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.

Monday, March 31, 2008

Where the Buck Stops

The National Rural Employment Guarantee Scheme has a rider in it that if the government is unable to provide employment to a set of people who have applied for this within fifteen days of their application then it will have to pay them an unemployment allowance till the time that such employment is provided or for a maximum of a hundred days which is the minimum guaranteed employment under the scheme. Needless to say this provision is rarely adhered to and people do not get the benefit and thus this rider fails to act as a deterrent on the government from reneging on the guarantee.
However the Bhil adivasis of Pati Block in Barwani district who are organised under the banner of the Jagrit Adivasi Dalit Sangathan decided to get their dues. Thousands of people of Pati Block applied for employment under the scheme in 2006. The government was unable to provide this employment. The Sangathan then launched a strong mass campaign for the unemployment allowance to be paid. Ultimately the government had to pay a whopping sum of Rupees 4 lakhs and 16 thousand to 1574 people of 16 Gram Panchayats. So it was a victory of sorts.
But now the government in typical perversity has issued show cause notices to the adivasi Sarpanches of these 16 panchayats asking them as to why the disbursed unemployment allowance should not be recovered from them as it was their failure. Now if there aren't any funds and technical staff with the Sarpanches how can they be held responsible for the lapse which is clearly the government's? But that is how the government in this country works - without rhyme and reason. So as a consequence of this perversity of the government the Buck instead of stopping somewhere higher up has come back to the villages and has to be fielded by the Sarpanches.

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