Google on Monday celebrated the 45th anniversary of the Chipko Movement – the non-violent resistance by mostly local women to protect the forests of Uttar Pradesh.
The sections of the forests where the movement took place are now in Uttarakhand.
The movement began in Chamoli district in 1973 against trees being felled for wood and infrastructure development, and it soon spread to other Himalayan states. The drive was called chipko, or embrace, as villagers hugged the trees and formed circles around them to save them from being cut.
Google’s doodle, by artists Svabhu Kohli and Viplov Singh, not only illustrates the movement but also its main participants – the local women who took part in the campaign in large numbers as they would be directly affected by the lack of firewood and water that deforestation causes.
“The Chipko Andolan stands out as an eco-feminist movement,” Google said. “Women formed the nucleus of the movement.”
Environmentalist and Gandhian activist Chandi Prasad Bhatt led the first Chipko movement. The campaign began near the village of Mandal, where villagers, denied a piece of land because of a government policy, were angry after the plot was given to a sporting goods manufacturer. The villagers appealed to authorities but marched into the forest and hugged the trees to protect them when their pleas had no effect. Days later, the government was forced to cancel the company’s logging permit.
Another activist, Sunderlal Bahuguna, also played a major role in helping the movement spread and educating villagers about the forests and Himalayan mountains. His efforts resulted in then Prime Minister Indira Gandhi banning deforestation.
However, the original Chipko movement goes back to 18th century Rajasthan, when a group of 363 people from 84 villages, led by a local woman named Amrita Devi, died to protect the khejri trees in the region that the king of Jodhpur had ordered cut down. The king later relented and revoked his order.