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, February 17, 2008

The Difference between Heaven and Hell

There is an apocryphal story that when an adivasi was asked what his conception of heaven was he replied - "miles and miles of forest with deer and mahua trees in them". Later when he was asked what his conception of hell was he replied - "miles and miles of forest with one forest guard in them"! Ever since the British set up the Forest Department in 1855 this has been the sordid story of conversion from heaven to hell of the habitats of adivasis in this country and the process is continuing till this day. Of late things have become a little desperate. In 1995 a person called Godavarman filed a petition in the Supreme Court asking for its intervention in saving the forests of this country which he alleged were being decimated by various people in collusion with the forest department. The upshot of this was that in 2000 the Supreme Court passed an interim order asking for the eviction of unauthorised occupants of the forests of this country. The forest department used this as a pretext for evicting lakhs and lakhs of adivasis who had been residing in the forests since time immemorial but had been deprived of any legal documents in support of their residence.
Immediately adivasi organisations all over the country began agitating against this unjust action of the forest department and there were many skirmishes throughout the country and many adivasis died as as result. Finally as a result of these campaigns an Act was passed in parliament in 2006 granting adivasis legal title to the land that they had been cultivating for ages together. Even though the Act had many deficiencies and the Rules for implementation had even greater problems nevertheless this will in the end give many adivasis legal rights to the land they are cultivating. However, the forest department which is the biggest landlord in this country does not like this at all and so has been consistently trying to evict adivasis before the Act is actually implemented. Once again murderous skirmishes have started and on February 13th two adivasis were killed in police firing in Sabarkantha district of Gujarat when thousands were protesting the arrest of five of their brethren by the forest officials when they were tending to their land in the forest. Thus for the adivasis in this country even today the forest department truly continues to be the devil of devils.

No comments: