After hearing the name Jim Corbett National Park, the things that strike in our mind first are the Safari, Tigers, Flora and Fauna. It is one of the major tourist destinations of Uttarakhand located roughly about 30km from the IIM Kashipur campus. But underlying this wonderful National Park are the tiresome jobs of the authorities to manage the 520sq km national park and protect its biodiversity against the various threats. The students of IIM Kashipur embarked on a journey to understand the management of Jim Corbet on 17th February 2017.
The excursion was organised by the Corporate Relations Cell of IIM Kashipur in collaboration with Mr Amit Verma, IFS, Jim Corbett National Park. The educational visit was divided into three parts:
1. The Jungle Safari
2. Technical Interaction with the Patrol Team
3. Management from Control Room
19 students from IIM Kashipur reached Jim Corbett National Park at 6.30 Am in the morning and on reaching there they went on safari which was arranged by the Jim Corbett officials. At the safari, the students were shown how to understand the calls of different species in the jungle and how they can be used to track tigers and other animals. It was stated by the guide that these simple insights help the ground patrol team to always be on alert and do their job properly. Using this "call of the jungle" the guide was able to track a tiger and the students were amazed that how a simple presence of mind can help track various animals.
At around 9.30 AM, the students gathered at an outpost in the buffer region of the jungle where the ground patrol team greeted the students and a technical discussion on how the patrolling team functions in protecting the bio-diversity of Jim Corbett. They demonstrated how drones can be used for containing unexpected emergencies like a forest fire, poaching, smuggling etc. The demonstration of how the dog squad can easily find out contrabands was really amazing.
After the interaction with the patrol team, the students were taken to the control room where they met Mr Amit Verma and discussed the management issues of Jim Corbett. The discussion started with the demonstration of how various Management Information Systems are used in the collection of data about the changes in the green cover of the forest and how it is affecting the habitat changes of the tigers of the National Park. Students got to know how various online (Videography and STRIPES software) and offline (Pug Marks) techniques are used to count the number of tigers. The students got to know the challenges that the department has to face on regular basis starting from land acquisition, relocation, fending off poachers, putting off forest fires and maintaining a good relationship with the locals.
One of the major insights that the students gained was the importance of PR in such an organisation. For example, there are 5 divisions under Jim Corbett National Park and only one division in under the purview of this division. But whenever a mishap occurs anywhere, then Jim Corbett is blamed even if they have nothing to do with it. So here, PR becomes an important part of the day to day operations. A healthy relationship with the common masses helps them to bring changes in policies which directly or indirectly affects the lives of the locals.
A good PR also helps them create a public opinion about the good work which in turn helps them leverage in introducing structural and technical changes in the system of operations.
Overall the experience was an eye-opener for all as the "easy forest officer job" looked no longer "easy". The responsibilities are immense and it requires huge managerial and technical capabilities to pull off the job.