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India: Uttaranchal and Himachal Pradesh

The Himalaya, meaning “abode of snow and ice”, contain the highest peaks in the world. Although the narrators inhabit a small area of such a vast range, their personal stories touch on many of the development dilemmas that characterise the region.

Our partner the Himalaya Trust have collected over 35 interviews rich in detail on environmental change and knowledge, gender, changing cultures, and experience of development interventions.

Included are some powerful testimonies with women activists, and with scheduled tribes. The Himalaya Trust is completing a series of three Hindi booklets based on their testimony collection and is also using the testimonies for a community radio project.

“People are resorting to education more, as there will be development only through education. But instead of any development taking place, once they are educated they run away from here. Then what development can take place? Those who get educated go away from here. They have built houses in Delhi or Dehra Dun after leaving our Garhwal. Then how will the development of this place occur? Many don’t like this place anymore, but those who have intelligence are coming up because they have money. And our people are running down for money!”
Vimla, female, 52 years, president of local women’s organisation and farmer

“In earlier times men used to remain at home so the burden did not fall entirely on women. Both men and women took on household chores, agriculture, cattle rearing and many other odd jobs in the family. But these days the men from the hills go to the plains and cities in search of a livelihood. Hence women have to bear the entire burden. They go out early in the morning in search of firewood as well as look after the children. They have to travel long distances to fetch water. In addition to the household duties they also have to take on social responsibilities. There are many functions and festivals where they play a greater role.”
Vijay, male, 41 years, farmer and founder of ‘Save the Traditional Seeds’ movement

“Does the Government of today want the development of people in the hills? Or does it want the development of people outside based on what they can get from the hills?”
Jagat, male, 44 years, farmer and self-taught forester