Trees or Fees, Hugs or Thugs: An Exploratory Study on the Evolution of India's Chipko Movement

Bhavana Mody, The College of Wooster


This study examines the contemporary social impact of the Chipko Andolan, a grassroots environmental movement, that was initiated during the 1970s in the Himalaya region of India. It explores what forms Chipko has revealed itself, past and presently, and why it has taken these forms. The literature review summarizes studies that provide the basic narrative of the movement, as well as those that are more critical of Chipko. Social movement theory is the theoretical basis for the study, providing a framework for understanding why and how the movement has changed in form and substance over the past 20 years. Research for the actual study was conducted over a three-week period, through interviews and periodical searches in New Delhi, as well as participant observation and interviews in the villages of Baccher and Bandwara, located in the Garhwal region of UttarPradesh, India. The Himalaya region at large continues to suffer from economic loss and environmental degradation, even though original Chipko protest led to the ban of logging in the region. However, at least within the two villages of Baccher and Bandwara, the Chipko Andolan is still in process and has evolved into a social movement that has manifested itself, addressing contemporary issues in several forms. Acts of confrontational protest have evolved into the establishment of educational and income-generating projects; symbolic resistance from larger external forces, particularly among Himalayan women, is another form in which the movement has evolved to take shape.


© Copyright 1999 Bhavana Mody