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, September 30, 2007

The Peace of the Countryside

A friend from my college days read my earlier post on education in which I had mentioned and translated the famous poem "Banalata Sen" by the Bengali poet Jibonanando Dash and was nostalgically taken back to his own school days when he read another poem by the same poet as part of his school curriculum. He did a net search and found the poem in Bengali and dispatched it to me saying that he remembered being moved by its simple and yet richly bejewelled message of natural peace. I too was inspired to apply my hack like skills and translate it immediately -

Evening comes bringing with it peace all round
A bird flies, straw in its beak, without a sound
A bullock cart whines along on the earthy ground
Between stacks of golden hay piled mound after mound
The pigeons of the earth are merrily cooing unbound
In the grass the beauty of the earth is to be found
The love of the whole world does in our hearts pound
And to an all encompassing peace do the skies redound

There can be no doubt that there is immense peace in living in harmony with nature. A peace that we have forsaken in our lust for lucre and physical comfort at the expense of nature. I still remember the great sense of peace I used to experience during the evenings in the villages along the banks of the Narmada far removed from the fast paced world. All that is history now as the villages have been submerged and the Indian state goes on in its displacement binge having now delegated this inhuman task to the private players. However, the government, playing lackey to these private interests, still uses the archaic Land Acquisition Act of 1894 to deny justice to the ousted people and acquire and gift their lands to the former for a song. Sometime back in the aftermath of the brouhaha over the Singur and Nandigram struggles against land acquisition in West Bengal some of us got together and applied our minds to amending this draconian act and came up with a Draft Land Acquisition and Rehabilitation Act to replace it. This draft hinges on two important principles - that the people to be displaced should be the final arbiters on the merits of the project and it can go through only if they are satisfied with their rehabilitation and that a proper environmental impact assessment has to be conducted to determine whether in the long run the project will be beneficial or not.
Of course this is all idealistic stuff from radicals from the environmentalist fringe!

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