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.
Saturday, November 21, 2009
The Continuing Injustice
Such is the state of medical care in Chhattisgarh that a woman had to walk 110 km for fifteen days to reach a government-run hospital to get her burnt hands treated.
In September, Phoolwati, 25, and her husband Roop Singh were burnt when the kerosene stove on which they cooked burst in their hut in Bakalo village within the jurisdiction of the Kapu police station in Raigarh district. Sans any medical treatment, Roop Singh battled his burn injuries for a week and then died. Phoolwati then found insects crawling inside her burnt hands and realised she had no option but to go to the district headquarters here and seek medical treatment. There was no government-run health facility nearby that could tackle her problem.
"I did not have a single paisa to get treatment from any private doctor or to get into a bus so that I could come here. So I had no option but to walk the 110 km to get admitted to Raigarh hospital. I had found several insects in my burn wounds and the problem was getting worse every day" Phoolwati said at the hospital at
Raigarh which is 240 km northeast of the Chhattisgarh state capital, Raipur. "During the entire 15-day journey I begged for food from local people alongside the road. Here a worker in a medicine shop brought me to the district government hospital. The doctor here removed all the insects. Now I feel my injuries have healed a little" the childless widow said in between sobs.
A. Tirki, the doctor who operated upon Phoolwati, said "Her wound was filled with dozens of insects when she came to me last week. I have cleaned up her wounds and hopefully within a fortnight she will recover. But she would surely have lost both her hands if she had reached the hospital even a week later."
The first anomaly here is that despite living in the forest Phoolwati and her husband were using a kerosene stove. This seems to indicate that they were unable to access firewood possibly due to the highhandedness of the forest department staff. The second anomaly is that there is no government health staff near her village who can provide first aid or probably even if there is that person demands money to do so. In fact the whole story requires even deeper probing to bring out the comprehensive nature of the failure of the Indian state with respect to tribals.