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.
Wednesday, November 24, 2010
Education for Tribals
The Khedut Mazdoor Chetna Sangath first began experimenting with alternative schooling as early as 1987 and developed texts in Bhili and Bhilali for teaching literacy and numeracy and also local geography and history. Later on it was felt that children needed more attention than was possible in a day school and so a decision was taken to start a residential school. A review of the functioning of the day schools had shown that effective teaching of adivasi children of illiterate parents required that they be drilled even after regular schooling hours. Since this was not possible with day scholars it was decided to run a residential school.One such school, Rani Kajal Jeevan Shala, has been set up in the village Kakrana on the banks of the Narmada River.
The school has been named after a Bhil Goddess Rani Kajal who in their mythology rescued them from trouble in a time of pestilence. Thus, the name symbolises the main aim of the school, which is to revive the traditional culture of the Bhils and establish a strong identity for them. Secondly it was decided, as far as possible, to make the parents pay in cash and kind for the education of their children so as to try and make the day to day running of the school financially self-sustaining. This, in turn, meant that the school would have to make the children proficient enough to perform well in the mainstream school system to accord with the expectations of the parents most of whom would naturally be paying for an education that could get their children jobs later on. Thus the syllabus and teaching would have to take care of both the needs of inculcating a critical attitude towards modern development in the children as well as providing them with the skills to make it good in the modern sector. Obviously, this is a tall order and requires a lot of hard and committed innovative work on the part of the teachers. So funds have to be collected from various external sources for the costs of curriculum development, teaching aids and part of the salaries of the teachers. The picture below shows the students of the school out on an early morning run.
The great thing is that the school has three adivasi lady teachers, pictured below who have given up the lure of the towns to come and live and teach in this remote village. One of them is physically challenged as is one of the men teachers also. Education for tribals is a mission and it is only possible for missionaries to deliver. Secular tribal missionaries in this case!