The Chipko movement in India changed the face of environmental protests in the country and abroad. Celebrated as one of the poignant environmental protests, the movement turned 45 today. To celebrate it, Google created a doodle in its honour. The non-violent movement against deforestation was led by local women of Uttar Pradesh in 1973 in Chamoli district but had later spread to other Himalayan states.
The Doodle features the foot soldiers of the movement, the tribal women who hugged trees during the movement to protest against relentless felling of trees for wood and infrastructure development. They hugged the trees or formed a circle around trees by holding hands giving the movement its iconic name ‘Chipko’ which stands for sticking in Hindi. The movement was led by environmentalist Sunderlal Bahugani whose efforts resulted in the then Prime Minister Indira Gandhi banning deforestation.
The Google Doodle has been illustrated by artists Svabhu Kohli and Viplov Singh. Google calls the movement an ‘eco-feminist movement’ since “Women formed the nucleus of the movement.” The protest sprung from the fact that handover of forest ground to wood harvesters would mean the tribals lose access to forest resources.
While in the 20th century, the movement was much appreciated worldwide, it actually started in the 18th century when villagers hugged Khejri trees in Rajasthan that had been ordered to be cut down by the king of Jodhpur. The movement was led by Amrita Devi and saw 363 people from 84 villages fight for the lives of the trees.