Archives of Contemporary India

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Nalni Jayal Papers

Nalni Jayal Papers

"My four years in the remote mountain forests of the eastern end of the Himalaya, among some wonderful so-called ‘primitive’, but culturally and socially advanced tribes of our country was not only an exciting educational experience in its broadest sense, but what struck me forcefully was the immense value of our national forest wealth in sustaining large segments of our tribal population."

A renowned mountaineer, bureaucrat and environmentalist, Nalni D. Jayal (b.1927-d. 2020) served in the Indian Air Force (1948-1956), and Indian Frontier Administrative Services (1956-1960). He was part of several mountaineering expeditions including Trishul expedition (1951), Bengal Sappers Expedition to Kamet (1952), French Expedition to Nun Kun (1953), and RAF Lahaul & Spiti (1954).

He joined the Indian Civil Services in 1960 and was Deputy Commissioner of Kinnaur District, Himachal Pradesh (1960-67), and then Deputy Secretary, Union Department of Family Planning (1967-1969). He was Director in the Ministry of Education (1969-1972) and served as Joint Secretary, Ministry of Forest and Wildlife, (1976-1980), Secretary of High Level Committee on Environment, 1980, and Advisor for Environment and Water Resources Planning Commission (1983-1995).

Nalni Jayal was the Regional Councillor for East Asia, IUCN (1978-1984), Planning Commander for Oceanic Islands of Andaman and Nicobar (1983-1995), and a member of Island Development Authority (1987-1990). Nalni Jayal served as the Director (1985-1990), and then Director-General (1990-1995) of the Indian National Trust for Art and Cultural Heritage (INTACH). He was the Founding Member and Secretary, Himalayan Trust (1993-2007). He served as a consultant of the Independent Monitoring Panel set up by the World Bank to resolve the problems of multiple displacement of people by the Singrauli Super-Thermal Power Project (1996-2000).

Nalni Jayal played a crucial role in formulating India’s environmental policy and establishing scientific institutions for studies and research in wildlife and environmental conservation including national parks and sanctuaries. After his retirement in 1985, he pursued his passion for conservation of environment and was in the forefront of environmental activism.

Nalni Jayal’s publications include, Eliminating poverty: An Ecological Response (1986), Conservation, Tourism and Mountaineering in the Himalayas (ed. with M. Motwani, 1986), Tropical Desertification – An Unseen Crisis (1990), Himalaya: Our Fragile Heritage (1991), Ecology and Human Rights (1993), and several chapters in books on environment.

About the Collection: The papers of N.D. Jayal comprise a rich source material on environmental issues of great importance in the Himalayas. These include papers on the establishment of the Ministry of Environment in India, conservation of soil and water resources, ecology and deforestation, parks and sanctuaries, and mountaineering expeditions. There are also files relating to the issue of human rights, Tehri Dam PIL, environmental reports and surveys, research grants to organizations for nature conservation, projects of The Himalayan Trust, IUCN, and INTACH. He has donated his collections of books on nature and environment also. (Catalogue available)

Donor: Nalni Jayal
Acquisition: 2017