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JANADHAAR| 1hr : 33mins
Director: JADE AJANI | Producer: DAVID MEEK
Focus Years: 2012 | Country: United States
Subject Tags: community, india, indigenous rights, livelihood, non-violence, politics
Quality Tags: Optimistic, Slow, Activating, Harmonizing
This feature-length documentary, which is set in India’s Garwhal Himalaya, explores the struggle for community-owned ecotourism and sustainable rural development within the Nanda Devi Biosphere Reserve. Nanda Devi (7817 meters) is the highest peak entirely within India, and for nearly a century it drew alpinists and hikers from throughout the world. When Nanda Devi was designated as a national park in 1982, however, mountaineering and trekking were prohibited from the area. This ban has negatively affected the economy of the region, causing many people who had been dependent on ecotourism as a source of income to migrate out of the area. Since 1982, the local Bhotiya people in Nanda Devi have been involved in a campaign to win back their right to economic self-determination. In 2006, the Bhotiya won a concession from the Indian Forest Department (which oversees the Reserve) to run treks within certain limited areas. This enabled the local community to form their own ecotourism organization, the Mountain Shepherds, which now offers a variety of alternative tourism options, such as small group treks, and cultural homestays. The group’s first trip, a trek involving local residents hiking alongside women from both India and Western countries, took place in the fall of 2006. This film documents the Bhotiya’s nearly thirty year struggle and recent success through interviews with the local women, international participants, activists, government officials and villagers as the trek proceeds through the mountains. Ecotourism has gained increasing attention given the global focus on development that is both environmentally and economically sustainable as well as culturally sensitive. However, much ecotourism is the product of external development, and does not take into consideration the importance of the needs or histories of the local communities. Janadhaar, which means community-owned, highlights the efforts of one Himalayan community to make a difference in both environmental conservation and participatory economic development.
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