Tuesday, 4 June 2013

All hail my motherland!!

“Mera rang de basanti chola, maaye rang de….”...  I felt goose bumps as my new friend and me were listening to this song, while traveling to the New Delhi, Safdarjung Station on 9th April 2013; the eventful day on which the ‘Science Express – Biodiversity Special’ was to be flagged off, once again. It was the first day of my very first job and I wanted to get into it with the right frame of mind; this song- with its wonderful music by A. R. Rahman and the most touching lyrics was good enough to instill patriotism and sheer love for our motherland, in the heart of any Indian. We marveled at the beautifully written and sung verses, looking at each other and smiling excitedly, believing that we were going to contribute to the betterment of our country. The Science Express team reached the Safdarjung Station completely charged up to commence a phenomenal journey of seven months, around the country!

At the Station, the venue was being prepared for a grand ceremonial inauguration and flag-off by Smt. Sheila Dikshit, the Honb’le Chief Minister of New Delhi, Shri Pawan Kumar Bansal, the Honb’le Minister of Railways and Smt. Jayanthi Natarajan, Hon’ble Minister of Environment & Forests.  There were officials and workers bustling about the place, making arrangements and phone calls, and we walked in, nervous but excited to contribute and be involved in the ongoing activities. A few of the team members had been part of Science Express in the past and they were cool and confident guiding us as to what to do next.

The train was beautifully and elaborately decorated. We were welcomed aboard the exhibition train with the warm and smiling faces of Shri Chander Mohan Sir, Advisor, NCSTC, DST and Shri Dilip Surkar, Executive Director, VASCSC! As always, they asked us about our well being and how we werefeeling, everyone spoke and shared their thoughts. The dignitaries were to be conducted through the train coaches along with the communicators and were to be explained about the coachs’ content and its relevance.

Smt. Sheila Dikshit showed keen interest while being conducted through the coaches and I had the opportunity to brief her about the coasts and islands of India and the flora and fauna found there. Shri Praveen Kumar Bansal attentively listened to the communicators and gave valuable inputs through the discussion. After the dignitaries visited the train, they were taken back to the stage and each one of them was invited to say a few words on the occasion. Smt. Dikshit shared her experience of having spotted a rare Siberian owl while taking an evening walk along with her daughter and she said that it was one of the most joyful evenings that she had spent. She stressed that our country was one of the most diverse countries, with one of the longest coastlines and highest mountain ranges and pointed out the importance of safeguarding our natural wealth.

As the evening proceeded, a number of media persons approached the guests and science communicators and recorded a number of news bytes, hence giving good coverage to the function. Finally at 5.45 pm, on 9th April 2013, the Science Express – Biodiversity Special was flagged off from Delhi Safdarjung Station; great loads of cheers and shouts accompanied the flagging off and everyone was very happy and enthused! The train then reached Pragati Maidan, Delhi where the exhibition was to be showcased for four days. After the flagging off, an informal meeting was held between the communicators, Shri Dilip Surkar Sir and Shri Chander Mohan Sir; snacks were distributed and the communicators were encouraged to further break the ice and become more comfortable with each other. Towards the end, the SEBS team had a photograph with the dignitaries, who gave the project their blessings before leaving.

As we traveled back to the hotel, in the bus, I looked around at my fellow communicators and wondered what was going to keep us together for 7 months; would it be our friendship, our love for the job, our manager’s efforts or something else? As I was musing over the same topic, I remembered the song…..”Mera rang de basanti chola”. I smiled and then it dawned upon me- the unique biodiversity of India and its richness, our love and appreciation for the amazing natural bounty of our motherland, and its blessings- that would keep us together for 7 months and make the project a success. All hail my motherland!!

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