Towards an ecological history of India

Gadgil, Madhav (1985) Towards an ecological history of India Economic and Political Weekly, 20 . pp. 1909-1918. ISSN 0012-9976

PDF - Publisher Version

Official URL:


Human societies are strongly dependent on their resource base. Changes in this base, in technologies and social modes of resource-use and the conflicts which arise over access to resources are important elements of human history. Each of the wave of human populations which colonised India beginning more than a hundred years ago brought with them their own brand of technology and social mode of resource use. The resultant population itself evolved new technologies and modes of resource use. It is possible that many of the taboos, the rules and regulations of a society incorporate the 'ecological wisdom' of the particular civilisation. A rereading of the social history of the subcontinent affords valuable insights into its ecological history as well. For instance, the ecological prudence of the settled pre-Aryan settlements probably came into disastrous conflict with the lack of such understanding among the nomadic Aryan tribes. At least part of the appeal of early Buddhism may have been partly rooted in its taboo on animal sacrifices in a period when the economically necessary animals were already dwindling. It is suggested here that the emergence of caste may have been the response to the saturation of capacity of the land to support human populations at the prevalent level of technology and the strong competition for the resources of the land.

Item Type:Article
Source:Copyright of this article belongs to Economic and Political Weekly.
ID Code:64225
Deposited On:05 Oct 2011 10:43
Last Modified:18 May 2016 12:42

Repository Staff Only: item control page