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.

Wednesday, November 17, 2010

A Foot in the Door

One major drawback for the Bhil tribals is the lack of sufficient indigenous research by their own intellectuals on their history, culture, society and economy. The research that has been done is largely by non-tribal academics mostly anthropologists and sociologists. Thus, the Adivasi Academy in Tejgadh village in Vadodara district of Gujarat, pictured below, which undertakes research into precisely these spheres under the intellectual leadership of Bhil tribals is an important landmark in modern Bhil institution building. The architecture also retains a traditional Bhil flavour to distinguish the academy from the modern minimalist matchboxes that dominate urban landscapes.
While the Adivasi Ekta Parishad has established itself as a powerful forum for Bhil identity building the Adivasi Academy provides a strong institutional backing to this process. One of its most important projects is the creation of a Bhili dictionary that has received coverage in the New York Times. This in combination with the publication of a vast literature in Bhili dialects will go a long way towards fomalising the oral literary traditions of the Bhils. There is a well stocked library of books and journals which can be used by research scholars. The academy has now entered into a tie up with the Indira Gandhi National Open University for offering Phds through distance learning apart from two diploma courses in tribal studies and tribal health systems. The academy also has a musuem of tribal art and crafts which has a vast collection of Bhil tribal items covering the areas of agriculture, domestic needs, music and clothing. Pictured below is a pot and churner assembly used to churn curds and water to produce cream and whey.
An important research project underway at present is the multi-disciplinary study of the Koraj Hillock nearby for its tribal heritage in collaboration with the School of Oriental and African Studies of the University of London. In a short space of a decade since its inception in 2000 with the beginning of the new millennium the academy has established itself as a centre of excellence in tribal research. The academy thus represents a foot in the door in the sphere of formal research for tribal students and scholars.


Anonymous said...

it seems government has done good for once, or is this a private venture

Rahul Banerjee said...

This is very much a non-government venture run by the Bhasha Trust. However, it receives funding from the government also apart from agencies like the United Nations and Ford Foundation.