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.

Tuesday, October 9, 2007

Highways as Threshing Grounds

This is the soyabean harvesting season all over western Madhya Pradesh. This is one period of about fourteen days when landless labourers and marginal farmers rule the roost. There is tremendous demand for labour to cut and gather the soyabean as a delay means that the pods burst and the beans are dispersed in the field. So the larger and medium farmers go far in search of labourers and the latter can demand high wages. In most cases the labourers form teams and strike a hard bargain. Since the labourers on the Malwa Plateau are not sufficient the adivasis and dalits from the Nimar plains and Vindhya Hills come up in droves to harvest the soyabean.
Despite all care that may be taken some soyabean pods ivariably fall on to the field. These pods are then there for the taking by anyone who can expend the labour to do so. So after finishing off a field these migrant labourers then come back to it after work hours to collect these fallen pods. Now taking back these pods to their own places of residence is not physically practicable so the must be threshed and the beans sold in the market and only money taken back. But where are small amounts of pods to be threshe? A thresher machine can be used only if there is a large amount of soyabean.
The adivasis have found an ingenious way around this problem. They put the pods on the highways nearest to the place of their temporary residences on the farms. The heavy vehicles plying on these highways run over these pods and shell the beans. The adivasis then collect the beans. Thus all the major highways of western Madhya Pradesh are now strewn with the chaff left behind after the beans have been removed. Its a picturesque sight as every now and then along the roads a driver finds a man or woman or even a child raking the pods and leaves of soyabeans together for the vehicles to pass over and then collecting the beans. The highways have become one big threshing ground. All the carbon being loaded onto the environment and all the energy being wasted in transporting goods from one point to another is being offset slightly by this innovative use of waste energy by the adivasis.

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