I am a teacher of Botany in an agriculture university, G.B. Pant University of Agriculture and Technology, often called as ‘harbinger of green revolution’ in India. However, being a ‘teacher’ and being a ‘good teacher’ are two different things and I found myself more closer to the first word and I suppose very few of my students will remember me long in their lives. No matter whether I am a good teacher or not since it is more satisfying that I found ample opportunities to share whatever I know with my good listening students.
Since my early graduation days I was much influenced by my late elder brother who was a good trekker of Himalayan land. He was M.Sc. in Physics but fond of photographing and identifying plants. I always tried to become like him. In the October of 1986 I with my closest friend went for my first trekking in high altitude land of the Himalaya and got lost in the dense woods for three days, without proper food, shelter (I had a hand made tent only) or weapon (like a simple knife). It was a shear adventure and this desire of trekking increased more and more in preceding years. There are numerous experiences, once we trekked to Kalindi Khal Pass (5800m) without a guide and proper gear & equipment, another time passed a rainy night at the top of a moraine ridge (4300m) without tent and sleeping bag, at yet another time passed two nights, all alone, in proximity of a dead body at 4500m nearly 10 km away from Kedarnath; in fact I learned nothing from my first trekking experience. Now when I go for such trekkings I take required precautions, I am close to finishing 5th decade in this life and cannot be as careless as I was two decades back.
My journey with eFI started only when Garg Ji invited me to join the group in late 2012. I was unaware of such groups on the net and had little knowledge of computers. Just following the inherent spirit of adventure joined the group considering ‘see what happens’. Similar to my trekking ventures this also proved worthy and memorable. I sent my first request for identification of a species of Vicia and got it identified by Dr G. Singh sir. It encouraged me that I am at right forum to discuss my identifications. Since then I have been posting my pics with self determined identities, sometimes these are corrected by knowledgeable members particularly G. Singh Sir, Dr Pankaj and Surajit Ji. Despite of practicing floristics since my M.Sc. days in 1987-89 I found many plants difficult to identify but these get identified easily in eFI. The journey with eFI has been happy and satisfying, taking the help of others and sometimes helping others. I was in fact surprised when I was asked to become moderator first and later as pillar. These are not simple responsibilities and I often shy away from such responsibilities considering myself incapable for these. However, trying as much as I can, for eFI. Now when I go to any botanical tour it always lurks in the mind that what new I will found to share in eFI. Sharing something rare or new has a pleasure of its own kind.
I have no answer to the question that how it (eFI) is different from others as I have not seen or joined any other forum, in fact it was not needed as eFI gives me whatever I need.
I feel proud being member of eFI which is a ‘good teacher’ teaching Indian flora on net. And who will not feel proud being member of the largest database on Indian flora? Being open here, eFI takes considerable time in my routine which I happily accept always. I wish to see eFI as the complete database of flowering plants of India with all 20000 species (approximate number of seed plants). A database of its own kind in the world where one can contribute, help others or ask for help, all free and amicably.
Sometimes I feel that members often do not try self identification by consulting eFI database which defeats the objective of its constitution. Most of the time Garg Ji resurface cases for identification with link to species in eFI. May be it is partially due to the complex structure of eFI where one has to go through several clicks to reach a species (May be I am a little unfair in saying this but I am sharing what I feel).
I feel happy whenever a hard core taxonomist joins the group and enrich the pool of experts available in eFI. We need many more hard core taxonomists here to make it a high class referable repository by correcting all identities. When I explain a family in PG classes and share brief notes with students I never forget to share the link of same family in eFI. This allows them to see large number of species known in India.
Hope we all, combined together by a thread of selfless service in eFI, reach to the remotest and last species of India and showcase it here!