Skip to main content

Forest Rights Act "threatens" forests, existence of tribal societies, is of limited significance: British scholar

By Our Representative
Well-known British scholar Felix Padel -- great grandson of Charles Darwin, a social anthropologist who has made India his home for the last three decades -- has termed the Forest Rights Act (FRA) "a stop gap" arrangement against "appalling" projects threatening tribals. In an interview published in "Sanctuary Asia" (February 2015), Padel, also known for his activism on tribal rights issues, however, believes that the Act, with its emphasis on individual rather than collective rights, "threatens not just the continued existence of India’s forests, but also the continuance of all that is best in tribal societies."

Padel suggests that the Act may be called "historic" only in a limited sense -- only in so far as it intends to "return to tribal people their fundamental traditional rights to the forest, which British rule took away". However, he believes, quoting Marx and Engels, that there is a need to emphasize on "communal, as opposed to private, property as the essence of tribal societies worldwide – the basis of ‘primitive communism’, and a major element in the concept of communism itself."
One who thinks that India has given the world a "more fundamentally vital concept of self-development, from Yoga and Upanishadic sages to Buddhism", and also the fundamental values of "closeness of nature and culture, the true multiculturalism", Padel last worked as professor at the School of Rural Management, Indian Institute of Health Management Research (IIHMR), Jaipur, during 2012-2014. Earlier, he was associated with the Institute of Rural Management, Ahand (IRMA), in Gujarat.
Suggesting why other tribal movements have failed while the one in Niyamigiri -- a major forest area in Odisha where MNC Vedanta had planned bauxite mining -- has succeeded, Padel says, here the gram sabhas "voted together not just against mining, but also refused the individual title plots of forest they were being offered under the FRA." Padel's view comes at a time when the FRA is being sought to be watered down by the current NDA government, which is seeking to ease the law for the corporates.
Pedal emphasizes, the Niyamgiri movement had the support of "influential environmental as well as social/tribal rights groups and political parties including the Samajvadi Jan Parishad", and they didn’t have to "aim for a common platform." Saying that this was the main reason for its success, he adds, "Many of them didn’t even dialogue! This needs to be understood."
According to Padel, the FRA has actually helping the policy of "divide and rule – allowing conservationists and human rights activists to be divided against each other is a sure strategy for making certain neither succeeds." This despite the fact that "both face the same enemies, including inner demons and attitudes, as well as certain strong external entities and tendencies." He adds, "Both sides have often stereotyped the other, and taken rigid positions." 

Comments

TRENDING

'Attack on free expression': ABVP 'insults' Udaipur professor for FB post

Counterview Desk   People’s Union for Civil Liberties (PUCL), Rajasthan, condemning what it called "insult of Professor Himanshu Pandya" by students affiliated with with the Akhil Bharatiya Vidyarti Parishad (ABVP) in Udaipur, has said he was evicted from the class where he was teaching after raising "ugly slogans", forcing him to "leave the university".

A Hindu alternative to Valentine's Day? 'Shiv-Parvati was first love marriage in Universe'

By Rajiv Shah*   The other day, I was searching on Google a quote on Maha Shivratri which I wanted to send to someone, a confirmed Shiv Bhakt, quite close to me -- with an underlying message to act positively instead of being negative. On top of the search, I chanced upon an article in, imagine!, a Nashik Corporation site which offered me something very unusual. 

Moving towards sustainable development? Social, environmental implications of HCES data

By Dr Vandana Sehgal, Dr Amandeep Kaur*  Sustainable development, the high time agenda, encompasses economic, social, and environmental dimensions, aiming for a balance between all these aspects to ensure long-term well-being and prosperity for all. One of the crucial aspects of sustainable development is consumption patterns. Consumption patterns refer to the way individuals, households, and societies use resources and goods. Sustainable consumption patterns entail using resources efficiently, minimizing waste, and considering the environmental and social impacts of consumption choices.

Enhanced rock weathering leads to 9-20% higher crop yield, help climate resilience

By Aishwarya Singhal, Lubna Das*  Enhanced rock weathering -- a nature-based carbon dioxide removal process that accelerates natural weathering -- results in significantly higher first year crop yields, improved soil pH, and higher nutrient uptake, according to a new scientific paper, released in PLOS ONE, a peer-reviewed open access mega journal published by the Public Library of Science since 2006.

Will numerically strong opposition in Lok Sabha strengthen democracy?

By Prem Singh*  After the first phase of the 18th Lok Sabha elections, which were conducted in seven phases, it was already indicated that a large part of the country's population had decided to contest the elections against the present government. A large number of unemployed youth and the already agitating farmers played a major role in this act of protest. 

NE India: Creating 'greater divisions', BJP claims to have overcome tyranny of distance

By Makepeace Sitlhou*  In March, India’s prime minister, Narendra Modi, said at an election rally in Arunachal Pradesh that previous governments had not cared for states that sent only two representatives to the country’s Parliament, as Arunachal and several others in the Indian Northeast do. Modi failed to see the irony of his claim given that he has not visited Manipur, which has only two representatives in parliament, since the outbreak of an armed ethnic conflict that has raged on for nearly a year. The toll from the violence stands at more than 200 lives lost, and many thousands displaced.

Heatwave in Bundelkhand: 'Inadequate attention' on impact on birds, animals

By Bharat Dogra, Reena Yadav*  While the heat wave and its many-sided adverse impacts have been widely discussed in recent times, one important aspect of heat waves has not received adequate attention and this relates to the impact on birds and animals.