Contributions of moral thinkers and philosophers from Uttarakhand State

Contributions of moral thinkers and philosophers from Uttarakhand State

Vandana Shiva

Vandana Shiva, (born November 5, 1952, Dehra Dun, Uttarakhand, India, Indian physicist, moral thinker and social activist. Shiva founded the Research Foundation for Science, Technology, and Natural Resource Policy, an organization devoted to developing sustainable methods of agriculture, in 1982.

Shiva proceeded to work on grassroots campaigns to prevent clear-cut logging and the construction of large dams. She was perhaps best known, however, as a critic of Asia’s Green Revolution, an international effort that began in the 1960s to increase food production in less-developed countries through higher-yielding seed stocks and the increased use of pesticides and fertilizers. The Green Revolution, she maintained, had led to pollution, a loss of indigenous seed diversity and traditional agricultural knowledge, and the troubling dependence of poor farmers on costly chemicals. In response, RFSTE scientists established seed banks throughout India to preserve the country’s agricultural heritage while training farmers in sustainable agricultural practices.

In 1991 Shiva launched Navdanya, meaning “Nine Seeds,” or “New Gift” in Hindi. The project, part of RFSTE, strove to combat the growing tendency toward monoculture promoted by large corporations. Navdanya formed over 40 seed banks in India and attempted to educate farmers on the benefits of conserving their unique strains of seed crops. Shiva argued that, particularly in a time of climate change, the homogenization of crop production was dangerous. Unlike native seed strains, developed over long periods of time and therefore adapted to the conditions of a given area, the seed strains promoted by large corporations required the application of large amounts of fertilizer and pesticides.

In addition, many such seed strains were genetically engineered and patented, preventing farmers from saving seeds from their harvests to plant the following season and instead forcing them to purchase new seed each year. Shiva’s idea was that a decentralized approach to agriculture, based upon a diverse array of locally adapted seeds, would be more likely to weather the vagaries of a changing climate than a system relying on only a few varieties. She anticipated the danger of the World Trade Organization’s (WTO’s) Trade-Related Intellectual Property Rights (TRIPS) Agreement, which allowed for the patenting of life forms and would therefore make it possible for corporations to essentially require farmers to continue to purchase their seeds after local varieties had been eliminated. She spoke out against the agreement at the 1999 WTO protests in Seattle. Shiva had launched Diverse Women for Diversity, an international version of Navdanya, the previous year. In 2001 she opened Bija Vidyapeeth, a school and organic farm offering month-long courses in sustainable living and agriculture, near Dehra Dun.

Shiva also thought that the biological wealth of poorer countries was too often appropriated by global corporations that neither sought their hosts’ consent nor shared the profits. In her 1997 book, Biopiracy: The Plunder of Nature and Knowledge, she charged that these practices were tantamount to biological theft. Shiva expounded upon her ideas on corporate trade agreements, the exponential decrease in the genetic diversity of crops, and patent law in Stolen Harvest: The Hijacking of the Global Food Supply (1999), Tomorrow’s Biodiversity (2000), and Patents: Myths and Reality (2001), respectively. Water Wars: Privatization, Pollution, and Profit (2002) criticizes corporations for attempting to privatize water resources. Shiva continued to articulate the problems caused by corporate domination and to foster the development of realistic solutions in Globalization’s New Wars: Seed, Water, and Life Forms (2005) and Earth Democracy: Justice, Sustainability, and Peace (2005). Shiva also edited Manifestos on the Future of Food and Seed (2007).

Gaura devi

During the activist phase of Chipko in the 1970s, the courage and vigilance of Uttarakhandi women saved many forests and earned them a hallowed place in the history of the global environmental movement. Most prominent amongst these women was Lata village’s own Gaura Devi who led the first all-women action to save their community forest in March 1974. As a widow with no formal education, Gaura Devi would nevertheless assume leadership of the village Mahila Mangal Dal and work tireless on behalf of her community long beyond those fateful few days when the axemen were chased away. Her example would be repeated by countless women who would come to form the backbone of the Chipko movement.

26th march 1974 is known as the historical day in Chipko Movement . In a small village of Reni  in Uttarakhand  , all the women under the leadership of Smt.Gaura Devi stood vigilant for three days and nights to prevent the lumbermen from felling the trees. Women in the village were alone that day as all the men had gone to near by Chamoli Village for work. The forest officials accompanied by labourers  wanted  to chop the trees during this period as they thought, there would be no resistance as the men had gone to Chamoli for work . They had failed to reckon the women power . Gaura Devi stood before them and said, “We are hugging the trees. If you cut the trees down, you will have to hit us with your axes first.”  Officials and labourers  had to relent and go away. It was a great victory for the Chipko movement .

People of Uttarakhand have forgotten the the words of Gaura Devi, who died in 1991 at the age of 66 years. With her died the resistance against felling of trees in the Gharwal region.  Uneducated villagers understood the value of trees but educated city borne officials and politicians have no respect for nature. They have been mindless in their development schemes.  Unsuspecting innocent paid for it with their lives.

Sunderlal Bahuguna

Sunderlal Bahuguna is an eco-activist from Uttrakhand. Sunderlal has spent his life working to educate Indian villagers, protesting against ecological destruction by the government and protecting the Himalayan Mountains. Mr. Bahuguna has had an active role within the Chipko and anti-Tehri Dam movements. Sunderlal has struggled for change in all of the above areas using peaceful resistance. He learned from Mohandas Gandhi to use peaceful means to bring major changes for his community. As a Ghandian peace worker he does not resort to violence to achieve the change he is working toward.

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