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, August 15, 2010
Freedom at a Premium for Tribals
Throughout history there has been the phenomenon of rebellion wherein those who have been deprived of a dignified livelihood and so freedom rise up together in protest against those who have concentrated wealth and power in their hands and so deprived the former of their freedom. Sometimes such protests succeed but in most cases throughout history rebellions have been crushed. In the modern era too there have been many rebellions and the tribals in India in particular have fought bravely for the freedom to live life with dignity. However, despite a written constitution guaranteeing freedom, the right to live with dignity and the right to free quality education along with various other enabling laws and policies, the tribals still find that freedom is not readily available and remains as costly as ever before. The lands, forests, water and lives of the tribals are stolen from them by the very same state that is supposed to protect them and ensure their freedom to live as they wish. On many occasions in independent India tribals have paid with their lives and yet not been able to live with dignity and retain their freedom.
The most disconcerting aspect currently is the sheer cost of rebelling. Getting organised and fighting the state for one's dignity and freedom involves considerable expenditure in the living expenses of full time activists, travel, organising trainings and in fighting court cases. The tribals in Alirajpur district of Madhya Pradesh for instance have organised themselves into a trade union, Khedut Mazdoor Chetna Sangath, to fight for their rights. The tribal members themselves are able to meet only a part of the costs of this organisation and so grant funds have to be accessed from outside. Because such grant funds are being garnered, the KMCS is continuing its fight and ensuring some freedom for the tribals in Alirajpur.
Thus, one must sombrely remember while celebrating independence day today that freedom comes at a premium.