Chapter 1 Introduction
1 The leaders I met included Sundar Lal Bahuguna and Chandi Prasad
Bhatt, the two prominent personalities associated with Chipko. For a
recent careful study of the movement, its leaders, and their di√erent
strategies, see Rangan 2000. See Mawdsley 1998 for a thoughtful reflec-
tion on how Chipko has assumed an iconic status in conservationist
arguments globally.
2 The most careful and detailed review of o≈cial forestry records from this
period is likely Shrivastava 1996.
3 O≈cial reports and surviving accounts of villagers’ actions suggest that
many fires were deliberate protests against state interventions. Incendiar-
ism is the term o≈cials used to denote fires set on purpose. Note how it
fails to signify villagers’ own interpretations of why they were setting
4 The amount of forest land that was fired rose to 272,000 acres. Of the 819
o√enses that were detected, 395 were classified as incendiary (Guha
[1989] 2000: 52, 107, 116).
5 The increasing importance of timber in the hills, especially as the com-
mercial and strategic value of pine for railway sleepers and turpentine
was realized, led the forest department to adopt increasingly draconian
measures to appropriate forests ever more comprehensively (ibid.).
6 The nature and history of these regulations are subjects of discussion in
chapters 2 and 3. See also Baumann 1995; Chaturvedi and Sahai 1988;
Dangwal 1996, 1997; Farooqui 1997; and Shrivastava 1996.
7 Villagers’ protests were similar in nature to many peasant movements
that occurred throughout the subcontinent over the period of British rule
(Hardiman 1992).There was some sense of being wronged, some organi-
zation, and an identifiable target. The di√erence was that the threats to
existence in many of these peasant revolts was partly attributable to
natural disasters compounded by the callousness of the government,
whereas in Kumaon the causes of protests lay almost entirely in the e√orts
of the state to separate villagers from their means of livelihood.
8 I use the terms custom and customary loosely, but with some sense of their
complex history and the ambiguities involved in their use in the wake of
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