Chandi Prasad Bhatt was born on 23 June 1934 in Gopeshwar, Chamoli, Uttarakhand, India. He is known as the first modern environmentalist in India. Prasad Bhatt was born from farmer family and pastors and grew up in a humble simple environment. He began his journey to save the environment when he heard Shri Jayaprakash Narayan’s speech and Sarvodaya leader Shri Man Singh Rawat at Badrinath in 1956.
He was very impressed with the two speeches, so he immediately joined the Sarvodaya movement and devoted himself to improving the lives of the villagers in fighting crime and exploitation among the poor in Uttarakhand.
He is an environmentalist and social activist for Gandhi India, who founded Dasholi Gram Swarajya Sangh (DGSS) in Gopeshwar in 1964 and finally changed to Dasholi Gram Swarajya Mandal (DGSM). Dasholi Gram Swarajya Mandal is an important organization in the fight against logging in Uttar Pradesh which began in 1964 by himself.
This organization is in the form of a cooperative that employs villagers and utilizes local resources. He promotes villagers to weave, raise bees, collect potions and other home industries. DGSM was inspired by Gandhi’s principles of nonviolence and Sarvodaya ideas, which meant equality and self-determination for all citizens.
Under his leadership, DGSM initiated a number of tree planting and protection programs, especially those involving women to replant the side of the barren hills that surrounded them. His efforts paid off, in a short span of time, the survival rate on DGSM plantations was far higher than the plantations made by the Ministry of Forestry.
Chandi Prasad Bhatt and Chipko Movement
DGSM later became the mother organization of the Chipko Movement, where he became one of the pioneers, and for that he was awarded the Ramon Magsaysay Award for Community Leadership in 1982, followed by Padma Bhushan in 2005.
The Chipko Movement, also known as Chipko Andolan, is a non-violent social and ecological movement by villagers, especially women, in India in the 1970s, which aimed to protect trees and forests to be cut down. This movement originated in the Himalayan region of Uttar Pradesh in 1973 and quickly spread throughout the Indian Himalayas.
The chipko Hindi word means “to embrace” or “hold fast” and reflects the main tactics of demonstrators to embrace trees to deter loggers. A large number of women also participated in this movement. The Chipko Movement organized by Shri Bhatt drew worldwide attention and led to the amendment of forest policies by the Government in 1973.
The Love of Chandi Prasad Bhatt to Nature
Nature is the most beautiful gift for mankind and it is the duty of all men and women to preserve and protect it. Bhatt can make people around understand the importance of the national call. As we know in every country human beings oppose nature. That is why we experience floods, droughts, landslides, and such calamities which are called natural but are actually the result of human intervention with nature.
As a follower of Gandhi’s ideology, he lived a very simple life and was the true torchbearer of Gandhi’s principles. He is a source of inspiration for environmentalists and the country in general. In 2013, Chandi Prasad Bhatt was honored and received the Gandhi Peace Prize award for all his hard work to protect the environment.