Embrace the trees and Save them from being felled; The property of our hills, Save them

from being looted.

Chipko Movement

-Project by Mihir Shah (40)

2

Introduction
Let us protect and plant the trees Go awaken the villages And drive away the axemen. - Ghanshyam Sailani (translated by Govind Raturi)

Reni forests of Garhwal Himalaya succeeded in chasing away timber felling contractors. In course of time this event became a milestone in the evolution of the world famous Chipko movement. An impressive and useful bibliography on the literature around the movement has also developed since then. A number of activists with remarkable philosophical richness and social commitment have devoted their lives to this movement, which is one of the most written about in the world today. The Chipko movement of the Uttarakhand Himalaya is one of the frequently cited and much publicised environmental and social actions in India. Originating in the Garhwal region of the Western Himalaya as a grassroots-level conservation movement against reckless destruction of trees in general and forests in particular, the movement is certainly seen by many as an inspiring example of local action against the alienating and damaging incursions of the modern state. Started off as a small protest movement against cutting a few ash trees, the movement reached its climax in the mid-seventies. The movement, once branded as an anti-scientific and troublesome phenomenon, is now hailed as an example of constructive environmental protection activism. It is widely covered in the Indian press and international ecological journals, its leaders are regularly

and the word Chipko is now almost a household word in India". • Chipko is pioneer in making issue of environment figure as a priority issue both of development and policy making. makes this movement relevant to the people at their level and gives them sustainability. • A movement where emphasis is on doing something about the degraded state of the environment with an afforestation program which has a good success rate. The movement is neither supported nor sponsored by any political parties.3 asked to address high-level government committees and scientific conventions. specially in a culture where women have always been denied a role in decision making. Some notable features of this movement are as follows: • Growing understanding of the people and their environment born out of a concern for more equitable and sustainable use of environment. • A movement where participation and role of women has been noteworthy. but more related to sustenance. Chipko is a civil disobedience movement and its modus operandi is somewhat histrionic and involves physical interference with felling operations by embracing . • Chipko is a rare example of where people working in a particular situation are able to respond without any external intellectual leadership in face of a new problem. • • • Protection of trees stems out of its cultural ethos.

To make matters worse. although small in population. The land was understood to belong to the community rather as a whole even though there was a caste system in place.4 each marked tree in a desperate attempt to save it. ecologically distinct region which. Uttarakhand was divided into two units. Despite its turbulent political genesis and boisterous models of regimentation. Uttaranchal hitherto known as Uttarkhand comprises of an ethnically and. Historically. there was an absence of sharp class division. a total 363 people. The political structure of hill society in those two kingdoms was distinct from the rest of India in that along with the presence of communal tradition. A large number of villagers. Tehri Garhwal and the Kumaon Division. the Bishnoi community in Rajasthan (a province in north western India) are said to have been the progenitors of this movement during the around the year 1730. its ideals are patriotically motivated and help in focusing attention to crisis in Indian forestry. Problems leading to Chipko The British government controlled the northern hill districts of India in the nineteenth century. the Indian Himalayan region was under the control of emigrants (particularly Germans) since 1855 in order to produce lumber for the railroads. During this period (1815-1947). is rich in resources essential for the livelihood of the local population even as they are coveted and extracted by outsiders. lost their lives trying to protect Khejri trees from being felled by the soldiers of the Maharaja of Jodhpur at a village called Khejarli. The government nationalised one-fifth of the forest area and enacted legislation. This process provides the essential context for understanding the Chipko movement. Evolution Though the Chipko movement gained prominence in the 1970s. the Indian Forest Act of 1878 regulated peasant access by restricting it to . Agriculture was the chief profession in these areas.

corporations and other entrepreneurs intent on exploiting the area's timber and forest products (e. Prior to the 60’s.g. Uttarkhand was relatively inaccessible to outsiders.g. Uttarakhand Sarvodaya Mandal (founded by Mira Behn and Sarala Behn) and thousand of villagers-mostly women-picketed in different districts of Gharwal and Tehri against widespread distillation and sale of liquor. As a result there has been a shift away from community resource management and control which was proven to be more effective in ecological regeneration and restoration. the consequence was the opening up of the area to contractors. Led by Sarvodaya workers of the Gandhian Foundation. Sanctions were enacted on those who breached those laws. Although the motive was strategic... This. but following the Indo-Chinese border conflict of 1962. When the great flood of 1970 took place. limestone. This undercurrent of discontent and protests against the management of the Forest Department was also aggravated by other elements of commercialization and underdevelopment of the hills.5 areas of forest not deemed commercially profitable. led to serious economic and social dislocation of the Himalayan people. resin and medicinal herbs). a substantial number of the communities were washed away by the severity of the natural disaster and many villagers began to see the causal link between the flood and the deforestation. an extensive network of motor roads was constructed throughout the mountains. mineral resources (e. They wanted to cut down tress especially ash trees to make use of the land. together with massive exploitation by extractive industries. magnetite. this was especially evident where the . and land suitable for fruit orchards and cool climate commercial crops and building hydroelectric sites on the area's abundant river networks. The 1960’s also opened its doors to one of the first mobilization of women's consciousness and collectivity. The Forest department passed an order to excavate entire land areas and use them for commercial purposes. These workers as well as anti alcohol movement created mass base for Chipko. potassium).

was conceived. Initially some members of the co-operative thought of burning down the forest but then under the leadership of Chandi Prasad Bhatt. Since then the movement has spread to Himachal Pradesh in the North. Bihar in the East and to the . Kamataka in the South. Rajasthan in the West. which literally means to embrace. The movement saw the use of folklore and songs from local culture in reaching out to people with the message. The Chipko protests in Uttar Pradesh achieved a major victory in 1980 with a 15-year ban on green felling in the Himalayan forests of that state by order of India's then Prime Minister. Hence Chipko. Indira Gandhi. and then Seymonds Co. Dasholi Gram Swarajya Mandal. asked for an allotment of ash trees to make its agricultural implements and was refused by the forest department. it was decided to hug trees to prevent the felling. the contractors men took advantage of the situation (forgetting about the women) and headed for the forests. It was the next event however that truly bought to light the significant role and contribution that women played in the movement's successes and global environmental implications for all. With all the men out of the village on scheduled meetings against the proposed auctioning off of trees at Reni. A young girl who spied them headed back to inform the head of Mahila Mandal (Women's Club) Gaura Devi who quickly mobilized the women of the village toward the forest before the contractors arrived. the contractors were forced to return home The first Chipko action took place spontaneously in April 1973 and over the next five years spread to many districts of the Himalaya in Uttar Pradesh. a large lumber asked for the same and was allotted just a few miles away in the forest of Mandal. Chipko: The Beginning In 1973 when a local co-op organization. When they refused to budge.6 villages that were most affected by the flood lay right underneath forests that felling had taken place.

Indira Gandhi. an Australian scholar of politics states “The Chipko Andolan is becoming an inspiration for activists around the world and whether its work in the Uttarakhand Himalaya is almost complete or not is to some extent irrelevant. It also stopped clear felling in the Western Ghats and the . Chipko is now clubbed with the struggle of Brazilian rubber-tappers led by the late Chico Mendes (popularly known as Chipko Mendes). Ms. it has been mentioned approvingly in Time magazine and India's The Illustrated Weekly has included the advent of Chipko in its list of The Ten Most Momentous Events Since India Won Freedom (along with the assassination of Mahatma Gandhi. invoking the Chipko movement.7 Vindhyas in Central India. Weber's wishes appear to have been fulfilled. in its list of Fifty Indians Who Matter. In London. writes "A BBC documentary film has been based on this Chipko andolan. In Uttar Pradesh. Grassroots activists in the United States hug trees. the movement has stopped clear felling in the Western Ghats and the Vindhyas and generated pressure for a natural resource policy which is more sensitive to people's needs and ecological requirements. the lifting of the Emergency imposed by Indira Gandhi etc) and its two leading lights Sunderlal Bahuguna and Chandi Prasad Bhatt. this movement achieved a major victory in 1980. The Earth in general no less so. Impact Thomas Weber. a man who was fighting for a tree identified himself as David Chipko. Much of the rest of the Himalayan mountains are bare and in desperate need of friends. And at this stage these friends of the Earth would greatly benefit if Chipko continued to illuminate the path towards a green earth and a true civilisation". while introducing his book Hugging The Trees: The Story of Chipko Movement. Weber . In addition to the 15-year ban in Uttar Pradesh. the liberation of Bangladesh. which came with a 15-year ban on green felling in the Himalayan forests by order of India’s then Prime Minister.

Government and Planning Commission have sponsored some of CPB’s economic development camps and afforestation efforts. Chipko ( Guha ) is a private (peasant) and public ( ecological ) image. Chipko emerged as a peasant movement in defense of traditional forest rights. Karnataka in the South. Chipko is an affirmation of a way of life more harmoniously with natural processes. Rajasthan in the West. Then the movement spread to Himachal Pradesh in the North. Led to movements against big dams. It slowed down march of commercial forestry. • • • • • • • • • • • • • Chipko has definite impact on consciousness of local people and has slowed down ecological decline of Himalayas.8 Vindhyas and generated pressure for a natural resources policy. which gives Chipko its distinctive quality and strength. continuing a century-long tradition of resistance to state encroachment. Bihar in the East and to the Vindhyas in Central India. both received Magsaysay award. fight against Tehri. Active participation of all social groups. Afforestation successful. Removal of system of private contract felling and formation of UP Forest Development Corporation. unregulated mining and sale of illicit liquour. . Inspiration for Appiko. which is more sensitive to people’s needs and ecological requirements. Needs to be seen as part of democratic struggle at a point of history when existing institutions and theoretical models become totally inadequate. Most important legacy is its section of hill and forest people in the assertion of their rights. Success in harnessing women’s power. I has been able to sustain itself for long.

Over the last few years. scanty. the more vociferous yet non-violent resistance at the Reni forests was triggered off by the news of auction of some local forests for felling to a sports-goods company from the plains. The contract system for forest felling allowed rich contractors from the plains to make large profits from fellings in the mountain forests. Moreover. Despite the movement’s success and popularity round the globe. Among the early writers on the history of the movement. a local Gandhian organisation. and environmental debates. men and women of determination. academic circles. On March 26. a small but growing number of chroniclers and authors have started to criticize the popular and widely accepted image of the movement. economic context of the Chipko' protests. It lives in educational centres. Dependable historical account of this widely written about movement is.9 Critics Many courageous activists. the first successful resistance to forest felling at the Mandal forests was based on economics and aimed at obtaining higher allotment of trees for felling to the Dasholi Gram Swarajya Sangh (DOSS). what is distressfully true is the fact that the authors and scholars are busy writing the obituary of the movement. have brought 'Chipko' from the stage of a possible instrument of struggle to the stage of a trend-setting achievement. This criticism revolves round insufficient attention paid to the socio-political and the . Documented evidence from the movement sources does not indicate any influences of the brand of thinking known as 'deep ecology'. 1973. The general consensus is that very little is left of the Chipko movement in the region save the memory. On June 24. Bandyopadhyay (1992) as well as Guha (1989) have not indicated any link with 'deep ecology'. surprisingly. there appear some serious gaps in the public impressions and actual realities of the movement. 1974.

especially in the Himalayan context. this fundamental basis of the movement got substantially reduced when the contract system of felling was stopped and the public sector Forest Development Corporation was established. many women in the Garhwal and Kumaon region do not find the slogan very realistic. and is identified with the slogan: What do the forests bear? Soil. which called for a total ban on commercial fellings in the whole Garhwal and Kumaon Himalaya. . water and pure air!! The slogan is an excellent and simple summarization of the ecological importance of the mountain forests. Reference in the literature is frequently made to an environmental branch of the movement. The fellings were undertaken with the help of local village co-operatives. including the present author. However. Notwithstanding the significant role played by the women of Henwal valley region in the protection of mountain forests. the folk-poet of the movement: Embrace the trees in the forests And save them from being felled! Save the treasure of our mountains From being looted away from us!! The movement had its beginning in the conflicts over mountain forests between the economic interests of the mountain communities and the economies of the plains. However. had unhesitatingly accepted the slogan. Many academic analysts. particularly the Henwal valley region. when first informed about it. with the passage of time. several questions on the representative character and origin of this slogan have emerged.10 The basic theme of the movement as opposition to this practice is precisely expressed in the following lines from a famous poem by Raturi. This part of the movement is reported to have originated -in the Tehri-Garhwal region.

11 Can the women in the mountain villages who spend several hours each day in the forests struggling to collect daily firewood and green fodder. This point indicates why the ecological message of the Chipko movement has impressed environmentalists in the urban areas and the countries of the north. the slogan is an abstract one. and hence they are secondary. Naturally. Guha (1989) has answered these questions in a substantive manner showing the location of Chipko in the tradition of social movements of the region. appears too distant. identified Chipko as 'a women's movement'. though no activist woman from the movement has made any such claim. Chipko has its roots in the hard economic struggle for survival. Shiva (1992). much more than those in the mountainous hinterlands in the south. there is also a positive side to it. the Chipko movement has the private face of a quintessential peasant . The convoluted argument that firewood and green fodder can grow only when there is soil. while its face has been tactically decorated by some 'deep ecological' terms. water and pure air. in spite of that. There was no lack of recognition of the fact that the issue of forests in the Garhwal and Kumaon Himalaya touches the women much more intensely than the men. and the large-scale participation of the village women have led to some analysts claiming that Chipko is a 'women's movement'. they ask. Much of the success of the movement in getting tacit political support lies in this capacity of the leadership of the movement to mobilise the vocal and urban environmentalists. for the women in the mountain villages who struggle to keep the cooking-fire running and the domestic cattle well-fed at home. However. The presence of large number of women in the forest action at Reni. Thus. the slogan has impressed urban environmentalists the world over but.movement and a public face of one of the most celebrated environmental movements of the world. In the early literature on Chipko no serious questions were raised about the movement being based on gender conflict. However. theoretical and urban in the face of the hard struggle for survival in the rural mountain villages. in line with the distinction made by Guha (1989). ever forget to include them in the list of important forest products. The acutely subjective nature of such claims and the confusions . at best a reflection of halftruth of their lives.

. while the men in the concerned villages were diverted by a clever official move. this participation. the men were eventually forced to retire. Shiva's (1992) description of the same incidence. Reni's importance in the saga of Chipko andolan (movement) is two-fold. moreover. When . Thus. Shiva is unable to see the Reni action in a holistic perspective." This statement suffers from reductionist drawbacks and distortion of facts. Our men were out of the village so we had to come forward and protect the trees. the women initially met with abuse and threats.the women refused to budge.As such. As Gaura Devi. Pleading with the labourers not to start the felling operations." This clearly establishes the nature of the movement as a joint struggle based on gender collaboration. Guha (1989) describes the same incidence thus: "Gaura Devi quickly mobilised the other housewives and went to the forest. Interestingly. As Guha (1989) describes. Referring to the contrived absence of the menfolk of the village. Guha has elaborated on how the officials made a clever move to get the men folk and the DGSS activists away from the villages around Reni forests. Due to the reductionist view.women took up the mantle of resistance. even at the level of participation Chipko can hardly be said to constitute a women's movement. challenging the brute power of hired sawyers. Thus.12 they generate can be explained by a closer look at the way the protest led by Gaura Devi in 1974 is seen from the ecofeminist viewpoint." . the woman leader of the forest action at Reni explained [Guha 1989]: % was not a question of planned organisation of the women for the movement. It was the first occasion on which women participated in any major way. about to cut down the trees for a sportsgoods company. rather it happened spontaneously. from an ecofeminist viewpoint merely says: "A group of village women led by one Gaura Devi hugged trees. the . the link between the steps taken by Gaura Devi and the contrived absence of the men in the village has been missed in her analysis. coming in the absence of their own men folk and DGSS activists. The forest officials were concerned about the resistance to forest felling by both men and women. so that felling could be undertaken without resistance..

There is no reason for seeing the Chipko movement as based on gender conflicts. Women have played significant roles in the movement. the menfolk are described as rapacious agents of economic development and change. the women of Garhwal and Kumaon have often been described as opponents of change and mere carriers of tradition. She was neither present at the spot in Reni. However. holistic and painstaking research results by scholars in the same region have. that large number of people. This has also disturbed the activists of the movement. as has been projected by Shiva (1992). Notwithstanding sensationalist writings. some journalists have failed miserably to maintain minimum professional standards and have created serious confusions at the international level on the above question. provided a different picture [see for example Mehta 1996]. have been embracing trees to prevent their felling. especially women. fortunately. Similarly. Realistic. such myths have been more effectively exploded by the leading roles played by the women of Garhwal and Kumaon in the popular movement demanding a new and develop-—. there is no documented support to the claim of Shiva. Shiva (1992) declared that 'one Gaura Devi' led a group of village women to hug trees. While the media has played an important role in spreading the positive message of the movement. the women activists of the Chipko movement have considered that the movement has strengthened itself from gender collaboration against the inappropriate management practices for the mountain forests. In the ecofeminist literature on Chipko. except in the villages of Garhwal -and Kumaon. (Njere recently. . This is historically incorrect. just as their male counterparts. nor does she refer to any discussion with Gaura Devi. In a magazine Sanctuary. There has been a media created confusion on the issue of who embraced the trees in Chipko movement. A number of researchers had discussed the Reni action with Gaura Devi.13 Gaura Devi herself did not mention any incidence of having led the women to embrace trees. A common impression exists all over the world. mentoriented state in this mountain region.

had led somewhere in the Himalayan mountains. greedy and selfish persons like Vandana Shiva. . When the only reported incidence of embracing trees to protect them from felling occurred in Salet forests in the Garhwal Himalaya.The real activists are so simple that they do not know why Vandana Shiva is reportedly publishing wrong claims about Chipko in the foreign press. the presence of a large number of angry villagers was enough to discourage the contractors from trying to fell trees. Nor does he mention one name out of the thousands of women that Shiva. in an article in The Star wrote. "Her (Vandana Shiva's) name is synonymous with the Chipko movement (Chipko means embrace) in India.. Contrary to all the unfounded greenish journalistic attempts in the international media. In the year 1977. as has been reported by Shiva and Bandyopadhyay (1986). though partly amused. Vandana (Shiva) led thousands of women to embrace (literally) the trees in the Himalayan mountains in their bid to stop logging activities. a courageous and lesser known Gandhian activist from the village Pipleth." In the characteristic style of sensationalist journalism. The activists of the Chipko movement. In all other instances of Chipko movement. resistance was expressed in other non-violent forms. to garner the glory of the Chipko movement. Dhoom Singh Negi.14 The spreading of misinformation is taken to comical heights by a Malaysian journalist Fong (1996) who. All photographs of 'Chipko Actions' represent enactments. In most cases. an active anti-logging movement in the 70s and early 80s. We should all stand up against this new green exploitation of the people's simplicity and courage by clever. successfully prevented felling by embracing trees in the Salet forest area in the Garhwal Himalaya. and that too by a male activist. reportedly. there was no photographer around in the remote mountain forests. there has so far been only one reported instance of actual use. place. or villages associated with the incident he reports. wrote a letter of protest to the editor of The Star: 'The interview is based on false claims of Vandana Shiva and has angered many . forest area. and human life was at risk. of the method of embracing trees.. To stem environmental destruction. Fong (1996) does not pro vide any date.

however. The writer and activist Vandana Shiva was also involved in the Chipko movement in the 1970s. but particularly influential members included Sunderlal Bahuguna . Men are involved too. Chandi Prasad Bhatt and Sarala Ben. Chipko is seen as monolithic movement most of which is spontaneous. .15 Chipko: Ideology and Leadership The Chipko Movement is the result of hundreds of decentralised and locally autonomous initiatives. the Chipko poet. whose songs echo throughout the Himalayas of Uttar Pradesh. Ideologically. He advocates selective felling of trees along with massive afforestation in which entire community involved. Timber used to set up forest based industries locally. wrote a poem describing the method of embracing the trees to save them from felling. acting to save their means of subsistence and their communities. Its leaders and activists are primarily village women. Ghanasyam Raturi. and some of these have given wider leadership to the movement. thereby providing permanent source of employment. denied any formal hierarchy. There are 3 different approaches: • • • Eco Development. Chipko.Chandi Prasad (Alaknanda Valley ) Ecological World View – Sunderlal Bahugana based Gandhian Principles ( Bhageerathi Valley ) Marxist View – Uttarkhan Sangharsh Vahini ( Almora & Pithoragarh ) Happy blend of environment and development is well illustrated by Chandi Prasad who sees larger dilemma of impoverishment of entire hill region which forces men to migrate to towns in the plains.

Mr. Another important aspect of the Chipko movement was the active reforestation program that has continued since its inception in 1974. This success was achieved largely through the work of ecodevelopment camps. of which 73 to 88 percent have survived (Center for Science and Environment 1988). In Chamoli district. He was the first one who taught Indian environmentalists that it was not enough to righteously protest at destruction of one kind or another. He . The camps also serve as a catalyst for interaction between the government development machinery and the local people. Bahuguna coined the Chipko slogan: 'ecology is permanent economy'. One of the important features of the camps is the joint participation of the poor and rich alike. Bhat has sought to humanize modern science rather than reject it. personnel from scientific institutes. voluntary organization workers and local villagers. return to a pre-industrial society is implied. college and university students. which were set up by the DGSM to impart environmental education to the population of Chamoli district. The principal problems of the villagers are discussed in the local dialect. but since then female participation has increased dramatically.16 He agrees that locals play a role in deforestation but this is due to separation of local population from management of forest wealth. Sunderlal Bahuguna was responsible for popularizing movement via padyatras. to democratize the bureaucracy rather than to quickly demonize it. under the aegis of the DGSM. while alternatives are not spelt out. They must also set about process of reconstruction seeking always to improve the lives of the poor. DGSM workers. and various village organizations are set up to deal with problems. over 1 million trees have been planted since 1974. He is also critical of growing divide between state and people. government officials. He believes that science must be guided by spirituality of the East if it is to solve the problems it faced with. teachers. Until 1979 the camps were all-male affairs.

who was renamed Miraben. by Gandhi himself. the daughter of a British General. and to further their colonial interests Sarlaben. A large number of women were actively involved in Chipko moment as they were the most affected by the deforestation. to come to India. air. . One of these was Madeleine Slade. which attracted two young English women searching for a new way of life.17 propagated the slogan. the main of Chipko is to foster love for trees in hearts of man. Focus of USV activists was to rescue what was worth retaining a distinctive way of life from the ravages of capitalism. The second woman was Catherine Hillman. the women were the first to recognise the relationship between deforestation and social and environmental impacts. She realized that the British in India were out to destroy India's culture and self-sufficient village economy. who also worked with Gandhi. water. vegetation are gifts of forest and nature. According to him. Here. alcoholism – as related to a single process of exploitation which destroys both the environment and cultural traditions of the people. soil. realized that the hill women of the Himalayas had great potential for social action. renamed Sarlaben. Women’s role in the Chipko movement essentially began three decades ago during Gandhi's movement of non-violence. social and economic redistribution was seen as logically prior to ecological harmony. USV ( Sangarsh Vahini ) was influenced by Marxist way of thinking.Both Chandi Prasad and Bahugana were influenced by Gandhian and Sarvodayan ideologies. The Chipko movement was a significant step forward in the fight to save Himalayan ecology and society as commercial logging was destroying both. tree cutting. Main thrust of its efforts was to link together issues – mining. Role of women in the Chipko movement In the Himalayan Mountains of India when the forests were logged excessively. She worked closely with him and realized that commercial exploitation was the reason why floods were occurring in the Himalayas. It saw any approach as being futile which views ecological issues independently of social system in which they crop up.

in Vadiargarh. Furthermore. the women of the Himalayas were the most directly affected. They were the first to recognize the environmental problem with deforestation and the ones who absolutely disagreed with commercial logging and development. shops. Chipko continues the traditional realm of tree hugging. It is not a women’s movement as focus not on their issues. the strongest fighters in the protection of the forests. Some notable features regarding the role of women are as follows: • • Women constituted 80 % of movement strength. As the sole providers of their families with clean water and fuel and fodder. The women of the Chipko movement not only protected the forests and their society. Women from Kemar. but has undertaken more projectoriented work in close collaboration with the local government. men have more contact with the government and therefore have more respect and fear for the government than women have. on the other hand. Twenty-five hundred trees were marked for felling and the men of the village were bought off with bribes. for poor men. very creative and extremely empowered to protect the forests even if it meant giving up their husbands and possibly their lives. but the movement added to the world's consciousness of environmental issues.18 Another happening that shows the role of the women was in January of 1979. The role of the woman in this moment is unquestionable. . Women. and hence. Women are still the ones who fight against the state because women are the most involved in agriculture and they continue to link deforestation to environmental problems more easily than men do. who provide subsistence goods. the prospect of more hotels. one hundred kilometers away came and camped there. which are necessary for their village survival. The women stood close to the marked trees to stop the loggers from felling trees. schools and infrastructure makes them believe their incomes will be raised. The women of the Chipko movement were very strong-willed. Also. wish to maintain their status quo by retaining the traditional ecosystem.

( Lakshmi Ashram ) . Vimla Bhaguna ( Silyara ) .19 • Women were not allowed to participate in public and political life. the efforts of the women were not recognized. Chipko Movement led to release of women’s power. Guara Devi ( Mahila Mangal Dal ) . Men succumbed to development process. Women were more receptive to Chipko as the issues touched their lives. Radha Bhatt Despite their contribution to the movement. • • • • Women seen as bearers of continuity and tradition.

.20 Strengths & Weakness Strengths • • • • • • The movement had the ability to energize and motivate passive people to assert themselves. Difficult for movement to deal with causes of deforestation and exploitative patterns of utilization. Inability to nurture forests back to health. The protests rose because of need for survival. The degradation of the Himalayas continues. forest departments. The merit lies that initiative came from within local people and their experience. The movement didn’t have any elite outsiders or intellectuals. the movement has lost the revolutionary focus on opposing government policy.police) The movement was more successful as compared to Bhoomi Sena and Jharkand Movement. Men were not totally involved in the movement. No uniformity in action plan of the three distinct wings. Non violent nature as the Gandhian reference is embarrassment to state which claims to be rightful successor to freedom struggle. Movement emerged against vested interests ( contractors. Weakness • • • • • • The Movement comes strong only against the state but was not that decisive force or potent when it comes to both state and local interests. Though alive.

then Prime Minister Indira Gandhi ordered a 15-year ban on logging in the Himalayan regions of Uttar Pradesh. not all of which is environment-friendly. the new state of Uttaranchal was created out of these regions. Today. Important for Himalayas to remain covered in trees. . inspiring a nationwide movement that saved entire forests critical to the environment and to the livelihoods of rural people in India. So powerful was the movement that by 1980. is now a fast-fading memory. which drew world attention to this once verdant Himalayan region. Relies too much on highly personalized and centralized character of Bahugana. In 2001. said that they were hampered by restrictions imposed by authorities while those who denuded the forests for commercial gain were given free rein.21 • • Not many changes in forest policy.not just timber but trees which yield foodstuff. Conclusion The bare slopes where pine forests once thrived is a sure sign that the famous Chipko conservation movement of the 1970s and 1980s. Thus. marking a new phase of development activity. authorities who should be helping to protect the delicate ecology of the hills are instead working hand-in-glove with the timber barons. Activists and villagers at the meeting. one of a series of Media and Human Development Workshops organized by the Delhi-based Press Institute of India. The government has gone ahead with its plan to build Tehri Dam. Vested interests have slowly but surely overwhelmed the movement in which women from local villages literally hugged trees to save them from the lumberjack's axe. Phase 1 of Chipko got over in 1981 when government banned felling of trees.

22 Another significant danger lurking over this region today is the construction of the Tehri dam despite local resistance. The new concern to save and protect forests through Chipko satyagraha did not arise from a resentment against further encroachment on people's access to forest resources. According to authorities the movement cannot be allowed to stand in way of transmission of hydropower which will face the rapid spread of more industries and cities. indeed though Chipko. emphasized that the biggest danger to the ecology and livelihood of the people of Uttaranchal came from the series of large dam projects planned for the region. it was demonstrated that peasants and tribals had a greater stake in the responsible management of nature than did aesthetically minded city dwellers. Government which sings praises of Chipko movement still sends officials to cut trees. Before Chipko it was thought that the poor were too poor to be green. It was a response to the alarming signals of rapid ecological destabilization in the hills. After Chipko. who believes that restoring the harmonious relationship between people and nature would solve most modern problems. Bahuguna. The movement is at a standstill today and needs massive support and co-operation from various factions including the government and environments to save the Himalayas from further deterioration. .

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