Essay on Anil Agarwal

782 WordsOct 22, 20134 Pages
Anil Agarwal (1947- 2002) Anil Agarwal was a prominent Indian environmentalist who redefined environmental problems from the perspective of the poor and could be considered as an influential thinker on questions of environment and development because he fought to increase the representation of poor people in both the definition and solution of environmental problems. His oeuvre provided an intellectual and moral challenge to the belief that the poor were too poor to be green. Rather, he demonstrated that in the biomass economies of the rural Third World, the poor had a vital interest in the careful management of forests, soil, pasture, and water. He campaigned at a time when many of the international debates around sustainable development were dominated by the west. In the West, the rise of the green movement in the nineteen sixties was widely interpreted as a manifestation of what was called ‘post-materialism’. It was thought that a cultivated interest in the protection of nature was possible only when the necessities of life could be taken for granted. Movements such as Chipko challenged the post-materialist hypothesis, in practice. the Chipko Andolan had decisively announced the poor’s entry into the domain of environmentalism. The seventies saw a whole slew of popular movements in defence of local rights to forest, fish and water resources in India, Brazil, Malaysia, Ecuador and Kenya. (Guha, 2002) This was a definitive moment in Agarwal’s ideas and practice at a time when he was a science reporter in the Hindustan Times as it was through the Chipko movement that he came to understand that the poor had, if anything, a greater stake in the responsible management of the environment. That insight became the driving force of his work and that of the NGO he established known as the Centre for science and environment. Many of the reports Agarwal and CSE

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