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, July 1, 2007

Vanishing Bhadi

The rains have come and the sowing of crops has begun. This takes me back twenty two years to my first monsoon season among the Bhils of Alirajpur. I was at that time staying with Awalsingh in village Attha to try and learn the Bhili language fast and also understand their daily routine. Awalsingh's wife Khetli packed up her udo - a bamboo basket for keeping seeds dry and safe from the rains, with a variety of seeds including maize, sorghum, various pulses and a millet called bhadi. Bhadi is extremely tasty to eat either cooked in the form of rice or as rotis. It also has a high nutritive value like all the other seeds that she had which were all indigenous varieties. Now of course all these seeds have vanished. Today Awalsingh along with most other Bhils sow only hybrid varieties of maize and sorghum and soyabean. Bhadi and pulses have vanished considerably affecting the Bhils' nutritional intake. Soyabean is cultivated because it gives a good market price while the others do not. This high market price is because soya meal is used as feed for beef cattle in the united states of america and soya oil is used for preparing pre-cooked beef steaks and other food to be sold off store shelves for quick heating in microwave ovens and eating by Americans. Thus the Americans' eating habits which have followed their living habits have led to the destruction of traditional adivasi agriculture and also their nutritional intake. The American's meat is indeed the Bhil Adivasi's poison!

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