Advertisement

State Policy and Local Performance: Pasture Use and Pastoral Practices in the Kumaon Himalaya

  • Christoph BergmannEmail author
  • Martin Gerwin
  • Marcus Nüsser
  • William S. Sax
Chapter
Part of the Advances in Asian Human-Environmental Research book series (AAHER)

Abstract

In the Kumaon Himalaya, British colonial administrators as well as agents of the independent Indian Union intervened heavily in pasture use by adopting rationally governed and scientifically sanctioned development schemes. These measures mostly originated from outside and largely ignored local cultural logics through which a pastoral life also takes its form. We use the case of the Bhotiyas of the Kumaon Himalaya to explicate this interaction of state policy and local performance. On the one hand, we analyse recent development trends that occurred after India started to liberalise its market in the early 1990s. On the other hand, we describe a ritual practice through which the Bhotiyas channel emerging power relations and conflicts towards the outside of their migratory cycle. We conclude by suggesting an interdisciplinary perspective on pastoral practices in the Himalayan region.

Keywords

Bhotiya pastoralists State policy Ritual practice Interdisciplinary approach Kumaon 

Notes

Acknowledgements

We are very grateful to the people from the Gori and Darma Valley for their generous hospitality and for taking the time to participate in the research process. We are also obliged to our friends in the Uttarakhand Government and in several NGOs. For comments on an earlier draft of this paper, we appreciate the efforts of Hermann Kreutzmann. The responsibility for the final version rests completely with the authors. Finally, we are indebted to the Deutsche Forschungsgemeinschaft (DFG) for their generous grant of the ongoing project ‘Changing Strategies of Resource Use: The “Bhotiyas” in the High Mountain Border Region of Uttarakhand, India’.

Notes

1.Pahari literally means ‘of or belonging to the mountains’ and commonly refers to the major Hindu hill populations in Nepal and India. These people speak Indo-European languages that are also classified by this term.

2.For the complexity of ethnic ascriptions amongst various Bhotiya groups compare Bergmann et al. (2008) for Uttarakhand, Nawa (2000) for Kumaon and far-western Nepal as well as Ramble (1997) for Nepal in general.

3.The quantity of imported wool to the Gori and Darma Valley rose from approximately 800 kg in 1,841 to more than 330,000 kg in the year 1901 (Goudge 1903).

4.Sixteen annas equalled one Indian Rupee (INR).

5.These differences are linked to varying land ownership conditions in the winter settlements of Gori and Darma Valley. Milam, the largest of all Bhotiya settlements in the Gori Valley, recorded a reduction of migrating families from 600 in the 1930s (Pant 1935, 240) to only 23 families in 1981 (GoI 1984). Even though this trend further consolidated to only 18 families in 2004 (Nüsser 2006), a slight revitalisation has taken place during the last years so that 22 families were counted in 2010. In the Darma Valley, seasonal migration reduced more slowly from a total of 2,674 people in 1961 to still 1,210 persons in 2001 (GoI 1966, 2003).

6.The Indian Government was keen to reopen the Lipu Lekh pass, as this allows a selected number of Indian citizens to make the pilgrimage to sacred Kailash in Tibet. Trade, however, plays a rather marginal role so far.

7.The main seasonal crops are buckwheat, barley, wheat, mustard, pulses, peas, potatoes and some other vegetables, such as cabbage. Cultivation takes place on traditional village fields, small vegetable gardens as well as on agricultural plots in ruins of old village houses. The latter are often irrigated and used for aromatic and medicinal plants, especially Allium stracheyi (jambu) and Carum carvi (thoya).

8.The terms of this section that are put in italics belong to the Tibeto-Burman Darma language.

9.Different versions of this ritual were recorded in September 2008 in village Bon, Son, Dugtu and Dantu in the upper Darma Valley. The description is based on the performance observed in village Bon. Parts of the story are accessible in the Darma language in Dhakriyal (2004, 253–238).

10.‘Rajwar’ was the official title of the ruling powers in the Askot principality. They are considered as descendents from the medieval Katyuri kings of Kumaon, though their feudality became tributary to the Chand kingdom.

11.The tokar is the lower end, and the takuva, the upper stick of a spindle device, known as takli. The metaphor has clear sexual connotations, referring to male and female genitals.

12.This differs from a nomenclature reported in Stellrecht (1992), where sheep and goats are associated with high altitude pastures and ideas about purity. In the Dolpo region of western Nepal, however, yaks are the culturally most favoured livestock that also figures out prominently in rituals, even though sheep and goats are extensively reared due to their high reproductive rate and lower costs when compared to cattle (Bauer 2004, 25–38).

References

  1. Aggarwal R (2004) Beyond lines of control: performance and politics on the disputed borders of Ladakh, India. Duke University Press, DurhamGoogle Scholar
  2. Agrawal A (2005) Environmentality. Technologies of government and the making of subjects. Duke University Press, DurhamGoogle Scholar
  3. Agrawal A, Chhatre A (2006) Explaining success on the commons. Community forest governance in the Indian Himalaya. World Dev 34:149–166CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  4. Agrawal A, Saberwal VK (2004) Whither South Asian pastoralism? An introduction. Nomad Peoples 8:36–53CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  5. Atkinson ET (1884 [1996]) The Himalayan gazetteer, vol II, part I. Natraj Publishers, Dehra DunGoogle Scholar
  6. Bauer KM (2004) High frontiers. Dolpo and the changing world of Himalayan pastoralists. Columbia University Press, New YorkGoogle Scholar
  7. Bergmann C, Gerwin M, Nüsser M, Sax WS (2008) Living in a high mountain border region. The case of the ‘Bhotiyas’ of the Indo-Chinese border region. J Mt Sci 5:209–217CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  8. KBPF [Kumaon Bhotiya Peoples’ Federation] (1947) The report of the Kumaon Bhotiya peoples’ federation. Submitted before the minority sub-committee of the constituent assembly’s advisory committee on 17th April 1947 [kindly handed over by Dr. S. S. Pangtey, September 2006]Google Scholar
  9. Bourdieu P (1977) Outline of a theory of practice. Cambridge University Press, CambridgeGoogle Scholar
  10. Braun B, Wainwright J (2001) Nature, poststructuralism, and politics. In: Castree N, Braun B (eds) Social nature. Theory, practice, and politics. Blackwell, Malden, pp 41–63Google Scholar
  11. Brown CW (1992) What we call ‘Bhotiyas’ are in reality not Bhotiyas: perspectives of British colonial conceptions. In: Joshi MP, Fanger AC, Brown CW (eds) Himalaya: past and present, vol II. Shree Almora Book Depot, Almora, pp 147–172Google Scholar
  12. CII [Confederation of Indian Industry] (2010) India-China economic & commercial relations. http://www.indiachina.org/resources/India_China_Economic_and_Commercial_Relations.htm. Accessed 17 May 2011
  13. Corbridge S (2009) The political economy of development in India since independence. In: Brass PR (ed) Routledge handbook of South Asian politics. India, Pakistan, Bangladesh, Sri Lanka, and Nepal. Routledge, Abingdon, pp 305–321Google Scholar
  14. Dhakriyal DS (2004) Himalayi sauka saanskritik dharohar, vol I (in Hindi, The cultural heritage of the Himalayan Shauka). Takshila Prakashan, New DelhiGoogle Scholar
  15. Ehlers E, Kreutzmann H (2000) High mountain ecology and economy. Potential and constraints. In: Ehlers E, Kreutzmann H (eds) High mountain pastoralism in northern Pakistan, Erdkundliches Wissen 132. Steiner, Stuttgart, pp 9–36Google Scholar
  16. Farooquee NA, Rao KS (2000) Conservation and utilization strategies of indigenous cattle and livestock among the transhumant pastoralists of Kumaun Himalaya (India). J Environ Syst 27:317–329CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  17. FES [Foundation for Ecological Security] (2004) Annual report 2003–2004. Foundation for Ecological Security, AnandGoogle Scholar
  18. Foreign Department (1947) Annual report of the British trade agent, Gartok. PS/12/4209 Wool Trade 25th Feb 1942 – 30th June 1947. India Office Records of the British Library, LondonGoogle Scholar
  19. Forest Department (1889) Damage caused to forests and grazing land by sheep and goats. File 59/1880–1893, Box 118. Regional Archives, Naini TalGoogle Scholar
  20. Forest Department (1898) Grazing of Bhutia sheep and goats in the forests of the Kumaon Civil Division. File 12/1896–1897, Box 62. Regional Archive, NainitalGoogle Scholar
  21. Garhwal Post (2009) Nishank briefs IFAD President on state’s development. http://www.garhwalpost.com/article/Dehradun/4248/. Accessed 30 Jan 2011
  22. GoI (1984) Census of India, 1981. Uttar Pradesh. District census handbook (13): Pithoragarh. Director of Census Operation, Uttar PradeshGoogle Scholar
  23. GoI (2003) Census of India, 2001. District Pithoragarh, Uttaranchal. Office of the Registrar General and Census Commissioner, DelhiGoogle Scholar
  24. GoI [Government of India] (1966) Census of India, 1961. Manager of Publication, DelhiGoogle Scholar
  25. Gooch P (2008) Feet following hooves. In: Ingold T, Vergunst JL (eds) Ways of walking: ethnography and practice on foot. Ashgate, Aldershot, pp 67–80Google Scholar
  26. GoU (2003) Livestock survey for the Tehsil Munsiari, 2001. Veterinary Department of the District Pithoragarh, Pithoragarh (unpublished)Google Scholar
  27. GoU (2010) Government order, 98-PA/8–3[2]. Forest Department of Uttarakhand, Dehra Dun (unpublished, in Hindi)Google Scholar
  28. GoU [Government of Uttaranchal/Uttarakhand] (2001) The Uttaranchal panchayati forest rules – 2001. Forest Department, Dehra DunGoogle Scholar
  29. Goudge JE (1903) Almora. Final report on the assessment of the Almora district and the hill pattis of the Naini Tal district. V/27/314/643. India Office Records of the British Library, LondonGoogle Scholar
  30. Grierson GA (1909) Linguistic survey of India, vol III, Tibeto-Burman Family. Superintendent of Government Press, CalcuttaGoogle Scholar
  31. Guha R (1989) The unquiet woods. Ecological change and peasant resistance in the Himalaya. Oxford University Press, DelhiGoogle Scholar
  32. Ingold T (2000) The perception of the environment: essays on livelihood, dwelling and skill. Routledge, New YorkCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  33. Ingold T (2011) Being alive: essays on movement, knowledge and description. Routledge, New YorkGoogle Scholar
  34. Jodha NS (2007) Mountain commons. Changing space and status at community levels in the Himalaya. J Mt Sci 4:124–135CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  35. Kreutzmann H (1996) Ethnizität im Entwicklungsprozess. Die Wakhi in Hochasien. Reimer, BerlinGoogle Scholar
  36. Kreutzmann H (2004) Pastoral practices and their transformation in the North-Western Karakoram. Nomad Peoples 8:54–88CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  37. Mohan CR (2007) Soft borders and cooperative frontiers: India’s changing territorial diplomacy towards Pakistan and China. Strateg Anal 31:1–23CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  38. Moorcroft W (1818) A journey to lake Manasarovar in Undes, a province of little Tibet. Asiatic Res 12:380–536Google Scholar
  39. Moorcroft W, Trebeck G (1837 [1976]) Travels in the Himalayan provinces of Hindustan and the Panjab, vol II. Faran, LahoreGoogle Scholar
  40. Nautiyal S, Rao KS, Maikhuri RK, Saxena KG (2003) Transhumant pastoralism in the Nanda Devi Biosphere Reserve, India. A case study in the buffer zone. Mt Res Dev 23:255–262CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  41. Nawa K (2000) Ethnic categories and their usages in Byans, far western Nepal. European Bulletin Himalayan Res 18:36–57CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  42. Nüsser M (2006) Ressourcennutzung und nachhaltige Entwicklung im Kumaon-Himalaya (Indien). Geographische Rundschau 58:14–22Google Scholar
  43. Pant SD (1935) The social economy of the Himalaya. Based on a survey in the Kumaon Himalayas. George Allen and Unwin, LondonGoogle Scholar
  44. Ramble C (1997) Tibetan pride of place: or, why Nepal’s Bhotiyas are not an ethnic group. In: Gellner DN, Pfaff-Czarnecka J, Whelpton J (eds) Nationalism and ethnicity in a Hindu kingdom. Harwood Academic Publishers, Amsterdam, pp 349–414Google Scholar
  45. Raper FV (1812) Narrative of a survey for the purpose of discovering the source of the Ganges. Asiatic Res 11:446–564Google Scholar
  46. Rawat DS, Sharma S (1997) The development of a road network and its impact on the growth of infrastructure. A study of Almora district in the Central Himalaya. Mt Res Dev 17:117–126CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  47. Richards P (1993) Cultivation: knowledge or performance? In: Hobart M (ed) An anthropological critique of development: the growth of ignorance. Routledge, London, pp 61–78Google Scholar
  48. Roy T (2003) Changes in wool production and usage in colonial India. Mod Asian Stud 37(2):257–286CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  49. Saberwal VK (1999) Pastoral politics: shepherds, bureaucrats, and conservation in the Western Himalaya. Oxford University Press, DelhiGoogle Scholar
  50. Sarin M (2005) Laws, lore and logjams. Critical issues in Indian forest conservation. International Institute for Environment and Development, LondonGoogle Scholar
  51. Sharma VP, Köhler-Rollefson I, Morton J (2003) Pastoralism in India. A scoping study. DFID, New DelhiGoogle Scholar
  52. Shneiderman S (2010) Are the Central Himalayas in Zomia? Some scholarly and political consideration across space and time. J Global Hist 5:289–312CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  53. Statesman (1981) The inner line legacy. Trend towards isolation, 28.12.1981. Newspaper archive of the History Department at the South Asia Institute, HeidelbergGoogle Scholar
  54. Stellrecht I (1992) Umweltwahrnehmung und vertikale Klassifikation im Hunza-Tal (Karakorum). Geographische Rundschau 44(7–8):426–434Google Scholar
  55. Townsend JG, Porter G, Mawdsley E (2004) Creating spaces of resistance: development NGOs and their clients in Ghana, India and Mexico. Antipode 36(5):871–889CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  56. Traill GW (1828) Statistical sketch of Kamaon. Asiatic Res 16:137–234Google Scholar
  57. Traill GW (1832) Statistical report on the Bhotia mehals of Kamaon. Asiatic Res 17:1–50Google Scholar
  58. Tribune (2009) Border roads. China ahead of India by miles. 15.10.2009. http://www.tribuneindia.com/2009/20091015/dplus.htm#1. Accessed 24 May 2011
  59. van Schendel W (2002) Geographies of knowing, geographies of ignorance. Jumping scale in Southeast Asia. Environ Plan D Soc Space 20:647–668CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  60. Vasan S (2006) Indo-Tibetan border trade in Himachal Pradesh. China Rep 42:41–56CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  61. Walton HG (1911) Almora: a gazetteer, vol XXXV of the district gazetteers of the United Provinces of Agra and Oudh. Government Press, AllahabadGoogle Scholar
  62. Willis CM (2007) A descriptive grammar of Darma: an endangered Tibeto-Burman language. Dissertation presented to the faculty of the graduate school of liberal arts at the university of Texas at AustinGoogle Scholar
  63. Winkler D (2008) Yartsa Gunbu (Cordyceps sinensis) and the fungal commodification of the rural economy in Tibet AR. Econ Bot 62:291–305CrossRefGoogle Scholar

Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media B.V. 2012

Authors and Affiliations

  • Christoph Bergmann
    • 1
    Email author
  • Martin Gerwin
    • 2
  • Marcus Nüsser
    • 2
  • William S. Sax
    • 1
  1. 1.Department of Social Anthropology, South Asia InstituteUniversity of HeidelbergHeidelbergGermany
  2. 2.Department of Geography, South Asia InstituteUniversity of HeidelbergHeidelbergGermany

Personalised recommendations