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Over the last four decades, I have served the Earth and grassroots ecological movements, beginning with the historic Chipko Movement (Hug the Tree Movement), in the Central Himalaya.

Every movement in which I participated, I noticed that women were the decision-makers - they decided the course of action and even were unrelenting in protecting the land and the sources of their sustenance and livelihoods.

Women who were a part of the Chipko movement were protecting forests because deforestation and logging in Uttarakhand led to floods, droughts, landslides and other such natural disasters. It led to scarcity of fuel and fodder. It led to the disappearance of springs and streams, forcing women to walk longer and further for water.

The dominant paradigm of forestry is based on monocultures of commercial species where forests are seen as timber mines that produce timber and generate revenue and leads to profits. The women of the Chipko Movement taught the world and me that timber, revenue and profits were not the real products of the forest; the real products were soil, water and pure air.

Today, science refers to these as ecological functions of ecosystems. Illiterate women of the Garhwal Himalaya were four decades ahead of the scientists of the world. By 1981, the government was compelled to stop logging in the Central Himalaya.

On April 22, 2002, which is recognized as Earth Day, I was invited by women from a small hamlet named Plachimada in Palghat, Kerala, to join their struggle against Coca Cola which was mining 1.5 million liters of water a day and polluting the water that remained in their wells.  


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