Chapter 7. Rise of Popular Movements

Chipko Movement
• movement began in two or three villages of Uttarakhand [in 1973] when forest department refused permission to villagers to fell ash trees for making agricultural tools.
• However, forest department allotted same patch of land to a sports manufacturer for commercial use. This enraged villagers, and they protested against move of government.
• villagers demanded that no forest-exploiting contracts are given to outsiders and local communities have effective control over natural resources like land, water, & forests. They wanted government to provide lowcost materials to small industries and ensure development of region without disturbing ecological balance.
• movement took up economic issues of landless forest workers and asked for guarantees of minimum wage.
• Women’s active participation in Chipko agitation was a very novel aspect of movement.
• movement achieved a victory when government issued a ban on felling of trees in Himalayan regions for fifteen years until green cover was fully restored.

Dalit Panthers
• Dalit Panthers, a militant organisation of Dalit youth was formed in Maharashtra in 1972.
• Dalit groups were mainly fighting against perpetual caste-based inequalities and material injustices that Dalits faced despite constitutional guarantees of equality and justice.
• Activities of Dalit Panthers, mostly centred around fighting increasing atrocities on Dalits in various parts of State.
• larger ideological agenda of Panthers was to destroy caste system and build an organisation of all oppressed sections like landless poor peasants and urban industrial workers along with Dalits.
• movement provided a platform for Daliteducated youth to use their creativity as a protest activity.
• Dalit Panthers got involved in electoral compromises; it underwent many splits, which led to its decline.

Bhartiya Kisan Union
• In January 1988, around twenty thousand farmers had gathered in city of Meerut, Uttar Pradesh. They were protesting against government’s decision to increase electricity rates.
• farmers camped for about three weeks outside district collector’s office until their demands were fulfilled.
• These agitating farmers were members of Bhartiya Kisan Union [BKU], an organisation of farmers from western Uttar Pradesh and Haryana regions.
• BKU demanded higher government floor prices for sugarcane and wheat, abolition of restrictions on interstate movement of farm produce, guaranteed supply of electricity at reasonable rates, waiving of repayments due on loans to farmers, and provision of a government pension for farmers.
• Activities conducted by BKU to pressurize State for accepting its demands included rallies, demonstrations, sit-ins, & jail bharo [courting imprisonment] agitations.
• Another novel aspect of these mobilisations was use of caste linkages of farmers. Most of BKU members belonged to a single community.
• organisation used traditional caste panchayats of these communities in bringing them together over economic issues.
• organisation, along with other farmers’ organisations across States, did manage to get some of their economic demands accepted.
• farmers’ movement became one of most successful social movements of ’eighties’.

Narmada Bachao Aandolan
• At beginning of 1980s, a big plan to improve Narmada valley in central India was started.
• project was to build 30 big dams, 135 medium-sized dams, and around 3,000 small dams on Narmada and its tributaries, which flow through three states: Madhya Pradesh, Gujarat, and Maharashtra.
• Sardar Sarovar Project in Gujarat and Narmada Sagar Project in Madhya Pradesh were two of most important and biggest multi-purpose dams planned under project.
• Narmada Bachao Aandolan, a group that wants to save Narmada River, was against building these dams and questioned nature of other development projects going on in country at same time.
• At first, movement called for fair and right rehabilitation of everyone who had been directly or indirectly hurt by project. movement raised questions about how decisions are made for large-scale development projects.
• NBA insisted that local communities must have a say in such decisions and they should have effective control over natural resources like water, land, & forests.
• A comprehensive National Rehabilitation Policy formed by government in 2003 can be seen as an achievement of movements like NBA.
• court upheld government’s decision to go ahead with construction of dam while instructing to ensure proper rehabilitation.
• Narmada Bachao Aandolan continued a sustained agitation for more than twenty years.

Anti Arrack Movement
• In a village in interior of Dubagunta in Nellore district of Andhra Pradesh, women had enrolled in Adult Literacy Drive on a large scale in early nineteen nineties. This is during discussion in class that women complained of increased consumption of a locally brewed alcohol arrack by men in their families.
• habit of alcoholism had taken deep roots among village people and was ruining their physical and mental health. It affected rural economy of region. Indebtedness grew with increasing scales of consumption of alcohol, men remained absent from their jobs, and contractors of alcohol engaged in crime for securing their monopoly over arrack trade.
• Women in Nellore came together in spontaneous local initiatives to protest against arrack and forced closure of wine shops.
• This movement in Nellore District slowly spread all over State.
• slogan of anti-arrack movement was simple — prohibition on sale of arrack.
• State Government collected huge revenues by way of taxes imposed on sale of arrack, and therefore was not willing to impose a ban.
• Women openly discussed issue of domestic violence. Their movement, for first time, provided a platform to discuss private issues of domestic violence.
• focus of women’s movement gradually shifted from legal reforms to open social confrontations.
• As a result, movement made demands for equal representation for women in politics during nineties.

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