Photo: Wikimedia Commons
Photo: Wikimedia Commons

Axing Chipko

Chipko is not a movement, it 'was' one. Its energies sapped by excessive adulation, the movement wound up too quickly. For a while, though, Chipko came tantalisingly close to providing for a corner of South Asia, socio-economic development through a paradigm that was self-developed.

The world knows it as the Chipko movement — the most successful environmental mass action of the South, in which simple hill villagers fought big business. There was feminist romance in mountain women hugging trees to save them from the plainsman's axe, daring him, "chop me before you chop my tree." The Leftist nirvana of idealistic little-folk fighting rapacious capital also seemed to have been attained, as did the Gandhian's vision of non­violence, self sufficiency and khadi. The overall package was good enough to bring awards to the leaders on the Chipko front, grist for academic papers and books, and raw stock for journalists from far and wide.

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Himal Southasian