In Kaziranga national park, rangers shoot people to protect rhinos. The park features in a new BBC investigation, which highlights some of the conflicts that characterise contemporary conservation, as the need to protect endangered species comes into contact with the lives and rights of people who live in and around the increasingly threatened national parks.
G. Seetharaman reports: Activists say one of the biggest hurdles for FRA is that even states like Maharashtra, among the better performers, and Odisha are introducing policies which will help the forest department retain control of forest resources through joint forest management committees or similar bodies, which will dilute the powers of the gram sabha.
Amit Bhardwaj reports: The Jharkhand Government wants thousands of farmers to give up their multi-crop fertile lands for the Adani power plant. The plant will sell its entire electricity produce to Bangladesh. “They’ve used 1932 land records to show that a majority of the land here is not being used for agriculture,” said Vidya Devi.
When seven deaths have not stirred the government’s conscience, Rai is convinced that the resistance is futile. “The worst pain in the world is the pain of being displaced,” said Rai. “But the fact is neither political protests nor public demand can stop displacement. We’ll have to leave this village, our fields and our history.”
The Forest Rights Act of 2006 was widely hailed as a landmark legislation, one that sought to empower some of India’s most disenfranchised communities– the Adivasis. Ten years later, only 3 percent of forest dwellers have their rights recognised, and the Act itself is increasingly being undermined by the present government. Here’s a closer look.
Purabi Bose writes: The downside of turning quinoa, acai berries of Amazon forests, or even moringa (drumstick) into new superfoods is that urban consumers compete with indigenous peoples for food resources. Through our demand for superfoods, we push indigenous populations to eat cheaper, less nutritious, less flavourful, imported staple diets like maize, rice and wheat.
From the lignite mines in Rhineland, to the streets of Paris, the struggles for climate justice are fought at more and more fronts. This film documents the story of a growing movement that says “Enough! Here and no further!” and commits civil disobedience taking the transition towards a climate just society into its own hands.
Can there be a collective search for paradigms and pathways towards a world that is sustainable, equitable and just? How can such frameworks and visions build on an existing heritage of ideas and worldviews and cultures, and on past or new grassroots practice? This note attempts to layout a few thoughts towards such a process.
In her new book, The Burning Forest: India’s War In Bastar, anthropologist Nandini Sundar provides a harrowing narrative of the toll this ongoing conflict has taken on the lives of Bastar’s Adivasis. Sundar demonstrates how the institutions of democracy have failed to address the human tragedy in what has become one of India’s most militarized regions.
Shashank Kela, author of an acclaimed study of adivasi history and politics, writes: This essay aims to make connections between things that are usually studied separately– environmental history, political economy, conservation practice and adivasi politics. The belief that this potential convergence could do with wider discussion is my sole justification for putting it up here.
Felix Padel writes: An Adivasi economy, in its traditional or pre-globalization form at least, was based in many ways on ecological principles. In the words of a Kond elder in Kandhamal district, Odisha, “Where are the saints in your society? In this village we are all saints. We consume little, share everything, and waste nothing.”
Survival International has given its “Racist of the Year” award for 2016 to President Ian Khama of Botswana. The award is given annually to the person displaying the greatest prejudice against tribal peoples. Nominees in 2016 included Australian cartoonist Bill Leak and Indian godman Gurmeet Ram Rahim Singh, whose film MSG-2 depicts tribal people as “evil”.
From Juggernaut publishing: There’s a hidden war going on in central India away from the headlines — and Bastar is at the centre of it. Sociologist Nandini Sundar, who has written about Bastar and its people for nearly three decades, has now authored a gripping account of the war between the Maoists and the State.
Javed Iqbal reports: Months have passed quietly with allegations of day-to-day violence and repression. Throughout the summer, say locals, many adivasis were caught and humiliated by the C60 – Maharashtra’s special anti-naxal force. In interviews, they detailed how they were deliberately humiliated by being beaten on the soles of their feet and on their buttocks.
Gladson Dungdung writes: With the CAMPA bill being passed, the forest department has regained its lost hegemonic power over Adivasis. Many past and present instances suggest that the CAMPA amounts to the return of a British Raj-like regime to the forest, aggravating resource based conflict and the enmity between the State and forest dwelling communities.
India is home to about 700 tribal groups with a population of 104 million, as per 2011 census, constituting the second largest tribal population in the world after Africa. Down to Earth magazine examines the many grave threats they face from government, corporations and phenomena like climate change, and our continuing indifference to their plight.
Almost two decades back, about two dozen of us pooled resources to buy undulating land, now known as Vanvadi, in the foothills of the Sahyadris; our primary aim – ecological regeneration and local self-reliance. A survey of the botanical wealth of Vanvadi surprised us with 52 plant species of uncultivated forest foods that provide edible.
Campaign for Survival and Dignity release: The Rajya Sabha has passed the Compensatory Afforestation Fund Bill, 2016. This Bill essentially gives carte blanche to forest officials to spend gigantic amounts of money (over Rs. 40,000 crores) without any accountability to the people whose forests, lands and lives will be damaged or destroyed by their activities.
Down to Earth reports: Severe dry spells in Indian forests have hit the livelihood of more than 100 million people. But India simply does not acknowledge this drought. There’s no official nomenclature for forest droughts, nor any official plan to deal with them. So, while a farmer gets compensation for failed crops, forest-dwellers receive nothing.
This fact-finding report assesses the impact of the ongoing conflict between the state and the Maoists on the Adivasi villagers of Bastar, and also investigates reports of atrocities by the security forces and the Maoists. The study team visited villages in Sukma, Bijapur, Bastar and Kanker districts, where the conflict is at its most intense.