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Conservation and Society
An interdisciplinary journal exploring linkages between society, environment and development
Conservation and Society
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Year : 2006  |  Volume : 4  |  Issue : 3  |  Page : 471-487

Planning Networks: Processing India's National Biodiversity Strategy and Action Plan

Department of Cultural and Social Anthropology, Stanford University, Stanford CA 94305, USA

Correspondence Address:
Nikhil Anand
Department of Cultural and Social Anthropology, Stanford University, Building 110 Main Quad, Stanford CA 94305
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Source of Support: None, Conflict of Interest: None

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This paper explores how NGOs, state agencies and activists par­ticipated in the preparation of India's National Biodiversity Strategy and Ac­tion Plan (NBSAP). The study is based on three months of fieldwork in the summer of 2003, during which I conducted semi-structured interviews and re­viewed the documents used and produced in the planning process. While some critics view NGO involvement in state policy making with suspicion, others see it as a successful outcome of a long-standing demand for greater partici­pation in governance. I argue that the form and structure of the NBSAP proc­ess provided a limited, yet critical, space for activists. On one hand, activists used this space to make strong critiques of state conservation practices, and to promote inclusive conservation practices. On the other, they were continu­ously pressured to make compromises, because of their new responsibilities as plan makers and in order to increase the likelihood of 'buy-in' from the Ministry of Environment and Forests (MoEF). Rather than being seen as en­compassed or 'co-opted' by state strategies of power, however, it is more use­ful to see activists and NGOs as engaging in tactical manoeuvres and practising an imperfect, yet necessary, form of politics. Conscious that they were participating in an unequal and temporally limited space, activists in NGOs sought to make this project of government as plural and fair as possi­ble. Finally, I note that although the planning document was eventually re­jected by the MoEF, the network that was initiated to create the plan may produce results that go beyond the NBSAP process itself.

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