Sunday, 20 July 2014

Free Essays for Competitive Exams-Gandhi Peace Prize 2013 conferred to Shri Chandi Prasad Bhatt

Citation: Gandhi Peace Prize 2013 Shri Chandi Prasad Bhatt

 “Nature is the most wonderful gift to the humanity and it is the duty of all men and women to preserve and safeguard it. But we were able to understand the significance of this national call only when Shri Chandi Prasad Bhatt emerged from nowhere. He told us that “In every country man is standing against nature. That is why we have floods, droughts, landslides and such calamities which are called natural but in fact are the result of man’s interference with nature. ”A Gandhian environmentalist and social activist, Shri Chandi Prasad Bhatt is one of the founders of India’s environment movement. True to Mahatma Gandhi’s philosophy of Peace and Non-violence, Shri Bhatt is one of the leaders of the Chipko movement, adopting non-violent means in preventing deforestation in the Garhwal Himalayas by hugging trees to prevent them from being felled during the early 1970s.

          Shri Bhatt known as India’s first modern environmentalists was born into a family of farmers and priests and grew up in humble surroundings. Even as a school student he began to educate himself in ecology, environment, customary rights of people, the local knowledge and native wisdom. This informal education made him aware of the problems of the hill people.

Shri Bhatt started his journey of saving environment when he heard the speeches of Shri Jayaprakash Narayan, and local Sarvodya leader Shri Man Singh Rawat at Badrinath in 1956. He was so deeply impressed by both of them that he immediately joined the Sarvodaya movement along with other young men and dedicated himself to improving the lives of villagers and to combat vice and exploitation amongst the poor of Uttarakhand.

True to his strong belief in the Gandhian principles seeking justice through non-violent means he established the Dashauli Gram Swarajya Sangh (DGSS later DGSM) in 1964 to organize villagers for economic development and fighting against oppressive government policies on forests.  Being a pragmatic to core Shri Bhat on the lines of Mahatma Gandhi’s Constructive Work programme started small-scale industries using resources from the forest and giving employment to the villagers near their homes including promotion of weaving, bee-keeping, herb collection and cottage industries. He in order to safeguard the legitimate interests of the villagers in preserving their environment against the outside commercial interests mobilized the members of the DGSS and villagers in 1973 and asked them to hug the trees, (aungalbotna in Garhwali,) rather than allowing the trees to be felled. Thus started the famous Chipko movement, a form of Gandhian non-violent satyagraha not to cut trees, in Garhwal. A large number of women also participated in the movement. This led to the amendment of forest policies by the Government in 1973.

The Chipko movement organized by Shri Bhatt attracted worldwide attention. Time to time, he also organized eco-development camps and invited the villagers to sit together and discuss their needs within the context of the ecological balance of the forest. Under his leadership, the DGSS initiated a number of tree-plantation and protection programmes, especially involving women to re-vegetate the barren hill sides that surrounded them. His tireless efforts bore fruits, within a short span of time, the survival rate of saplings in DGSS plantation was much higher than the plantation laid by the Forest Department.

Today his work has become an instrument of action and education for hill people, outsiders and officials for resource conservation. He has performed extensive and consistent duties on behalf of the society. For his invaluable work to save the environment and his community leadership, Shri Bhatt has been honoured with the Raman Magsaysay Award (1982) and the Padma Bhushan (2005). Shri Bhatt has written many articles and books on Forest Conservation and his concern over use of large dams. He has urged to create a synthesis between the practical field knowledge and the latest scientific knowledge of the State for conservation of environment.

          Shri Bhatt, at the age of 80, is still actively involved in his mission and attends meetings and lectures on social and environmental issues in various parts of Uttarakhand and outside. Being the follower of Gandhian ideology, he leads a very simple life and is a true torch-bearer of Gandhian principles. He is a great source of inspiration for environmentalists and the country at large.

As we confer upon Shri Chandi Prasad Bhatt, the Gandhi Peace Prize for the year 2013, we are proud of this great son India.”

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