Chipko movement

The Chipko movement or Chipko Andolan (Hindi:िचपको आनदोलन) (literally "to stick" in Hindi) is a socio-ecological movement that practised the Gandhian methods of satyagraha and nonviolent resistance, through the act of hugging trees to protect them from being felled. The modern Chipko movement started in the early 1970s in the Garhwal Himalayas of Uttarakhand,[1] with growing awareness towards rapid deforestation. The landmark event in this struggle took place on March 26, 1974, when a group of female peasants in Reni village, Hemwalghati, in Chamoli district, Uttarakhand, India, acted to prevent the cutting of trees and reclaim their traditional forest rights that were threatened by the contractor system of the state Forest Department, and transpired hundreds of such grassroot level actions, throughout the region. By the 80s, the movement spread throughout India, and led to formulation of people sensitive forest policies and stopping of open felling of trees in regions as far reaching as Vindhyas and the Western Ghats.[2] The first recorded event of Chipko however, took place in village Khejarli, Jodhpur district, in 1730 AD, when 363 Bishnois, led by Amrita Devi sacrificed their lives while protecting green Khejri trees, considered sacred by the community, by hugging them, and braved the axes of loggers sent by the local ruler,[3] today it is seen an inspiration and a precursor for Chipko movement of Garhwal.[4][5] The Chipko movement, though primarily a livelihood movement rather than a forest conservation movement, went on to become a rallying point for many future environmentalists, environmental protests and movements the world over and created a precedent for non-violent protest.[6][7] It occurred at a time when there was hardly any environmental movement in the developing world, and its success meant that the world immediately took notice of this nonviolent Tree hugging movement, which was to inspire in time, many such eco-groups, helped in slowing down the rapid deforestation, exposed vested interests, increased ecological awareness, and demonstrate the viability of people power. Above all, it stirred up existing civil society in India like never before, which started looking towards tribal, and marginalized people and their issues like never before. So much so that, quarter a century later, India Today mentioned, the people behind the "forest satyagraha" of the Chipko movement, as amongst "100 people who shaped India".[8] Today, beyond the eco-socialism hue, it is being seen increasingly as an ecofeminism movement, as though many of its leaders were men, women were not just its backbone, but also its mainstay, because they were the ones most affected by the rampant deforestation,[citation needed] leading to lack of firewood and fodder as well as water of drinking and irrigation. Over the years they also became primary stakeholders in majority of the afforestation work that happened under the Chipko movement.

The Himalayan region had always been exploited for its natural wealth, be it minerals or timber, including by the British. The end of the nineteenth century saw implementation of new approaches in forestry, coupled with reservation of forests for commercial forestry, causing disruption in the age-old symbiotic relationship between the natural environment and the rural peasant, both in Kumaon and Garhwal. The few peasant protests that arose during this period were crushed severely. Notable protests in 20th century, were that of 1906, followed by the 1921 protest which was linked with then independence movement imbued with Gandhian ideologies, [11] the 1940s was again marked with a series of protests in Tehri Garhwal region.[12]