Transhumance of Indian Himalayas in Transition: A Prospect for Social Research

Journal of the Anthropological Survey of India, 66(1-2) : (117-123), 2017

Transhumance of Indian Himalayas in Transition: A Prospect for Social Research

Mainak Chakraborty
Anthropological Survey of India, North West Regional Centre, Dehradun, Uttarakhand

Abstract
Transhumance, as a way of life, can be observed in some pastoralist populations living at different altitudes of mountainous regions. It is a system of seasonal movement of people with their livestock from one elevation to another in search of pasture. A few transhumant populations can be found in certain regions of Jammu and Kashmir, Himachal Pradesh and Uttarakhand. Throughout the centuries these populations are thriving on herd management and trading of animals and various animal products. After the advent of Indian Forest Act (1927) and aftermath forest conservation policies, the unlimited access to forest pastures has been restricted. They can only access the permitted limited spaces of forest which they have to share with other sedentary populations. This is a huge blow to their animal and animal product driven economy where green fodder is indispensable. Besides, some of their movement routes falls near the contested border regions, hence decades long tension between India and neighboring countries has make their journey of livelihood full of troubles. In addition to these situation, several development project and schemes have been initiated, targeting these groups, led them think for another or parallel source of economy and a sedentary lifestyle. These changes are heavily impactful for their socioeconomic system and the concerned structure as well. In brief, this phase of transition is a great opportunity for social research to document the lives of such communities in transition and manifestations of such affects afterwards, as well as recording of these transitions may have a great value to plan development initiatives for these communities.

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