2011 Nainital conference, India

IGU Commission Conference Nainital 2011

May 1 - 9, 2011

Department of Geography, D.S.B. Campus, Kumaun University Nainital

Local and Regional Responses to Globalization in the Mountains and Marginal Areas of the World

The International Geographical Union, during its 1984 congress in Paris set up a study group on the “Development of High lands and High Latitude Zones” of the World which focused on the northern hemisphere during 1984-1988 and on the southern hemisphere during 1988-1992. Thereafter the group continued as the “Study Group on Development Issues in Marginal Regions” from 1992 to 2000 and was raised to the status of “Commission on Evolving Issues on Geographical Marginality in the early 21st Century World” by the IGU 29th Seoul Congress in 2000. It has since continued to work as a commission now called “Marginalization, Globalization and Local and Regional Responses” since 2004 and saw its term renewed by the IGU Tunis Congress in 2008 till 2012.

The IGU Commission Conference 2011 took place in Nainital, Uttarakhand, India from May 1 to 9, 2011, and this opportunity was given to the Department of Geography, Kumaun University Nainital. The idea of holding a conference in Nainital goes back to 1987, when it was formally suggested by Prof. Majoral in the Fairbanks, Alaska (USA) Conference of the IGU Study Group on the Development of Highlands and High Latitude Zones. The idea was raised many times, but it never took shape. It is only at Kitami, Japan at the Hokkaido Conference in 2007 when a strong proposal was put forward by Prof. Etienne Nel, the Commission Chair, and approved by all members in the steering committee meeting held in Fribourg, Switzerland in 2010, and also the invitation was finally accepted by Kumaun University Nainital. It was notified in the IGU Commission Newsletters of 2008, 2009 and 2010. The prime concern of this conference was to extend the knowledge of the Himalaya and other mountain systems and marginal areas of the world in accordance to the following objectives and research concerns of the IGU.

1. The critical evaluation of the consequences of globalization on people and places, particularly on those areas lying outside mainstream processes,

2. The inter-linked implications on peoples and places of marginalization and globalization,

3. Direct and indirect links between marginality and globality relating to people and places, and

4. How, in an increasingly interlinked world, the rise of regional and local culture, emphasizes the diversity essential to the survival of humanity.

Prof. Raghubir Chand


IGU Commission Conference Nainital 2011

Department of Geography

DSB Campus, Kumaun University Nainital, India

email: raghuvir_chand @rediffmail.com


Participants and countries

The conference comprised three full days of paper presentations from May 2 to 4, 2011 at Nainital Club where two lecture halls could be used due to the large number of participants (78 abstracts had been handed in), parallel sessions had to be organized to accommodate all speakers. In all, Austria(1),Czech Republic(4), Finland(1), India (50), Israel(2), Japan(1), Kyrgyz Republic (1), Malaysia (1), Nepal(2), Scotland(1), Switzerland(2),United States(2) and Qatar (1)were represented fairly making it a global event. The Austrian participant (Prof. A. Borsdorf, Innsbruck) had arrived in Delhi but was forced to return home for health reasons. As he would have been a keynote speaker, he is nevertheless mentioned in the above list.

The meeting included very important field work from May 5 to 9, 2011 in various parts of Kumaun Himalaya and particularly organized in Johar valley to pay tribute to Pundit Nain Singh, a famous explorer of 19th Century of Tibet to visit his home land Munsiary. There were 68 registered participants from 13 countries with a strong dominance of delegates from Indian universities and research institutions. Besides, more than 40 participants attended this conference including senior Government officials engaged in policymaking, NGO groups, representatives of civil societies and research students from the universities. important International organizations like International Centre for Integrated Mountain Development, (ICIMOD, Kathmandu, Nepal), Centre for Mountain studies (University of the High Lands and Islands, Perth College , Scotland) with UNESCO Chair in Sustainable Mountain Development, National Academy of Sciences Kyrgyzstan, International University of Kyrgyzstan, Institute of Mountain Research: Man and Environment (Austrian academy of sciences, Institute of Geography ,University of Innsbruck, Austria), and 16 internationally known important Universities. Among the Indian Institutes and Research organizations, National Association of Geographers India (NAGI, Delhi), Jawaharlal Nehru Centre for Advance Scientific Research (Jakkur, Bangalore), G.B. Pant Institute of Himalayan Environment and Development (Kosi, Katarmal, Almora), Indian Council of social Science Research, (ICSSR, New Delhi), Indian National Science Academy (New Delhi), Uttarakhand State Council for Science and Technology (UCOST, Dehradun), Central Himalayan Environment Association (CHEA, Nainital), People’s Association for Himalayan Area Research (PAHAR, Nainital), Malla Johar Vikas Samiti (Munsyari), Lok Kala Kendra (Darkot), Johar Club (Munsyari), Gram Sabha (Darkot), Dasauli Gram Swaraj Mandal (Gopeswar) took an active part in the conference.

Technical Sessions

The conference was arranged in to 16 sessions all together with Inaugural session, plenary addresses by guest speakers, special sessions, lecture sessions and the closing sessions. Day wise break-up is given as below:

Monday May 2 (plenary sessions)

Inaugural session

· Plenary addresses by guest speakers

· Technical session-1, Special session: Himalayan biodiversity in relation to changing climate and livelihoods

· Technical session 2: Globalization and marginalization

Tuesday May 3 (parallel sessions)

· Technical session 3

· Development planning, globalization and mountain environment

· Social capital, transition and change

· Technical session 4

· Development issues and sustainable development

· Globalization, Marginalization and Indigenous Minorities

· Technical session 5

· Marginalization and society

· Mountains, tourism and alternative strategy

· Technical session 6

· Social consideration, migration and rural livelihoods

· Transport, technology and resource management

Wednesday May 4 (plenary sessions)

· Technical session 7, Special session: 6th and 7th Pundit Nain Singh Memorial Lectures

· Technical session 8: Resource management as a response to marginalization

· Technical session 9: Climate change and climatic considerations in highland areas

· Valedictory function

The inaugural session of the conference started under the chairmanship of Prof. V.P.S. Arora, Vice-Chancellor of Kumaun University Nainital and the welcome address was delivered by Prof. Raghubir Chand, the Convener of the Conference. Prof. Walter Leimgruber, University of Fribourg, Switzerland introduced the activities of the IGU Commission on Marginalization, Globalization and Regional and Local Responses as its secretary. Dr. Andreas Schild, Director General of ICIMOD, Kathmandu, Nepal as the Guest of Honour delivered a keynote address on ‘The Himalayas as the providers of essential ecosystem services - opportunities and challenges’. Prof. Martin Price, Director, Centre for Mountain Studies (CMS) at Perth College, University of the Highlands and Islands, Scotland and UNESCO Chair in Sustainable Mountain Development was the chief guest of the conference. Prof. Price shared the 2007 Nobel Peace Prize with former US Vice-President Al Gore. He delivered his inaugural address on ‘Mountains: a global common good?’ The Hon’ble Vice Chancellor, Prof. V.P.S. Arora, delivered a presidential address with his valuable remarks on the topic. The vote of thanks was proposed by Prof. N.S. Rana, Director of the DSB Campus, Kumaun University Nainital.

The plenary session started just after the inaugural session with invited guest speaker Dr. A.A. Aidaraliev of National Academy of Sciences of Kyrgyzstan and President of the International University of Kyrgyzstan who spoke on ‘Poverty and Global Warming: an example of the Kyrgyz Republic’. This was chaired by Padm Shree Prof. K.S. Valdiya and co-chaired by Dr. G.S Saun. A special technical session-1 on ‘Himalayan Biodiversity in relation to changing climate and livelihoods’ was convened by G.B. Pant Institute of Himalayan Environment and Development (GBPIHED), Kosi-Katarmal, Almora. This technical session was Chaired by Dr. Andreas Schild, DG, ICIMOD and Co-Chaired by Dr. L.M.S. Palni, Director, GBPIHED. In this session, a keynote address on ‘Himalayan Biodiversity and People under changing climate and economic scenario’ was delivered by Dr. R.S. Tolia. Among four other presentations, Dr. R.B.S. Rawat, PCCF, Govt. of Uttarakhand, presented his lecture on ‘Changing perspectives of biodiversity based livelihoods’, followed by another important paper on ‘Emerging opportunities and challenges for conservation and sustainable use of Himalayan bio-resources’ by Dr. L.M.S. Palni, Director of G.B. Pant Institute of Himalayan Environment and Development (GBPIHED), Kosi-Katarmal, Almora. ‘Strategies for establishing linkages among stakeholders for sustaining Himalayan ecosystem’ was the topic for presentation by Mr. Ajay Rastogi and ‘Anthropogenic activities and its impact on environment in Meghalaya’ was presented by Prof.R.K. Rai President of National Association of Geographers India (NAGI), Delhi.

Technical session -2 was chaired by Dr. R.S. Tolia, former Chief Secretary of Government of Uttarakhand, India with a keynote lecture by Dr. Keith Bosak on ‘Going Global. Livelihoods and globalization in Niti Valley, India’. It was followed by another important presentation on ‘Impacts of marginalization and globalization in the Czech-German borderland’ by Dr. A. Matuskova and Dr. M. Bastova from Czech Republic.

On May 3rd, 2011, 4 technical sessions were conducted on different issues of local and regional responses to globalization in the mountains and marginal areas of the world. Technical session -3-A was chaired by Prof. Girijesh Pant, Vice Chancellor of Doon University, Dehradun with a keynote paper by Dr. Abdullahi of University Mara, Shah Alam, Malaysia on ‘Highland Development in Malaysia and the public response’. Technical session 3-B was on ‘Social Capital, Transition and Change’ Chaired by Prof. Markku Tykkyläinen, Univ. of Eastern Finland. In this technical session, three presentations were made from Israel, Czechia and Albania. During this session, ‘The concept of ‘indigenous peoples’’ by Prof. Ruth Kark from Israel, ‘Social capital and peripheral areas’ by Prof. T. Havlicek from Czechia’ and ‘Aspects of transition in Albania and acute coronary events’ by Prof Jeremy Kark of Israel were discussed.

Technical Session-4-A on ‘Development Issues and Sustainable Development’ was chaired by Prof. R.K. Rai with a keynote lecture by Dr. Brahm Singh on ‘Impact of globalization on the horticultural development in marginal and mountainous cold deserts of India’, followed by Dr. Nimachow and Prof. R.C. Joshi about ‘Changing identity, livelihood and biodiversity of indigenous communities of Aka tribe of India’. Prof. D.D. Chauniyal presented a paper on ‘Level of socio-economic development in Binu watershed, Uttarakhand Himalaya’. Dr. M. Misra presented his paper on ‘Vulnerability of highland communities to climate induced change and practical adaptive capacity’, followed by ‘Fragmented holdings: A case study of remote and accessible villages of central Himalaya, India’ by Dr. A. Pande.

Technical Session 4B was arranged to study ‘The Marginalization, Globalization and Indigenous Minorities’ and was chaired by Dr. I.D. Pandey, (Ex-PCCF) and Co-chaired by Dr. K. Bosak, Univ. of Montana, USA. In this session, there were three presentations with a keynote lecture on ‘Process of segregation and assimilation in exploiting natural resource and changing livelihood among indigenous minorities and migrants majorities in the Upland Vietnam’ by Prof. Doo-Chil Kim. Prof. R. Chand presented a paper on ‘Changing indigenous strategies and livelihood practices of Bokpa Yak herders of Bhutan’, followed by ‘Bhotia community within the Askote conservation landscape of Uttarakhand’ by Dr. C.S Negi.

Technical session 5-A was on ‘Marginalization and society’ and was chaired by Prof. Ruth Kark of Hebrew University of Jerusalem. The keynote speaker was Padm Shree Prof. Shekhar Pathak with his paper on ‘Himalaya-Highest-Holy and Hijacked’. There were three papers given by Dr. Girija Pande, Miss Aditi Chand and Dr. M. Dutta respectively on “Reimagining the margins: society, state power and culture in India –Nepal border’, ‘The tales of origin and settling processes of marginal societies of Bhutan’ and ‘Status of marginal women tea garden workers in the mountain ecosystem of Darjeeling Himalaya’.

Technical Session 5B focused on ‘Mountain, Tourism and Alternative Strategy’ and was Chaired by Dr. Brahm Singh (Ex-Sr. Scientist, DRDO) and Co-chaired by Dr. Kim Doo Chul, Univ. of Okayama, Japan. The presentations under this session were four with a keynote lecture by Prof. Walter Leimgruber on ‘Tourism in mountain regions: local responses to marginality threats’. Dr. U. Lal presented his paper on ‘Environmental constraints and population pressure in a mountain ecosystem of western Himalaya’. ‘Tourism and environmental challenges’ and ‘Ecotourism and marginal area development’ were presented by Dr. M. Gusain and Dr. S. Verma from Uttarakhand respectively.

Technical Session 6-A covered aspects of ‘Social Consideration, Migration and Rural Livelihoods’ and was chaired by Prof. Walter Leimgruber and Dr. Magdalena Bastova as a co-chair. The keynote lecture in this session was given by Prof. Markku Tykkyläinen and Dr. Olli Lehtonen of Eastern Finland University on ‘Balance of spatial patterns of net migration and socio-economic conditions in Finland’. The second presentation was made by Dr. R.C. S. Taragi from the planning Council of Qatar, Doha, about ‘Migration in Central Himalaya adding to marginalization’. A paper on ‘Badi migrants in Kanchanpur, Nepal’ was presented by Dr. Narad Awasthi of Tribhuwan University Kathmandu, Nepal. ‘Socio-economic wellbeing and mental health profile of rural hill women of Uttarakhand’ was the last paper of the session given by Dr. Lata Pande.

Technical Session 6B on ‘Transport, Technology and Resource Management’ was chaired by Dr. J. Abdullahi, Univ. of Technology MARA, Malaysia with Prof. D.D. Chauniyal, HNB Garhwal Univ. Srinagar, as co-chair. ‘Road transport and socio-economic conditions in the hilly areas of North East India’, ‘Resource recovery techniques for solid waste management’, ‘Mapping environmental sensitive risk areas’, ‘Geomorphic anomalies and water resource management’, and ‘Impact of climate change in foothills agro-forestry pattern and human health’ were the papers delivered by Prof N.D. Singh (keynote speaker), Dr. J.C. Kuniyal, Dr. A.R. Siddiqui Dr. A Singh,and Dr. L.S. Lodhiyal respectively.

On May 4, 2011 the remaining four sessions were conducted as part of special Technical Sessions. Technical Session-7 was a special session arranged to pay tribute to the famous explorer of Tibet and Central Asia, Pundit Nain Singh Rawat. In this session the 6th and 7th Pundit Nain Singh Memorial Lectures were delivered and attended by all participants.

The session was Chaired by Prof. Aidaraliev A.A. and co-chaired by Padm Shree Prof. Shekhar Pathak. In this session, Prof. Shekhar Pathak first discussed before the delegates, the contribution of Pundit Nain Singh Rawat in the discovery of Tibet. The Convener of the Conference Prof. Raghubir Chand introduced Prof. Donald F. Lynch from University of Alaska, Fairbanks, Alaska, USA and Padm Shree Prof. K.S. Valdiya, Honorary Professor from Jawaharlal Nehru Centre for Advanced Scientific Research, Jakkur, Bangalore to the delegates who delivered 6th and 7th Nain Singh memorial lectures respectively. After that Prof. Donald F. Lynch presented a slide lecture on ‘The Arctic world in the 21st century: the impact of globalization’, followed by Prof. K.S. Valdiya who reported on ‘Tectonic resurgence of central sector of the Himalaya: Landscape rejuvenation’.

Technical Session-8 on May 4, 2011 was scheduled on ‘Resource Management as a Response to Marginalization’. This session was chaired by Prof. Donald F. Lynch and co-chaired by Prof. T. Havlicek. In this session four delegates presented their research work. First presentation was on ‘Saving the Himalayan Rivers’ delivered by Prof. J.S. Rawat. The second presentation was on ‘Achieving food security through opting cash generating crops- a case study on Nepali immigrants in Khanda Gad sub watershed, Garhwal Himalaya’ by Dr. V.P. Sati. Ms. Manisha Tripathi has made the third presentation which was focused on ‘Natural resource management of a geologically fragile hill terrain’. The last paper was presented by Dr. L.S. Lodhiyal on ‘Plant diversity along an altitudinal gradient of Jeolikote-Dogaon-Ranibag forests in Shiwalik of Kumaun Himalaya’.

Technical Session -9 was devoted to capture the ‘Climate Change and Climatic Considerations in Highland Areas’. This session was chaired by Prof. Martin F. Price, Director, Centre for Mountain Studies at Perth College, Univ. of the Highlands and Islands, Scotland and co-chaired by Prof. Jeremy D. Kark, School of Public Health, Hebrew University-Hadassah, Faculty of Medicine, Jerusalem, Israel. Total five papers were presented in this session. The first was the keynote lecture which focused on ‘Main trends of changes of biodiversity of indigenous plants’ delivered by Prof. Z. Chocholouskova from Univ. of West Bohemia in Plzen, Czech Republic. The second presentation was on ‘Impact of climate change in shifting of vegetation line in Indian Himalaya’ by Dr. M. Kumar. Prof. P.C. Tiwari, DSB Campus, Kumaun University presented his work on ‘Climate change and sustainability of water resources in Himalaya: responses and adaptation in marginalized society’. The fourth presentation was made by Mr. Harinder K. Thakur, GBPIHED, Mohal-Kullu on ‘Ambient air quality status and its sources in hill urban and semi-urban locations of the northwestern Himalaya, India’. The last presentation was delivered by Dr. K. Bargali on ‘Effect of biotic disturbances on regeneration status of tree species in quercus leucotrichophora forest, Nainital, Uttarakhand’.

Valedictory Function

The valedictory function was chaired by Prof. V.P.S. Arora, Vice Chancellor, Kumaun University and co-chaired by Prof. Walter Leimgruber, University of Fribourg, Switzerland. Padma Bhushan Shree Chandi Prasad Bhatt (awarded in 2005), a known Chipko Leader, environmentalist and social activist was the chief guest of the valedictory function. In his valedictory address, Shree Chandi Prasad Bhatt shared his experiences and discussed environmental and social problems with special focus on Himalaya. Following this, Prof. Walter Leimgruber provided an ‘international perspective on globalization’ putting together a global and local perspective on marginalization and globalization. Prof. V.P.S. Arora delivered his concluding remarks on the conference and congratulated the convener and all the participants of the Conference for making this a truly global event. In the end, Prof. Raghubir Chand, convener of the Conference paid his gratitude to all the dignitaries and participants.

Post Conference fieldwork: A tribute to Pundit Nain Singh Rawat

After the successful completion of the three days technical sessions, a five-day long field visit was organized mainly for the foreign delegates. The first day field visit was planned for an interactive session with the scientists of the G.B. Pant Institute of Himalayan Environment and Development, Kosi, Katarmal, Almora. All delegates were informed about the ongoing programmes of Himalayan area development initiated by Dr. L.M.S. Palni, Director of GBPIEHD. The areas around Garur –Someswar valleys were studied by the delegates with a visit to 12th century old temple groups of Baijnath before reaching Choukori for the night stay on May 5, 2011. The second day fieldwork revolved around the assessment of physical challenges posed by the nature in the Greater Himalayan part of Kumaun Himalaya. Delegates were taken to the village of Jhekela and Lawn located along the Main Central Thrust at a distance of about 17 km from Nachni on their way to Munsiyari. The Village people narrated the episode in which 29 people lost their life due to a cloudburst in 2010. On May 7, 2011, the 8th Pundit Nain Singh lecture was organized in the block conference hall of Munsiyari in collaboration with Malla Johar Vikas samiti of Munsiyari. The lecture was delivered by Dr. R. S. Tolia on the theme ‘Opening of the doors of Tibet’. The whole day was spent to visit Darkot village where an open exhibition of transhumance, Tibetan trade, and the woollen manufacturing along with all the indigenous ways of livelihood strategies were demonstrated by the Johari (Bhitias) shaukas of this frontier region of Kumaun Himalya. Gobind Singh Pangti and Laxman Singh Pangti of Malla Johar Vikas samiti demonstrated the traditional skills of the Bhotias during the door to door visit in the village. A high Himalayan luncheon was served in the honour of the delegates with a magnificent cultural show of Johari folk songs and folk dances put up by the Darkot Kala Kendra, a village level cultural organization in the village. A visit to Tribal Heritage Museum established by Dr. Sher Singh Pangti in the evening demonstrated as to how the Great Himalayan culture and lost glory of Indo-Tibetan trade is restored by the Johari Bhotias of this region.

On the return Journey from Munsiyari, the 9th Pundit Nain Singh Rawat lecture was organized in the municipal hall of Pithoragarh in collaboration with the People’s Association of Himalayan Area Research (PAHAR). The fourth and last lecture in the series was delivered in Pithoragarh on May 8, 2011 by Nobel Laureate Prof. Martin F. Price on the ‘Global Importance of Mountains”. The programme ended with a slide lecture presented by Padm Shree Prof. Shekhar Pathak on Tibet. On the last day of the field trip, delegates visited the Geography Department of Kumaun University, Almora campus where they were introduced to the GIS capabilities of the department developed under the guidance of Prof. J.S. Rawat. All the foreign delegates went back with a deep and enriching field experience gained during the 5 days of fieldwork organized from May 5 to 9 2011 in various parts of the Kumaun Himalaya.

Business meeting

The Business Meeting was held during the field trip in Munsiyari on Friday, May 6, 2011, 18.00 – 19.15 hrs. It was attended by all 15 participants to the trip and chaired by the Commission secretary, Prof. Walter Leimgruber. He replaced the Commission chair Prof. Etienne Nel who was retained in New Zealand for professional reasons. Items such that publications, next conferences, renewal of commission in 2012 and future activities of commission and other IGU matters were on the agenda of the meeting. The conference as such was judged a success. In particular, new and young members have participated in both conference and field trip, which is very important for the future. The most important issue was the publications of commission conferences. Practically all the older papers (up to 2007) have been published on a second CD-Rom in 2010, prepared by University of Otago, Dunedin (New Zealand) with an ISBN. The book with the 2009 papers is in the production process and should be available before the IGU Regional Conference in Santiago de Chile. The publication of the 2010 proceedings is also on its way. Two publishers in Delhi have manifested their interest to publish the proceedings of the 2011 Nainital conference. The renewal of the commission was not questioned as the problem of marginalization persists and is even increasing. During the present discussion it was emphasized that the focus of the name should be retained, but the name itself could be slightly changed. It was also suggested that the interdisciplinary outlook of the topic should be mirrored in the composition of the steering committee by the inclusion of one or two members from other disciplines. Ideas concerning the research focus contained key words like ‘adaptation to a rapidly changing world’ and ‘nature of changing forces’. The commission will not only have to ask for renewal in 2012, it will also have to propose a new chairperson. As a consequence the steering committee will be re-organized. The commission conference in 2012 is to be held in Dubrovnik (Croatia), 19-25 August prior to the International Geographical Congress in Cologne University, Germany from August 26 to August 30, 2012. Its theme is Down to Earth, and the main contributions revolve around the four main topics: ‘global change and globalization’, ‘society and environment’, ‘risks and conflicts’, and ‘urbanization and demographic change’. The meeting was concluded with a vote of thanks to Prof. Raghubir Chand for taking up the challenge of hosting the 2011 Nainital conference.


The conference made the following recommendations:

1. Compensatory mechanism should be evolved to promote development in marginal and mountainous areas of the world as the resources of these areas are used for the benefits of mainland dwellers and mainstream population.

2 Existing and potential resources should be identified and evaluated to promote marginal area development through focussed efforts on local need structure and future requirements.

3 Priority investments should be made to improve the infrastructural conditions - both physical and human - to improve the accessibility of marginal and mountainous communities and to reduce the fragility of these regions.

4 Food security should be ensured to the people living in these regions who face the challenges of difficult terrain and hard climatic conditions.

5 The strategies to transform the subsistence economies into diversified production and market based economies of the marginal and mountain areas of the world should be developed by national and regional governments.

6 The participatory approach of development involving local and village level workers needs to be encouraged to boost the confidence of indigenous communities through the changes in legal frameworks which restrict the participation based on gender, caste or class issues.

7 The opportunities being offered by actors of globalization should be fully utilized judiciously to facilitate the proper penetration of market forces into mountains and marginal areas.

8 Transfer of technologies and knowledge-based packages suitable to the marginal and mountainous areas should be promoted through active participation of university centres and research institutions located in these areas.

9 All policies and planning strategies to foster rapid growth of development should be decentralized at all levels.

10 NGOs as well as government agencies should emphasize and support the deprived and resource poor areas for local capacity building for their developments.