Remembering the Mountain Stalwart: Dr. R.S.Tolia

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rstoliaIt 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.

13 Comments on “Remembering the Mountain Stalwart: Dr. R.S.Tolia”

  1. PD Rai

    My regret is that I got to know him only in 2010. Too short a time.

    Tolia ji was a great human being – first and foremost. Consumed by the work he had to do he was in an indefatigable mode over the last few years! I will miss his modesty and his great intellectual inputs on all the subjects. Selfless to a fault.

    I pray for his eternal peace. I pray for giving strength to his family members who will feel is loss the most.

    We at IMI must work that much harder to make IMI a success for him which was his last institutional cause and his legacy.

    We will miss your dearly.

  2. Jigmet Takpa

    Our hearts are filled with sorrow upon hearing the news about Dr. RS Tolia passing. We are sorry for the great loss. Dr. Tolia was such a great person, He will live on in our memories forever. We would like to express our sorrow and condolences to the grieved family. Losing someone we love is not easy, we can realize that we are blessed to have been able to share in his life. Wishing peace to bring comfort and the courage to face the days ahead and loving memories to forever hold in your hearts. Our sincere condolences. Jigmet Takpa CCF Ladakh

  3. Praful Rao

    A towering presence in our midst. His craggy looks and bountiful exterior belied a warm and gentle person with a ready smile.

    I contacted him several times when we were running into funding problems while preparing for an IMI seminar in Kalimpong and the thought of calling off the event was never discussed – he was supremely confident that the money would roll in from somewhere, somehow. And it did!!

    A true IMI jihadist!

    RIP, Sir!

    Your dreams for the mountain regions of India will continue to inspire us.

  4. Rashmi

    We met Dr Tolia in 1998, when we first started Avani in this remote region of Uttarakhand…Right from the beginning, we were amazed by his humility and his connection and engagement with the rural mountain communities despite his high ranking job profile…He would drop by at Avani whenever he was on his way to Munsiari…We met him last when he visited Avani about 2 years ago and even then he was deeply interested in our work and the future direction of Avani…We will miss him and his care and concern for all issues related to mountain people…We were looking forward to interacting with him with IMI but sadly that was not to be…Our hearty condolences to Manjudi, Priyanka and his whole family…May he rest in peace…We have indeed lost a stalwart of the mountains…

  5. Sushil Ramola

    I met Dr. Tolia in 2004. My good fortune was that my association with him continued to grow till a cruel twist took him away abruptly. I lost an elder brother, a friend and a mentor – no single person before him meant so many things to me. I will miss him dearly.

    I join the legion of his admirers and followers who suddenly have the baton in their hands for pursuing the mission of bringing pride and prosperity for the mountains and its people – for which Dr. Tolia worked selflessly with relentless energy in both thought and action. My responsibility has now increased.

    IMI was amongst the last institutions Dr. Tolia conceptualised and led from the front as its founding President. It found a unique niche and a clear path under his leadership. Now let his hard work, passion and wisdom be the guiding light on our path towards achieving IMI’s vision.

  6. Rajendra P Gurung

    Deeply saddened by Dr Tolia’s passing away. We were still clinging to the hope he would tide over his illness and join us again with his inspiring presence. A truly remarkable personality with a boundless passion for the cause of the mountains. I had the good fortune of first meeting him in Nainital in the first IMI SMD Summit in 2011. Ever since he has always been a source of inspiration for me and for the work of IMI. Always keeping in touch, offering words of encouragement and guidance and linking me to people and agencies connected with my work. His indefatigable energy was truly amazing and many a time it was difficult to keep up with his numerous emails and articles that kept pouring in sometimes marked 3am in the morning! The depth of his knowledge and experience on mountain issues was priceless and it was always a pleasure to read his published works in various media. He held a towering and respected presence in the mountain leadership which was very palpable. I was truly touched when in his video recorded message to the Leh Summit (which he had recorded inspite of his illness) he mentioned me by name.
    His departure leaves a void that may never be filled. But it also leaves us with the responsibility to ensure that his vision for the mountains is fulfilled. That is a debt we owe him.
    Farewell sir, may you noble soul rest in peace in the “Abode of the Gods” the beloved Himalayas which you so dearly loved.

  7. Dr Anil K Srivastva

    Dr Anil K Srivastva, Ex Director and Emeritus Scientist, ICAR-VPKAS, Almora/Dehradun

    Dr Tolia has completed his journey of life in the present form. A journey , we all mountain people wish should have gone on and on forever.
    Dr Tolia continues to live with us and in Himalayas, in the form of his spirit, and his papers in black n white. The legacy he has left is for all of us to emulate. Whether as the guiding principles or pursuing the great Himalayan agenda all inclusive of people, the resources, the prosperity and the well being.
    In the regional and global scenario, he packaged the voice and concern in conformity with the sustainable goals. He so convincingly put forth the interest of the mountains in synergy with the low land population.
    The path shown by Dr Tolia will continue to be followed by us , for long long time to come.
    The mountains and its people, the natural resources, the water and forests, the flora and fauna shall remain indebted to you Sir, Dr Raghunandan Singh Tolia for ever and for ever.

    +91-9411134656; 9456593440.

  8. roshan p rai

    Dr. Tolia touched us personally with his passion and concern about the mountains and his ability to relate to what we were doing. His tremendous energy and zeal inspired us all and brought us together in the IMI. Darjeeling will miss a dear friend and mentor. May your soul rest in peace with the Gods in the Himalaya

  9. Dr VK Bahuguna

    I have known Dr Tolia and met him two three times. He was full of enery and a deeply committed to welfare of Himalayas and its people. In March 2015 when I was Principal Secretary in Tripura he requested me to set up the Tripura chapter which I did establish before I left. He was one of a rare breed of a civil servant and I rate him finest IAS officer I have come across. A great loss.

  10. Gandhi Darang

    My deepest condolences to Tolia sir!! You will always remain in our heart forever. We won’t forget your guidance and your love for the mountains.

    Rest in Peace Sir!!!

  11. Mustafa Ali Khan

    We all are deeply saddened by the demise of Dr. R.S. Tolia. He brought in a lot of passion and energy into his field of work. Dr. Tolia had a rare combination of insights and the tactical know how for getting things done. His absence will be missed.

    We got the opportunity to be associated with him through the Sustainable Mountain Development Summits, which he championed and steered.

    Our heart felt condolences to his family.

  12. Deepa JOSHI

    I am shocked and deeply saddened to learn – now that Dr Tolia is no more. My association with him goes back to my Phd days when he was posted at ATI, Nainital and since then, I had several wonderful opportunities to reconnect on work. He will remain an inspiration to me – and I will miss his wonderful, towering personality and his deep commitment to mountains and mountain peoepl.

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