Volume 3 of the Extraordinary Work of ‘Ordinary’ People: Beyond Pandemics and Lockdowns
Pandemic Resilience in the western Himalayas
Like most of India, the Himalayan region is also largely an agriculture-dependent region. However, the commercialisation of agriculture and the rising number of plantations have significantly isolated the indigenous communities from their base. Pastoralism and transhumance were historically important economic activities of the region. With the introduction of property rights and forest laws, many pastoral communities like the Van Gujjars have found themselves without voting rights or electricity, or home! Forest dependent communities continue to lose out as they are often considered ‘illegal settlers’ and the State and the Centre have continuously tried to ‘settle them’ and restrict their movements.
Recent studies have shown that the region has become more prone to natural disasters like floods, landslides, and droughts. There are also some other non-climatic issues like humanwildlife conflicts, water insecurity due to the drying up of natural springs, land degradation, and social and demographic changes. Some of the issues differ according to gender and social identity. For instance, women are often denied property rights
according to traditional hill societies even when the region has been witnessing an increasing feminization of agriculture. With large-scale out-migration of the male population, most women in the region have taken to agriculture with no social, economic, or legal support.