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 16, 2010

The Huge Gulf

The relentless pressure of having to survive in a fast changing world has led to computers being installed in the offices of the Khedut Mazdoor Chetna Sangath in Alirajpur and Sondwa. A decade and a half ago I had bought my first computer bowing to the same imperative. However, there is a huge gulf between my adivasi colleagues and I. While I had taken to computers like a duck to water given my earlier technical training and my fluency in English, for my adivasi colleagues Shankar, Khemla, Magan, Bina and Retli, computers are proving to be very tough nuts to crack. Even my wife Subhadra, who has been doing higher studies for over a decade now and has taken courses in both English and computers, is still not very savvy. So the situation in Alirajpur is even more dicey. The problem is compounded by the fact that our adivasi colleagues find it very difficult now to find both the time and the inclination to attend courses. The net result is that the computers are being used as glorified DVD players by the children of our adivasi colleagues.
There is thus a very huge gulf between the developed urban world and that of the adivasis. The truth of this is driven home even more harshly when attempts are made to pull the adivasis up from the depths in which they have been pushed. The Adharshila school for adivasi children being run by our erstwhile colleagues Amit and Jayashree in Sakar village in Badwani district or that run by another old Khedut Mazdoor hand Kemat Gavle in Kakrana village on the banks of the Narmada are trying to bridge this gulf but they are just a drop in the ocean. What is disconcerting is that most of those who pass out from these schools do not return to work for their communities as was envisaged when setting up these schools. The pulls of the market economy are much stronger. This has made me reflect on the forlorn desperateness of the work we are doing. When the market economy pushes people to be selfish then just a few well meaning and altruistic people cannot really make much of a difference. Especially in such remote poverty stricken tribal areas as Alirajpur, ensuring developmental justice in the form of equal opportunities is a herculean task.

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