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.

Wednesday, January 28, 2009

Slumdog Millionaire

Slums are an integral part of urban development. Especially in the third world where the proportion of people living in absolute poverty is much greater and the capacity of the state to provide cheap housing is much less than in developed countries. Thus slums are basically an expression of the skewed political economy of development which concentrates resources in the hands of a few. Under the circumstances the only way in which the vast numbers of people living in slums can escape this drudgery is through a redistribution of resources and a redefinition of development. Consequently films like 'Slumdog Millionaire' which realistically picturise the seemier side of urban development but at the same time give individualised and romanticised solutions to this problem are nothing more than an invitation to the audience to willingly suspend their disbelief. One has only to compare 'slumdog' with the classic 'bicycle thief' by Vittorio de Sica to realise how utterly trivial it is. Yet this film has swept the Golden Globe Awards and is tipped to win the Oscar also. Just goes to show how the world has degenerated ideologically in the sixty years that separates the making of the two films. A few years back I had seen a film called 'Lagaan' which told the audience that a group of villagers managed to avoid paying the land tax to the British by beating them at a game of cricket. This film too was nominated for the Oscars in the best foreign film category even though it did not eventually get selected. One feels really like a fool confronted with such films because they mock at efforts at organising people to fight for their rights and justice.
More so because at the beginning of the film the question is asked as to reasons for a slum boy winning the quiz and a million dollars. The options include one that says it is written. In the end this is the answer and the protagonist also says that it is his fate. This means that it is also the fate of the billions of others living in slums and poverty worldwide to go on living so.

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