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.

Wednesday, June 27, 2007

Patriarchy in Adivasi Societies

I was invited to give a lecture cum training on adivasi issues to young scholars as part of a programme on human development being conducted for them by the Indira Gandhi Institute of Development Research in Mumbai. When I said that adivasi societies are highly patriarchal in common with other communities in India I was met with howls of protest from the participants who said that they had heard that among adivasis, women have a better status. I had a tough time convincing them that on all three major counts - the gender division of labour with women having to take care of children, housework and the aged, the lack of property rights and the suppression/oppression of women's sexuality adivasi women suffer as much as women in other societies. Details about the deep patriarchy prevailing among the Bhil adivasis can be read here , here and here. There was also a recurrence of the perennial debate regarding the keeping of adivasis in a primitive mode separate from the mainstream. However, I did manage to put through my point that modern development has become unsustainable and we can learn a considerable amount from the adivasis about how to remedy this. Heads were shaken in acquiescence finally but its debatable as to whether the hearts and minds also were moved!

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