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.

Sunday, May 27, 2012

The First Legal Blow Against Patriarchy

In Independent India the first legal blow against patriarchy was sought to be dealt by the great Dalit leader Dr B.R. Ambedkar in the form of the Hindu Code Bill which was to ensure the right to divorce and right to property to women. However, the obscurantist upper castes, led by the President Rajendra Prasad prevented this and so the Bill failed to be enacted and had to be jettisoned in 1951. This led to the resignation of Ambedkar as the Law Minister and in his resignation letter he clearly accused the other members of his party Indian National Congress including the Prime Minister Jawaharlal Nehru of being against the bill and against women's emancipation. Ambedkar then resigned from the Congress party also and formed a new party. Even though later the Hindu Code Bill was enacted into law in bits and pieces even today women are deprived of property rights and it is not easy to get divorce either.
If the bill had become law in 1951 itself and had been strictly implemented then women would have had much more freedom and resulted in their producing less children. This would have meant that there would be less people in India now than there are and so less stress on natural and human built capital. Thus, the failure to launch an attack against patriarchy after independence was a great blunder. 
In this context one has also to evaluate the contribution of Ambedkar. In the ongoing debates around the publication of the derogatory cartoon in the school textbook I came across one comment that since Ambedkar was a liberal democrat and against communism he can be considered to be the same as the other liberal democrats. Now this raises the question whether it is possible to distinguish between liberal democrats or not. The problem with all ideologies whether liberal democratic, anarchist or Marxist is that whatever may be there theory, they are rarely the same in practice. Thus, it is possible to evaluate politicians on the basis of how much they have adhered to theory and so differentiate between them. 
Ambedkar definitely does well in this respect. He resigned from the Congress party after the fiasco of the failure of the enactment of the Hindu Code Bill and set up a new party called the Republican Party of India. He remained committed to the emancipation of the Dalits and women and for this he was prepared to give up the spoils of power. That is much more than can be said of people like Jawaharlal Nehru and Rajendra Prasad or even the current bunch of politicians, irrespective of their parties, who participate in electoral politics. 
Ultimately what is important is the fight for justice - social, economic, political and environmental. Given the huge concentration of resources and power in the hands of the capitalists the fight for justice presently is a difficult one regardless of one's ideology. Under the circumstances Ambedkar does provide an inspiring example even if one may have reservations about his abhorrence for Panchayati Raj or his espousal of capitalist development.

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