In the 1870s, the Maharaja (prince) of Patiala, a small princely state in the Punjab region of northern India, implemented the Biswedari (big landlord) system, which appointed biswedaris as local authorities of agrarian villages. The biswedaris, mostly government officials and close kin of the Maharaja, gradually took full possession of lands and reduced the original owners to the status of muzaras (tenants). Muzaras had to pay batai (share rent) to their landlords, consisting of half of their crop, though landlords often overestimated the crop yield to justify taking a larger share.
In 1990, the Indian government and Tehri Hydro Power Corporation began planning to dam the Bhagirati River at the Himalayan foothill town of Tehri in Uttar Pradesh. Plans indicated that it would be the fourth largest dam in the world. Damming the river at this particular location would lead to flooding of the town and the displacement of up to ten thousand of its residents. Scientists also protested the construction of the dam because of its proximity to the central Himalayan Seismic Gap.
On 28 February 2006 Meher Bhargava, a lawyer and wife of Indian National Congress leader Luv Bhargava, was shot. She was defending her daughter-in-law against the lewd comments of a group of men on the street in Lucknow, Uttar Pradesh, India.
Meher Bhargava was hospitalized, but died on 25 March. The day that she was shot, Sunny Rawat confessed to the murder but he retracted his statement the following day. It wasn’t until after her death that Congress began to mobilize to demand justice for Bhargava’s murder.
A heavy monsoon season had destroyed agricultural crops and led to a plague epidemic claiming nearly 10 percent of the population of Ahmedabad in 1917. During the period of intense plague outbreak from August 1917 to January 1918, the workers of the textile mills in Ahmedabad were given ‘plague bonuses’ (some of which were as much as 80 percent of the workers’ wage) in an attempt to dissuade the workers from fleeing during an outbreak of a plague.
Coal is the main commercial energy in India and the government launched an internal improvement program in the early 2000s to bring energy to the hundreds of millions of people in the country without technology and other modern conveniences. Andhra Pradesh was the most ambitious state in this endeavor, as it proposed for 7 major and 30 smaller coal-powered power stations.
After the Indo-Chinese border conflict ended in 1963, access to the Indian state of Uttar Pradesh, a region encompassing eight different districts in the Himalayas, was greatly expanded. The money for this expansion, including highway building, generally came from logging companies that wanted access to the vast timber forests in this area of the country. Poor forest management led to increased erosion, depleted water resources, lower agricultural yields and greater flooding.
The Bishnoi faith is a religious offshoot of Hinduism founded on 29 principles, most of which promote environmental stewardship. Bishnois strictly forbid the harming of trees and animals. The religion was founded by Guru Maharaj Jambaji in 1485 AD in the Marwar (Jodhpur) desert region of western Rajasthan, India. Jambaji witnessed the incessant clear-cutting of trees during times of drought to feed animals, only to see them die eventually as the drought continued.
From 1916 to 1921, villagers in Kumaon in northern India set hundreds of forest fires to protest the colonial British state’s increasing regulations of the natural environment.
The Bombay Government (through its Revenue Department) had, in 1927, enhanced the land revenue assessment in the Bardoli taluka (county) by a nominal 22 percent, which, when applied, amounted in some cases to as much as 60 percent enhancement. This translated in increased land taxes. The Bardoli peasants had immediately made several claims regarding this modification, the most important of which were that the rate of enhancement was unjust and that it had been established without full and appropriate investigation.
Narmada Bachao Andolan (NBA) forces end of World Bank funding of Sardar Sarovar dam, India, 1985-1993
After the country won its independence, India's first Prime Minister, Jawaharlal Nehru, began calling for the construction of dams to aid in India's development. Many of these dams were proposed on the Narmada River, which flows through the states of Gujarat, Madhya Pradesh, and Maharashtra. In 1978, the Narmada Water Disputes Tribunal approved the Narmada Valley Development Project, which included 30 large dams, 135 medium dams, and 3,000 small dams. The most controversial dam was the Sardar Sarovar Project in the state of Gujarat.
The Ganges River is a sacred river in Hinduism and an important aspect of India’s cultural history and current society. Most of this river is already polluted or dammed for electricity. There is a 125-km stretch at the beginning of the river, part of the Baghirathi tributary, which was mostly untouched. In 2008 the Indian and regional Uttarakhand governments had plans for 6 hydroelectric dams in this stretch of the river, some of which were already in construction.