Accepted paper:

Political ecology of transhumance and change among the Bhotias of the Himalayas


Nisthasri Awasthi (Jawaharlal Nehru University)

Paper short abstract:

The paper would explore transhumance of a Himalayan tribe vis-à-vis state policies.

Paper long abstract:

The broad aim of the paper is to comprehend and explore the practice of transhumance as it exists among Bhotias of Himalayas with respect to the present state policies and attitude of community people towards this. The importance of transhumance calls for an economic and ecological understanding of the same. Transhumant societies the world over are fast changing in social, political and ideological sphere and particularly in India, which is in its declining phase and in years to come is likely to become extinct. An examination of changes in such societies would reveal the trend of total or partial abandonment of pastoralism. In many societies, governments have nationalized and confiscated pastures, forests and natural resources, alienating the nomadic pastoralists of their traditional and age-old rights. On the one hand, communities are abandoning transhumance as an economic practice and there is no government intervention to restore it, but in countries like Spain, the government is recognising the ecological importance of transhumance in ensuring sustainable development and conserving ecosystem. With other countries like Spain undergoing a renewal of transhumance, there is need to study a comparative case of policies affecting transhumance and people's attitude towards transhumance, who have been traditionally practicing it. The paper has two important connotations on social, economic and ecological aspects; one, impact on environment due to neglect of transhumance and two, the impact on social identity of pastoralists. The paper deals with social, economic and ecological understanding of transhumance, how it has changed over time and what implication it has on the identity of Bhotias as pastoralists.

panel MMM09
The emerging world of pastoralists and nomads (IUAES Commission on Nomadic Peoples)