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.

Thursday, October 27, 2011

India Against Corruption in Trouble

The India Against Corruption movement is in a spot of bother. Allegations are surfacing that two of its leading members may have done financial dealings that do not appear to be above board. One other member has made a statement favouring a plebiscite in Kashmir that has not gone down well with Anna Hazare. Some others from its core team have quit on the ground that the IAC should not be campaigning against any one party as some of its members had done in the Hissar Lok Sabha by election. These developments bring to the fore the problems of the hodge podge kind of mobilisation that the IAC is.
There is first and foremost a lack of ideological clarity. Corruption is a part and parcel of capitalist liberal democracy so there is no question of being able to get rid of it without getting rid of capitalism itself. The so called core team of the IAC has a varied character with people from the right to the centre in it but none from the left of centre. Moreover its support base is a fluid one that came together at the time of the dharna at the Ramlila Ground but seems to have melted away thereafter. Any movement has to have continuous programmes of actions if it is to stay alive. However, there seems to be a lack of unanimity regarding the kind of action to be taken. The stand taken by some that the IAC will not itself participate in the elections but will campaign against the Congress for dilly dallying in enacting the Jan Lokpal Bill is not endorsed by others in the core team. To make matters worse the Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh and the Vishwa Hindu Parishad have publicly stated that their members participated actively in the Ramlila dharna and the associated mobilisations across the country.
The problems of the IAC can be further illustrated with what is happening in Alirajpur. At the peak of the IAC movement in August there were daily demonstrations in Alirajpur also. The leaders of these demonstrations were members of the Bharatiya Janata Party's youth wing Akhil Bharatiya Yuva Morcha.  These non-tribal youth are all the children of the wealthy traders and moneylenders who have been exploiting the tribals for ages together. Consequently even thought the Khedut Mazdoor Chetna Sangath morally supports the IAC it did not mobilise its own members to join these demonstrations. In fact the KMCS has been conducting a campaign for quite some time against these traders and moneylenders. There are strict anti-usury laws to regulate the practice of moneylending in tribal areas. As is to be expected these laws were not being implemented and the moneylenders were having a field day in extorting money from the tribals. The KMCS has taken action against these moneylenders by lodging complaints against them for violating the legal provisions. Consequently hundreds of tribals have regained their silver ornaments which they had kept as security with the moneylenders for taking loans. The moneylenders had extorted many times the principle amount over the years.
This campaign was so effective that the moneylenders and traders made a formal complaint to the Home Minister of Madhya Pradesh when he visited Alirajpur recently that the KMCS should be reined in and prevented from helping the adivasis in this matter. Thus, the important question surfaces as to what is going to be the mass base of the IAC. If the mass base is going to be the middle and upper classes who are steeped in corruption and are exploiting the lower classes then the IAC does not have much of a future. Also if its action programmes are built around campaigning against the Congress for not enacting its Jan Lokpal Bill rather than around basic problems faced by the poor then also it is going to face problems in the future if the media does not provide the same kind of coverage that it did at the Ramlila Grounds. 

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