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  • Print publication year: 2007
  • Online publication date: October 2011

6 - Forest Policy During 1900–1950


In 1906 the Imperial Forest Research Institute was established with 6 officers – the Silviculturist, Superintendent of Forest Working Plans, Forest Zoologist, Forest Botanist, Forest Chemist and Forest Economist. According to Richard Tucker, the pattern of foreign training followed by British and urban Indian elite's dislike of wandering on remote mountains for several months at a time resulted into the fact that even in 1906 only two Indians had entered training for the professional ranks. It was then suggested that as in other departments certain number of direct appointments should be reserved for the natives of India, trained in India and those who had not served in the inferior grades. The experience of the Government of India was that “the life of the junior Forest Officer, it was observed, was a very trying one, involving considerable amount of exposure and fatigue if he really does his duty in forests. Native gentlemen in 9 cases out of 10 found the work quite uncongenial to their tastes and they would at best perform the duties in a perfunctory manner”. This route towards making the forest management localised was not promising and it led to further widening of the gap between the British forest management and the subsistence practices of the villagers.

The attitude of the British government towards the villages and their understanding of the subsistence agricultural practices did not change all through their administration in India. The Imperial Gazetteer of Bombay in 1909, is an example where it was stated that in spite of the great care taken by the Forest Department to control forest operations in the interests of the people, these operations did not become popular.