Lindsay Rego, Former Inspector General of Forests
The Highest Nationwide Position in the Indian Forest Service
By Michael Lobo, Mangalore [Author of A Genealogical Encyclopaedia of Mangalorean Catholic Families - To know more about Michael Lobo Click Here]
Only a handful of Mangaloreans in government service have attained the peaks of their professions. One member of this select group is an unassuming gentleman named Lindsay Rego, now leading a quiet retired life in a small apartment at Domlur, Bangalore. Seventeen years ago, he retired as Inspector General of Forests, New Delhi, the highest nationwide position in the Indian Forest Service.
Lindsay Harold Rego was born in Kallianpur on 11 September 1928. His father, Joaquim Rego, was himself a distinguished forest officer. Kallianpur was the ancestral home of his mother Lucy; she was a product of the well-known D’Souza and Aranha families of Kallianpur and Mulki respectively.
As he explains in the introduction to his book Nature’s Beauty and Bounty (as yet unpublished), it was in his native Kallianpur – “a veritable Garden of Eden” – that he became enchanted with the study of Nature. Throughout his academic career, he was a topper in Botany – at Bombay University, from where he graduated in 1948, and later at the Indian Forest college, Dehra Dun, where his botanical acumen won him the accolade of “Best Forester” in 1951.
In 1966, he was appointed a member of the Indian Forest Service and underwent a five-month training course in Sweden under a F.A.O. Fellowship from Rome. His brilliant performance here earned him the citation of “Most outstanding Fellow-to-date”. As member of the IFS, he travelled extensively, attending world forestry conferences and congresses at Europe, U.S.A., Canada, Central America and Japan.
Following rapid promotions, he became Chief Conservator of Forests, Maharashtra, in the early 1980s, and then Inspector General of Forests (IGF) – the first Indian Christian to attain this position. He was also the first IGF (regardless of community) to be elevated to the status of a full Secretary – of the Department of Environment and Forests, Government of India. On retirement in 1986, he was appointed member of the newly created Central Administrative Tribunal (Bangalore bench) – the only forest officer to have been so appointed. This position is equivalent to that of a high court judge.
Lindsay Rego with Zail Singh, former President of India
Despite his distinguished career, Lindsay Rego never displays the sense of importance that so often characterizes senior government officers. During his career, he was greatly admired and respected by his colleagues and especially by his subordinates, many of whom he helped in various ways.
A deeply religious man, his services to the Church earned him the Pro Ecclesia et Pontifice in 1979. Lindsay Rego is also a talented writer. He is the author of various publications on forestry, including: National Parks and Wildlife Sanctuaries in Maharashtra State (1971), and A Handbook on Soil Conservation and Afforestation (1979). Following retirement, he has been writing articles on very
diverse themes including Nature (naturally!), Nostalgia, Time, Life and Spirituality. His collected
essays are shortly due for publication.
He is married to Patsy Saldanha, grand-daughter of the distinguished coffee-curing industrialist P.F.X. Saldanha. Over the past decade , she has been suffering from a neurological ailment, that confines her to a wheelchair; yet he looks after her, single-handedly and devotedly – all their five children being abroad: Vernon (in New Zealand), Elaine (in Dubai), Vilma, Iona & Sarita (in USA). His family regard him as an epitome of ‘noble living, high thinking’, and express heartfelt gratitude for the man who has given them so much, for so little in return.