ISSN (Print) - 0012-9976 | ISSN (Online) - 2349-8846

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Governing Sacred Groves

Sacred groves are widely recognised for their religious, cultural, and ecological value. They are an intrinsic part of traditional and indigenous practices of forest governance. However, the contemporary sacred forest system is not an autonomous world. Its sociopolitical landscape is not confined only to the village either. Based on extensive fieldwork in Jharkhand, this paper argues that sacred groves have evolved to be dynamic spaces of multilevel institutional interactions and contestations. Their conservation is contingent on the intersectional dynamics of indigenous, state, and institutional processes. Classical approaches of sacrality of the nature and forms of forest worship need to be combined with the concerns of the local environment, democracy, gender, caste, conservation, and culture.

Need for a Comprehensive Monitoring Framework of Indian Forests

Forests are one of the crucial ecosystems in the world covering about 31% of the global terrestrial area (FAO 2020). More than 1.6 billion people worldwide are dependent on various forest resources and about 350 million people rely directly on them for their livelihoods, also contributing greatly to strengthen the overall gross domestic product (GDP) of nations (World Bank 2002; Li et al 2019). This has led to a decrease in forests globally due to the conversion to other land use and unsustainable extraction of timber and non-timber forest products (NTFPs) to meet the demands of the growing population (FAO 2020). Owing to the numerous benefits that forests provide, a comprehensive framework focusing on a multidimensional aspect is necessary for sustainable management and effective utilisation.

Striving for Begumpura: Traversing the Intellectual Activism of Gail Omvedt

​Writer, researcher, life-long fellow traveller of the progressive movements and long-time author with the Economic & Political Weekly, Gail Omvedt passed away on 25 August 2021. In this reading list, we present some of the highlights of her scholarship published in EPW.

Repudiating Chipko Village’s Identity and Existence

Chief Justice Raghvendra Singh Chauhan-led division bench of the High Court of Uttarakhand in its judgment of 14 July 2021 dismissed the petition of villagers of Reini, known for the Chipko movement, expressing doubts about their identity and integrity. Unmindful of the fact that the distressed petitioners had approached the court seeking protection of their lives and ecology, the court penalised them for the “abuse of PIL jurisdiction.” The judiciary and government have continued to ignore the repeated attempts of the people to seek relief and frequent warn-offs in the form of disasters in this region.

Climate Change and the Human Condition

The Climate of History in a Planetary Age by Dipesh Chakrabarty, New Delhi: Primus Books, 2021; pp 290, ` 995 (hardcover).

Resilience, Sustainability and Equity: COVID-19 and Mountain Livelihoods

In the west Himalayan mountain state of Himachal Pradesh where 90% of the population is rural, of which close to two thirds is dependent on land-based livelihoods, we examine the impacts of the initial phases of the COVID-19-led lockdown. Experiences of both horticulturalists and subsistence farmers highlight that challenges rooted in long-brewing socio-political, economic and ecological imbalances were brought to the fore starkly during this crisis. We argue that if the livelihood interests of mountain people have to be protected along with the local ecology, state policies will have to revolve around the principles of equity, sustainability and resilience. */

​We Did It!

When we found light, not only fire, But also the fluorescent bulb bright, we did it. To think that we could keep sunlight, All through the night, we did it. When we ploughed the earth, but forgot to nurture it. Got our food and plundered it, we did it. When we made those mines, And said clean...

Brick Nationalism: Silver Bricks or Sun Dried Ones?

While this building material supports a shiny political campaign in the form of a silver brick laid at Ayodhya, the on-ground situation of brick kilns in India remains grim, with the exploitation of both labour and the environment. To change this scenario, an array of solutions for brickmaking, including compressed stabilised earth blocks, need to be made mainstream. The decentralised, skill-based technologies in brickmaking are the answer to mitigate environmental deterioration and enhance skill development.

Will the 2018 NGT Order Lead to Improvement in River Water Quality?

On 20 September 2018, the National Green Tribunal ordered all states and union territories to prepare action plans within the next two months for restoring the quality of polluted river stretches to at least “bathing standards” within six months of the finalisation of the plans. However, making of the action plans alone is not likely to lead to an improvement in the river water quality.

Ecological Memory

Along with our birds and natural landscapes, our ecological consciousness is slowly disappearing.

Today's Environmentalism

Environmental activism in India comprises two streams. The first focuses on protected areas and relies on the bureaucracy that often misuses its powers against communities that live in close contact with nature. The second focuses on protecting nature to safeguard people's livelihoods and health. The environmental agenda should focus on the reassertion of people's rights over natural resources, and this should be coupled with an action-oriented promotion of nature-friendly cooperative enterprises in sectors like quarrying, and mineral and sand mining.

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