Interview with Dr Vandana Shiva — Digital Development Debates, 16 October 2015


Photo: “Little Sprouts are Sprouting” by Clint Mickel 2015 – licenced under Creative Commons Attribution (2.0)


Vandana Shiva is spearheading a global movement for biodiversity, agro-ecology and a new understanding of the soil. On occasion of World Food Day, we talked to her about the origins of her organisation Navdanya, current developments in Indian and global agriculture and the future of farming.

DDD: Dr. Shiva, reading about the founding of Navdanya and your transition from physics to the point of intersection between agriculture, the social sciences and activism that is your work now was really fascinating. Could you tell our readers a bit about the situation in India back in the 80s and 90s that inspired you to create Navdanya?

Vandana Shiva: 1984 was the year I really felt the compulsion, the ethical imperative to start looking at agriculture. It was the year of the Bhopal disaster where a pesticide plant leaked and killed thousands in one night and has killed many thousands since then. The same year we saw the rise of the insurgency in Punjab where a combination of farmer protests and other forms of extremism resulted in the Indian army going into the Golden Temple.

All the violence in Punjab forced me to sit up and take notice, mostly because I had completed my M.Sc. Honours in Particle Physics at Punjab University and I was used to a very peaceful Punjab. As you know, exactly a decade after I had finished my university studies there, Punjab exploded. It was the land of the Green Revolution that had been awarded the Nobel Peace Prize. It made no sense to me that there was no peace in Punjab. I wondered, if this was about peace, why was there so much violence? What was the essence of the Green Revolution?