Jyotsna Sitling

While many 'newsmakers' are catapulted to almost celebrity status overnight for doing hardly anything of acclaim, many others languish in the shadows despite living for others and helping change the lives of the underprivileged. Many of them remain mere footnotes to history, their extraordinary work almost snuffed out before the gale force of petty sensationalism that the world seems to find more 'interesting'. So here is an attempt to honour those who have done some extraordinary and selfless work in the society, bringing joy to hundreds of lives. This is a salute to the unsung heroes of 2012.


Among our list of India's unsung heroes is the first female tribal Indian Forest Service (IFS) officer. Jyotsna Sitling is a green warrior who has spent her life restoring our eco system. From cleaning up the hills to creating jobs for the locals, Jyotsna has done all she can to save our environment without affecting the local livelihood and turning it into a world heritage site.

Born into the Lepcha tribal community of Kalimpong in West Bengal, Jyotsna was always fascinated by flora and fauna. Over her 25 years in the IFS, she has cleaned, planted and restored our fragile environment.

The 49-year-old is best-known for restoring The Valley of Flowers National Park. The beautiful hills of the Nanda Devi Biosphere had turned into an ugly mass of plastic littered by pilgrims and tourists. She took it upon herself to clean the entire region involving the local so that they don't feel isolated. And their hard work paid off when the UNESCO declared it a World Heritage Site in 2005.

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