- Novanita Sharma
When we talk about the wildlife conservation history of India, certain dates, certain names effortlessly flash in our mind. The 1972 Wildlife Protection Act of India is undeniably the most significant political decision which set the wave of green movements in India. The 1960s-1970s is known as the golden era of environment movements in India. Environment movements took place in different parts of India from the Chipko Andolan in Tehri-Garhwal to the Silent Valley movement in Kerela. The growing awareness about modern ecology and wildlife conservation among the urban Indians percolated down to lead many of these grassroots movements in due time. Most of these movements were fundamentally connected with socio-economic needs, many movements were strong protests to government run development projects of that time which were foreseen to jeopardize the environment as well as the socio-economic security of people. The basic precursor of most of these movements were based on anthropogenic needs- be it the socio-economic rights of the grassroots people, massive loss of livelihood and traditional cultivable lands by villagers such as those triggered by demographic changes due to submersion of cultivable land and forests by multi-purpose dams. All these movements included the ethos of environmental protection, sustainable utilization of natural resources and forest conservation clearly aiming at achieving certain human rights or empowering the indigenous people over the state agencies. In a way the green movements of India are borne out of social activism which highlighted the need of environment protection and wildlife conservation as an integral part of their movements. These movements succeeded in spreading environment awareness among Indians, these movements jostled to strike the balance between the traditional attitude of exclusionist wildlife conservation and an inclusive model where Indians citizens at the grassroots could play an important role in preserving the native forests of India. Like rest of the country, Assam also witnessed the rise of green movement in 1970s. A rapid spurt of industrialization and development was engulfing entire India during 1970s, with an exception of NE India and certain other parts of India which were earmarked with the remote area tag. Hence, the ground realties of the growing environment movements of the country differed essentially with the nature and philosophy of the green movement of Assam. In Assam, ethos of forest conservation/ wildlife conservation was rooted from the age-old love for forests and wildlife deeply embedded amongst the people of Assam. The fundamental cause behind the rise of green movements in Assam was to safeguard the depleting native forests and wildlife of the region, this was not connected with socio-economic or political needs of the people. The green movement grew as a parallel grassroots movement in Assam, it typically remained distant from political aspirations. On the contrary this movement provided an apolitical social space for Assam during the intensely volatile political arena of 1970s-80s.
Nature’s Beckon spearheaded the spread of this green movement all over Assam in the past 40 years through its relentless efforts to protect the native forests of Assam and lead a unique biodiversity conservation model in NE India. This green movement of Assam has grown in its magnitude, and scope over these years. It led an unusual evolution of intellectual, social, and literary changes in Assam. These changes are clearly visible in contemporary social framework of Assam. Nature’s Beckon has played a critical role in facilitating these changes, this is the result of continuous advocacy, mass awareness and environmental activism to bring wildlife conservation/ environment protection to the forefront in Assam. Nature’s Beckon led a literary movement in Assam for creating mass awareness through its publications – books, posters, leaflets, brochures, etc. This literary movement has successfully launched ‘nature-writings’ as a discrete, well-defined genre of modern literature in Assam. Nature-writings will lead the future course of public opinion, and community involvement in the green movement of Assam. The green movement of Assam has been a grassroots movement, Nature’s Beckon has engaged rural Assam in a rare example of empowered participation in this green movement. The creation of ‘Gramya Abhayaranya’, or village sanctuary inspired by the concept of Nature’s Beckon to encourage forest protection and judicious utilization of forest resources of small forest areas by village communities is slowly becoming popular in Assam. This reflects the growth of environment leadership at micro-level, a unique contribution of the green movement of Assam in bringing social change through environment protection. The green movement of Assam is truly becoming a social movement, it has been successful in giving visibility to biodiversity/ forest conservation in the political scene of the region. Nature’s Beckon has firmly led the creation of a network of viable Protected areas (Wildlife Sanctuaries and National Parks) in Assam through multi structural advocacy and effective environment activism. The organization sets a unique example of mobilization of ecological governance through green movement. The organization is ensuring a continuous growth of this green movement in future; ‘Ahum Basudham Krite Mangaljanak’ a special program for environmental education and environmental leadership training for students launched in 2022 is reaching out to the young generation through diverse training activities and modules. This program has already included more than 100 schools in its ambit and is growing in course of time. This green movement of Assam is perhaps the most successfully led environment movements in India; with irrefutable influences in the social, literary, and intellectual spheres of NE India, this green movement is becoming a powerful humanitarian movement which gives hope to the people of Assam and the entire country. Nature’s Beckon leads Assam on the path of countrywide environment leadership with this unique green movement of Assam. Led by the motivation of love and respect for Mother Nature, this movement proves the strength of love and compassion taught to us by Nature itself. Nature conservation requires us to honour the lives of our ancient forests and all other living beings, it is about walking beyond the narrow boundaries of human-centric ideologies and aspirations. The pure motivation for nature conservation can very well answer the questions ailing the mindscape of modern human world. It is the greatest inspiration for mind movement, the path from ignorance to peace and enlightenment.