Corporate Interests vs Grassroots Environment Movements in India: A Losing Battle for the People

  • Himangana Gupta
  • Raj Kumar Gupta


The problem of environmental security in the Indian context can be linked to the deficit of democracy in recent times. On the face of it, India is the largest democracy in the world, but the issues directly affecting the lives and livelihoods of poor people in the resource-rich regions are often pushed to the background. With the climate change agenda moving into the hands of corporate interests, what was earlier done in the name of development is now done in the name of environment. Although India is among the countries most vulnerable to climate change and loss of biodiversity, citizens have little say in environmental policy-making. India has a strong tradition of living in harmony with nature since the Vedic times beginning 1700 BC. The 1970’s and 80’s saw the emergence of major successful grassroots resistance movements such as Chipko, Silent Valley, and Save Narmada movements. More such spontaneous movements are failing now in the absence of political support. There is no ‘green’ party in India which can highlight the issues facing the poor and vulnerable people. Even the mainstream media controlled by the corporate sector does not reach the darkness in which the poor people live. Only once did the Indian Parliament take notice of climate change negotiations when the country decided to take voluntary emission reduction commitments at the Copenhagen Summit in 2009. Biodiversity has never been discussed in Parliament though India stands to lose its natural treasure due to the policies pursued by the Government. This chapter traces the history of popular and successful environment movements and discusses the reasons behind the failure of such movements in present times.


Environmental security Equity Climate change India Democracy 



The views expressed in this chapter are those of the authors and do not reflect the official policy and position of any ministry or department of the Government of India.


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Copyright information

© Springer International Publishing AG, part of Springer Nature 2019

Authors and Affiliations

  • Himangana Gupta
    • 1
  • Raj Kumar Gupta
    • 2
  1. 1.National Communication Cell, Ministry of Environment, Forest and Climate ChangeNew DelhiIndia
  2. 2.Journalist and Independent Analyst on Environmental and Social PolicyNew DelhiIndia

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