''The Chipko Movement'', one of the first Indian ''ecofeminist'' movements!!

Chipko movement, India ecofriend.org
  credit: bishnois.files.wordpress.com

The Chipko movement, a non-violent protest or agitation took a serious turn in the early 1970s and had begun to gain importance and it is a sort of precursor to  protest against drastic climatic changes,  global warming and loss of habitats. The interesting aspect of this movement is the collective mobilization and participation of women for the cause of preserving forest resources that were either over exploited or destroyed in the name of road construction and urbanization. A part of woman empowerment, their active involvement in  an important and noble cause had an impact on the society about conservation of green cover and made the public change their attitude toward women.

Popularized in Uttar Pradesh’s Chamoli district (now Uttarakhand) in 1973 their clear message that ''felling of trees will cumulatively affect the ecological balance'' got the attention in the northern states where they large forest cove. The word  'chipko’ meaning embrace  started gaining currency and the villagers, particularly women hugged and encircled the trees to prevent being cut. The uprising against the felling of trees and maintaining the ecological balance originated in Uttar Pradesh’s Chamoli district (now Uttarakhand) in 1973. The name of the movement ‘chipko’ comes from the word ’embrace’, as the villagers hugged the trees and encircled them to prevent being hacked for the simple reason ''they are our best friends. and  do so much for us- humans.''  What do they demand from us in in return? Nothing.

Chipko movement, India scrolldroll.com

Chipko movement, India scrolldroll.com
As a matter of fact according to historical records it was in Rajasthan  the first Chipko andolan started with the participation of Bishnoi community. Many people, in particular, women led by one Amrita Devi, sacrificed their lives when the trees were felled down on the orders of Maharajah of Jodhpur. repenting his mistake the ruler in a royal decree, banned cutting of trees in all Bishnoi villages.

In the  early 1970s,  Sarla Behn, a British woman and Gandhian  social worker settled in  Kausani in the Almora district, Uttarakhand  gave a boost to this movement. Way back in the 1940s she  emphasized the importance of forest cover and  consolidated the Chipko movement not only in the Himalayan region, but also other regions of north India.  She played a stellar role to get the attention of the people and the government  on issues of environmental degradation, conservation of forests and the harship faced by villagers  in independent India.  Leading social and environmental activists of Uttarakhand like Vimla and Sunderlal Bahuguna and Radha Bhatt  never failed to take  inspiration from Ms. Sarla Behn.

Chipko movement, India scrolldroll.com

In the 1960s after Chinese aggression (1963) the foreign lumber companies became active in the wooded regions  as part of the Government initiative for infrastructure development.  The crux of the matter was the villagers on the fringe areas were dependent on forests for food and  and fuel. The government’s ban  on  local agriculturists and herders to cut the trees for firewood or for fodder, etc caused resentment among them.. The logging companies exploited the forest resources as much as they could. The 1970 flood caused much inundation  and landslides as it was a mountainous terrain, prompting soil loss and erosion. The trail of destruction caused by flooding was primarily due to poor foresight and mismanagement in the matter of operation of  logging industries.

In 1973 Chandi Prasad Bhatt,  a Gandhian activist and founder of the cooperative organisation Dasholi Gram Swarajya Sangh, led the first Chipko movement near the village of Mandal.  The Chipko Andolan also is an eco-feminist movement promoting forest conservation and protection of ecology''.  Women were the prime victims of floods and landslides, caused by loss of trees on the slopes, ec.,- deforestation in the face of urbanisation. Women are quite indispensable in the realm of  cultivation, livestock care, gathering of firewood and brining-up children in the midst of their daily chores.  

Sunderlal Bahuguna, yet another  Gandhian activist,  all through his life gave full attention to forest conservation.  When Mrs. Indira Gandhi was the PM, she banned the cutting of trees in the forest lans..