The Indian Himalayan region is seeing a myriad of conflicts and challenges, and somehow increasing literacy levels or education is not providing the answers we urgently seek. Reliance on an education providing merely literacy, connecting people to a wider world, but alienating them from their environments, has done little good to people or their ecosystems.
So where are my reading glasses? Here, right in front of me, so close that I missed them. The lenses need cleaning. Some of Delhi’s smog still clings to them. Landour would not approve. And here I am, back on my hilltop, pen in hand, spectacles balanced on my nose. The new day has begun.
From The Wire: Compared to farm, fishery and factory work, Himalayan porterage is rarely the subject of labour scholarship. For that matter, the forest protection and conservation labour of Adivasis and Dalits too rarely occupies the labour scholar’s interest… The biologically and culturally diverse eastern Himalayas are an apt geography to locate this labour-conservation conundrum.
Dia Mirza writes: We cannot call this devastation of ecology and livelihoods ‘natural calamities’ anymore; it’s evident that there is a nexus of powerful people who are ignorant to the ramifications of their idea of “development” and “progress” that is gutting our forests, polluting our rivers and leading many states to a state of drought.
Sonam Wangchuk, the real life inspiration of the character “Phunsuk Wangdu” in Bollywood hit “3 idiots”, recently led an expedition to Sikkim’s Lhonak lake, which has been declared dangerous. Their objective was to install a siphoning system to drain the lake and prevent climate disaster, probably the first project of its kind in the world.
Peter Smetacek writes: The question, naturally, is: What are we hoping to achieve by the process of planting forests? Because we don’t have a clear answer, it is no surprise that there is not a single success story in all the “watershed management” and “afforestation” drives that the public has paid for throughout the country.
There are almost 400 fires in the Himalayan foothills currently, which have killed five people and finished off at least 19 square kilometres of forest. The timber mafia and ordinary folks are known to illegally set fire in the Himalayan foothills, to fell trees, but its uncontrollable nature this year also points to micro-climatic changes.