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.

Monday, August 9, 2010

International Indigenous People's Day

Today 9th of August is the International Indigenous People's Day. In India this day is doubly memorable because this was the day in 1942 that the Quit India Movement against the British was launched. I attended a programme today in Bhopal that sought to focus on the non-implementation of the Scheduled Tribes and Other Traditional Forest Dwellers (Recognition of Rights)Act 2006. This legislation which is popularly known as the Forest Rights Act or FRA was purportedly enacted to correct the historical injustice perpetrated against indigenous people in this country from British times of denying them the rights to the lands and forests they have traditionally been in possession of. The tribals were deprived mainly due to their being an oral culture with no written records. However, in practice despite this legislation the administration has continued to deny justice to the tribals. Speaker after speaker detailed how their applications for right recognition had been rejected and how they were being forcibly evicted from their lands and in some cases even being jailed on false charges.
The Khedut Mazdoor Chetna Sangath too has been conducting a long drawn campaign for the implementation of this Act over the past three years or so and yet many of its members have been denied rights as their claims have been rejected in an illegal manner. The KMCS is comparatively strong on the ground and has taken sound legal steps throughout and so is in a position to challenge the illegality of the administration in the courts. But for most tribals in this country this is not the case and they are once again being defrauded by the administration. There was tremendous anger among the tribals as they spoke but there seemed to be a hopelessness also. They said that some of them had been fighting for over three decades and had thought that at last they would get their rights when the legislation was enacted. But this hope had been belied.
The symbolism of celebrating indigenous people's day cannot achieve much unless there is an overall social movement against the global forces that continue to marginalise the tribals.

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