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.

Thursday, August 9, 2007

Water Governance

The new buzzword these days is water governance. Some friends of mine came down from Delhi and I accompanied them day before yesterday to the basin of the Man river which is a tributary of the Narmada and on which a dam has been built to irrigate about 10,000 hectares or so of land. The Narmada Bachao Andolan conducted an unsuccessful agitation a few years ago to provide proper rehabilitation to the oustees of this dam from some five villages. Now my friends want to design and implement a water governance model for the whole basin that will introduce environment friendly and socially just water management right from the head of the basin down to its meeting with the Narmada. This is an interesting idea. Given the fact that we have not been able to stop dams from being built is it possible to build up a larger movement involving all the people of the basin so as to bring about better management of water resources? Only time will tell. But in the process we will be able to detail the water related characteristics of the basin and build up a data base on the basis of which such an attempt can be made. The basin is interesting in many respects. It spans the two distinct agro-ecological zones of the Malwa Plateau and the Nimar Plains. It has mostly Bhil adivasis residing in it and this is one area where the Bhils have large landholdings and so are comparatively powerful. There are also Other Backward Caste farmers in the lowest part of the basin. The most interesting thing for me is that this is the only area in western Madhya Pradesh in which I have personally not worked. So this new project will offer me an opportunity to work in a new area and in an NGO mode rather than in a Movement mode.

No comments: