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, April 29, 2008

Following in his Father's Footsteps

Rajeev Gandhi the late Prime Minister of India once visited Jhabua district to get a first hand feel of the lives of the Bhils in 1984. Twenty four years later his son Rahul did the same yesterday as part of his ongoing tour of the country as preparation for his anointment as the Prime Ministerial candidate of the Congress party in the forthcoming general elections. From Jawaharlal Nehru through Indira Gandhi, Rajeev Gandhi and now Rahul Indian democracy has had this dynastic tendency which is also visible to a lesser extent in many other such political families. Apart from intermingling with villagers in a few villages Rahul Gandhi also visited the campus of the NGO Sampark which has been working for the economic, social and political uplift of the Bhils in Petlawad tehsil of Jhabua district for two decades now. Among the many photos of this visit that Nilesh the director of Sampark sent me I have chosen the one below for this post -

Rahul is listening intently to Nilesh who must be extolling the virtues of solar energy. I have chosen this picture because it symbolises succinctly the extent of ignorance of the ruling elite about the real needs of the Bhils.
The solar system installed in the Sampark campus frequently malfunctions as its inverter and its batteries do not work properly. In fact this is a perennial problem with solar electricity generation and so it has not been a success in rural areas. While Sampark with its heavy funding support can afford to maintain this white elephant with a lot of trouble it is impossible for the poor Bhil adivasis to do so. That is why the solar programme has been a failure wherever it has not included the provision of technical and financial after installation support to the beneficiaries. Thus for solar power to be successful the Bhils first need to get good livelihood and education support so that they are financially and technically able to take care of their solar units. Sampark itself has implemented the solar project because it has been provided with funding to do so by the UNDP.
One does not know whether the solar system was in working order when Rahul Gandhi was inspecting it. Even if it wasn't I am sure Nilesh must have euogised it and so Rahul Gandhi will go back with the impression that the solution to the vexing problem of providing grid quality power to the adivasis is to install solar panels left right and centre. At the end of his whirlwind tour of the country spending at most a day in a particular district and being fed continuously with such false ideas our Prime Minister to be may feel that he has a hang of the problems of this country but in reality he will be full of bullshit.
Nilesh of course is much more circumspect in his own work and if it hadn't been for the honour of being visited by Rahul he would certainly have held forth on the real needs of the Bhils for which he has been working with diligence. One of the greatest things he is doing is running a residential school for Bhil children where they are provided first class laboratory training in science - a rarity in tribal areas. Rahul interacted with these Bhil children in their laboratory also as shown in the picture below. His great grandfather Jawaharlal was an enthusiastic promoter of the scientific temper but only the blind technology is supreme kind of one. It remains to be seen what kind of scientific temper Rahul favours after becoming the Prime Minister.

No comments: