with the education of Panna’s children. Being well aware of their advancing years, they have spent the past two years training Manish Rawat and Bhavani Patel to carry their noble work forward.

The programme pays them a stipend of INR 700 per camp, however they say, “Humko na daam chahiye na naam, hum chahte hain karna keval kaam” (We don’t want money nor fame, we just want to work). These inspiring men have nurtured generations of young naturalists, and are the foundation upon which Panna thrives.

By Peeyush Sekhsaria, amateur naturalist, co-author Our Tiger’s Return