Explores the nonviolent philosophy and environmental activism of India’s Sunderlal Bahuguna.
For decades, Sunderlal Bahuguna has been an environmental activist in his native India, well known for his efforts on behalf of the Himalayas and its people. In the 1970s, he was instrumental in the successful Chipko (or “hug”) movement during which local people hugged trees to prevent logging for outside concerns. He was also a leader of the long opposition to the Tehri Dam. In both conflicts, the interests of outsiders threatened the interests of local people living relatively traditional lives.
George Alfred James introduces Sunderlal Bahuguna’s activism and philosophy in a work based on interviews with Bahuguna himself, his writings, and journalistic accounts. James writes that Bahuguna’s work in the Indian independence movement and his admiration for the nonviolence of Gandhi has inspired a vision and mode of activism that deserves wider attention. It is a philosophy that does not try to win the conflict, but to win the opponent’s heart.
George Alfred James is Associate Professor of Philosophy and Religion Studies at the University of North Texas. He is the author of Interpreting Religion: The Phenomenological Approaches of Pierre Daniël Chantepie de la Saussaye, W. Brede Kristensen, and Gerardus van der Leeuw and the editor of Ethical Perspectives on Environmental Issues in India.