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SOCIAL MOVEMENT IN INDIA

PROJECT ON:

SOCIAL MOVEMENT IN INDIA


Subject: Political Science

Submitted To: Dr. Anita Samal

Submitted by: Naveen Nirala


Semester - V
Roll No 72
Submitted on: 24/11/2014

HIDAYATULLAH NATIONAL LAW UNIVERSITY,


RAIPUR (C.G.)

SOCIAL MOVEMENT IN INDIA

ACKNOWLEDGEMENT

It is a matter of grace to be pre-occupied with a topic which inspires me in order to look over
all perspectives of social movement in India. I forward my vote of thanks to our Faculty
D.rAnita Samaal Panda to feel me a part to contribute my research in the theme. I also
acknowledge support of my friends as well as Non teaching staffs.

Naveen Nirala
Roll no 72

SOCIAL MOVEMENT IN INDIA

Table of Contents

Introduction

Research methodology

Sources of Data Collection

Objectives

Chapter 1- Types of Social Movement

Chapter 2- Social Movement in India

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Chapter 3 - national movement for independence in India

14

Conclusion

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References

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Introduction
The term new social movement refers to those movements which have come up since mid1960s. The new social movements look into various collective actions, their identity and on
their relations for culture ideology and politics. These differ in from the old that,
(a) they are concerned with non-material phenomena;
(b) they work for quality of life, rather for merely life;
(c) they are cooperative and non-conflictive;
(d) they are followers-oriented rather than leader oriented;
(e) they are decentralized, rather than centralized ones.
The new social movements include the womens movement, the ecology movement, gay
rights movements and various peace movements among others. Thinkers have related these
movements with post materialism hypothesis as put forth by Ronald Inglehart. Important
contributors in the field include sociologists such as Alian Touraine, Claus Offe and
Habermas.
Many of the movements tend to emphasize social change in lifestyle and culture, rather than
pushing specific changes in public policy or for economy change. Some theorists argue that
the key actors in these movements are the members of new middle class or service sector
professionals, such as academics. They are informal loosely organize network of
supporters rather than members.
Paul Byrne described new social movements as relatively disorganized.

SOCIAL MOVEMENT IN INDIA

Research Methedology

The methodology adopted in this research work is based on Doctrinal Secondary Electronic
research. The present research work contains a detail study of Social Movement in India.
This research work consists of elaborated theoretical research, an overall study of the topic
and in depth web browsing.

Sources of Data Collection


Secondary sources have been largely used to gather information and data about topic. This
topic is quite extensive and requires detailed research since the area of research is very
comprehensive. For the purpose of research work for the given topic books in the library have
been consulted. At the same time various sources on the internet have also been referred to.

Objectives
1. To study the different types of social movements.
2. To understand about the social movements in India.
3. To discuss about the national movement for independence in India.

SOCIAL MOVEMENT IN INDIA

Chapter 1- Types of Social Movements


Reform Movements:
Reform movements are organized to carry out reforms in some specific areas. The reformers
endeavor to change elements of the system for better. For example: Civil Rights Movement,
Women's Liberation Movement, Arya Samaj Movement, Brahmo Samaj Movement etc.

Revolutionary Movements:
The revolutionary movements deny that the system will even work. These movements are
deeply dissatisfied with the social order and work for radical change. They advocate
replacing the entire existing structure. Their objective is the reorganization of society in
accordance with their own ideological blueprint. Revolutionary movements generally become
violent as they progress. Example: The Protestant Reformation Movement, the Socialist
Movement, the Communist Revolution of China.
Reactionary or Revivalist Movement: Some movements are known as reactionary or
regressive movements. These aims to reverse the social change .They highlight the
importance and greatness of traditional values, ideologies and institutional arrangements.
They strongly criticize the fast moving changes of the present.

Resistance Movement:
These movements are formed to resist a change that is already taking place in society. These
can be directed against social and cultural changes which are already happening in the
country.

Utopian Movement:
These are attempts to take the society or a section of it towards a state of perfection. These
are loosely structured collectivities that envision a radically changed and blissful state, either
on a large scale at some time in the future or on a smaller scale in the present. The Utopian
ideal and the means of it are often vague, but many utopian movements have quite specific
programmes for social change. The Hare Krishna Movement of the seventies, the movement
towards the establishment of Ram Rajya and the Sangh Parivar, the Communists and
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Socialists pronouncement of a movement towards the classless, casteless society free from all
kinds of exploitation etc.

Peasant Movement:
Peasant movement is defined by Kathleen Gough as an attempt of a group to effect change in
the face of resistance and the peasant are people who are engaged in an agricultural or related
production with primitive means who surrender part of their or its equivalent to landlords or
to agents of change. The history of peasant movements can be traced to colonial period when
repressive economic policies, the new land revenue system, the colonial administrative and
judicial system and the ruin of handicrafts leading to the overcrowding of land transformed
the agrarian structure and impoverished the peasantry. In the zamindari system peasants were
left to the mercies of the Zamindars who exploited them in form of illegal dues. The British
government levied heavy land revenue in the Ryotwari areas. Peasants were forced to borrow
money from the moneylenders and they were reduced to the status of tenants at will, share
croppers and landless laborers while their lands, crops and cattle passed into the hands to
landlords, trader moneylenders and such peasants. When the peasants could take it no longer
they resisted against the oppression and exploitation through uprisings. Peasant Movements
occupy an important place in the history of social unrest in India though the aims and
objectives of these movements differ in nature and degree from region to region. It is in this
sense that these movements also aimed at the unification of the peasants of a region,
development of leadership, ideology and a peasant elite. Through these movements emerged
a new power structure and peasant alliance. The genesis of peasant movements rest in the
relationship patterns of different social categories existing within the framework of feudal
and semi feudal structure of our society. In the post Independence period the nature and
objectives of the peasant movement have changed to getting remunerative prices for
agricultural produce, to increase agricultural production, to establish parity between prices of
agricultural produce and industrial goods and to get minimum wages for the agricultural
laborers.

SOCIAL MOVEMENT IN INDIA


Some of the important peasant uprising:

1770-

Sanyasi rebellion

1831-

Wahabi uprising

1855-

Santhal uprising

1859-

Indigo revolt

1890-1900- Punjab Kisan struggle


1917-18-

Champaran satyagraha

1921-

Moplah rebellion

1928-

Bardoli satyagarya

1946-

Telangana movement

1957-

Naxalbari movement

Women's Movement:
The women's movement in India is a rich and vibrant movement which has taken different
forms in different parts of the country. Fifty years ago when India became independent, it
was widely acknowledged that the battle for freedom had been fought as much by women as
by men. One of the methods M K Gandhi chose to undermine the authority of the British was
for Indians to defy the law which made it illegal for them to make salt. At the time, saltmaking was a monopoly and earned considerable revenues for the British. Gandhi began his
campaign by going on a march - the salt march - through many villages, leading finally to the
sea, where he and others broke the law by making salt. No woman had been included by
Gandhi in his chosen number of marchers. But nationalist women protested, and they forced
him to allow them to participate. The first to join was Sarojini Naidu, who went on to become
the first woman President of the Indian National Congress in 1925. Her presence was a signal
for hundreds of other women to join, and eventually the salt protest was made successful by
the many women who not only made salt, but also sat openly in marketplaces selling, and
indeed, buying it. The trajectory of this movement is usually traced from the social reform
movements of the 19th century when campaigns for the betterment of the conditions of
women's lives were taken up, initially by men. By the end of the century women had begun to
organize themselves and gradually they took up a number of causes such as education, the
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conditions of women's work and so on. It was in the early part of the 20th century that
women's organizations were set up, and many of the women who were active in these later
became involved in the freedom movement. Independence brought many promises and
dreams for women in India - the dream of an egalitarian, just, democratic society in which
both men and women would have a voice. The reality was, however, somewhat different. For
all that had happened was that, despite some improvements in the status of women, patriarchy
had simply taken on new and different forms. By the 1960s it was clear that many of the
promises of Independence were still unfulfilled. It was thus that the 1960s and 1970s saw a
spate of movements in which women took part: campaigns against rising prices, movements
for land rights, peasant movements. Women from different parts of the country came together
to form groups both inside and outside political parties. Everywhere, in the different
movements that were sweeping the country, women participated in large numbers.
Everywhere, their participation resulted in transforming the movements from within. One of
the first issues to receive countrywide attention from women's groups was violence against
women, specifically in the form of rape, and 'dowry deaths'. This was also the beginning of a
process of learning for women: most protests were directed at the State. Because women
were able to mobilize support, the State responded, seemingly positively, by changing the law
on rape and dowry, making both more stringent. In the early campaigns, groups learnt from
day to day that targeting the State was not enough and that victims also needed support. So a
further level of work was needed: awareness raising so that violence against women could be
prevented, rather than only dealt with after it had happened. Legal aid and counseling centres
were set up, and attempts were made to establish women's shelters. Knowledge was also
recognized as an important need. The women's activity was geared towards improving the
conditions of women's lives. In recent years, the euphoria of the 1970s and early 1980s,
symbolized by street-level protests, campaigns in which groups mobilized at a national level,
has been replaced by a more considered and complex response to issues. In many parts of
India, women are no longer to be seen out on the streets protesting about this or that form of
injustice. This apparent lack of a visible movement has led to the accusation that the women's
movement is dead or dying. While the participation of urban, middle class women is
undeniable, it is not they who make up the backbone of the movement, or of the many,
different campaigns that are generally seen as comprising the movement. The anti-alcohol
agitation in Andhra Pradesh and similar campaigns in other parts of India were started and
sustained by poor, low-caste, often working-class women. The movement to protect the

SOCIAL MOVEMENT IN INDIA


environment was begun by poor women in a village called Reni in the northern hill regions of
India, and only after that did it spread to other parts of the country. One of the biggest
challenges women have had to face in recent years is the growing influence of the religious
right in India. Right-wing groups have built much of their support on the involvement of
women: offering to help them with domestic problems, enabling them to enter the public
space in a limited way, and all the while ensuring that the overall ideology within which they
operate remains firmly patriarchal. For activists too, this has posed major problems. It has
forced them to confront the fact that they cannot assume solidarity as women that cuts across
class, religion, caste, ethnic difference. It is important to recognize that for a country of
India's magnitude, change in male-female relations and the kinds of issues the women's
movement is focusing on will not come easy. For every step the movement takes forward,
there will be a possible backlash, a possible regression. And it is this that makes for the
contradictions, this that makes it possible for there to be women who can aspire to, and attain,
the highest political office in the country, and for women to continue to have to confront
patriarchy

within

the

home,

Backward

in

the

workplace,

throughout

Caste

their

lives.

Movement:

The Backward castes have been deprived of many social, economic, political and religious
privileges. These people provided manual labor and the untouchables occupied the lowest
position among the caste hierarchy. They were subjected to extreme form of exploitation. The
colonial power accentuated the disparities in the distribution of economic power. The
atrocities united the lower castes against the upper castes. Some of the important backward
caste movement which came up was Satyashodak Samaj and Nadar Movement which
consolidated the masses along the castelines.E.V Ramaswamy started Self-Respect
movement against the Brahmins in South India. The SNDP movement in Kerala was more of
a reformist movement. In 1950s there was a widespread desire among the non-Brahmin
castes to be categorized as Backward .Subsequently Backward Class commission was set up
to look into the conditions and requirements of these classes. Mandal Commission submitted
its report in 1980 recommending reservations for backward castes in educational institutions
and government offices. However this move resulted in anti- Mandal Commission movement
which

resulted

in

large

scale

violence

Dalit

and

many

students

lost

their

lives.

Movement:

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Dalits are the suppressed people at the lost rung of the cast-based hierarchy. Their inferior
occupations and low levels of ascriptive status make them vulnerable for attacks at the hands
of upper-caste people. The organizational efforts made by Dalit leadership for uplifting their
status are known as Dalit movement. It is a protest against untouchability ,casteism and
discrimination faced by the dalits.Dalit movement indicates some trends of protest ideologies
which entail the following -withdrawal and self organization, high varna status and extolling
of non-Aryan culture's virtues, abandoning of Hinduism and embracing other religions like
Buddhism and Islam. Mahatma Gandhi in 1923 founded the All India Harijan Sevak Sangh to
start education and schools for the dalits.Another most important dalit leader Dr.Ambedkar
struggled to secure the basic human dignity to the dalits.The Mahad Satyagarh for the right of
water led by him was one of the outstanding movements of the dalits to win equal social
rights. The role of All India Depressed Classes Association and All India Depressed Classes
Federation were the principal organizations which initiated a movement to improve the
conditions of the dalits.These organizations aimed at improving their miserable conditions
and to spread education among them. They worked to secure rights of admission to school,
drawing water from the public wells, entering the temples and to use the roads.

Chapter 2- Social Movements in India


At the risk of sounding repetitive, one needs to reassert that the methodological problem of
identifying and defining a social movement is fairly difficult. The problem becomes
particularly complex when we focus on the Asian region. Given its multi-ethnic, multi11

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lingual and multi-political reality, the bewildering multiplicity and diversity of social
movements in the region should not come as a great surprise. After all, social movements
necessarily must, and firmly are embedded in the social, cultural and political realities of a
nation.
Where as a description of the movements is a matter of information collection and a
systematic presentation of such information, an analysis of the embedded ness and linkages
of the movements with wider socio-political processes is a very difficult and long-term task,
particularly for the Asian region. Apart from being complex, the region is also so vast that to
capture its variety in a single article is quite impossible. Accordingly this paper shall try to
convey an essence of such complexities by focussing on social movements in India, assuming
of course that much of the general aspects of the analysis are extendable to other areas of the
Asian region too.
Nevertheless, it would seem to be necessary to have some kind of a guideline, if not an exact
definition, of a social movement in order to explore further its complexities. Accordingly, we
shall use the following as such a guideline:
A Social Movement is any explicit or implicit persuasion by noninstitutionalized groups
seeking public gain by attempting to change some part of "the system".
Accordingly:
i) Social movements are an attempt to bring about institutional change, mainly from without
the social structure.
ii) Change may be limited to reform. It mayalter some practices or policies of an institution,
but leaves the institution itself intact.
iii) Change advocated may also be radical or revolutionary;demanding fundamental change in
the existing social/institutional structures and relationships.
Quite obviously, a variety of social movements in Asia would fall in at least one of the above
categories; and many may overlap between the three.

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In general one may state that the scope and concerns of the social movements in the Asian
region are not very different from that of other continents of the World. The more historical
movements involving industrial workers, peasants and adivasis (indigenous people) have,
since the independence of many countries in the region from colonial rule, been
supplemented by the womens, environmental, human rights, and peace movements. A
particular characteristic of the South Asian part of the region would be the dalit, the religious
reform, and religious fundamentalist movements. The religious fundamentalist movements
pose a particular problem in any inventory that attempts to list the movements in the region
should one include them or exclude them? In terms of involvement of people, these are large
movements; but as far as their objectives go, they exhibit the inadequacy of the guideline or
definition of a social movement presented above. Many of them are quite radical, since they
even demand a structural change in the system itself from a secular state to a state based on a
particular religion. But in the process, they have also to be seen as movements that promote
enmity, hostility and violence amongst people of different religions, which raises the question
about the legitimacy of including them in any list. If public gain is to be interpreted as
common good for the majority of the oppressed and of those facing injustice in the
definition offered above, religious fundamentalist movements would be difficult to
accommodate since they would seem to be promoting public gain of a particular identity
only, that is if their work is at all characterizable as promoting public gain. But their reality,
extent of penetration within the society and linkages with state politics cannot be simply
dismissed, particularly in the present day India.

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Chapter 3 - The National Movement for Independence in


India
An aspect of Asia that must always be seen as a historical backdrop while discussing its
social movements are a variety of national liberation movements against colonial occupation
in many countries of the region. Contemporary social movements cannot really be well
understood without identifying the elements of continuity and change from such liberation
movements. And nowhere else is that as important as in India. The Indian national
independence movement, as is well known, was greatly influenced by the leadership provided
by Mahatma Gandhi. The sheer number of people who participated in this movement,
particularly from about 1910 to the time of independence in 1947 is staggering. Apart from
gaining political independence for India, the movement influenced a nation of 300 million
people in 1947 and over a billion today in nearly all aspects of politics and life. Apart from its
main characteristics of non-violence and struggle based on truth satyagraha Gandhian thought
penetrated areas like governance, decentralization, ethics and morality of politics, education,
rural and national development, self-reliance, volunteerism, caste and untouchability and
much more.
After gaining independence, and even after Gandhis assassination by a Hindu religious
fanatic in 1948, his thought spurred a wide variety of Gandhian movements and civil society
formations that continue till today. The persistence and resilience of his thoughts can also be
discerned today in movements that may not be direct descendents of Gandhian movements,
like the environmental, adivasi and local governance movements. The more direct Gandhian
movements would include the Sarvodaya movement that concentrated on the redistribution of
land in the fifties and sixties but is fairly dormant now, the movement for bringing in
Panchayati Raj (local governance), and a plethora of Gandhian institutions all over the
country, of which the Gandhi Peace Foundation in Delhi, Sewagram Ashram in Wardha,
Gandhigram in Tamil Nadu, Gandhi University and Sabarmati Ashram in Gujarat would be
prominent. His notion of self reliance, symbolized by the hand-spun local cloth, khadi, and a
variety of other locally produced products is promoted by the state through a vast
organization called the Khadi and Village Industries Commission, with an extensive network
of still popular retail outlets.

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Gandhian thought finds popularity amongst groups and movements that seek to establish a
more ethical, moral and harmonious relationship between human activities and nature, and
who are seeking another world that draws away from centralization of political power and
economic production. It would therefore seem to confront and resist both forms of capital,
private or state-owned, putting much more emphasis on community ownership.
Dominant Political Trends
In order to arrive at a somewhat deeper understanding of the continued impact of the
independence movement, as also to situate better the other contemporary movements in India,
a brief outline of the trends that dominate the Indian polity might be appropriate here. The
main organisation that channelised the masses of people towards Indias independence was
the Congress Party. It was through this that Gandhi was able to reach out and consolidate the
movement for independence. It was also clear that by the time India was close to its
independence, the Congress Party had little faith in the Gandhian notions of power,
governance and development. The modernist Nehru, with undiminished respect for his
master, Gandhi, nevertheless violently differed with his ideology. His, and the preference of
the progressive elements within the Congress Party was for a Soviet-style industrial
modernization process, combined with a secular, socialistic approach. In a sense therefore,
Gandhi vision was seen to be utopian by even those within his own organization. This is
coupled with the fact that in spite of Gandhis efforts to bring in reconciliation between the
Hindu nationalists and Muslim elements demanding a separate nation, the country0 was
finally divided on religious lines, and instead of one, two countries, India and the mainly
Muslim Pakistan emerged in 1947, stamping for future a pronounced politics based on
religious fundamentalism and intolerance.
But Gandhi and his thought has faced, and continues to face, violent criticism and opposition
from another section of the society, namely the dalits, who see in B.R.Ambedkar as their true
leader. They believe that Gandhis concern for the untouchables (harijans, the people of
God as he called them) was based on upper caste compassion, and hence false, rather than a
recognition of their social, political and economic rights as equal citizens of India. The Left
was mostly cold and critical of Gandhi since he did not explicitly talk of class, and worse,
his preferred form of resistance, satyagraha, is fairly different from the notion of class

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struggle. What becomes apparent therefore is that Gandhian thought is seen to differ from
that of Dalits and the Left.
The Left has been, and continues to be, a persuasive political force within the country,
without perhaps ever being dominant. Quite clearly, the national independence movement
was dominated by the Congress Party. After independence, and perhaps not uncommon
compared with other multi-party democracies, the single Communist Party of India began to
split, and has three main strands today the CPI, the CPI(marxist) and the CPI(marxistleninist), the last being recognizable as the Maoist party in other countries; which itself has
many factions. Formed in 1967 and coinciding with the campus revolts of the late sixties,
with an explicit agenda justifying the use violence as a method for capturing state power, the
CPI(ml) caught the imagination of a large mass of academics, intellectuals and students
during that time, who enrolled in it to work alongside peasants in remote areas of the country.
The CPI and CPI(M) on the other hand have participated in the electoral process, with the
CPI(m) having had more success in the states and the centre; it continues to rule the state of
West Bengal for the last twenty five years continuously, and has a see-saw with the Congress
party in ruling Kerala. Apart from the three left parties, there also exist a large number of left
and left oriented non-party groups and organizations all over India, active in a wide variety of
issues.
State power however continued to remain largely with the Congress Party, who paid the usual
lip service to Gandhi, but moved the country in directions far distant from his ideals. The
most prominent one-off exception to this occurred during Rajiv Gandhis tenure as Prime
Minister, when in 1994 the countrys constitution was amended to pave way for the Local
Governments, the Panchayati Raj, most favoured by Mahatma Gandhi. The Congress Party
leadership also remained mostly and firmly upper-caste, with a centrist approach which
sometimes had a mildly left leaning, as in the case of nationalization of banks. In
contradiction however, it is the Congress Party that ushered in the era of neoliberal
globalization in India beginning 1990. Two departures to this trend of Congress domination
that can be discerned in recent years has been the rise of the lower-castes and the Hindu
nationalist forces in electoral politics, which has completely changed the scenario of Indian
politics.

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The Hindu nationalists had little presence in state politics, but had a strong presence in the
society through civil-society type of work, mainly through their social movement, the RSS.
The lower castes and the dalits, gradually distanced themselves from the benevolence of the
Congress Party by organizing their own parties, like the Bahujan Samaj Party, the Samajvadi
Party, and elements of Janta Dal. They tasted electoral success in states like Bihar, Uttar
Pradesh and Haryana and began influencing the national politics. The Hindu nationalists,
through a series of acts that heightened communal tensions, including that of the demolition
of the Babri Masjid (a historical mosque) by Hindu fanatics, and by using the rise of Islamic
fundamentalism and the continued hostility with the Muslim Pakistan as a constant marker,
paved the way for the linked political party, the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) to grab power at
the centre, as also in other states of India. Gradually therefore, the political polarization
instead of being based on class, poverty and development has moved increasingly to issues
based on identities; of religion, caste and ethnicity. And it is within this mind-boggling
complex system of politics, religion, caste, poverty and cultural diversity that the social
movements operate in, attempting social transformation!
The Movements
The most easily identifiable movements in India are the ones connected/related to the
political parties. Thus the three Communist Parties each have a trade union, a student/youth
union and a womens movement allied to them. But this trend is common for other parties
too, including those whose presence may be more dominant in state rather than central
politics. Thus the Congress and the right wing BJP too have allied to them a trade union, a
student union and a womens movement. These are further supplemented by unions of
professional workers affiliated to political parties, like that of school, college and university
teachers etc. Having deep loyalties to their parties, with a high degree of control, these
movements tend to mimic the traditional tensions and competition that exists between their
parent parties. Though the student, labour and womens and other issues articulated by each
might be the same or similar, yet there would be a tendency to compete with each other. This
does not imply that there are no common agendas or collaborations from time to time. But the
need for unity is a common refrain, particularly from those elements who are bothered by
fragmentation and the subsequent loss of political strength. The contradictions however
appear when the parent party is in power. The allied movements, vociferous when their
parent parties are in opposition, have to muzzle their views to support their party in power,
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negating the definition offered in the beginning that a social movement is the one that is
outside the system. Party allied movements are therefore not seen as independent. Set apart
from such traditional movements are the new and independent movements that tend to
distance themselves from the traditional party linkages, in order to innovate in terms of
organizational structures, leadership roles and proximity with the most oppressed in remote
areas. The Environment movement comes easily to mind as one such example.
Revisiting Chipko Andolan
Andolan is the common term for a movement in India. The well-known Chipko Andolan
literally means Hug the Trees Movement, which originated from an incident in a remote
village high up in the Himalayas in 1972. The bare facts of the incident are that there was a
dispute between the local villagers and a logging contractor who had been allowed to fell
trees in a forest close to the village. On the particular day, there was a meeting with the
related government officials in their office away from the village, for which most of the men
had gone. In the meanwhile, the contractors workers appeared in the forest to cut the trees
while the men folk were absent. Undeterred, the women of the Reni village reached the forest
quickly and clasped the tree trunks thus preventing the workers from putting their axes and
saws to the trees. Thus thwarted, the workers had to withdraw and the incident spread like
wildfire across communities and media and forced the government, to whom the forest
belongs, to negotiate with the community, mostly women. The women began setting up their
committees in the region that began articulating larger issues about eco-friendly development,
as a partnership between the community and the government. In spite of the usual ups and
downs, the movement continues today as a major environmental movement and has inspired
a large number of people in the country and the World.
The underlying elements of this movement are sometimes not well understood by people,
particularly by the elites in India, and in the western world. There is a tendency to cite it as an
example in the same breath as, say, Sierra Club and such like; as a shining example of
environmental conservation. In essence, conservation is at best an underlying element in the
action of the women. What they were articulating more strongly was their right to use, the
issue therefore may be characterized as a competition regarding the rights of use; in this case
the competition was between the state approved contractors against the community. It is not
as if the women were fighting so that the trees remained untouched. In fact it is they

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themselves who had a need for these trees, as a source of firewood for their hearths and for
the leaves as fodder. In comparison, the contractor was going to clear-fell them for the
timber, in this case for manufacturing sports goods. The women were articulating the
question: whose use is primary? theirs for cooking food or of a distant sports goods
factory?. Inherent in this competition to control a natural resource is the conservation of a
replinishable resource, but that is in the method of use rather than in its non-use. The
contractor would have clear-felled the trees, destroying them forever. The communities
traditionally lop the branches and pluck the leaves, allowing the resource to replenish over
time.
Chipko therefore provided a blueprint for future movements, both in its articulation of the
tensions between the state and the communities over right to natural resources, as also in
newer forms of mass action and organizational forms, the most noticeable being the gender
aspect inherent in its action. Though in a different context, the anti-dam movements in India
and other countries of Asia articulate similar concerns regarding the contending rights of the
community and the Government in decisions affecting the common property resources that
provide subsistence to the local populations. Beginning with the Narmada Bachao Andolan
(NBA, Save the Narmada Movement), the anti-dam movements have spearheaded the
environmental movements to the center stage, through their radical redefinition of
development itself. The success of the NBA in forcing the World Bank to withdraw its
financial support to the dams on the Narmada river has reverberated throughout the World,
and largely contributed to the setting of the World Commission on Dams that gave its
persuasive report in 2000. Largely due to the efforts of the NBA, hundreds of movements
resisting in the area of natural resources and environment are allied today under the banner of
National Alliance of Peoples Movements (NAPM).
The Dalit Agenda
The caste system is an ancient historical legacy closely entwined with Hinduism, and still
dominant in the Indian and South Asian societies, as also in Japan (the Burako). This system
of four varnas (groups) namely Brahmin (the elite, learned and the landed), Kshatriya (the
warriors, well endowed), Vaishya (the traders) and the Shudra (the menials and the lowest),
in that order of hierarchy, has at its bottom the untouchables, the dalits. One of the problems
of the Left in India has been its inability to combine caste with class into an inclusive

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political agenda. From other political formations has come, at best, compassion and
sympathy, including as mentioned earlier from Gandhi, but not political empowerment that
could lead to political rights. The two most influential thinkers and leaders to that end have
come from within the dalits, namely Jyotirao Phule and B.R.Ambedkar.
The influence of the older dalit political party, the Republican Party has dwindled over the
years and has been supplanted by the more successful Bahujan Samaj Party (BSP) in recent
years. The RP was mostly active in the state of Maharashtra, where as the BSP has extended
itself over large parts of North India, and has actually ruled in the most populous state of
India, Uttar Pradesh. The backward castes, as they are designated officially by the
government, have also changed the political scenario in another populous state of India,
Bihar, where their party the Rashtriya Janata Dal, has been in power for many years now.
Similarly it is another party that espouses the cause of the backward castes, the Samajwadi
Party that is in power in Uttar Pradesh today.
The dalit social and cultural movements have remained robust and active within the civil
society, drawing their strength from Phule and Ambedkar. But like the Left movements,
different strains have come up, often not in harmony with each other. They received
international notice for their fierce protests at the International Conference on Racism in
Durban some years back when the Indian Government refused to have the issue of Dalits
included in the Conference agenda. They form an important component of the upcoming
World Social Forum in Mumbai in January 2004.
Resisting Globalization
With nearly every political party implementing policies of privatization, liberalization and
promoting foreign direct investment and markets since 1990, the conflict between the
marginalized and the impoverished with the government has visibly increased. With the
closure of thousands of older industries, an increase in agricultural inputs and a decrease in
the purchase prices of domestic agricultural produce, the workers and the peasants are
bearing the brunt of the neoliberal policies. With the urban middle class reaping whatever
little benefits the neoliberal world has to offer, the rural-urban divide is further deepening.
India has about 340 million people as its labour force, of which only about 30 million are
organized. Which leaves over 300 million in the unorganized sector, the bulk of which is
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agricultural labour. The trade union movement has, therefore, been unable to reach out to the
majority of Indian labour. A large number of the unorganized labour is composed of dalits,
women and adivasis. Consequently, most of them find their expression through the social
movements they are allied to; which may be of the environmental, adivasi, peasant or dalit
kind. And increasingly, these movements have had to deal with issues related to globalization
in the last fifteen years. With the national media firmly in the grasp of neoliberal interests,
their expression has got further stifled, and they have become more invisible, since they are
not of interest anymore, meriting little mention in the frenzied news industry.
The Gandhian legacy of volunteerism spawned a plethora of development voluntary agencies,
particularly after the heyday of the Maoist uprisings in the early seventies. Many city
professionals migrated to rural areas working directly with people in areas like education,
health, rural development, water and sanitation etc through these voluntary agencies. In the
beginning there were little funds available to these agencies for their work, and they worked
truly in the spirit of volunteerism, close to the communities. But beginning eighties, the
central government recognized their importance as delivery agencies for rural development
and began to set aside funds for them. Combined with funding available from agencies
abroad, the voluntary sector quickly mushroomed into the more familiar NGO sector,
particularly in numbers. Estimates of NGOs in India go even up to a figure of Rs. 200,000!
The funded, professionally staffed NGO contrasts greatly with the large social and mass
movements that are cash starved but have a much larger peoples base. Very often the two
collaborate on issues, in their geographical areas, but a mutual tension bordering sometimes
on mistrust persists. The movements generally find the NGOs less radical, prone to taking
decisions determined by their funding needs. The advent of globalization seems to have
heightened such tensions, since the NGO sector is heavily favoured by even institutions like
the World Bank.
The situation has got further complicated by the advent of the local government institutions,
the Panchayats, since the constitutional amendments of 1994 that facilitated their emergence.
Since they are elected bodies with five year cycles, movements and NGOs are confronted by
such democratic institutions in precisely the areas they work in. Governments, mostly
irritated by the presence of NGOs and movements have been quick to raise the question of
legitimacy of the civil society institutions in the midst of such democratically elected bodies.
Many NGOs have either ignored the Panchayat institutions, or come in conflict with them.
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But some have recognized their political importance, howsoever inefficient they may be, and
tried various forms of collaboration with them.
One such movement is the Peoples Science Movement. It is unique to India as it is difficult
to find a similar movement in other countries. It consists of a large number of science
professionals engineers, doctors, scientists and a large number of teachers, who have
combined with the local people and communities, and in many instances the Panchayats, in
very large numbers, as many as 300,000, to work nearly all over the country. The movement
combines reconstruction and struggle in its efforts, working in areas of education, literacy,
water, health, rural production, energy and local governance systems; and uses various forms
of struggles to resist the neoliberal onslaught. Whenever feasible, it collaborates with the
government, but also confronts it when it finds itself in disagreement. With a definite left
leaning, the movement has emerged as one that has tried to be inclusive in bringing together
people from all shades, from centre to left, and in its intellectual efforts, has tried to
synthesize Marxist and Gandhian thought. In particular, it has experimented actively in local
level peoples planning methods, in collaboration with the Panchayats, as a means of resisting
the centralizing tendencies of the neoliberal paradigm. A major upheaval is taking place right
now amongst the social movements in India as they are confronted by the challenge of
holding the World Social Forum in January 2004. With the international community
favouring India as the venue for the fourth forum after the first three in Porto Alegre, Brazil,
there were many who doubted whether the process could remain inclusive in a heavily
diverse and somewhat divisive world of Indian social movements and NGOs. Given the fact
that there are divisions even amongst the movements belonging to the same ideology, and the
historical differences between the Left, the Gandhians, the Dalits, the Socialists, the
Environmentalists, the New and the Traditional amongst the women, worker and peasant
movements, the fears can only be termed as genuine. In the end, with a political process that
has gone on for nearly two years, nearly 200 mass movements, social organizations and
NGOs from diverse ideologies have combined to form an Indian working committee to work
together to make the WSF2004 happen. This is quite unprecedented particularly when one is
reminded that the Brazilian organization has only eight member organisatons.
But WSF is obviously not everyones favourite space. Since it excludes groups who believe
in violence as a modality of action, and given the deep mistrust of Indian movements to
foreign funding agencies in general, some groups and movements have come together,
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including from other countries like the Philippines, to organize a parallel event to the
WSF2004, which they are calling the Mumbai Resistance 2004. Their claim is that their
agenda against imperialist globalization is more radical than that of WSF. As long as
movements ranged against neoliberalism are prepared to mobilize more and more masses for
the purpose, the WSF does not anyway claim or want to be the only platform or space from
which they need to operate from. This has clearly been the articulation of the movements that
have come together for the first time in such large numbers for the WSF in India. Such an
articulation is clearly an indicator of the fact that the movements are beginning to see the
value of keeping the main objective in view rather than quibbling over who is in control. If
such an attitude sustains even after the WSF, one could say that the WSF has had a positive
impact on the Indian movements. One can only hope for that.
The author, formerly a theoretical physicist, has worked at the grassroots for over thirty years
in education, literacy, environment and development. He has been associated with the Bhopal
Gas victims organizations, the Narmada Bachao Andolan and is one of the founders of the
Peoples Science Movement in India. He is also the Chairperson of the Council of Fellows of
the Asian Regional Exchange for New Alternatives, the Chairperson of Jubilee South
Asia/Pacific; a member of the India Organising Committee, and the International Council of
the WSF.

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Conclusion
Social movements can be aimed at change on an individual level (e.g., AA) or change on a
broader, group or even societal level (e.g., anti-globalization). Social movements can also
advocate for minor changes or radical changes.
The new social movements include the womens movement, the ecology movement, gay
rights movements and various peace movements among others.
From the early 1970s new forms of social mobilisation began in India. They gained a variety
of names such as social movement, people's movement, popular movements etc.[1]These
movements emerged and highlighted some of the major issues as gender and environment.
One of the leading analyst and participant in social movements in India, Sanjay Sangvi,
identified the major agendas of them as "Movements of landless, unorganised labour in rural
and urban areas, adivasis, dalits, displaced people, peasants, urban poor, small entrepreneurs
and unemployed youth took up the issues of livelihood, opportunities, dignity and
development."

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BIBLIOGRAPHY

Reference
1. http://www.alternatives.ca/
2. http://www.britannica.com/
3. http://www4.lehigh.edu/

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