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Ecology Is Permanent Economy

The Activism and Environmental Philosophy of Sunderlal Bahuguna

George Alfred James

Publication Year: 2013

Explores the nonviolent philosophy and environmental activism of India’s Sunderlal Bahuguna.

Published by: State University of New York Press

Title Page, Copyright, Dedication

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pp. 2-7


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pp. vii-viii

List of Illustrations

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pp. ix-11

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pp. xi-xii

It would be more than arrogant to give the impression that this book is the result of the work of the author alone. There are many persons I must thank for their help. First among them are Sunderlal and Vimla Bahuguna for their many hours of attention to my persistent questions and for accommodating me to their often very hectic schedule of appointments ...

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pp. 1-5

The person about whom this book is written is by no means a household name in the West. Even the pronunciation of his name presents a challenge to native readers of English. Yet the issues with which his life has been engaged are familiar. Today, in the West, the condition of the environment is drawing increasing public attention. Environmental issues are ...

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Chapter 1 The Encounter

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pp. 7-13

It was a cool but sunny day in Shimla, a picturesque town on the ridge of a mountain in the Indian state of Himachal Pradesh. At almost seven thousand feet, it was once the summer capital of the British. On a day in June 1998, a pleasant breeze was blowing, a nice escape from the tor-rid heat of Delhi. The songs of birds were intermittently drowned by the ...

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Chapter 2 The Childhood of an Activist

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pp. 15-27

Much of that first conversation centered upon the most recent events. I wanted to understand the motives of a man who, in protest against the construction of the Tehri Dam, undertook a fast in May 1995 that lasted forty-five days. That fast ended with the assurance of the then prime minister that the government would undertake a thorough review of all ...

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Chapter 3 Going Underground

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pp. 29-39

Sunderlal Bahuguna speaks to this day of Sri Dev Suman as his guru.1 There is no precise equivalent to this term in the English language. The guru is certainly a teacher. In that sense the term can apply in modern Hindi to a teacher in a public or private school. But the Sanskrit term comes from two syllables: gu, (darkness) and ru (dispel). The connotation ...

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Chapter 4 The Short Career of an Activist Politician

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pp. 41-46

From his sojourn in Lahore and Sikhanwala, Sunderlal returned to the Garhwal region in June 1947.1 Arriving in Dehra Dun, he quickly became involved with the Praja Mandal there and began to be engaged in aid work with refugees displaced by the partition of the country. In a short time he was appointed publicity secretary for the Praja Mandal, a responsibility ...

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Chapter 5 Meeting Mira Behn

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pp. 47-64

It was in his work as general secretary of the Praja Mandal beginning in 1948 that Sunderlal came to know and to work with one of Gandhi’s famous European disciples known as Mira Behn and to cultivate a strong and meaningful association with her that significantly influenced his life. To fully appreciate the significance of this association, it will be ...

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Chapter 6 Marriage and the Parvatiya Navjeevan Ashram

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pp. 65-80

In his work with the Praja Mandal in Tehri, Sunderlal came into close contact with the emerging Congress Party. Many in the party had strong ambitions for Bahuguna in the political arena. But in the course of almost eight years as general secretary of the Praja Mandal, Bahuguna was not convinced that party politics would effectively bring about the kind of ...

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Chapter 7 Embracing the Trees

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pp. 81-111

There is perhaps no cause with which the name of Sunderlal Bahuguna has been more widely associated than that of the Chipko Movement, the grassroots environmental movement that from 1973 began to receive international attention. During the time of their conversations, Indira Gandhi referred to him as Chipko Bahuguna to distinguish him from ...

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Chapter 8 Modes of Chipko Resistance

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pp. 99-119

In his study of peasant resistance in the Himalayas, Ramachandra Guha undertakes an analysis of the Chipko Movement from the perspective of the sociology of social movements. In doing so he draws attention to its pattern of leadership, its forms of mobilization, the emergence of its codified ideology, and the relationship of the leader and the led. He also ...

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Chapter 9 A Permanent Economy

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pp. 121-135

I stated earlier that from the beginning of his engagement with the Chipko Movement there were two central themes that occupied Sunderlal’s attention. One was the establishment of community organizations to support sustainable, economically independent villages; the other was the condition of the forests upon which such village economies and local ...

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Chapter 10 Chipko Ecology: Shallow or Deep?

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pp. 137-147

It might be suggested that Bahuguna’s commitment to the protection of the Himalayas in all its aspects represents a shift from what has been called a shallow to a deep ecology. This suggestion is complicated by the fact that the term “deep ecology” is used in different ways. It also depends on the interpretation of the views and practices of Bahuguna and of those ...

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Chapter 11 Srinagar to Kohima: An Educational Mission

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pp. 149-170

It was an overcast day in Srinagar, the capital of the Indian state of Jammu and Kashmir, when with one companion, the seventy-two-year-old Rat-tan Chand Dehloo, a sarvodaya worker from Himachal Pradesh, Sunderlal Bahuguna set out on a journey by foot to the town of Kohima in Nagaland almost five thousand kilometers to the east. Sunderlal decided ...

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Chapter 12 Protesting the Tehri Dam

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pp. 171-185

The movement to save the forests of the Himalayas was underway. Fledgling environmental movements had begun to emerge in various regions of the hills. With heightened prestige from his direct experience of environmental conditions in the Himalayas, the man once maligned as the enemy of science and development was speaking with authority about ...

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Chapter 13 Social Ecology, Religion, and the Tehri Protest

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pp. 187-203

The news of the end of Sunderlal’s fast and the government’s agreement was hailed as a victory for satyagraha and the cause of justice for the people of the hills. Bahuguna’s many fasts were now national news. Ironically, for this most selfless service, he was accorded almost celebrity status. The publicity meant little to Sunderlal except to the extent that it ...

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Chapter 14 Against the Tide: Bahuguna’s Philosophy of Life, Religion, and Nature

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pp. 205-225

In the course of his journey in satyagraha Bahuguna eventually became the recipient of a significant number of recognition awards. Among them, perhaps the best known of his career is the one he refused. The Padma Shree Award is one of India’s highest civilian honors. It is awarded by the government of India in recognition of distinguished contributions in such ...

Appendix 1 Some Critical Dates in the History of Modern India and the Activism of Sunderlal Bahuguna

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pp. 227-231

Appendix 2 Arguments of the Petitioners in the Public Interest Litigation against the Tehri Dam

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pp. 233-235


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pp. 237-252

Selected Bibliography

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pp. 253-259


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pp. 261-266

Back Cover

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p. 280-280

E-ISBN-13: 9781438446745
Print-ISBN-13: 9781438446738

Page Count: 278
Publication Year: 2013