It is with great sadness that we learned of the passing of Dr R.S. Tolia, our beloved and esteemed elder, leader and founder President of the Integrated Mountain Initiative (IMI). On behalf of all mountain communities of India and the IMI, we send our deepest condolences to Dr Tolia’s family at this difficult time. The mountain community mourns with you and celebrates the extraordinary life of this remarkable “mountain of a man” who devoted his life to furthering the cause of mountain people and “making the people of India proud of its mountains.”
Passion and energy, amongst many others, were the traits he showed in all he did. His energy and life-long dedication to improve the lives and livelihoods of mountain people will continue to inspire generations of young mountain people in India and around the world.
There are few people who have had such a profound impact on the future direction of mountain development than, Dr Tolia. His leadership, vision and commitment for the formation of a pan-Indian mountain movement not only unified diverse mountain states of India but also inspired many others. His deep understanding of the link between human resources and the quality of the natural mountain environment undoubtedly influenced a generation of researchers, organizations and policymakers. It is a tribute to his passionate determination that so many us feel such a deep sense of loss at his passing.
Perhaps because he was always advocating for something better, he may not have stopped often enough to reflect on how he had successfully pushed the mountain agenda in India. But as he passes from this life, those of us who are left behind can see all that he achieved.
Together with many others, the mountain community of India has lost a powerful force for the mountains. He will remain a source of inspiration for all those who, on the Indian Himalayas and beyond, fight for the same values and the same causes. We have indeed lost a true hero.
Rest in peace Dr Tolia. A great man, an inspiration for many, a magnificent visionary and embodiment of courage.