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, August 12, 2007

The Question of Legitimacy

Someone has raised the question of the legitimacy of my writing about the Bhils and creating a blog about them. Do I have the right to write about them? Am I not putting out my own views regarding them which may be at variance with what they themselves think. It is a troubling question. Considering the fact that the Bhils I have fought with are still in dire straits while I have moved on to living a comfortable middle class life. I may have de-classed myself for some time but when it became evident that my activism was not leading anywhere I came back to the city. For instance Khajan is living on the edge while I am well provided for. What purpose is being served by my writing about him other than washing my own guilt for having deserted him. It all becomes so difficult when one has to earn money also to fund one's activism. The work that one has to do to earn money is not always of good provenance. Moreover it invariably prevents one from doing field work anymore. In recent times many people have criticised me from two opposite standpoints. While some like this friend of mine have accused me of glorifying myself by using the Bhils helplessness as a peg others have lambasted me for wasting my time among the Bhils and not pursuing a corporate career. Thus I find myself in the middle with no moral support at all. Let us see how this problem of legitimacy can be solved by me in future. Ultimately this too is a question of justice and ethics.

5 comments:

Anonymous said...

The question is not of legitimacy. This unwanted friend only quesioned the tall claim of crediting this to be a site for Bhils. To which I felt this was a site of an individual and his personal feelings and opinions of his work with the Bhils. Surely the Bhils are not interested in your personal dilemma of pursuing a corporate career or activism......

in any case,I fully appreciate one's freedom of expression in a personal blog.... so no war ... our argument was about 'cries and whispers' in blogs.....i close with apologies for any unintended hurt.

...an unwanted friend

Rahul Banerjee said...

I have never claimed that this blog is a site "for" the Bhils in the important sense that it has something of value to offer to them that they can access. It is "for" them only in the peripheral sense that it seeks to drum up support for their traditionally beautiful lifestyle and their never ending struggles against the non-adivasis who seek to deprive them of their unique beauty. The blog is mainly a forum for my own musings about my life and work among them and i have categorically said so at the beginning. I have sought to put in a publicly accessible forum what I think to be off the track happenings in the Bhils' backyard that do not normally make news.

bhupinder said...

It is very good to see someone writing about the life and struggles of a people otherwise confined to the margins of Indian society. It is not necessary that one has to be born among a people to belong to them.

Sad are a people that need heroes. Sadder still that have none.

Rahul Banerjee said...

it is not that the Bhils do not have heroes because they have a surfeit of them. the problem is that their heroes are unsung ones because their language and lifestyle are marginal as compared to the blaring consumerism that floods the media and mesmerises us

Tarang said...

Keem up the good work Rahul. Many ppl, like me get a lot of education n grassroot information from your blog. What matters is that a grassroot worker like you is sharing his opinion, experiences and insights. Kudos to you !
[your sel introspection and lack of moral support somehow saddened me-remember there r many ppl wishin u well]