Green Heroes pp 193-197 | Cite as

Tree Huggers and Hunger Strikers – Environmental Leadership in India

  • László Erdős


The 1960s brought heavy deforestation to the Himalaya ranges of northern India, resulting in landslides, soil erosion, the drying up of water sources, and a lack of firewood, fodder, mushrooms, forest fruits, and medicinal herbs. The traditional lifestyle of the mountain people was threatened. Desperate and incensed, the villagers decided to protect the trees by embracing them. The approach spread and became known as Chipko, meaning ‘to hug’ in Hindi. Besides deforestation, dams were seen as symbols of progress by the government. However, environmentalists pointed out that these megalomaniac projects had numerous flaws. Several settlements and huge areas of ancestral lands, including forests and small-scale agricultural plots, were destined to be flooded. Activists started hunger strikes and blocked the roads leading to the construction sites.


Chandi Prasad Bhatt Gaura Devi Sunderlal Bahuguna Medha Patkar Guru das Agrawal Tehri dam Narmada Valley Project Narmada Bachao Andolan Marginalised people 

Worth Reading

  1. Weber, T. (1989). Hugging the trees: The story of the Chipko movement. Harmondsworth: Penguin Books.Google Scholar
  2. James, G. A. (2013). Ecology is permanent economy: The activism and environmental philosophy of Sunderlal Bahuguna. Albany: State University of New York Press.Google Scholar

Worth Watching

  1. Water Wars (2009)Google Scholar
  2. Appiko: To Embrace (2005)Google Scholar
  3. Drowned Out (2004)Google Scholar
  4. DAM/AGE (2002)Google Scholar

Copyright information

© Springer Nature Switzerland AG 2019

Authors and Affiliations

  • László Erdős
    • 1
  1. 1.MTA-DE Lendület Functional and Restoration Ecology Research Group, DebrecenInstitute of Ecology and Botany MTA Centre for Ecological ResearchVácrátótHungary

Personalised recommendations