A unique institute in India’s Bihar hinterland is trying to tackle two burning issues – global warming & unemployment – at the same time. Rajesh, AKA TreeMan from Bihar is an environmental and climate change activist and the man behind this new way of teaching. It’s a coaching institute that charges only 18 plants as admission fee. Suman started the institute in 2008, and since then he has coached about 10,000 youths for free. Besides the 650 in government service, many others have got private – sector jobs.
The 18 – sapling rule is not cast in stone, says Suman. You can also send him a selfie with planted Saplings. If you don’t own land, he recommends you plant trees on government land. But he prefers fruit- bearing plants to increase incomes in villages where they are planted.
Why18 Saplings?” I had read somewhere that a man inhales as much oxygen throughout his life as that generated by18 plants. So I ask the students to donate 18 plants as an admission fee, “ says Suman.
Over the past 14 years, the institute has received around 1.7 lakh Saplings from students, and planted them in various districts of North Bihar, such as Samastipur,Begusarai ,Darbhanga, Khagaria & Muzaffarpur.
The aim is to make the state’s youth understand the importance of environmental conservation.” How will the people survive unless they conserve the environment ? It’s everyone’s responsibility to save the environment” says Suman, who is popularly known as “ Tree Man “. Currently only 15% of Bihar is under green cover.
But how does the institute function without charging money ? Suman Sayali that they have volunteer teachers who have other paying jobs. Suman himself earns his living from farming. it wasn’t easy in the beginning when the villagers boycotted him. Initially I was driven away from social functions & not even allowed to join feasts when I went with Saplings to promote greenery. They called me ‘Pagal’ (mad), but I never allowed my confidence to waver”. Now they invite him as Chief guest & even print his name on wedding cards, birthday celebration cards etc.
The institute runs separate classes for boys & girls, and the number of girl students has been rising. They attend the morning classes while boys are taught in the evening. Suman has very smartly linked his plantation drive to save girls campaign by asking the villagers to plant Saplings for their daughters just outside their homes. “You will see off your daughters after their marraige but the trees will remind you of them & also bear fruit ,” he tells them.
He asks girls to plant Saplings with their own hands. “Betiyonke haathonse ham plant lagwate hain. Kahte hain, aaj se ped bhi aapki beti ho gayi( we let the girls do the planting & tell their parents to treat the tree as another daughter )”. Suman has adopted four villages for extensive plantation & claims a 100% survival rate for the Saplings.
Suman’s full name is Rajesh Kumar Suman He is a 34-year old Environment & Climate – change activist. The name of his institute is BSS Club. The Club has become a Seed Capital. Around650 students from the BSS Club coaching institute have landed government jobs.