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.

Friday, July 10, 2009

Cynical Mendacity

Every year the Prime Minister of India awards a Gold Medal to an IAS officer for "Good Practices in Public Service Delivery". This year the final short list of seven officers from whom the winner is to be selected includes The Principal Secretary Tribal Welfare of the Government of Madhya Pradesh. He has been selected ostensibly for having facilitated the distribution of land right deeds to tribals on forest land they have been cultivating for generations under the provisions of the new "Scheduled Tribes and Other Forest Dwellers Recognition of Rights Act 2006". The reality, however, is that lakhs of tribals in the state who have submitted their claims for having their land regularised through the village forest rights committees are still to be awarded these rights. In Alirajpur district for example none of the applicants have been given these rights despite a massive campaign conducted by Khedut Mazdoor Chetna Sangath. The basic ground survey has not been conducted yet.
It is true that some deeds have been distributed in some areas of the state. However, this has been done arbitrarily without following the procedure laid down in the Act. In many cases the land mentioned in the deed does not tally with the land actually being cultivated on the ground. When applications have been filed with the administration for clarifying things on the ground there has been no response. Even though the Act mentions that those cultivating forest land before 2005 will be granted rights in effect only people who had been cultivating land in 1980 before the enactment of the Environment Conservation Act are being considered and that too very selectively.
There have been many protest demonstrations by tribal organisations in the state against this betrayal of tribal interests by the government but it has paid no heed and is still dragging its heels on implementation of the Act. Yet in a cynical display of mendacity it has proposed the name of the Tribal Development Secretary for an award for having implemented the Act properly. When this is the kind of duplicity in the government then there is little hope for the tribals.

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