Being an independent/ freelancer is the best option to work as per the ‘Rule of Nature’ – Dr. Satya Prakash Mehra

Dr. Satya Prakash Mehra
Environmental cum Development Professional

Q1. Please share your educational and professional journey?

I am a trained Environmental cum Development Professional with an experience of over 21 years (1999 till date) working in the field of conservation of natural resources (water and biodiversity) in association with the GOs/ NGOs/ Academia/ Consultancy Firms etc. at different capacities. Presently, I am associated with a Rajasthan-based civil society – Rajputana Society of Natural History (RSNH) as an Advisor. 

Academically, I achieved Bachelors (BSc) in 1997, Masters (MSc) in 1999 and Doctoral (PhD) in 2011 degrees with Environmental Sciences as the main subject. Also, I am carrying out studies in the allied field through professional courses [Law Degree – LLB, LLM (Human Rights) contd.].

Q2.What did attract you towards Environmental Science?

I did my school education from Udaipur (Rajasthan, India). I was among the average students. The brighter side was the update information, in general, and holding the basics of the related subject. The inclination towards ‘Nature’ was observed during my childhood. As a childhood artist, by and large I use to sketch animals, collect images of faunal diversity of earth and procure information from all the available sources. Further, the curiosity for the Nature attracted me to explore the Aravallis which surrounded Udaipur. The then UGC Programs on Doordarshan was much liked by me during my schooling. Thus, I was not in confusion during Secondary Level, and without second thought went for the Biology Stream. The Taxonomy (Zoology or say Fauna), was my most liked section of the Biology which is helping me a lot at higher level.

Fortunately, the same time as per the Supreme Court’s direction, the Environmental Sciences as a subject was introduced in the higher education, and my journey of higher education in Environmental Sciences speed up.

I did my UG (BSc – Environmental Biology) in 1997 and PG (MSc – Environmental Sciences) in 1999 from Mohan Lal Sukhadia University, Udaipur. In continuation, I was enrolled for the PhD (Env. Sciences) on Forest Ecology, due to differences of opinion with Supervisor, the degree was not completed (2001). After a gap of few years, enrolled (2006) back for PhD at Maharshi Dayanand Saraswati University, Ajmer, Rajasthan and achieved in 2011 on the Herpetofaunal aspects.

Also, I continued my passion for the subject and carrying out some professional courses (degree, diploma, and certificate) linked with the same field (Environmental Sciences and allied fields) as and when required during the course of my professional journey. 

Q3. You are working on the principle of “Conservation Practices for Sustainable Livelihood”. What is it mean, please share with us?

During a journey of 45 years of my age, I learned in age of 12 (during my schooling) about the sustainability. I was fortunate enough to get the guidance from the then academicians (both at higher level due to my father’s association with university education, and lower level due to mother being an educationist). My mother being involved in the Indo-USSR activities running in the rural schools as well as women empowerment programs, I was opportune for being associated with such grass root level actions during the kid age (early 1980s). Further, the learning from my mother to serve RURAL environment for the true sense of development got imprint on my action.

During the higher education, I learned a lot in the field from the tribal and indigenous communities of southern parts of Rajasthan which further carved my approach. It was in the early professional career when a true transformation took place in my life by two reasons. First, by the time “I” became “We” (got a team mate who is my life partner) and Second, words of tribal youth.

While working in the field, we learned that human is integral part of ecosystem which is inherited in the genes of tribal or the then rural communities. Unfortunately, the irony of the system has broken the symbiotic relationship and made Human as a centrally focused organism on the name of development. The tribal asked us innocently that what would be his steps after he dissociate with us in our field activities (which was being paid). He means to state that he would be again engaged in cutting of trees or trapping of animals for the bread-and-butter of his family. This shocked us and we took a turn in the sense that lets apply our knowledge of conservation for their income generation. Though it took several years (five years) to identify and engage the local youth with natural skills of the NATURE-BASED PRACTICES for their value-addition. It was initiated in 2002 with a small idea and by the time 2004 onwards, a team was developed. An individual with an income of `100 per day in 2004 was transformed to earn `500 per hour by the year 2007. The same concept was applied for the Bharatpur (Rajasthan, India) followed by several other interventions to develop site-specific globally applicable SOCIO-ECOLOGICAL MODELS which link conservation practices with the local income generation in a sustained manner. Thus, giving an opportunity for the conservationists to protect natural heritage by engaging the local community through their natural skills and in turn, the community gets earning. This defines “Conservation Practices for Sustainable Livelihood”.

Dr. Satya Prakash Mehra

Q4. You Worked with WWF-India. What was your that experience and how it is helpful in your career?

In my early career, I got a break of professional engagement with India’s oldest conservation (research based) organization – Bombay Natural History Society (BNHS), Mumbai as IBA Officer in the IBA (Important Bird Areas) Program followed by another conservation (action based) organization – WWF-India as Consultant (Sep 2005 – Jan 2007) for Mt Abu Wildlife Sanctuary with a promotion to Project Manager (Feb 2007 – Mar 2009) for Water School Project & Keoladeo National Park.

For the very first time, I associated with WWF-India as a student member during my school days (1980s) in Udaipur (Rajasthan, India) due to curiosity to explore the nature and the wildlife. The association was not fruitful during those days as the field was unknown to many in the small city like Udaipur. The association revived during the college education (1990s) which changed into the professional engagements in late 2000s. My overall experiences were not too good for the WWF-India. Please do note the terms, it is WWF-India (my association) not WWF-International (no experience of working with it).

The experience was not as per the expectations. The conservation actions are more-or-less remain closed in the AC Rooms. The persons engaged at ground level were hardly recognized due to inter-personal conflicts and self-vested interests. I would suggest to the audience that if you want to earn and enjoy the glamorous life on the name of conservation or wildlife then do join WWF-India.

Q5. How do you handle stress in this fast and competitive life?

In this world, if ‘status’ (economic) and ‘standards/ norms’ set by any person (other than you) being kicked off from the life, anyone can overcome stress. Be respectful and honest to self, listen the voice of your inners, create your own standards/ norms of life. The statement is explained from the subsequent points.

I find it very easy to handle the stress in this fast and competitive life through following tips (stepwise):

  • Identify your skills (natural, inherited or even acquired) during the childhood and adolescent age irrespective of what other suggests, SELF-ANALYST;
  • (Optional) Set the goals or aim of your life, SELF-ESTEEM;

(I will not emphasize this point as in most of the cases, the children/ youth gives response such as becoming rich or becoming business tycoon, to get good government job, to be a model personality, etc. So the case is from the common threes – NAME/FAME, MONEY & SERVICE).

  • Work with the natural skills/ talent instead of getting influenced by others, SELF-BELIEF & BUILDING SELF-CONFIDENCE;
  • Respect yourself, SELF RESPECT; inspired by self, SEFL INSPIRED; motivate yourself, SELF MOTIVATED
  • Shape your personality as per the passion in 3Ds manner: DEDICATION, DEVOTION & DETRMINATION;
  • Create an ecosystem for your passion, SELF-ESTEEMED HORIZON;
  • Link passion with the livelihood, PASSION TO PROFESSION;
  • Consistently work with a mindset of limiting sky, BE HONEST TO SELF;
  • Create your own definition, BE A LEADER

Q6. You are an advisor and consultant too. What kind of service do you give to your client during consultancy and how it is helpful for them?

A very interesting question, the response will relate many aspects of the life traits of my personality.

When I designed my approach of work, I set the standards which take me through several steps towards perfection. Everyone knows one can’t be the perfectionist but one can work at his/her highest level of perfection irrespective of the result.

While working at several levels, I learned that every system has the set norms/ standards. I will not say that the set norms/ standards are not up to the mark or analyzing from my side. My standards differ from others which are quite obvious in the intellectual world of the humans. I found that being an independent/ freelancer is the best option if one has the ability to work as per the ‘Rule of Nature’. As an independent/ freelance subject expert one can be free from the bondages, compromising situations, unlimited growth, and of course effective solution based on the Nature’s Rule (as per passion and expertise).

All the above facts are being executed by me as an Advisor or Consultant to the respective client in my subject field. This could be:

Environmental Expert (Professional Consultant): consultancy for the best solutions to the environmental challenges, field surveys, supervision of the executed projects, environmental rights, environmental laws/ policy/ advocacy, voluntarism, etc.

Academia (Subject Expert & Resource Person/ Guest Faculty/ Visiting Faculty): environmental education (designing program for stakeholders/ designing curriculum, lectures/training instructor, etc.), scientific explorations, research studies/ guidance, contributions through publications of scientific research articles/ popular articles, etc.

Advisor (GOs/ NGOs/ CSOs etc.): guidance on designing, coordinating, managing, executing the environmental programs or projects, reporting and documentation.

Q7. What was your Thesis topic in Ph.D? Please share brief with us?

The passion for the environmental field inducted my higher studies. The Doctoral Degree is that part of the education where one can decide the challenge on his/her own, thus, an opportunity to design the research studies. My first hand experience was a Forest Ecology that too faunal wildlife/ faunal biodiversity. Since many studies on avifauna were carried out leaving the lower fauna vacant, I opted for the herpetofaunal field studies. Focused on the frogs & toads in southern parts of Rajasthan, the title of my Ph.D. was “Anuran diversity of southern Rajasthan with main emphasis on high altitude species”. It can be said as the pioneer field studies on the distribution of anurans in Rajasthan after independence.

It was the explorative research studies to assess the distribution pattern of the frogs on the Aravalli Hills. The composition, diversity and pattern was analysed with a new reporting of the species from Rajasthan. Unfortunately, the studies were stopped after completion of field assessment with many species waiting to get reported and enlisted from the habitats of Rajasthan.  

Q8. How do you motivate yourself at every morning?

With my bigger target, I have the set steps. I feel every day as a new day, therefore, a new start as per the priority of works/ assignments/ responsibilities. Since my passion is my profession, therefore, it is easy to give a fresh start to the in-hand responsibility. Many times external or unwanted challenges arise, shattering my normal routine. Depending on the intensity of the challenge, it takes few minutes to few days tackling the issue. Depending on the priority of the in-hand responsibilities or ongoing assignments, the steps are undertaken with the time management in mind.

The most important step of self-motivation is the confidence of solution with an analysis of extremities.      

Q9. Which one thing do you want to change in your industry/domain and why?

I feel that I am very much weak at emotional front. Whenever I find someone seeking help, I reach at the extreme level to support the person. It is good to be empathetic but not sympathetic……….