EDUCATION PLUS

Making eco-tourism work

The Pichavaram mangroves are finding a supporter in Siddharth of Loyola Collge. — Photo: R. Balaji

The Pichavaram mangroves are finding a supporter in Siddharth of Loyola Collge. — Photo: R. Balaji  

YOUNG G.J. SIDDHARTH has a few bright ideas about eco-tourism. He also has concrete proposals for converting the mangrove forest area of Pichavaram into a profitable eco-tourism zone.

A postgraduate Economics student of Loyola College, Siddharth submitted his dissertation on `Eco tourism prospects and opportunities in Pichavaram.' In his descriptive analysis, Siddharth plods through the history of the place and the concept of eco-tourism at a global level. What he intends to do is provide a link between the two and indicate what measures would make eco-tourism a viable option in the mangrove forest area, ensuring that commerce does not come in the way of conservation.

That means you essentially roll in history and the natural resources in a package that is sensitive to the social, environmental and economic co-ordinates of the area. The involvement of locals in any tourism effort is important, Siddharth points out.

It was a suggestion from N. Ravi, manager, (Tours and Marketing), Tamil Nadu Tourism Development Corporation, that set Siddharth off on his Pichavaram quest. But once he got started, there was no stopping him — with the aid of family, classmates and friends, he rounded up a well-researched article on the subject.

``I have to profusely thank my project guide, Prof. T. Eugene, and Economics department head, Prof. T. Vincent Jayakumar, for their support and direction.''

But his apparently striking performance does not seem to come in handy for him when Siddharth is looking for a job. While his overall aggregate in M.A. Economics is 76 per cent, it was 74 per cent in B. Com, with a cent per cent in management accountancy. In 12th standard, he scored 200/200 in Computer Science and 197/200 in Business Mathematics, topping his school — Boston Matriculation — in both these subjects.

``I guess the fact that I have a disability has something to do with me looking long and hard for a job. I have a mild speech impairment and difficulty with hand functions. But what I say is comprehensible and I can easy operate a computer. People are impressed with my CV, but when they know I have a disability, they become reticent to discuss things further,'' Siddharth says.

But even that seems a temporary setback for this really gutsy youth who never let his disability discredit him any way.

Ramya Kannan

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