In recent years, deforestation has emerged as a major concern in India. Apart from the lack of greeneries, an irregular weather cycle in certain parts of the country, which is apparent at present, can be attributed to it.
Despite the rising awareness of the devastating effects of deforestation among people, the fact remains that trees are still being cut indiscriminately for wood, human settlements, construction of roads and other purposes. If the opinions of most experts and environmentalists are anything to go by, then there is only one solution to the problem – revisiting the popular “Chipko movement” which proved to be an important milestone in the efforts to preserve the greeneries. The historical movement, and its effects, is dealt with in the subsequent sections of the best lifehack blog.
The Chipko movement in brief
The origin of the Chipko movement dates back to 1930 – the year in which 17 commoners were killed by the Royal Army when they were protesting against the first “Forest Act” which came into being in 1927. The fateful incident had taken place at Tilari in Uttar Pradesh on May 30. From then on, the epoch-making day came to be known as the “Forest Day”. It paved the way for a strong organised movement called the Chipko movement in the early 70’s.
The word “Chipko” translates into embracing. The movement began at the start of 1970 and gradually gathered steam in April 1973 in a village by the name of Mandal. Thereafter, the movement spread to several districts of Uttar Pradesh over the next five years. The underlying cause of this movement was the decision of the local administration to provide a certain plot in the forest area, which belonged to the Alakananda valley, to a sports goods manufacturing company. This decision not only angered the villagers but also sparked off a massive protest because the government had turned down a similar demand by the villagers for building agricultural tools.
Seeing the hue and cry over the matter, the authorities decided to execute the task swiftly by force. However, the organisers of the resistance movement were quick to realise what was coming next and worked out an effective countermeasure to stall the effort.
Spearheaded by Chandi Prasad Bhatt, an active social activist, and in collaboration with the other entities – DGSS, NGO – the tribal women of the region reached the forest and encircled the trees to prevent the untoward incident from becoming a reality. They stood there, embracing the trees for several nights to pull it off. Interestingly, the task was assigned to their menfolk.
Following their unwavering stance not to budge an inch on the matter, the administration was compelled to accede to their demands subsequently. Thus, a motivated effort, coupled with the popular support, led to the success of the movement without any violence or bloodshed.
The Chipko Andolan in relation to non-violence and the role of women
As one of the leading success stories in modern India, the movement set the example of how the use of peaceful means, powered by non-violence, can bring about a change in society. Further, it also showed why the participation of women on an equal footing with men was a must for transforming the nation. This fact is highlighted by the involvement of some leading women activists like Suraksha Devi, Bachni Devi, Sudeshna Devi, Gaura Devi and others.
Because their lives were closely associated with the forest, the tribal women of Tehri Garhwal did not allow the administration to translate its decision to cut down the trees into action. The forest meant a lot to them: it was the source of firewood and fodder, of edible nuts and drinking water, and of the perennial streams. Had they allowed the plan to materialize, it would have not only created an acute shortage of water, food and fodder but also subjected the area to the risk of the detrimental effects of ecological imbalance.
Though it is generally believed that Satyagraha was the first major movement of non-violence in India, the Chipko movement does not lag far behind it in terms of highlighting the use of peaceful means to raise one’s voice for a just cause. Non-violence aside, there are two other important aspects related to it as well: it not only championed the cause of the conservation of forests but also put the spotlight on the importance of the participation of women in national issues at parity with men.
As regards the protection of the environment, another similar incident had taken place in Bengaluru in 2016 wherein the protestors signed a petition in opposition to the proposal to construct a steel flyover. Incidents like these inject a sense of optimism among readers of the best lifehack blog that whenever the danger of deforestation would loom large, a movement similar to the award winning Chipko Andolan would come forth to rescue the forests from it.