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, October 3, 2012

The Illegitimacy of the Modern State

Today 3rd October marks the beginning of two significant struggles against the illegitimacy of the modern state in India in refusing to implement its own laws. These strong and determined mass mobilisations demanding justice for the marginalised poor, mainly tribals and dalits, in two locations in Madhya Pradesh are rousing examples of the Power of the We. While one has got some media attention the other has yet to do so but as time passes both will occupy media space more and more.
The first is the Jan Satyagraha by the Ekta Parishad in which close to a hundred thousand people have started a long march along the national highway from Gwalior to Delhi demanding land rights. People and organisations have come from all over India to Gwalior after a year long mobilisation process by the Ekta Parishad. These are all people who are demanding that they be given land for building their homes and carrying out agricultural activities. This is in fact the second time that such a march is being taken out. Five years earlier in 2007 also some 25,000 people had marched to Delhi and sat on a dharna there till the Government had agreed to set up a National Land Reforms Council with the Prime Minister as Chairman and members from the Ekta Parishad also apart from other politicians and bureaucrats to find a way to provide land to the people. However, not a single meeting of this Land Reforms Council was held and instead in the five years since the number of evictions of people due to development projects and from forests and government land has increased manifold. That is why the Ekta Parishad has now launched this second yatra. Two Ministers of the Central Government did come down to Gwalior on 2nd October with some assurances that the demands of the Ekta Parishad regarding land reforms and provision of land to the poor under the various statutes enacted for this purpose would be met. However, they refused to give anything in writing putting forward the excuse that land is a State Government subject and so the Central Government could not do anything without their consent. So the people have decided to march to Delhi and stage a sit in there till their demands are met.
The second is even more bizarre. There is rampant corruption in the implementation of the Mahatma Gandhi National Rural Employment Guarantee Scheme in Barwani district like there is in most other parts of the country. However, in Barwani there is a militant mass organisation of the marginalised poor  named Jagrit Adivasi Dalit Sangathan (JADS) which is waging a battle against this corruption. The thousands of members of this organisation are demanding that the MGNREGS be implemented properly and wages be paid on time. This has been a long battle that is continuing for more than five years now. Things have now come to a head, however, with the politicians and bureaucrats ganging up against JADS to try and crush it. They first tried to get the leaders of the organisation externed from the district and when that failed due to a hue and cry raised by human rights organisations, they have now begun issuing direct threats to the organisation. When the organisation took out a rally of thousands of women and children along with a few men today to press their demands for action against the corrupt politicians and bureaucrats and for payment of their pending wages then the local Member of the Legislative Assembly (MLA) along with a few hundred of his supporters blocked their way. Despite this being a peaceful rally for which permission had been taken from the administration the police in armed riot gear instead of acting against the MLA for his obstruction have stationed themselves between the JADS members and the MLA's contingent and are doing nothing and there is a stalemate for the present. Since the JADS has announced that it will not leave Barwani till the pending payment is made and action is taken against all the politicians and bureaucrats who have clearly defalcated large amounts of public funds a long struggle is on the cards. Here is a press note from the organisation that gives the details -

MLA against the people, Adivasis refuge to budge.
3/10/2012, Badwani : Adivasi’s rally to the collector’s office demanding their legitimate right under the MNREGA was stopped by local MLA and his goons with the police deciding to just stand by and watch. The Adivasis, however, have decided to hold their ground thus leading to a stalemate with the goons on one side and thousands of Adivasis, mostly women and children, on the other. The Adivasis fear violence when it gets dark.
Thousands of Adivasi workers comprising largely of women and children today marched towards the collectrate demanding that they be paid for the work done in the past year. These workers have not been paid for the past six months or more, and this delayed payment has caused a deep survival crisis for the Adivasi families. Today the workers were marching towards the collectorate when they were stopped by the BJP people’s representative, Premsingh Patel and a handful of his supporters. They police refused to remove these people and allow the peaceful precession to proceed and instead chose stop the rally. For the past four hours urban youths and the MLA have stopped the rally with the help of the police. We anticipate violence at nightfall.
The situation of delayed payments in the district has rapidly worsened in the district. And the workers have been agitating continuously against it for a long time. When the workers demanded payments they were told that the allocation of funds has been stopped by the Centre because proper accounts have not been tabled by the administration. The workers demanded that these accounts be produced and action taken against the huge irregularities that are being exposed in the dispersal of funds. They also asked why they should suffer non- payment when the fault clearly lies with the administration and politicians.
In the face of this the politicians and vested interests in collusion with the administration has aggressively threatened the Sangathan and its activists. They have publically called for the arrest of Sangathan activists and a curb on its activities and have threatened violence against its members. In the past month the situation has worsened with vested interest creating an atmosphere of intimidation of workers by agitating against the activists and the Sangathan under which they have been organizing and raising their demands.
This rally and sit in has been organized against this kind of threatening behavior when they are raising a legal demand for proper implementation of the law and timely payment. The delay of which has pushed them into a survival crisis. The workers have also written to the CM and met the Cabinet Minister for Rural Development, Jairam Ramesh.
The workers who have left their standing crop in the fields to come and struggle against corruption and for the proper implementation of the NREGA law are determined to continue their struggle and sit till they get their payments and here is accountability of the vast irregularity and corruption in funds spent. The collector after agreeing to meet the adivasis has done nothing to remove the goons and has maintained a silence over the whole situation. In the present situation the workers have continued waiting on the road braving the hostility of the goons as darkness fall, while still being uncertain of any police protection, determined to continue their sit in till their demands are met.
- Madhuri- 9179753640, Valsingh, Harsingh, Bilayati Bai (Jagrit Adivasi Dalit Sangathan).

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