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India from 2008-2013

    Stories and Photos


for bigger picture click on this photo Poster

The Struggle of the Kudubis

October 2008 the world of the Kudubis from Padavu near Mangalore, Karnataka, collapsed. With the help of police and goons the government dumped hundreds of truckloads mud on their fields. The Kudubi Adivasis together with local activists and city people resisted fiercely. One of them was Malapa.

Read more and download the poster!   map


for bigger picture click on this photo Many communities in the Tauns Valley in North India live in the forest with their cattle for generations. Now they have to leave for a six dams-tunnels project.

Resistance Against Dams

Uttarakhand Center - Visit End 2011

Making the Forest Act Alive

'Whatever Small Voice We Have'

Dalit Activist in the Tauns Valley



Daily Struggle for a Flourishing Rural Life

The problems for farmers worldwide are becoming worse from year to year.

Especially the situation for peasants and landless farm labourers in the countries of the South are dramatic. Loss of land and commons, migration, poverty and hunger are growing. In many villages everywhere in the South peasants are struggling for their land, water, commons and culture. They claim more economic and cultural autonomy: Peasant Autonomy. This autonomy is necessary to overcome the daily humiliation, oppression, poverty and hunger.

This website tells the stories of the village struggles in India. It also shows how the same villages go on
with the development of their local peasant economy and culture.

A well balanced combination of struggle and development of the rural economy and culture will be the most successful way to peasant autonomy.

Peasant Autonomy is not about opinions or ideology, theory or political vision. It is about the experiences of villages struggling for their autonomy, against displacement and for the prosperity of a rural economy and culture.

Peasant Autonomy is a tribute to all the peasants, women and men, who go on with their struggle year after year.

Read more in About us and in The powerful combination

for bigger picture click on this photo Phool Dass, dalit village headman.

'Don't Touch the Khaddi People'

What can you do against bribes government officials always force villagers to pay? In Khaddi, a village in the Himalayas they found an answer. When officials didn't want to give the villagers the full payment for their work, women occupied the office, locked up the officials and phoned up higher level officials and journalists.

It all started in 2009 when Phool Dass became village headman of Tipli, one of the four villages of the Khaddi municipality. Dass is a dalit, a member of the lowest cast ...

Read more about this struggle, or go to the overview of Uttarakhand South-West 2; articles, photo series   map


for bigger picture click on this photo Stop Land Grabbing!

Via Campesina
a Global Peasant Movement

Via Campesina is a global peasants' movement fighting for food sovereignty. It published a lot of booklets about all political issues relating to peasants. For example: 'Stop Land Grabbing', 'Peasants Can Feed the World', 'No To Violence Against Women' and 'Small Scale Farmers Are Cooling Down the Earth'. Read more


 The life of Himalayan is closely linked with the rivers.

Himalayan Waters

This documentary gives a quick overview of the water problems in the Himalayas.

It also shows how villagers and their local organizations struggle against hydro power projects and deforestation and for safe drinking water; to protect their life and

Read more; link to the documentary  map


for bigger picture click on this photo Protest rally against large dams in the Brahmaputra river.

Assam, crossing ethnic lines

In Assam many different people live together. Till several years ago there was a lot of violence between the different communities and their fighter groups. Now people struggle together against evictions, crossing ethnic lines.

Read more about this struggle, or go to the overview of Assam; articles, photo series   map


 Farmers ready to plant saplings at the village forest the Forest Department snatched away.

Reclaiming the Village Forest

"It will only cost you 100 till 200 Rupees (1, 50 till 3 euro) and two visits to the district office to get back the lost parts of your village forest." Rakesh Bahuguna from the small development organisation Himcon in the North-India state Uttarakhand is enthusiastic. "We got back 6 hectares from the Forest Department, and we claim another 7 hectare. On the first part the villagers already planted oak trees." 

Read more + photos  map



Stiff Resistance for Many Years

Villagers from Saraipalli stopped the pump house of the Jindal iron factory. Ten years ago the company started to build a dam to make an artificial lake to collect water for their factory. By the stiff resistance of the villagers the plans were delayed for two years. Jindal promised the villagers one job at the factory for every family. But they never kept their promise.

Read more
  More photos  map


 Activists inform villagers about new projects.

The Power of
an Independent Organisation

One thing is clear: to be independent is the most important thing, when you want to support the Adivasis in their struggles against land grab.

Read more  map


Bon Bibi Legend and 'Ethnic Cleansing' of India's Forests

Amitav Ghosh

(Photo: V. Malik from New Delhi and Pune, India)

The Bon Bibi deity.

Indian writer Amitav Ghosh is very angry about the Indian forest policy: "Over many decades, there has been a kind of 'ethnic cleansing' of India's forests: indigenous groups have been evicted or marginalised and hotel chains and urban tourists have moved in." With the help of the beautiful Bon Bibi legend from the Bengal mangrove forests Ghosh describes the relationship between the villagers and their forests. He warns the political disempowerment of the forest dwellers will not continue forever. Read more   map

Download full article from Amitav Ghosh: 'Wild Fictions', 7 pages in Word, 7 photos; 400 KB.


Arundhati Roy With the Guerillas

roaming around in the forest for several weeks

 Comrade Kamla, 17 years old.

The famous Indian writer and journalist Arundhati Roy traveled around with the Maoists in the center Indian state Chhattisgarh for several weeks. The guerillas are mostly young tribals (women and men) fighting against oppression and displacement for dams and mines and for their autonomy as small farmers with their own local culture.

Roy: "The antagonists in the forest (of the government and companies) are disparate and unequal in almost every way. On one side is a massive paramilitary force armed with the money, the firepower, the media, and the hubris of an emerging Superpower. On the other, ordinary villagers armed with traditional weapons, backed by a superbly organised, hugely motivated Maoist guerrilla fighting force with an extraordinary and violent history of armed rebellion."

Go to the introduction article or download the whole article (in Word, 1.5 MB)


 Villagers meeting each other at the spring.

Village Life in Kimsar

Rajaji National Park, near Rishikesh

More pictures  map


 Campaigning for water rights.

The Powerful Combination

Building Up and Criticizing
at the Same Time

What is the best way to revitalise the rural areas? Is it by development projects like planting trees, building water harvesting structures or starting a small factory to process medical herbs? Or is it by campaigning against a corrupt Forest Department and government? Both constructive work and campaigning have to be done. At the same time. Constructive work without changing the system is useless, because the system will destroy the livelihood of the people faster than we can build up. But campaigning without constructive work can easily become sterile. Even when the slogans hit the nail on the head, people cannot eat slogans. But the combination of building up village economy with campaigns to protect the rights of the villagers is powerful. Read more  map


Sitting on the Fence

Letter from a Middle Class Activist

It is a terrible idea that we, middle class activists, sit at the fence, when 'our people', the small farmers, are killed by the government. Killed by decades old exploitation, by displacement for mining and so many other projects and now killed as collateral damage for hunting the 'Maoists'. At the same time we are sitting on the fence, doing almost nothing. Traveling, having some discussions, writing an article, making a picture, compiling a website. Read more   Print   Nederlands   Druk af


 Village meeting in Pala.

Village Women Stopped
Power Project

The people of Pala village stopped the construction of a hydropower tunnel twice. The local women's group put Raksha Sutra (holy threads) on the trees the contractor wanted to cut for a road. Later on they chased the workers away when they started felling in the night. Read more  map


‘We are Living Here for Generations’

Forest Dwellers in Sariska Tiger Reserve Will not Leave

 Farmer working with cow dung.

In the north of the West Indian state Rajasthan we find the Kankwari fort. It is on the top of a hill. It looks like a fairytale castle with big towers and solid walls. At the foot of the hill flows a friendly small river to a small lake with date palm trees and a village. The cows and buffalos just came back from the forest and are milked now. Some goats are grazing next to the farms. Yes, it looks so idyllic. But at the same time a serious struggle is going on. Read more  map



Yearly Commemoration

Yearly commemoration of the police violence at Tamnar, Chhattisgarh. More photos  map



Iron Factories

Pollution, displacement and resistance

The last twenty years hundreds of iron factories came up in the centre of India, in the states Chhattisgarh, Jharkhand, Orissa and West Bengal. Life became a hell for the hundred thousands of villagers in their neigbourhoods, most tribal people. The air, the water, the land everything became horribly polluted. It brought many diseases. Big trucks killed a lot of people in traffic accidents. Thousands and thousands Adivasis had to leave for the factories, and for the coal and iron mines. They became displaced persons. Off course there is a lot of resistance. map

Read the introduction article about resistance
Read the introduction article about pollution and displacement
Go to overview photo series about pollution
Go to overview photo series about resistance


 Painters went to the villages, had discussions with farmers and made paintings.

Artist Support Struggle

Artists from Mangalore supported the Kudubis in their struggle against land grab for a Special Economic Zone. More photos   map


Mother Earth - a New Future for Small Farmers

 Every year there is a festival to celebrate the richness of the tradional seeds.

Documentary about poor women farmers in the South of India who turned their back to modern agriculture in order to bring new life to their traditional ways of farming. With a lot of success! Read more; link to the documentary



Last update Peasant Autonomy: January 2017 - Photos: Via Campesina, report Damming North East India, Himcon Uttarakhand, HPSS Uttarakhand, Jan Chetana Raigarh, Arundhati Roy Outlook, Krishi Bhoomi Samrakshana Samiti Mangalore, Jasper Korff, Paul Enkelaar and Peasant Autonomy - Creative Commons