Chandi Prasad Bhatt

Chandi Prasad Bhatt
Chandi Prasad Bhatt
Born June 23, 1934 (1934-06-23) (age 77)
Gopeshwar, Uttarakhand, India
Nationality Indian
Occupation activist, Gandhian, environmentalist
Spouse Deveshwari Dimari

Chandi Prasad Bhatt (चंडी प्रसाद भट्ट) (born 1934) is an Indian Gandhian environmentalist and social activist, who founded Dasholi Gram Swarajya Sangh (DGSS) in Gopeshwar in 1964, which later became a mother-organization to the Chipko Movement, in which he was one of the pioneers, and for which he has been awarded the Ramon Magsaysay Award for Community Leadership in 1982, followed by the Padma Bhushan in 2005.[1][2] Today he is known for his work on subaltern social ecology, and considered one of India's first modern environmentalist.[3]

Contents

Early life

Chandi Prasad Bhatt was born on June 23, 1934, as the second child of Ganga Ram Bhatt and Maheshi Devi Thapliyal, in a family of priests to the Rudranath Temple in Gopeshwar, one of the "Panch Kedar", the five Himalayan temples dedicated to Shiva, the most venerated amongst them being the Kedarnath Temple.[1] His father who was a farmer, and a priest at a Famous shiva temple at Gopeshwar and the Rudranath Temple, died when Chandi Prasad was still an infant, thereafter he was raised by his mother, in Gopeshwar, Chamoli District of Uttarakhand in India, which was still a very small village. He did his schooling in Rudraprayag and Pauri, but stopped before he could take a degree.[4]

Career

Farmland was scarce in the overpopulated mountains, and so were jobs. Like most men of the mountain villages, Chandi Prasad taught art to children for a year to support his mother, before eventually forced to work in the plains. He joined the Garhwal Motor Owners Union (GMOU) as a booking clerk, posted at various places including, Rishikesh, Pipalkoti and Karnaprayag.[1]

Bhatt felt deeply concerned over the plight of the mountain people as a whole, and he often walked through the mountains to talk to the villagers about their problems. Among the most important, of course, were the shortages in farmland and jobs. But added to these were oppressive government policies concerning the forests.

The villagers depended on the forests for firewood, fodder for their cattle, and wood for their houses and farm tools. But the government restricted huge areas of forest from their use, and then auctioned off the trees to lumber companies and industries from the plains—a practice inherited with little change from the British colonialists. Because of these restrictions and an ever-growing population, the mountain women found themselves walking hours each day just to gather firewood and fodder.

In 1956, Bhatt found hope when he heard a speech by the Gandhian leader Jayaprakash Narayan, who was on a tour of the area. Bhatt and other young people launched themselves into the Sarvodaya movement and Gandhian campaigns, of Bhoodan and Gramdan and organizing villages for economic development and fighting liquor abuse throughout the Uttarakhand.[5]

In 1960, he left his job at GMOU, to commit full time to his Sarvodaya activities, and by 1964, Bhatt had instituted the Dasholi Gram Swarajya Mandal (Society for Village Self-Rule) to organize fellow villagers in Gopeshwar for employment near their homes in forest-based industries, making wooden implements from ash trees and gathering and marketing herbs for aryuvedic medicine-and to combat vice and exploitation.

Curtailment of the villagers' legitimate rights to trees and forest products in favor of outside commercial interests enabled Bhatt, in 1973, to mobilize the forest-wise society members and villagers into the collective Chipko Andolan (Hug the Trees Movement) to force revision of forest policies dating from 1917. Women, who regularly walk three to five miles to the forest to gather and carry home fuel and fodder on their backs, took the lead. True to the movement's non-violent philosophy, these women embraced the trees to restrict their felling.[6] Establishment of "eco-development camps" brought villagers together to discuss their needs within the context of the ecological balance of the forest. Stabilizing slopes by building rock retaining walls, the campers planted trees started in their own village nurseries. While less than one-third of the trees set out by government foresters survived, up to 88 percent of the villager-planted trees grew.

Bhatt and his society colleagues have been helped by sympathetic scientists, officials and college students. Yet theirs is essentially an indigenous movement of mountain villagers, and Chipko Andolan has become an instrument of action and education for members, officials and outsiders, in the realities of effective resource conservation.

Although Bhatt has attended meetings in lowland India and abroad as a spokesman for Chipko, he has remained a man of his community. He, his wife and five children continue to live the simple life of their Himalayan neighbors. In the process he has become knowledgeable and productive in helping ensure his peoples' hard won living. In 2003, he was appointed a member of the 'National Forest Commission', which reviewed all existing policies and legal frameworks relating to forest management, and submitted its report to the Government in 2005.[7]

Awards and recognition

  • 1982: Ramon Magsaysay Award for Community Leadership, in recognition of "his inspiration and guidance of Chipko Andolan, a unique, predominantly women's environmental movement, to safeguard wise use of the forest" he was awarded the
  • 1983: Awarded the Padma Shri award by the Government of Indiagiven by arpit bansal.
  • 1991: Dasholi Gram Swarajya Mandal was awarded the Indira Gandhi Paryavaran Puraskar (Indira Gandhi Environment Award), by the Ministry of Environment and Forests, Government of India.[8]
  • 2005 : Padma Bhushan award by the Government of India.
  • 2008: Doctor of Science (Honoris Causa) by Govind Ballabh Pant University of Agriculture and Technology, Pantnagar, India.

Works

  • The Future Of Large Projects In The Himalaya, by PAHAR, 1997. [1]
  • Parbat Parbat Basti Basti:Ek Samajik Karyakarta Ki Chuninda Yatrayain, National Book Trust, 2011, ISBN 978-81-237-6008-7.

References

External links


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