Home » News » A Barefoot Environmentalist, “Encyclopedia Of Forests”, and “Tree Goddess” — Padma Shree Awardee Tulsi Gowda

President Ram Nath Kovind honored 72-year-old environmentalist from Karnataka with the fourth-highest civilian award in the country, Padma Shree Award. She received the award barefoot and in her tribal attire.

She is honored for her commendable work in the field of environmental protection for over six decades and has planted more than 30,000 saplings.

Who is Tulsi Gowda?

  • 72-year old, Tulsi Gowda belongs to Halakki indigenous tribe in Karnataka. She was born in a poor and disadvantaged family in 1944. Her father died while she was two.
  • She started working as a day labourer along with her mother and was deprived of formal education.
  • Despite all odds and lack of formal education, Tulsi expanded her knowledge about forests and plants.
  • She was married off to an older man at a very young age (10-11). Her husband died when she was in her 50s.
  • She worked for over 35 years as a labourer with Karnataka Forestry Department and then she was offered a permanent position as a recognition of her work and extensive knowledge. She retired at the age of 70 after working for 15 years in that permanent position.

Endless Knowledge of Plants and Herbs

  • For many environmentalists, Tulsi is “Encyclopedia of Forests” and her tribe calls her “Tree Goddess”.
  • She has planted over 1 lakh trees in Karnataka on her own.
  • She has a vast knowledge of forests and all type of plants. She has the ability to identify the mother species of any plant.
  • She is also a master of seed collecting.
  • As per Tulsi, she can speak the language of forests.
  • She has been teaching children about forests, seeds, and seed care.
  • She has also championed women’s rights in her village.

Awards and Honors

  • Indira Priyadarshini Vrikshamitra Award in1986
  • Karnataka Rajyotsava Award in 1999
  • Padma Shri award on 26 January 2020

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