Friday, September 6, 2019

Tribal Women in Chipko Movement Essay Example for Free

Tribal Women in Chipko Movement Essay The women who participated in the Chipko meetings, processions and other programmes have become aware of their potentialities and are now demanding a share in the decision-making process at the community level. Apart from Reni, the events at Dongri Paintoli village indicated a new development in the movement. On 9th February, 1980 the women of Dongri Paintoli turned out in large numbers, held a Chipko demonstration and prevented any tree-felling. Nine days later, the Government ordered the forest-felling in that area stopped, and within a month a ban on any further cutting was effected. Subsequently, women leaders in the village were defamed and asked not to attend further meetings. The women in Reni took action only because there were no men in the village around to do so. Their â€Å"action† was to ask the tree-fellers to wait until their men returned so that some discussions could take place between the two sides (of men) as equals. Women took charge of the scene only in the absence of men, but once they did take charge, they succeeded. In Dongri Paintoli, by contrast, rather than merely taking a decision in the absence of men, the women stood up against decisions made by their own men. Although they faced opposition from men, they held to their conviction. This certainly marked a major step forward in terms of women’s role in the Chipko movement. In Gopeshwar, women have now formed a cooperative of their own, the Mahila Mangal, to ensure protection of the forest around the town. Its work is carried out regularly by watchwomen, who receive regular wages. Under this supervision, the extraction of forest produce for daily necessities is accomplished in a regular manner, so as not to harm the trees. Women or men violating these rules are fined, and these fines are deposited in a common fund. Those who do not obey the rules face the punishment of having their tools confiscated. It can only be said that the cases of Reni and Dongri Paintoli and the organization of women into the Mahila Mangal at Gopeshwar are indicative of the latent potentialities in the organization and mobilization of resources by women whose consciousness has been raised. Women’s participation in Chipko movement, however limited in numbers or in its impact on the general way of life, has implications for possible changes in gender relationships in the Garhwali tribal society. Since tribal women are the gatherers of fuel, fodder and water, it is they who feel the first impact of soil erosion. Women had repeatedly challenged administrators and politicians with their slogans: â€Å"Planning without fodder, fuel and water is one-eyed planning. † Their struggle against injustice brought them into direct confrontation with the men. Gaura Devi, the famous leader, had to tolerate continuous harassment. First the contractor tried to bribe her into letting his men enter the forest. When she refused this offer, the forest department personnel threatened to call the police and arrest her. The contractor in league with some villagers composed folk songs describing the arrest of Gaura Devi and her torture in jail. Chipko women activists are being accused of getting the villagers blacklisted. The men said that since the villages were blacklisted due to the behavior of women, the young men, most of whom were in the army, would not be given employment anywhere, and the villages would not be supplied with essential commodities like salt and kerosene. Also the villages would be deprived of a motor road, electricity, hospital. The women activists are being made the villains of the piece and rumor is being used as a weapon to isolate them. Everyday the men returned home and flinged accusations at the women. This constant harassment within the family caused the women immense mental agony. According to Gayatri Devi, the success of the Chipko movement demonstrates the intellectual superiority of the women over the men in the village. In 1980s, the Chipko movement subsided, with only a small section associated with Bahuguna continuing to protest against the construction of the Tehri dam. However, part of Chipko critique thinks that government policy in the Uttar Pradesh hills was insensitive to the region’s ecological and social specificity and was driven by the concern to maximize revenues which were appropriated by a bureaucracy based in the plains, formed the core of a movement for regional autonomy. 4 This movement for a separate state raged throughout the 1980s and 1990s and was marked by a series of public protest rallies and demonstrations, some of which were violently suppressed by the state (most notably the brutal assault on women protestors at Muzaffarnagar in 1994). The state of Uttaranchal was finally carved out of the hill districts of Uttar Pradesh in 2000. The Chipko movement inspired Vandana Shiva for the development of a new theory called as ‘Ecofeminism’ which specifically explains the link between the ‘women and ecology’ which were in great demand in the market. To be clearer, Vandana Shiva’s Ecofeminist Movement brought imperialism inscribed in the colonial practices, into the centre of the Environmentalist debate. Vandana Shiva’s narratives of Chipko centre on women. She draws the village women of Garhwal into her narratives by binding them to Himalayan forests and nature, not because they are their birthright but through the ‘feminine principle’ which exists in both Women and Nature. She has presented the village women of Garhwal as exploited by colonialism and threatened by modernization and economic development. Chipko is, for Shiva, a women’s ecology movement, a resurgence of women’s power. Chipko women were in against of exploiting forest for timber because they valued forests for providing their simple subsistence; they did not care for economic gain. Forests, for them, provide soil, water and pure air. In 1977, she states, the two paradigms of forestry, one life-destroying (commerce-oriented and masculine) and the other life-enhancing (subsistence-oriented and embodying the feminine principle), clashed, following which Chipko became â€Å"explicitly an ecological and feminist movement†. Shiva asserts that Chipko women are against development, modernization, and economic rationality. According to her, they expect nothing from so called ‘development’ or from the money economy. They only wanted to preserve their autonomous control over their subsistence base, their common property resources: the land, water, forests, and hills. Chipko movement is thus very much a feminist movement. It not only has brought forth in a dramatic manner greatly increased understanding of the divergent interests of local communities and state bureaucracies in the management of local resources; it is now finding that the interests of men and women within the same community can differ greatly. As long as the Chipko movement remains sensitive to this learning process, it is bound to grow in strength. Ramchandra Guha is widely regarded as one of India’s leading environmental historians. In his well known book5 he argues that while Chipko may have involved women, adopted Gandhian non-violent strategies, and raised popular awareness towards environmental problems in the Himalayas, it is neither an environmental, nor Gandhian, nor feminist movement. He holds that, in Uttarakhand the participation of women in popular movements dates from the anti alcohol agitations led by Sarvodaya workers in the 1960s. However, despite the important role played by women, it would be simplistic to characterize Chipko as a feminist movement. In several instances, especially the early mobilizations at Mandal and at Phata, it was men who took the initiative in protecting forests. Women came to the fore in Reni, when in the contrived absence of men folk they unexpectedly came forward to thwart forest felling. In other agitations, such as Badyargarh men, women, children have all participated equally. Dongri-Paintoli is the only instance of an overt conflict between men and women over the management and control of forest resources. As such, even at level of participation Chipko can hardly be said to constitute a women’s movement. Undoubtedly, the hill women have traditionally borne an extraordinarily high share of family labour –and their participation in Chipko may be read as an outcome of the increasing difficulty with which these tasks have been accomplished in the deteriorating environment. Interestingly, Chandi Prasad Bhatt does believe that women are capable of playing a more dynamic role than the men who, in the face of growing commercialization, are apt to lose sight of the long-term interests of the village economy. On the other hand, it has been suggested that which they are the beasts of burden as viewed through the prism of an outside observer, hill women are in fact aware that they are the repository of local tradition. In the orbit of the household women often take decisions which are rarely challenged by the men. In the act of embracing the trees, therefore, they are acting not merely as women but as bearers of continuity with the past in a community threatened with fragmentation. Chipko movement as a constructive resistance to ecological struggle is played out in Nina Sibal’s Yatra: The Journey. The protagonist, Krishna Kaur, embarks on a pilgrimage for environmental justice that takes her through the area where the Chipko movement is active; there she received the secret of angwaltha from the Chipko women, their spirit of love reaching her as she walked through the Deva Bhumi of Uttarakhand and her padyatra. The novel begins with Krishna’s return to India from an activist-business trip to London: her short visit had been useful in terms of the contact she had made in the Forestry Commission and an international environmental foundation has committed funds for an important river project in the Garhwal hills. But environmental concerns are rarely mentioned by the author. The novel foregrounds gender issues in the Chipko movement. It says –â€Å"After all, at its heart, the Chipko Movement is very feminist. It consists essentially of a string of spontaneous confrontations triggered and managed by women of the region, in which none of the so-called leaders were present. In some cases they were struggling against their own men who saw their immediate economic interests tied up with the decisions of the district administration†¦Ã¢â‚¬ ¦Ã¢â‚¬ ¦..

No comments:

Post a Comment

Note: Only a member of this blog may post a comment.