Anarcho-environmentalism allegorised

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.

Sunday, March 4, 2007

An interloper among the Bhils

After accomplishing some of my own Herculean and Sisyphean labours (of which more later) and having reached middle age I put them down on paper but there were no takers because the publishers felt that what I had written wouldn't sell. But unlike in times of yore these days intellectual expressions spurned by print publishers can still find a readership on the Internet where most things and especially unsolicited information and advice are on offer for free. So I too have now decided to join the swelling band of bloggers worldwide.
At the threshold of my adult life in 1983 I became an apostate from technology because of these heretic beliefs. Instead of pursuing a career as a civil engineer and manager for which I had trained for five years before that at the Indian Institute of Technology, Kharagpur, I chose to lead a life of political activism among the Bhil adivasis (tribals or indigenous people as some others prefer to call them) in Jhabua district of Madhya Pradesh in India.

Initially I still had some belief in Marxism despite some of its utopian and deterministic aspects. However ten beautiful years spent among the supremely anarchist Bhils made me shed these last shackles of
my mental bondage to deterministic grand theories. The Bhils have traditionally lived non-accumulative, minimalist lives close to nature and have fought fiercely to maintain its pristine glory and their subsistence lifestyles. They held their own right up to the end of the first millenium after Christ. Their monuments to their martyrs called "Gathas" testify to this rich martial history.

However, their bows and arrows were no match for the firearms that their adversaries began to use against them with the advent of the second millennium after Christ and since then they have been continually dispossessed of their habitats and pushed back into remoter and remoter corners till after independence no remote corners remained to be penetrated by the modernising Indian state. Thus the initial matter of concern for me when I arrived in Jhabua was the absolute mismatch of traditional Bhil culture and lifestyle with the modern scenario. I have spent a quarter of a century among the Bhils fighting many battles against the state most of which we have lost given the odds stacked against us. Nevertheless we have managed to hold our own and I, initially an interloper among the Bhils, have learnt to live life to the leas like them. With this blog starts a new journey of ideas and debate about life and work among these great people.


bhupinder said...

Welcome to the blogosphere, Rahul !

Thank you so much for your book and for making it available on the internet. I am on the 14th chapter now. Will surely review it when I finish.

Best wishes!

rama said...

Hullo, I have written about this today.