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.

Sunday, February 7, 2010

The Hound and the Hare

My nine year old son's teacher told him to see the film "Three Idiots" and so I had also to go along with him despite not being keen on wasting time on it initially. Since cinematically the film is in the trash category and has scenes that a nine year old definitely should not see, possibly it was the film's message against competition and regimentation in education that led to my son's teacher recommending the film. However, a fundamental flaw creeps into this narrative of anti-competition at the end of the film. The offbeat knowledge searching hero of the film in the end turns out to have become the holder of hundreds of patents one of which is one that can be converted into billions of dollars in earnings. The problem is that once one enters the market to sell one's knowledge, then one is willy nilly entering the world of competition and regimentation on its terms and one cant fight against it. The great thing about tribal culture is that it does not put much of a value on private property in knowledge also along with its undervaluation of private property in other things. Possibly the greatest discovery by human beings has been the use of fire as a source of energy for production of various kinds. Now if the use of fire had been patented at that time millions of years ago one wonders what would have been the course of human history.
The unethical nature of the stealing of resources to create knowledge that has then been patented and sold has recently been brought to light with the story of Henrietta Lacks on whom a book has just been written. Henrietta was a poor black woman who died of cervical cancer in the 1950s and cells from her infected cervix were taken for study and later multiplied by researchers in cultures. These cells have later been multiplied into billions all over the world and have been used to produce the polio vaccine and many other medical marvels from which billions of dollars have been earned by various people and corporations and have become famous as HeLa cells. However, Henrietta's heirs have never been given anything and as one of her sons says - " She's the most important person in the world, and her family living in poverty. If our mother so important to science, why can't we get health insurance?"
The world today is run by a few hounds who are always chasing and killing the much more numerous hares. And with time the hunting of knowledge has become the most important activity of the hounds. A particular kind of knowledge has become power and acquiring it requires money and so the hares ultimately have neither. The film Three Idiots has turned out to be the biggest grosser of all time among Hindi films which seems to signify that the viewing public, who are mostly young, disapprove of the cut throat culture of competition and regimentation that vitiates society today. However, the solution to the problem offered in the film is a fantasy one and fundamentally flawed and this is something that the audience has not discerned.
Towards the end the film also features two innovations by simple people - a flour milling machine run by a scooter and a wool shearing machine run by a cycle. These are some of the innovations that have been discovered by the National Innovation Foundation of India which promotes appropriate technology development by people who do not have professional technical qualifications. But this kind of token acknowledgement of this in an overall message full of myth and fantasy is not going to bring about a change in the present centralised system dominated by hounds.

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