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, September 19, 2007

Fishing in Stagnant Waters

The old road to Zirabad from Amjhera has been submerged by reservoir of the Man dam and a new road has been constructed. We took the old road down to the reservoir from its junction with the new road at Kheri village despite the wild gesticulation of some adivasis that we were going the wrong way. At the fork there is a sign board that says that fishing in the reservoir is a crime and a dangerous pastime and all and sundry should desist from it. However, when we reached the edge of the reservoir we found the Bhils there merrily cavorting in it and catching fish with abandon. While some were going about it in an amateur fashion others were more skilled as they had laid big nets in the reservoir and were policing them in their small boats. This is an universal phenomenon in Madhya Pradesh - adivasis displaced from their lands due to dam construction invariably end up fishing in the stagnant waters that come to stand on their beloved lands. The affection for the land is transferred to the water and the fish in it become as precious to them as the corn and sorghum produced in their fields had been earlier. When asked whether they had ever been taken to task for regularly disregarding the admonition against fishing that we had read at the fork they replied that they had never read what was written on the board at the fork. I have never stopped wondering at the tenacity and fortitude with which the Bhils have adjusted to their continuous immiserisation by the state. And also the perverse obstinacy of the state in persisting with big dam construction despite its obvious ecological and economic unsuitability.
We had gone with a Survey of India topographical map of the area to try and locate the earlier villages that had been submerged. This led to an interesting conversation with the fishermen as they crowded round us as we guessed where their villages had been from the map. Since this map had been surveyed and prepared in the nineteen seventies it still had their villages marked on it. All in all it was soul stirring to see these simple people having recovered from their obvious deprivation and making merry in fishing.

2 comments:

Screen Oshin Sifar said...

I have a problem with your usage of anarchy.It doesn't look to me like thats the way you're going.
Anaarkali said, and I paraphrase from K.Asif's Mughal-e-Aazam, obviously, "Shahinshah ki in bepanaah 'inaayaton' ke liye Anaarkali usko apna katl maaf karti hai'.(For the unlimited mercies of the Emperor, Anarkali forgives him her murder'
Which means that she had pronounced ideas about justice and redemption.

Rahul Banerjee said...

first of all let me thank you sifar for the lovely quote in urdu. it is my favourite language though i have to have a dictionary around to understand what is being said. poetry becomes doubly meaningful in this sweetest of all languages. my knowledge of anarkali is i am afraid very sketchy. i chose the name because it matches with anarchy and then worked out a rationalisation which has been detailed in my second post on this blog - learning by doing. when i did a net search then i found that there was a second legend that said that anarkali had managed to escape instead of being walled in to death. this is the story that i latched on to and i see anarkali as the symbol of our struggles to escape almost certain kayamat as nature strikes back at our environmental profligacy. anarchism as i understand it is all about living in small communities in harmony with nature where there is a minimum need for rules and the meting out of justice by impersonal judges or emperors who become necessary in large centralised systems.
anarkali ki is afsaana agar galat hai to gustakhi maaf karna