By: Pankaj H Gupta
New production relations and out-migration are creating an unforeseen gender dynamic in Garhwal.
It is May, the wedding season in Garhwal, and the mountains reverberate with the sounds of drums and Scottish pipes. Colourful wedding parties can be seen winding their way through mule tracks. The wheat crop has just been harvested, and is now being threshed. Celebration is in the air.
Against this backdrop, 72-year-old Bachni Devi has been asked to recollect her own wedding. What was it like coming, as a young child bride, to the village of Jardhargaon? She is both surprised and amused by the question. “My wedding? Oh, it was so long ago,” she says. “I was only 13. Now I am 72.”
People in Conservation
Volume 2 Issue 1, January 2009
Jardhargaon is a village at a height of 1500 metres situated in the hilly district of Tehri Garhwal in the State of Uttarakhand in North India. Jardhargaon has pine forests, village grasslands (Civil Soyam Forest) and dense Reserved Forests covering an area of 429.5 ha consisting primarily of oak and rhododendron trees. Cultivation is the main livelihood of the people of this region.
This is part of the Garhwal region where the Chipko Movement took place. The Chipko Movement started in the early 1980s as a spontaneous local protest against tree felling by contractors and it spread rapidly across the region. The Movement resulted in a 15 year moratorium on commercial felling at altitudes over 1000 metres in the Uttarakhand region. Jardhargaon, too, came under the influence of this Movement, primarily through the active involvement of one of its residents, Vijay Jardhari.
Excerpts from Report in InfoChange News & Features, October 2008
Dead end on the road to development
By Deepti Priya Mehrotra
Three films screened at the PSBT Open Frame International Film Festival in September critique the dominant development model by examining the lives of three communities — subsistence farmers in Uttarakhand, the fisherfolk of Chilika, and Delhi’s ragpickersThree documentaries, screened at the PSBT Open Frame International Film Festival on September 16, 2008, together provide a powerful critique of the dominant developmental model. Two films discussed the “vanishing local” — the crumbling of subsistence agriculture in Uttarakhand (Apna Alu Bazar Becha, by Pankaj H Gupta), and the destruction of fisheries in Orissa (Chilika Banks — Stories from India’s Largest Coastal Lake, by Akanksha Joshi). The third film explored Delhi’s scrap industry, run largely by ragpickers (Scavenging Dreams, by Jasmine K Roy and Avinash Roy). The films depict the lives of millions of ordinary people, barely surviving behind the façade of Shining India.* * *
The film ‘Apna Aloo Bazaar Becha’ (Sold One’s Potatoes in the Market), based on traditional agro-biodiversity and on the work and people of Beej Bachao Andolan won the Golden Deer award for the best short film at the ECOFILMS festival held in Rodos, Greece in June 2008. The film, made by Pankaj H Gupta is slated to be screened at a number of other festivals and venues in the coming months.
In his acceptance speech, read in absentia, at the award ceremony, he said, ” Few mountain communities, however remote, remain untouched by globalization. Jarhdhargaon, a typical village of middle Himalaya in the Indian province of Garhwal (Uttarakhand), led an isolated, egalitarian existence until just 30 years ago, living off an agro-pastoral system that had sustained human life and the environment for over six centuries. Today, it is in the middle of a rapid social and environmental transformation. This short documentary, based entirely on local perspectives, reflects on this process of change – what triggers the shift to modernization and what impacts it has on the personal, social and environmental spaces. In particular, the film focuses on the primary subsistence activity of farming: whether it can survive in the face of steady out-migration, and if the attempts by Beej Bachao Andolan (Save Seeds Movement) to resist modernization can be successful.”
Pankaj Gupta is a visiting fellow at the Centre for Interdisciplinary Studies in Environment & Development in Bangalore (India). On the filming, he says, “The film has a simple message – that our relations with nature, and with each other, are of vital importance. It is encouraging to know that the dilemmas of a remote mountain community in India has found resonance in far-off Europe…. In a sense, the award is really a tribute to the values that the film represents and to all the people in front of the camera for baring their souls.”
Beej Bachao Andolan had its annual gathering of friends and farmers on 17-19 May 2008.
The subject for this year’s discussion was “Kheti par maar – Van pashu, mausam aur sarkar“. In English, this would roughly translate as “The attack on farming – wild animals, climate and the government”.