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The Third Perspective on Shifting Cultivation

India’s Look/Act East Policy



There are two perspectives in which the understanding of food sustainability in the world is entangled. The first perspective which believes that food sustainability can be achieved by technology presents shifting cultivation as a reflection of a lower state of cultural evolution in comparison with more sophisticated societies (O’Brien 2002).The second perspective which believes in culture, in the ‘way of life’ paradigm valorise shifting cultivation as a form of indigenous genius, representing the indigenous people as perhaps the original environmentalist (Bandy et al.1993; Conklin 1957; Grandstaff 1981; Hong 1987).

The biasness of both the perspectives is well visible. The task now is to document and evaluate indigenous strategies of shifting cultivation through a process of research and development. This process involves identification of promising indigenous practices, characterization of the practices, validation of the utility of the practice for other communities, extrapolation to other locations, verification with key farmers, and wide-scale extension.

This can be treated as the third perspective available to the policy makers. By this, the detrimental effects of shifting cultivation can be mitigated and productivity increased (Mali 2003).


Sustainability, Indigenous Knowledge, Technology, Shifting Cultivation, Cultural Conservation, North East India, India, Sustainability, Indigenous, Knowledge, Technology, Cultural Conservation


Author Biography

Sukanya Sharma

Associate Professor, Department of Humanities and Social Sciences, Indian Institute Od Technology Guwahati, Guwahati-781039, Assam, India


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