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, March 29, 2012

A Quiet Crusader Passes Away

Shubhranshu Choudhury the journalist who has extensively researched and written on Chhattisgarh and its tribals has this to say in an obituary about a little known person who has in his own way worked for the betterment of the tribals of Chhattisgarh and who has just passed away -
With very heavy heart I am forced to announce that Verrier Elwin of Modern
India, as I used to call him, our Iqbal bhai is no more with us. He passed away yesterday at his Bastar home in Asna village near Jagdalpur. He was suffering from kidney failure and had returned home after doctors in Raipur could not give much hope.
Iqbal bhai came to Bastar in the 1980s from Nagpur as a Governmentt employee and never went back ( He was a member of the Indian Accounts and Audit Service but resigned from it to pursue his passion when he was posted back to Nagpur). He married Kalawati an adivasi woman and lived like an adivasi. He was a journalist, he was an artist, he was a poet, he was a teacher, he was a friend, he was a guide, he was a philosopher, he was an
anthropologist, he was a human being of a very fine nature.
I remember many meetings with him, also with Mahua liquor. He would recite from his Mahua Puran which he wrote describing the role of Mahua in adivasi life. He would tell stories of his encounters with adivasi life, many humorous ones often involving Kalawati. He would also tell stories of many struggles including the ones about Tendu, Imli and many more over the years.
In his last years he went back to the Chitrakoot falls where Verrier Elwin had
also made a hut and written. Iqbal bhai had told me that he also wanted to write what he had learnt in life sitting on the bank of Indravati, as Elwin did. But local politics will not allow that to happen as it had stopped many of their previous projects. Iqbal bhai and Kala also had a room filled with Bastar artifacts there and were developing that as an art room. There was room for all of us in their home and heart always.
I met Iqbal bhai last in his Asna home near Jagdalpur a few months back, where I had met him first many years ago and where he was forced to go back after the demolition of their Chitrakoot home. He was sad but full of life as he always was. We discussed Tadi trees in his Asna home and many more. We also discussed how we would work together on Swara the mobile news network. I can not believe that was our last meeting...
Iqbal bhai was a bridge between the two world's of adivasis and mainstream India, which we have lost today. It will be a real tribute to Iqbal bhai if we continue his work on strengthening the same bridge which is one of the "biggest" challenges of our time. May his soul rest in peace as he wished for all of us.
Here is the link to another beautiful obituary written by the anthropologist Nandini Sundar that also has a photo of Iqbalbhai and his wife and daughter when they were all young around the year 1982.

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