The Western plateau (Maharashtra) outside the rain

The transition from the study of events and watershed occurrences to the study of processes and explorations of deeper continuities from in ecological point of view was a gradual process. In that; the concern shifted to asking how and why certain kinds of livelihood patterns or production methods survived and how others were transformed. By replacing the study of events thus the processes had begun to occupy the centre-stage. The relative neglect of the colonial impact on the land by professional historians made it an obvious field for early inquiry. Moreover, early writers were more concerned with the protection of environment as they had been actively supporting the cause of conservation of environment. Thus they looked for evidences of popular protests against the exploitation and often neglected the contrary evidence. South Asian works have often focused on certain themes at the expense of others: the forest rather than agriculture, movements of Adivasis and marginal peasants rather than changing responses of urban dwellers, histories of irrigation as opposed to conflict over water-rights, etc. There have been a few exceptions though to this general trend.

Sumit Guha has tried to bridge the gap between pre-British and British period. His area of study has been the region dominated by Marathas where rich repositories of Maratha documents have been put to excellent use. At the same time he has also avoided the illusionary divide between forest and agriculture and notions of ethnicity in the wider context of environment. He has demonstrated with fresh evidence that tribal polities. Further, Sumit Guha has pointed out that the large areas of Western plateau (Maharashtra) outside the rain drenched Konkan coast were rendered treeless even during the heydays of Marathas.

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The pattern of living has modified the environment of the region as he demonstrates that the use of fire and the keeping of cattle were practiced here for at least forty centuries, if not more. In the process a thorny forest region was transformed into seasonal grass-1 and: the ecology was re-shaped in major ways. The fluidity was more than matched in economic terms. Dry spells could lead to a resurgence of herding.


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