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

Van GujjarsSubscribe to Van Gujjars

The Situated 'Forest' State and the Alienation of Van Gujjars: Locating forms of accumulation through dispossession in forests of Uttarakhand

The Van Gujjars are a nomadic pastoral community who practice seasonal migration and rotational grazing between the forests of Terai Bhabhar and Siwalik regions in winter and alpine meadows (bugyals) in the upper reaches of the Western Himalayas in the summer. However, the inception of fortress conservation models and forest restoration policies have severely inhibited the ability of these pastoralists to reside, graze and migrate within these forests. The post-colonial state has designed myriad schemes to resettle these pastoralists, without necessarily addressing their volition to accept these ambivalent strategies of sedentarization on their lives and livelihoods. Nonetheless, legal instruments and court orders are routinely used by the Forest department to dispossess these pastoralists in the guise of forest conservation and wildlife protection. This article seeks to identify the numerous strategies adopted by the situated forest state to legitimise dispossession of Van Gujjars, either directly through routine eviction and threats of displacement or indirectly by providing handouts in the form of compensation and rehabilitation packages. The author argues that an analysis of the political economy of forest conservation and restoration becomes key to understand how pastoral lives and livelihoods are negotiating this onslaught of accumulation within forests that rests on displacing and settling them. Although the Forest Rights Act, 2006, engenders a form of agency amongst some Van Gujjars to assert and resist these strategies, the author argues that the politics embedded within its implementation allows the situated forest state to engender ‘proletarianized’ rationalities towards resettlement and land tenure amongst the Van Gujjars.

Protected Areas, Forest Rights, and the Pandemic

The complex nature of contestation between the forest department and the local communities (that is, Van Gujjars) in the Rajaji National Park is explored, with special reference to the recent violent ­attacks by the forest department officials on Van Gujjars. An analysis of the intricate aspects related to the claims of both the Van Gujjars and the forest department underlines that the existence of legal pluralism in forest governance creates a situation of legal indeterminacy, which has been used by the forest department to overlook and violate the demands of local communities.

Enclaves of Ancient Society

Enclaves of Ancient Society Greener Pastures: Politics, Markets and Community among a Migrant Pastoral People by Arun Agarwal; Oxford University Press, New Delhi, pp I-XVII and 1-219, Rs 495.

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