Skip to main content

Big awards in the name of environment when community rights were trampled upon

By Vidya Bhushan Rawat* 

I was fairly impressed while interacting with the group of people that had gathered to hear my presentation "Challenges of the river valley civilisation of Uttarakhand & its user communities" at the Doon Library and Research Centre, Dehradun on Wednesday, 28 June.
My point was that not merely geography of a region but also its people and communities create a civilisation. A civilisation is not born out of mere geography but people and communities play important role in building it hence when we speak about Uttarakhand, it is extremely important to understand how communities live along with it.
In the popular discourse about environment and livelihood, the issues of the native people are often ignored. A movement like chipko was romanticised by the urban elite as a fight ‘for environment’, which it was, but more than that it was the fight of the native people’s right to ‘access to forest’ which had been denied to the local communities while big contracts were given to companies from the outside, for commercial lumber operations. 
It is another matter that people got big awards in the name of environmental protection even while the rights of the native communities were trampled. The political leadership of the state was rarely questioned even when it played politics and tried to divide the movement. Today, the village of Raini is under the threat, but we don’t hear much outrage against its dislocation.
A question often asked but rarely probed is why the issue of Ganga Bachao, which is worshipped as mother, has failed to galvanise the people of Uttarakhand. Why have activists like the Ganga Bachao group failed to gain traction in the state. The answer actually lies in effort by the dominant groups to make the issue of the Ganga merely that of the Bhagirathi river and confine it to opposing the Tehri dam; and the issue of religious sentiments of the people. 
The same people did not find time to resist the assault on other rivers in the Alaknanda Valley where multiple dams are being planned. Why we keep quiet on Pancheshwar which will be the highest dam in Asia and which will ultimately destroy the beautiful valley of Pancheshwar till Ghat and Joljibi in Pithoragarh? The problem in these Ganga Bachao or Yamuna Bachao campaigns is that they have no participation of the local communities. These campaigns are lead by powerful lobbies with bigger agendas, which often result in the denial of rights to the local communities, as happened in the case of Chipko.
The cultural context of Himalayas needs to be understood as they are different from other states. There is more openness in the Himalayas where people worship local deities more than anything else. All the valleys of Himalayas have different forms of Shiva as well as Buddha. Buddhism and Shaivism flourished in the Himalayas which resulted in openness in food culture and behavioral patterns.
In that sense, we need to understand why Ganga is powerful symbol of our civilisation because its inherent strength in taking all together. It may be said that Ganga rises from Gaumukh but the fact is that Ganga is a continuation process of engagement with local communities and building up a common cultural heritage. Rivers, streams, Gad and Gatheres, all flow into what we call Ganga. Bigger rivers like Yamuna, Ghaghra, Kali, Sharada flows into it and enrich it. Even in prior to Dev Prayag, Alaknanda provide more water to Ganga than Bhagirathi. Equally important is that Alaknanda has more important places of pilgrims than Bhagirathi on its bank.
Shaivism and Buddhism is spread all over Himalayas can provide unique understanding of how the two grew together without Brahmins being at the top. The culture of Shiva and Buddha actually brought openness regarding food culture in the Himalayas. The brahmanical value system was introduced in the Uttarakhand Himalayas by Adi Sankara but it could not wipe out the impact of the both Buddhism and Shaivism as defined in the local traditions in the Himalayas. The findings of thousands of Shivalingams at Lakha Mandal as well as the rock edict of Ashoka at Kalsi are example of an ancient culture in the Himalayas which flourished together.
Therefore Ganga Bachao, should mean protection of all the rivers, riverines, Gad, Gatheres, Naula, and Dharas in the Himalayas. Current crises in Uttarakhand also expose the activities being undertaken in the name of religion and development, which ultimately result in degradation of our beautiful river valley civilization. If there are no Pahads, there won’t be any Pahadis. 
The onslaught on Uttarakhand’s social and cultural identity needs to be resisted as without that, the Himalayas can’t be protected and our biodiversity will be endangered. Thank you Doon Library, Mr Nicholas, Mr Tiwari, Shri Biju Negi, Dr Ajay Sharma, Shri Diwan Singh Bora and others whose name I may not know but interacted with them for your presence and interventions. Looking forward to have another session some time next.
The exchange of views after the presentation was impressive. I never thought that the discussion would take more than hour in the form of counter arguments as well as questions. Doon Library and Research Center in Dehradun is becoming an ideal place for youths as well as veterans in the social movements. It provide stimulating debates and discussions and hope that will help build a vibrant society in the region.
*Human rights defender



Only 15% businesses provide employees real-time sustainability dashboards: Study

Kyndryl in collaboration with Microsoft has released the findings of The Global Sustainability Barometer study. The study, conducted by Ecosystm, finds that while 85% of organizations place a high strategic level of importance on achieving their sustainability goals, only 16% have integrated sustainability into their strategies and data. A Kyndryl note: *** Kyndryl (NYSE: KD), the world’s largest IT infrastructure services provider, in collaboration with Microsoft , today released the findings of The Global Sustainability Barometer study. The study, conducted by Ecosystm , finds that while 85% of organizations place a high strategic level of importance on achieving their sustainability goals, only 16% have integrated sustainability into their strategies and data.

देशव्यापी ग्रामीण भारत बंध में उतरे मध्य प्रदेश के आदिवासी, किया केंद्र सरकार का विरोध

- हरसिंग जमरे, भिखला सोलंकी, रतन अलावे*  15 और 16 फरवरी को निमाड के बड़वानी, खरगोन और बुरहानपुर में जागृत आदिवासी दलित संगठन के नेतृत्व में आदिवासी महिला-पुरुषों ग्रामीण भारत बंद में रैली एवं विरोध प्रदर्शन किया । प्रधान मंत्री द्वारा 2014 में फसलों की लागत का डेढ़ गुना भाव देने का वादा किया गया था, 2016 में किसानों की आय दुगना करने का वादा किया गया था । आज, फसलों का दाम नहीं बढ़ रहा है, लेकिन खेती में खर्च बढ़ता जा रहा है! खाद, बीज और दवाइयों का दाम, तीन-चार गुना बढ़ चुका है! किसानों को लागत का डेढ़ गुना भाव देने के बजाए, खेती को कंपनियों के हवाले करने के लिए 3 काले कृषि कानून लाए गए । 3 काले कानून वापस लेते समय प्रधान मंत्री ने फिर वादा किया था कि फसलों की लागत का डेढ़ गुना भाव की कानूनी गारंटी के लिए कानून बनाएँगे, लेकिन वो भी झूठ निकला! आज जब देश के किसान दिल्ली में आपको अपना वादा याद दिलाने आए है, तब आप उनका रास्ता रोक रहें है, उनके साथ मारपीट कर उन पर आँसू गैस फेंक रहें हैं, उन पर छर्रों से फायरिंग कर रहें है! देश को खिलाने वाला किसान खुद भूखा रहे, क्या यही विकास है?

How the slogan Jai Bhim gained momentum as movement of popularity and revolution

By Dr Kapilendra Das*  India is an incomprehensible plural country loaded with diversities of religions, castes, cultures, languages, dialects, tribes, societies, costumes, etc. The Indians have good manners/etiquette (decent social conduct, gesture, courtesy, politeness) that build healthy relationships and take them ahead to life. In many parts of India, in many situations, and on formal occasions, it is common for people of India to express and exchange respect, greetings, and salutation for which we people usually use words and phrases like- Namaskar, Namaste, Pranam, Ram Ram, Jai Ram ji, Jai Sriram, Good morning, shubha sakal, Radhe Radhe, Jai Bajarangabali, Jai Gopal, Jai Jai, Supravat, Good night, Shuvaratri, Jai Bhole, Salaam walekam, Walekam salaam, Radhaswami, Namo Buddhaya, Jai Bhim, Hello, and so on.

Laxmanpur Bathe massacre: Perfect example of proto-fascist Brahmanical social order

By Harsh Thakor  The massacre at Laxmanpur-Bathe of Jehanabad in Bihar on the night of 1 December in 1997 was a landmark event with distinguishing features .The genocide rightly shook the conscience of the nation in the 50th year of Indian independence. The scale of the carnage was unparalleled in any caste massacre. It was a perfect manifestation of how in essence the so called neo-liberal state was in essence most autocratic. 

India may be fastest growing economy, but it is one of the most unequal countries

By Vikas Parasram Meshram  The economic disparity gap continues to widen with economic disparity.  A large portion of the population is dispossessed, while the poor continue to get poorer. They struggle to earn a minimum wage and access quality education and health care, suffering disinvestment from persistently low incomes. These widening gaps and growing inequalities have the greatest impact on women and children.  The Oxfam International report is known to have expressed concern that, on the one hand, the wealth of some people in the world is increasing at a rocket speed.  And the number of rich people is constantly increasing. As a result, the income of the common man is increasing very little, while the wealth of the rich class has increased manifold.  Not only in India but in many other countries of the world, the gap of economic inequality is continuously widening. Oxfam International in its annual report on economic inequality at the World Economic Forum meeting last month, sai

1982-83 Bombay textile strike played major role in shaping working class movement

By Harsh Thakor  On January 18th, 1982 the working class movement commemorated the 40th anniversary of the Textile Workers Strike that lasted for 18 months, till July 1983. It was landmark event that played a major role in shaping the working class movement. With more than 2.5 lakh workers from 65 textile mills joining in this strike for almost two years, this strike became one of the most significant strikes in terms of scale and duration All democrats should applaud the mill workers’ united battle, and their unflinching resilience an death defying courage continues to serve as a model for contemporary working-class movements. Many middle class persons harboured opinions that the Textile workers were pampered or were a labour aristocracy, ignorant of how they were denied wages to provide for basic necessities. The Great Bombay Textile Strike is notably one of the most defining movements in the working class struggles in Post-independent India. Bombay’s textile industry flourished in

Tamil Nadu brahmins are at cross roads, their future scenario remains uncertain

By NS Venkataraman*  For over 70 years now, brahmin community in Tamil Nadu have been abused, insulted and even physically attacked on some occasions by those who claimed that they were part of the so called dravidian movement. However, brahmin community silently and helplessly ducked under pressure and showed no signs of resistance or fight back.

Israel's merciless bombing of Rafah faced huge protests across the globe

By Harsh Thakor*  With the numbers of the murdered in Gaza surpassing 28,000 people, Israel mercilessly conducted bombing to prepare for a genocidal attack on the displaced people in Rafah. Peoples of the world keep rose up like a spark turning into a prairie fire. 

How Mahakavi Sri Sri defined political and cultural metamorphosis of Telugu society

By Harsh Thakor  Srirangam Srinivasarao, popularly known as Sri Sri, or called Mahakavi (The Great Poet), held a reputation like no other Telugu poet. Today, on June 15th, we commemorate his 40th death anniversary. Sri Sri transcended heights in revolutionary creativity or exploration, unparalleled, in Telegu poetry, giving it a new dimension. His poems projected the theme or plight of the oppressed people at a scale, rarely penetrated by poets, giving revolutionary poetry it’s soul.

Netanyahu's safe pessage? There is no place for the Palestinians of Gaza to go

By Vijay Prashad  On February 9, 2024, Israel’s prime minister Benjamin Netanyahu said that his army would advance into Rafah, the last remaining city in Gaza not occupied by the Israelis. Most of the 2.3 million Palestinians who live in Gaza had fled to its southern border with Egypt after being told by the Israelis on October 13, 2023, that the north had to be abandoned and that the south would be a “safe zone.” As the Palestinians from the north, particularly from Gaza City, began their march south—often on foot—they were attacked by Israeli forces, who gave them no safe passage. The Israelis said that anything south of Wadi Gaza, which divides the narrow strip, would be safe, but then as the Palestinians moved into Deir-al-Balah, Khan Younis, and Rafah, they found the Israeli jets following them and the Israeli troops coming after them. Now, Netanyahu has said that his forces will enter Rafah to combat Hamas. On February 11, Netanyahu told NBC news that Israeli would provide “s