The birth of the Himalayan mountain range began over 140 million years ago when two continents, the Gondwanaland and Eurasian, collided in the Tethyan Ocean. Thru the violent actions and shear brute force of Mother Nature, the world's highest, and ever changing mountain range was formed. Then in 1973, another collision took place in the Himalayas. This event, while lacking the violence of the first, has spread throughout the country of India with much of the same force and has sparked a movement that could prove to be just as momentous to millions of people. The event was the birth of the Chipko Movement. So what is the Chipko movement and how can this movement that started in a tiny village in the mountains of India have such substantial effects on an entire nation and possibly beyond its boundaries? To answer these questions, you must first understand the history leading up to 1973 and how the Chipko movement and its leaders have affected India's economic, ecological, and humanitarian needs.
The Uttarkhand Himalaya, the birthplace of the Chipko movement, is comprised of two regions, the Garhwal and Kumaon, which are located between Himachal Pradesh and Nepal. In the early 1800's, this region was heavily forested and saw very little human penetration from the outside world. The region was also relatively protected from human exploitation due to a dense marshland belt of jungle that separated it from the plains at the mouth of the Ganges River. Native hill people had settled in the region and because of the areas fertile valleys and heavy rainfall, they were able to provide themselves with abundance of their daily requirements. Thomas Skinner, a British military adventurer, lead an expedition thru this region in the early 1800's and described the region to be ˜a picture of the most delightful scenery, and most lovely spots on the face of the earth'. (Guha, p 16) ... Continue Reading