Vandana Shiva (Hindi: वंदना शिवा: born 5 November 1952) is an Indian environmental activist and anti-globalization author. Shiva, currently based in Delhi, has authored more than 20 books. She received her PhD from the University of Western Ontario Faculty of Graduate Studies, in Canada, in 1978 with the doctoral dissertation "Hidden variables and locality in quantum theory."
She is one of the leaders and board members of the International Forum on Globalization, (along with Jerry Mander, Edward Goldsmith, Ralph Nader, Jeremy Rifkin, et al.), and a figure of the global solidarity movement known as the alter-globalization movement. She has argued for the wisdom of many traditional practices, as is evident from her interview in the book Vedic Ecology (by Ranchor Prime) that draws upon India's Vedic heritage. She is a member of the scientific committee of the Fundacion IDEAS, Spain's Socialist Party's think tank. She is also a member of the International Organization for a Participatory Society. She received the Right Livelihood Award in 1993, and numerous other prizes.
Early life and education:
Vandana Shiva was born in Dehradun. Her father was a conservator of forests and her mother was a farmer mother with a love for nature. She was educated at St Mary's School in Nainital, and at the Convent of Jesus and Mary, Dehradun.
She pursued an M.A. in the philosophy of science at the University of Guelph (Ontario, Canada) in 1977, with a thesis entitled "Changes in the concept of periodicity of light". In 1978, she completed and received her PhD at the University of Western Ontario faculty of graduate studies in philosophy, specializing in quantum theory. Her thesis was titled "Hidden variables and locality in quantum theory." She later went on to interdisciplinary research in science, technology, and environmental policy at the Indian Institute of Science and the Indian Institute of Management in Bangalore.
Vandana Shiva has fought for changes in the practice and paradigms of agriculture and food. Intellectual property rights, biodiversity, biotechnology, bioethics, genetic engineering, are among the fields where Shiva has contributed with ideas and through activist campaigns. She has assisted grassroots organizations of the Green movement in Africa, Asia, Latin America, Ireland, Switzerland, and Austria with campaigns against genetic engineering.
In 1987, she founded the Research Foundation for Science, Technology and Ecology.marked unsourced claims. This led to the creation of Navdanya in 1991, a national movement to protect the diversity and integrity of living resources, especially native seed, the promotion of organic farming and fair trade. For last two decades Navdanya has worked with local communities and organizations serving many men and women farmers. Navdanya's efforts have resulted in conservation of more than 2000 rice varieties from all over the country and have established 111 seed banks in 17 states across the country. More than 70,000 farmers are primary members of Navdanya. In 2004 Shiva started Bija Vidyapeeth, an international college for sustainable living in Doon Valley, in collaboration with Schumacher College, U.K.
In the area of intellectual property rights and biodiversity, Shiva and her team at the Research Foundation for Science, Technology and Ecology challenged the biopiracy of Neem, Basmati and Wheat. Besides her activism, she has also served on expert groups of government on Biodiversity and IPR legislation.
Her first book, Staying Alive (1988) helped redefine perceptions of third world women. In 1990, she wrote a report for the FAO on Women and Agriculture entitled, "Most Farmers in India are Women". She founded the gender unit at the International Centre for Mountain Development (ICIMOD) in Kathmandu and was a founding board member of the Women's Environment & Development Organization (WEDO)
Shiva has also served as an adviser to governments in India and abroad as well as non-governmental organizations, including the International Forum on Globalization, the Women's Environment & Development Organization and the Third World Network. Shiva chairs the Commission on the Future of Food set up by the Region of Tuscany in Italy and is a member of the Scientific Committee which advised former prime minister Zapatero of Spain. Shiva is a member of the Steering Committee of the Indian People's Campaign Against WTO. She is a councilor of the World Future Council. Shiva serves on Government of India Committees on Organic Farming. Vandana Shiva participated in the Stock Exchange of Visions project in 2007.
Time Magazine identified Shiva as an "environmental hero" in 2003, and Asia Week has called her one of the five most powerful communicators of Asia. Loyola Marymount University has asked her to speak on numerous occasions on the topic of eco-feminism, where she continuously attracts large crowds of interested students.
Vandana Shiva is working on a 3-year project with the Government of Bhutan at the invitation of the Prime Minister Jigme Thinley, advising on how to achieve their objective of becoming an organic sovereign country, the first fully 100% organic country.
Vandana Shiva has spent much of her life in the defence and celebration of biodiversity and indigenous knowledge. She has worked to promote biodiversity in agriculture to increase productivity, nutrition, farmer's incomes and climate resilience. It is for this work she was recognised as an 'Environmental Hero' by Time magazine in 2003. Her work on agriculture started in 1984 after the violence in Punjab and the gas leak in Bhopal from Union Carbide's pesticide manufacturing plant. Her studies for the UN University led to the publication of her book The Violence of the Green Revolution.
In an interview with David Barsamian, Shiva argues that the seed-chemical package promoted by Green Revolution agriculture has depleted fertile soil, destroyed living ecosystems, and negatively impacted people's health. In her work Shiva cites data demonstrating that today there are over 1400 pesticides that enter the food system across the world, because only 1% of pesticides sprayed act on the target pest. Vandana Shiva, alongside her sister Dr. Mira Shiva, argues that the health costs of increasing pesticide and fertiliser use range from cancer to kidney failure to heart disease.
Central to Shiva's work is the idea of seed freedom, or the rejection of corporate patents on seeds. She has campaigned against the implementation of the WTO 1994 Trade Related Intellectual Property Rights (TRIPS) agreement, which broadens the scope of patents to include life forms. Shiva has criticised the agreement as having close ties with the corporate sector and opening the door to further patents on life. Shiva calls the patenting of life 'biopiracy', and has fought against attempted patents of several indigenous plants. In 2005, Shiva's was one of the three organisations that won a 10-year battle in the European Patent Office against the biopiracy of Neem by the US Department of Agriculture and the corporation WR Grace. In 1998, Shiva's organisation Navdanya began a campaign against the biopiracy of Basmati rice by US corporation RiceTec Inc. In 2001, following intensive campaigning, RiceTec lost most of its claims to the patent.
Shiva opposes Golden rice. Others believe, that it could prevent millions of children from becoming blind every year and alleviate vitamin A deficiency of 250 million people in developing countries. Shiva said that the women of Bengal grow and eat 150 greens which can do the same. The Nutrition Foundation of India's study of indigenous food in India confirms that there are plants with much higher beta carotene than what is being touted to be the selling point of 'Golden Rice' Doctor Patrick Moore writes that most of these 250 million children don't eat much else than a bowl of rice a day. Doctor Adrian Dubock says that golden rice is as cheap as other rice and vitamin A deficiency is the greatest reason for blindness and also causes 28% of global preschool child mortality.
Shiva argues that Golden Rice is more harmful than beneficial in her explanation of what she calls the "Golden Rice hoax": "Unfortunately, Vitamin A rice is a hoax, and will bring further dispute to plant genetic engineering where public relations exercises seem to have replaced science in promotion of untested, unproven and unnecessary technology... This is a recipe for creating hunger and malnutrition, not solving it."
At the annual meeting of the American Association for the Advancement of Science, the director of the Consultative Group on International Agricultural Research, Ismail Serageldin, asked: "do you want 2 to 3 million children a year to go blind and 1 million to die of vitamin A deficiency, just because you object to the way golden rice was created?" In a 2013 report "The economic power of the Golden Rice opposition" two economists from Munich University and the University of California at Berkeley calculated that the absence of Golden Rice in India has caused the loss of over 1.4 million life man years in the previous ten years.
GM, India, and suicides:
According to Shiva, "Soaring seed prices in India have resulted in many farmers being mired in debt and turning to suicide". The creation of seed monopolies, the destruction of alternatives, the collection of superprofits in the form of royalties, and the increasing vulnerability of monocultures has created a context for debt, suicides, and agrarian distress. According to data from the Indian government, nearly 75 percent rural debt is due to purchased inputs. Farmers' debt grows as GMO corporation's profits grow. It is in this systemic sense that GM seeds are those of suicide. An internal advisory by the agricultural ministry of India in January 2012 had this to say to the cotton growing states in India: "Cotton farmers are in a deep crisis since shifting to Bt cotton. The spate of farmer suicides in 2011-12 has been particularly severe among Bt cotton farmers."
However, farmer suicides had begun to grow before the introduction of the GM seeds, and the growth decreased when GM seeds were introduced. International Food Policy Research Institute (IFPRI) analyzed twice academic articles and government data and concluded the decrease and that there was no evidence on "resurgence" of farmer suicides, GM cotton technology has been very effective in India and there have been many other reasons for the suicides.
Shiva replied to these assertions, that her critics had reduced the issue to GM cottons and ignored the issue of seed monopolies, and that the suicide figures were from the government statistics of the National Bureau of crime records.
Vandana Shiva plays a major role in the global Ecofeminist movement. According to her 2004 article Empowering Women, Shiva suggests that a more sustainable and productive approach to agriculture can be achieved through reinstating a system of farming in India that is more centered on engaging women. She advocates against the prevalent "patriarchal logic of exclusion," claiming that a woman-focused system would change the current system in an extremely positive manner.
Some of the viewpoints held by Vandana Shiva have been criticised as being essentialist by Cecile Jackson.
Indian Intelligence Bureau Investigation:
In June 2014, Indian and international media reported that Navdanya and Vandana Shiva were named in a leaked, classified report by India's Intelligence Bureau (IB), which was prepared for the Indian Prime Minister's Office.
The leaked IB report raises concerns over the foreign-funding of Indian NGOs whose campaigning activities, the report claims, are hampering India's growth and development. In its report, the IB said that Indian NGOs, including Navdanya, receive money from foreign donors under the 'charitable garb' of campaigning for human rights or women's equality, but instead use the money for nefarious purposes. "These foreign donors lead local NGOs to provide field reports which are used to build a record against India and serve as tools for the strategic foreign policy interests of the Western governments," the IB report states.
Guillaume Gruere et al. state "there is no evidence in available data of a "resurgence" of farmer suicides in India in the last five years".
Science journalist Ronald Bailey wrote that Vandana Shiva is a "luddite": if something is new, she opposes it.
Investigative journalist Michael Specter, in an article in the New Yorker on 25 August 2014 entitled "Seeds of Doubt", raised concerns over a number of Shiva's claims regarding GMOs and some of her campaigning methods. He wrote: "Shiva's absolutism about G.M.O.s can lead her in strange directions. In 1999, ten thousand people were killed and millions were left homeless when a cyclone hit India's eastern coastal state of Orissa. When the U.S. government dispatched grain and soy to help feed the desperate victims, Shiva held a news conference in New Delhi and said that the donation was proof that "the United States has been using the Orissa victims as guinea pigs" for genetically engineered products. She also wrote to the international relief agency Oxfam to say that she hoped it wasn't planning to send genetically modified foods to feed the starving survivors." In the same piece, Specter also questioned the credibility of Shiva's academic qualifications. He wrote, "Shiva refers to her scientific credentials in almost every appearance, yet she often dispenses with the conventions of scientific inquiry."
Journalist Keith Kloor, in an article published in Discover magazine on 23 October 2014, entitled "The Rich Allure of a Peasant Champion", revealed that Shiva charges US$40,000 per speaking lecture, plus a business-class air ticket from New Delhi. Kloor writes: "She is often heralded as a tireless 'defender of the poor,' someone who has courageously taken her stand among the peasant farmers of India. Let it be noted, however, that this champion of the downtrodden doesn't exactly live a peasant's lifestyle."
Vandana Shiva has been interviewed for a number of documentary films including Roshni;One Water,Deconstructing Supper: Is Your Food Safe?, The Corporation, Thrive, Dirt! The Movie, and This is What Democracy Looks Like (a documentary about the Seattle WTO protests of 1999).
Shiva's focus on water has caused her to appear in a number of films on this topic. These films include "Ganga From the Ground Up," a documentary on water issues in the river Ganges;Blue Gold: World Water Wars by Sam Bozzo; Irena Salina's documentary Flow: For Love of Water (in competition at the 2008 Sundance Film Festival), and the PBS NOW documentary On Thin Ice.
On the topic of genetically modified crops, she was featured in the documentary Fed Up! (2002 film) Genetic Engineering, Industrial Agriculture and Sustainable Alternatives and the documentary The World According to Monsanto, a film made by the French independent journalist Marie-Monique Robin.
Vandana appeared in a documentary film about the Dalai Lama, entitled Dalai Lama Renaissance.
In 2010, Vandana was interviewed in a documentary about honeybees and colony collapse disorder, entitled "Queen of the Sun."
In 1993, Vandana received the Right Livelihood Award "...For placing women and ecology at the heart of modern development discourse."
Additional awards include:
1993: Order of the Golden Ark, by his Royal Highness Prince Bernhard of the Netherlands for outstanding services to conservation and ecology,
1993: "Global 500 Roll of Honour", by UNEP for outstanding environmental work,
1993: "Earth Day International Award" by Earth Day International for her dedicated commitment to the preservation of the planet as demonstrated by her actions, leadership and the setting of examples for the rest of the world,
1993: "Right Livelihood Award" for pioneering insights into the social and environmental costs of the dominant development process, and her ability to work with and for local people and communities in the articulation and implementation of alternatives,
1993: The VIDA SANA International Award, Spain, for her contribution to Ecology and Food Security,
1995: The Pride of the Doon Award from Doon Citizen Council, Dehra Dun, India, in recognition of distinguished contributions to the region,
1997: The Golden Plant Award (International Award of Ecology), Denmark, for the remarkable contribution for Ecology and Environment,
1997: Alfonso Comin Award, Barcelona, Spain, for important contribution both scientifically and personally to the ecologist and feminist movement in India,
1998: Commemorative Medal by Her Royal Highness Princess Maha Chakri Sirindhorn of Thailand on the occasion of the Celebration of the 18th World Food Day, organised by FAO Regional Office for Asia and the Pacific, Bangkok,
1998: Medal of the Presidency of the Italian Republic from the International Scientific Committee of the Pio Manzu Centre at Rimini, Italy during the XXIV Pio Manzu International Conference on "The Horizons of Hermes",
2000: Pellegrino Artusi Award, Italy for original contribution to reflections on relations between humans and food,
2001: HORIZON 3000 Award of Austria in recognition to rendering useful service for defending Human Rights and Preservation of Peace and for the vision of a world wide fair development in the third millennium,
2007 The Blue Planet Award from the German Ethecon Foundation, one of the comparatively very few 'grass-root' foundations for her work "with a vision and perspective far beyond the next generation.",
2008: The LennonOno Grant for Peace,
2009: The Save The World Award,
2010: The Sydney Peace Prize,
2011: The Calgary Peace Prize from the Consortium for Peace Studies at the University of Calgary,
2011: The Doshi Family Bridgebuilder Award, for cultivating mutual understanding between cultures,
2011: The Thomas Merton Award,
2012: The EarthE Award,
2013: Honoris causa Laurea (Master of Science degree) in Nutrition Science from the University of Calabria, Italy,
2014: Mother Teresa Awards for Social Justice.,
Also awarded the "John M. Berry Sr. Leadership Award" for dedicated vision and commitment to family farm agriculture; the Special International Literary Prize "Ken Saro Wiwa" awarded by Acquiambiente, Italy for her book Water Wars; the "Reading for the Environment Book Prize"by the German Foundation for the Environment for her book Tomorrow's Biodiversity. Awarded the Yo Dona Award by Yo Dona Magazine, Spain,
1981, Social Economic and Ecological Impact of Social Forestry in Kolar, Vandana Shiva, H.C. Sharatchandra, J. Banyopadhyay, Indian Institute of Management Bangalore,
1986, Chipko: India's Civilisational Response to the Forest Crisis, J. Bandopadhyay and Vandana Shiva, Indian National Trust for Art and Cultural Heritage. Pub. by INTACH,
1987, The Chipko Movement Against Limestone Quarrying in Doon Valley, J. Bandopadhyay and Vandana Shiva, Lokayan Bulletin, 5: 3, 1987, pp. 19-25 online,
1988, Staying Alive: Women, Ecology and Survival in India, Zed Press, New Delhi, ISBN 0-86232-823-3,
1991, Ecology and the Politics of Survival: Conflicts Over Natural Resources in India, Sage Publications, Thousand Oaks, California, ISBN 0-8039-9672-1,
1992, The Violence of the Green Revolution: Ecological degradation and political conflict in Punjab, Zed Press, New Delhi,
1992, Biodiversity: Social and Ecological Perspectives (editor); Zed Press, United Kingdom,
1993, Women, Ecology and Health: Rebuilding Connections (editor), Dag Hammarskjöld Foundation and Kali for Women, New Delhi,
1993, Monocultures of the Mind: Biodiversity, Biotechnology and Agriculture, Zed Press, New Delhi,
1993, Ecofeminism, Maria Mies and Vandana Shiva, Fernwood Publications, Halifax, Nova Scotia, Canada, ISBN 1-895686-28-8,
1994, Close to Home: Women Reconnect Ecology, Health and Development Worldwide, Earthscan, London, ISBN 0-86571-264-6,
1995, Biopolitics (with Ingunn Moser), Zed Books, United Kingdom,
1997, Biopiracy: the Plunder of Nature and Knowledge, South End Press, Cambridge Massachusetts, I ISBN 1-896357-11-3,
2000, Stolen Harvest: The Hijacking of the Global Food Supply, South End Press, Cambridge Massachusetts, ISBN 0-89608-608-9,
2000, Tomorrow's Biodiversity, Thames and Hudson, London, ISBN 0-500-28239-0,
2001, Patents, Myths and Reality, Penguin India,
2002, Water Wars; Privatization, Pollution, and Profit, South End Press, Cambridge Massachusetts,
2005, India Divided, Seven Stories Press,
2005, Globalization's New Wars: Seed, Water and Life Forms Women Unlimited, New Delhi, ISBN 81-88965-17-0,
2005, Earth Democracy; Justice, Sustainability, and Peace, South End Press, ISBN 0-89608-745-X,
2007, Manifestos on the Future of Food and Seed, editor, South End Press ISBN 978-0-89608-777-4,
2007, Democratizing Biology: Reinventing Biology from a Feminist, Ecological and Third World Perspective, author, Paradigm Publishers ISBN 978-1-59451-204-9,
2008, Soil Not Oil, South End Press ISBN 978-0-89608-782-8,
2010, Staying Alive, South End Press ISBN 978-0-89608-793-4,
2013, Making Peace With The Earth Pluto Press ISBN 978-0-7453-33762
Text from this biography licensed under creative commons license