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Herbarium Somdeva
Vijaya Sharma
Dr. Gopal Singh Rawat
Dr. Anil K. Goel
Dr. Sachin Biswas
Dr. S. K. Upadhyaya
Arun Gupta
Dr. Wazahat Husain
Madhulika Choudhry
Dr. Govind S. Rajwar
Dr. Ravindra Chibbar
Dr. Mahesh Bhandari
Surgeon Commodore (Retd.) Dr. A. K. Verma
Dr. M. A. Rau
Sandeep Puran Singh
Pradeep Sharma



My Tributes to Guruji
Dr. Govind S. Rajwar

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I was grieved when I came to know about the sad demise of my respected and loving Guruji Professor Som Deva Sharma, through e-mail from my friend Dr. G.S. Rawat, Scientist, Wildlife Institute of India, Dehra Dun. My mind immediately went through a glimpse of his memories.
I joined as a B.Sc. student in 1972 in DAV College. During final year he taught us Taxonomy, that was my first interaction with him. He was renowned taxonomist and most able and efficient teacher. I was highly impressed by his style of teaching and his tremendous knowledge. I had the actual and fortunate interaction with him during M.Sc., when I chose taxonomy for my thesis work because I was fascinated by his teachings and he had developed my interest in this subject. He had such an art of telling about the characteristics and occurrences of plants that the listeners felt deep inclination towards this field. He allotted me the area of Jharipani near Mussoorie, which is a thick forest along the river Rispana. Since the terrain of the area is quite difficult, which he showed me when he took me there for the first time. That time I didn’t know that he was interested in thorough botanical survey of that area. He also wasn’t sure that I could do it. I visited the area twice a month for one and a half years collecting the plants including the tough walk during the rainy season because of flooding river and abundance of leeches. Professor Som Deva many times accompanied me to this area. I continuously reported him about the collection of plants and my visits to that area.

Once our whole class accompanied Guruji and me to this area. When one of my classmates uprooted a small and rare piper plant from the rock, Professor Sharma asked him to plant it again at the same place and not to collect it since it was rare. This showed his love for plants in nature and his efforts for the conservation of rare plants.

When I finished the thesis work, he was highly pleased to see my progress since I collected almost all the plants of that area including some interesting plants like Aeschynanthus parviflorus, Saurauja nepaulensis and some orchids. He told that in my collection there were 10 new distributional records from Mussoorie hills. When I was publishing some notes and papers on this work, he refused to give his name as an author. This showed his nature of giving the credit to his students.


After M.Sc. also he took me along during field trips with my juniors. He always wanted to provide the skills of plant identification and field knowledge to the students who had the potential and eagerness for learning this science. When I was in M.Sc. final year, he took me with a student of M.Sc. Previous Mr. Shiv Prakash Dhyani, now a Scientist at Central Soil and Water Conservation Research & Training Institute, Dehra Dun, to Baysi located between Rishikesh and Devprayag for his thesis work. Guruji took me to give field knowledge of that forest and bore my all expenditure. He was such a simple person that he didn’t even mind sleeping on a shop’s veranda with us there.
He wanted to promote his students in every sphere. I witnessed one such experience with him. Once the Head Master of the Doon School asked him to recommend a teacher of Biology. He asked the address of Mr. Surendra Jain, now a Scientist at FRI, who had just completed his M.Sc. then. I told him the name of his village “Kandoli” where I had never been before. He asked me sit on the backseat of his red colour Vijay Super Scooter and said we will search his village. We reached Nanda ki Chauki near Prem Nagar where we asked people the way to his village and reached there by the kuccha village path.

When I was in Uttarkashi College, I invited him as an examiner for practical examination, which he accepted on my request. On the second day of examination he instructed me to take some students with us to a forest in Asiganga valley. He collected many species of orchids there, which he grew in plastic containers on the trees of his house. Next year, when I visited his house he showed me flowering in some of those orchids.
He always helped and guided me as a teacher and like a guardian and a father. He has been a constant source of inspiration and encouragement to me, which helped me in exploring the nature further for knowing the vast plant diversity and conserving the rare ones. He was a great botanist known not only in India but also in different parts of the world. I am greatly indebted to him for the knowledge rendered by him.

Reader, Department of Botany
Govt. Post Graduate College
Rishikesh 249201, Uttaranchal

Phone: 0135 2454131 (R)
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