Trust India’s “village republics” to bring in some good news from time to time – Rajasthan, Kerala


A village that plants 111 trees for every girl born in Rajasthan

Mahim Pratap Singh, The Hindu, Jaipur, April 11, 2013

In an atmosphere where every morning, our newspapers greet us with stories of girls being tormented, raped, killed or treated like a doormat in one way or another, trust India’s “village republics” to bring in some good news from time to time. One such village in southern Rajasthan’s Rajsamand district is quietly practicing its own, homegrown brand of Eco-feminism and achieving spectacular results. | To read the full article, click here >>

Source: A village that plants 111 trees for every girl born in Rajasthan – The Hindu
Date Visited: Sun Sep 11 2016 10:31:36 GMT+0200 (CEST)

Ecotourism charts a revival course

Salim Joseph, Times of India, March 22, 2016

THIRUVANANTHAPURAM: Ecotourism in and around forest areas is fast emerging as a major sustainable tourism activity, thanks to Kerala State Forest Development Agency’s (KSFDA) successful `community management’ initiatives at existing destinations, identification of new spots, tourists’ preference for wild and pristine locations and an increased plan fund allocation. Noting the visits of 35 40 lakh tourists which include around 7 lakh foreigners at the 45 destinations, now managed by Vana Samrakshana Samitis or eco-development committees, forest department officials said that their preference has shifted from beaches and backwaters to wildlife and forest destinations.

Ecotourism projects in forest areas have to be non-consumptive (use of nature) with limited facilities and restricted tourist inflow. The focus is on sustainable tourism with the participation of dependent tribal communities. The community management of these existing locations has been a great success, benefitting 4,500 families,” said additional principal chief conservator of forests K J Varghese. […]

Source: Ecotourism charts a revival course – Times of India
Date Visited: Sun Sep 11 2016 11:18:27 GMT+0200 (CEST)

Nomads of the Himalayas : A Fascinating Glimpse into the Rarely-Seen Forest World of the Van Gujjars

Sanchari Pal, The Better India, September 3, 2016

Every spring, as the snow begins to melt in the mountains, the nomadic tribe of Van Gujjars embarks on an epic journey in search of the best pastures for their buffaloes. Here is the story of this peaceful, forest dwelling tribe and their journey across high plains, treacherous passes and picturesque Himalayan valleys. | To read the full article, click here >>

Source: Indian Tribes, The Indian Tribes News, Stories & Much More
Date Visited: Sun Sep 11 2016 11:29:39 GMT+0200 (CEST)

Neeti Vijaykumar, The Better India, March 21, 2016

UNESCO adds India’s Agasthyamala Biosphere Reserve to its list of perfect biospheres. Here’s why.

Tribal settlements within the reserve rely on the forests and its 14 rivers for their livelihood. Kanikkarans, the area’s indigenous tribe, rely on agriculture, fishing and hunting. They live in huts made of bamboo and are known for medicinal healing through plants. However, while most of them have moved out of forests, there is still a small population that lives around the Agasthyamala region. To promote sustainability, several programs have been setup to reduce the 3000-strong tribal population from using up all the resources, according to the UNESCO. Some of them also take up employment with the government as guides for tourists coming to the sanctuaries. | To read the full article, click here >>

Source: Agasthyamala Part of UNESCO World Biosphere Reserve Network
Date Visited: Sun Sep 11 2016 11:34:15 GMT+0200 (CEST)

Eco-feminism drive wins accolades

Abhishek Gaur, Deccan Herald, April 5, 2015

Piplantri has turned almost into an oasis and it is surrounded by a large number of trees. “My daughter is seven years now. I have seen these trees and my daughter grow up together. Initially, not all villagers agreed to follow the idea of planting 111 saplings. Now, it’s no less than any ritual in our village,” said Shantu Bhil, a tribal from Piplantri village.
Another resident of Piplantri village said that it was for the first time he decided to bring up his daughter just like a son. Despite being a school teacher he never sent his daughter to a school. | To read the full article, click here >>

Source: Eco-feminism drive wins accolades
Date Visited: Sun Sep 11 2016 11:00:20 GMT+0200 (CEST)

The good earth: “Women to the fore”

Eco-feminism is very much alive in India. Look at the women of Bhopal who continue to seek justice. Look at the resurgence of women’s bio-diversity movements. Look at the movement that Mayilamma started to shut down the Coca-Cola plant in Plachimada. Look at Munni Hansda’s resistance to a coal plant in Jharkhand. Navdanya is a women-centred movement. It is based on an eco-feminist philosophy, it has a women’s leadership and it focusses on women’s seed and food sovereignty. Because of the division of labour, which has left the sustenance economy to women, and because women of the Third World are the primary producers of food and water, when they disappear, it is women who rise. But ecological destruction should be everyone’s concern; after all our lives depend on Nature and ecology.

Environmentalist and Founder Navdanya, New Delhi

DEEPA ALEXANDER, The Hindu, October 27, 2009

Climate change is one of the greatest geopolitical issues of our time. It can deplete food and water supplies, provoke conflict and migration, destabilise fragile societies and threaten markets. From Rachel Carson who first raisedawareness on industrial chemicals to Nobel Peace laureate Wangari Maathai and the nameless women of the Chipko movement, the story of environmentalism is the story of women up against the odds. We spoke to womenenvironmentalists about what should be done to preserve the planet. | To read the full article, click here >>

Women to the fore

Eco-feminism is very much alive in India.

Consult and implement

The Indian Forest Service continues to draw many women, though it is only in the last two decades that the inherent relationship between women and Nature has been recognised and explored. This has mainstreamed into our forest and environmental policies. Relocation of tribal populations, when not properly conceptualised or implemented evolves into displacement, and this affects women intensely. Their coping strategies lose relevance in new surroundings, rendering the women more vulnerable. More than the issues of population growth and expansion, it is the growing disparity in the distribution and ownership of wealth that derails conservation. A well-entrenched consultative process among the stakeholders could probably be the first step that could be thought of, although we need to back this up with some locale specific innovative projects.

Head of Division State Planning Commission, Chennai

Source: The good earth – CHEN – The Hindu
Date Visited: Sun Sep 11 2016 11:03:18 GMT+0200 (CEST)

Who cares about the environment? Some notes on the ecological crisis in India

Shashank Kela, Kafila, July 12, 2015 | To read the full article, click here >>

The past few months have been exceptional, in one respect at least, for the Indian press: a serious structural problem has actually been given the attention it deserves. The Economic Times continues to play a prominent part in discussing air pollution in Delhi – there is no other city in the world where it is so bad. Nor is this all: including Delhi, India now boasts thirteen out of twenty cities with the worst air. […]

This indifference whereby environmental issues are cursorily invoked and swiftly forgotten reflects a wider and more pervasive apathy. The truth is that the Indian voter displays little concern about environmental problems even when their effects upon his or her health and livelihoods would appear to be obvious. […]

One consequence of our deeply fissured social structure is that collective effort tends to focus upon capturing the institutions of state, and networks of patronage associated with them, to the exclusion of co-operative action to solve local problems. The myth of the village community, whether peddled by Gandhians, socialists, right wing ideologues or imperial officials, has always been just that – a myth. […]

All the forest department can do is attenuate it through punitive action. Participatory conservationists must work with it while seeking to overturn this pattern of hostility. The experiments are few and far between: a project in the high Himalayas that works with local communities, persuading them to set aside part of their commons for wild ungulates in return for an annual payment made into the village fund. The results are promising: local populations of bharal and ibex, the natural prey of snow leopards, have increased; as a result rates of predation on domestic livestock have gone down. The basic idea – to increase the natural prey base of this unique predator and diminish the hostility of local communities towards it – seems workable. […]

Each of these projects has a hard conservation component in terms of research or protection or both. Apart from this, there are any number of tourism based initiatives whose goal is to provide local communities with a tangible stake in conservation.

Yet these experiments, valuable though they are, are only a tiny fraction of what should be possible in a country of India’s size and diversity. One reason is that the participatory conservation movement – such as it is – is still in its infancy. Another stems from the lack of dialogue with groups that might have interests in common: adivasi organizations, for example. The inherent conflict between the right to use natural resources and the goal of conserving them did not prevent some conservationists from welcoming the passage of the Forest Rights Act. Yet the two sets of actors continue to talk past each other. Adivasi organizations take the position that adivasi use of forests is sustainable because based on a traditional corpus of knowledge, without bothering to reflect that these practices may have broken down or become irrelevant in altered ecological circumstances. Conservationists tend to ignore a long history of dispossession and environmental devastation caused by the state: it makes little sense to blame local communities for deforestation without recognizing the nature of their alienation and its causes.

Adivasi movements present an idealized, unitary picture of adivasi traditions, pasts and futures. The reality, as always, is more complex and messy. Most adivasi communities contain more than a few members who see education as a gateway to a very different kind of life – one of white collar jobs and urban occupations. In other words, they do not see their future as being on the land. There are other communities who continue to measure their future in terms of the traditional forest based economy. […]

Shashank Kela is the author of A Rogue and Peasant Slave: Adivasi Resistance 1800-2000, a study of adivasi history and politics. He writes occasionally on current affairs and ecology, and can be reached at shashankkela at gmail dot com.

Source: Who cares about the environment? Some notes on the ecological crisis in India: Shashank Kela | Kafila
Date Visited: Sun Sep 11 2016 11:09:10 GMT+0200 (CEST)

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