The name Anaarkali in the present context has many meanings - Anaar symbolises the anarchism of the Bhils and kali which means flower bud in Hindi stands for their traditional environmentalism. Anaar in Hindi can also mean the fruit pomegranate which is said to be a panacea for many ills as in the Hindi idiom - "Ek anar sou bimar - One pomegranate for a hundred ill people"! - which describes a situation in which there is only one remedy available for giving to a hundred ill people and so the problem is who to give it to. Thus this name indicates that anarcho-environmentalism is the only cure for the many diseases of modern development! Similarly kali can also imply a budding anarcho-environmentalist movement. Finally according to a legend that is considered to be apocryphal by historians Anarkali was the lover of Prince Salim who was later to become the Mughal emperor Jehangir. Emperor Akbar did not approve of this romance of his son and ordered Anarkali to be bricked in alive into a wall in Lahore in Pakistan but she escaped. Allegorically this means that anarcho-environmentalists can succeed in bringing about the escape of humankind from the self-destructive love of modern development that it is enamoured of at the moment and they will do this by simultaneously supporting women's struggles for their rights.
Thursday, March 6, 2014
Saturday, March 1, 2014
Jhanjhar Bhaidia, the veteran leader of the Adivasi Morcha Sangathan then got up and asked them why they had now come to the conclusion that electoral politics was the key to people's emancipation. He said that even if it was the policy of the Adivasi Morcha Sangathan to be indifferent to all elections from the lowest Panchayat to the highest Lok Sabha it allowed its members to fight elections or support political parties on their own. Consequently members of the AMS have fought at the Panchayat and Assembly election levels and supported some party or other at the Lok Sabha level. During the assembly elections of 2008 Versingh Davar of the AMS had contested and a big contingent of the Sangathan had taken part in the rallies organised by the NBA in Khandwa. However, when Versingh and Jhanjhar had asked the NBA to support Versingh in the elections then the NBA had taken the stand that they do not take part in elections and neither do they support any party considering the whole electoral process to be corrupt. Jhanjhar asked Alok as to why had the NBA now changed its stand when it had refused to support Versingh earlier.
Alok had no answer to this apart from repeating that by becoming part of the AAP phenomenon it had now become possible to win elections. In the same breath he said that since the NBA was a people's movement it did not have the resources of political parties and thus it required the support of the AMS. Then, I intervened and said that organising people's movements and electoral politics are two different ball games altogether. The AAP had performed well in the Delhi elections by mobilising huge resources from all over India and abroad both in terms of finances and voluntary human power. On an average Rupees 25 lakhs had been spent per assembly constituency and hundreds of volunteers had given their time and skills to the electoral campaign. This had created a mass upsurge in its favour through a publicity blitz involving door to door campaigning, hoardings, radio advertisements and the like. Thus, if Alok wanted to win the elections he would have to mobilise similar resources which in the case of a large Lok Sabha constituency like Khandwa meant Rs 2 crores at least. Given the fact the AAP's centralised resource mobilisation had mustered only about Rs 10 crores so far, there was little possibility of any support coming from the central kitty for Alok's campaign and so he would have to mobilise resources on his own. Therefore, in addition to appealing for support from the AMS, he would have to more importantly mobilise resources for a publicity blitz to cover the whole of Bagli assembly constituency because even at its best the AMS could mobilise only about 10000 votes which is not sufficient.
Later on we had a long discussion about electoral politics. People said that electoral politics had become extremely vitiated with money power and it was unlikely that it could be cleansed on the strength of idealism. Unlike many of our Adivasi activists in Alirajpur, the veterans here did not appear to be impressed at all by the AAP's Delhi performance!!! Deepsingh, another veteran of the organisation said that the farther we stayed away from elections the better it was and he broached the subject of the annual Gatha celebration to commemorate the martyrs on April 2nd instead.
Alok is not the only activist but there are many others of the people's movements, notably people like Medha Patkar, who have now jumped into the electoral fray enthused by the AAP's performance in Delhi. However, none of these activists seem to have given a thought to the crucial resource mobilisation aspect which was the main factor behind AAP's electoral success. Both door to door campaigning to cover each and every household in a constituency and a publicity blitz through hoardings, posters and vehicle rallies will cost a huge packet and without this it won't be possible for a candidate to convey to the electorate that she is a winning proposition.
And here lies the most important problem. People who have money, not only the upper class but even the middle class, do not go along with the views about development that people like Alok and Medha espouse. Arvind Kejriwal was clever enough to target only corruption and promise freebies but he took care to not fundamentally challenge the present development pattern and that is how he has managed to raise resources. In fact faced with the daunting prospect of raising resources at a much greater level for the Lok Sabha elections he even went and held forth to the Conference of Indian Industry that he was in favour of capitalism and only against cronyism. Nevertheless the daily contributions to the AAP rarely cross Rupees 10 lakhs these days and that is woefully short of the huge requirements of fighting a nationwide election. Thus, if Medha, Alok and many other activists have to garner funds then they have to give up some of the central tenets of their development philosophy. There is no way in which Adivasi Self Rule or decentralised sustainable agriculture can be accommodated in the resource extractive development paradigm that holds sway at present. Even if Alok and Medha do declare like Arvind that they are for capitalism they are unlikely to be believed by those who hold the purse strings.
Even if we grant for the sake of argument that the activists of people's movements will be able to garner the necessary financial resources, the fight for a more decentralised system is unlikely to be won through winning elections with such huge expenditures. Winning the elections in this manner will require a jettisoning of the ideals for which the people's movements have been fighting. A lot more thought should be expended on how to take forward people's movements in an era of near complete capitalist domination instead of getting carried away by the AAP's victory in Delhi. Personally as an anarchist I find this rush of stalwarts of the people's movements across the country to join the electoral bandwagon of the AAP a little disconcerting!! Anyway the forthcoming elections will provide a reality check to all and sundry!!
Sunday, February 23, 2014
However, there are still some that haven't done too well. A case in point is that of the Nayaks of Kakrana village who were rehabilitated in Rameshwarpura in Vadodara district. The Nayaks, even though they had agricultural land, relied more on fishing in the River Narmada. They were indifferent farmers taking only a single crop in the Kharif season. During the peak of the struggle against the dam, the people of Kakrana village took part actively in opposing it. However, later a large section of the villagers decided to opt for rehabilitation and resettlement in Gujarat and the Nayaks also agreed to this. Each family was given two hectares of agricultural land in Rameshwarpura and there houses were transported there from Kakrana. However, basic amenities like water supply, electricity, schools and health centres were not provided. The Nayaks being illiterate could not make sure that these were provided. Moreover, the land that they got in Gujarat was of a heavy black soil variety requiring sturdier bullocks than they used in Kakrana for their light soils. The Nayaks who were anyway not very good farmers found themselves unable to cultivate these heavier soils. They consequently leased out their lands to the rich non-Adivasi farmers and instead began doing agricultural and other labour. With time their economic condition has deteriorated and today they are destitute living from hand to mouth even though on paper they are in possession of good agricultural lands. In all these years they have neither picked up the Gujarati language nor has the next generation been educated. A case of a gross cultural misfit. The Nayaks have a glorious history of rebellion against the British and have generally lived more by gathering, hunting and fishing than by agriculture. Special attention needed to be given to their needs while resettling them but that did not happen. Unfortunately, they separated themselves from the Narmada Bachao Andolan and decided to opt for whatever the Government was giving them. After all these years when finally some activists of the Khedut Mazdoor Chetna Sangath came to know of their plight it is very difficult to intervene on their behalf as they are now in Gujarat. Attempts to get a few organisations in Gujarat to take up their case did not succeed because they said that they do not have the resources to put in the initial mobilising efforts and the subsequent long drawn intervention. The fact that the Nayaks themselves have been reduced to penury and not able to even agitate given their hand to mouth existence has made things even more difficult.
Tuesday, February 18, 2014
email - firstname.lastname@example.org , email@example.com
Tuesday, February 11, 2014
The discussions that followed were equally interesting. The AAP Madhya Pradesh unit is keen that KMCS and especially Shankar should join it and Shankar should also contest the forthcoming Lok Sabha elections from Jhabua Ratlam constituency. This led to a detailed discussion regarding the fighting of elections. It was pointed out that the AAP had spent on an average about Rs 25 lakhs per assembly constituency in Delhi. This would mean that about Rs 2 crores would have to be spent for a parliamentary constituency. Moreover, the Jhabua-Ratlam constituency was spread out over a huge area unlike the congested assembly constituencies in Delhi. Therefore a huge amount of time, money and labour would be required if the whole parliamentary constituency was to be covered. This was clearly not possible for the KMCS as it could neither mobilise the financial resources nor get so many workers.
Friday, February 7, 2014
In recent days, the Chhattisgarh police has been claiming that Maoists are behind any protest against the Rowghat mines leased to the Bhilai Steel Plant, and has been arresting and intimidating activists and villagers.
Consider the following ten facts to understand what is really going on, and who is really violating the law.
1. The Rowghat Iron Ore Mine, according to the Company’s own maps, falls entirely within the Rowghat Hills of the Matla Reserved Forest. Yet the application for forest clearance to the Environment Ministry, says “there is no reserved forest in the project area”.
2. The project is right at the centre of an extensive wildlife corridor stretching from South Eastern Maharashtra to North Western Orissa. There are 8 wildlife sanctuaries, parks and reserves in this area. The Rapid Environmental Impact Assessment (REIA) itself admits that the building of a railway line and conveyer belt for the mining will stop wildlife migrations.
3. The REIA describes this as a fragile ecosystem, with at least 26 rare and endangered species of Vascular plants which are on India’s Red List.
4. Forest Clearance has been granted only for 883.22 ha when the total mining area is 2028.797 ha. There is no environmental or forest clearance for the remaining area.
5. No forest rights have been settled under the provisions of the Scheduled Tribes and Other Traditional Forestdwellers (Recognition of Rights) Act known popularly as the Forest Rights Act.
6. Fake and identical gram sabha certificates state that there is nothing of cultural or religious significance in the area. In fact, the Rao (pictured as mounted on a horse) after whom Rowghat is named is of religious significance to a large area beyond Narayanpur district. Many hills
are the sites of clan festivals. This area is at least as culturally and religiously significant as Niyamgiri.
7. The proposed overburden dumps could destroy the drainage of the entire valley.
8. The company claims zero loss to oustees, and also that there are no affected villages within 5 km of the mines. Google maps show this is blatantly untrue.
9. Villagers were at the time of the EIA/EMP unaware of what was happening. Now they are opposing the mines and railway lines en masse and know that they will lead to their annihilation. They are opposing the fraudulent "NOCs" that were forcefully taken from them..
10. There is a proposal of 22 BSF and CRPF companies to ring the area.
About six camps have been constructed so far. The Bhilai Steel Plant/SAIL has signed an agreement with the government to fund and train the paramilitary forces. The forces would be stationed in Rowghat area for the entire life of the mine. Chattisgarh Bachao Andolan activists trying to hold meetings on the forest rights act have been prevented, and their mobiles seized. Schools are occupied by these forces, in violation of the Supreme Court’s orders.
The tribals, however, are in no mood to be intimidated into giving up their lands and their religious areas and despite tremendous repression have prepared to dig their heels in for a long battle.
Tuesday, January 21, 2014
Wednesday, January 15, 2014
Monday, January 13, 2014
Sunday, January 12, 2014
However, the Khedut Mazdoor Chetna Sangath took heed. A primary school, the Motia Bhil Bhanai Ghar, has now been started in Khatamri village in December 2013, the third such school after the ones already running in Chilakda and Bada Amba. Like in the earlier cases this school too has been made possible by a grant from well wishers Deep Pande and Shweta Sharma who reside in the United States of America. The difference with this school is that the teacher is a woman Senabai shown in the picture below.