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, November 4, 2012

Life at the Margin

Batibai and Saligram Bamnia are a Barela tribal couple of village Pandutalav in Dewas district of Madhya Pradesh. They have six children of whom three are adults above the age of eighteen and the eldest son is married with three children of his own. They have just 2 hectares of medium quality land of which 0.5 hectares are irrigated. Looking at them standing proudly together below on their turmeric farm, it is difficult to guess that they are running such a big family on so little land.

At the back of the farm is a brick NADEP compost pit for preparing organic fertiliser from agricultural biomass and cattle droppings. This couple is a very hardworking pair who have sown turmeric on one small irrigated plot of land. They get about 60 kilograms of dried turmeric from this plot. 10 kilograms are set aside for seeding and the rest 50 kilograms are ground and sold as powder in small packets at Rs 200 a kilogram for a total annual earning of Rs 10000. They also grow sweet potatoes in another small plot of irrigated land and this too is sold along with the turmeric in the weekly market that is held on Sundays in their village. The picture below shows Batibai selling her sweet potatoes.

Their eldest son works as a mason in a nearby town and earns Rs 300 a day and that also supplements the family income. The two other adult children a son and a daughter are now studying in college, while the minor children are studying in school. Batibai is a member of a self help micro-credit group of thirteen women who save Rs 200 every month and get about Rs 10000 as short term loans through an advance from the local bank. Apart from this the family has a debt burden of Rs 20000 from local moneylenders at an annual interest of 25%.
This family is an active member of the Adivasi Morcha Sangathan and while Saligram has been to jail in the fight for his rights, Batibai has toured Gujarat to learn about new agricultural practices like the growing and processing of turmeric. There are millions of such households which are eking out a precarious existence on the margins and contributing their labour without adequate recompense. It is these people who need to be taken care of in government policies and programmes but there is not much being done in this respect.


lamp post (debasis) said...

Yes, what is now considered as profession is : stockbrokers, builders, industrialists, and IT guys - not farmers anymore. Farmers are the worst sufferer of modern industrial revolution. In ancient India, it was a respected profession and they shaped societies. Now, unlike earlier days, they have no control of farm lands and forest. Because of lack of financial support, they are forced to take loans at such high interest rate (that you mentioned) and dependent on low-subsidized fertilizer / seeds. And, along-with there is corrupt public distribution system too. So, how he will make his just the survival money itself !! Read here an example of how a poor Brazil city helped farmers & fought hunger

Rahul Banerjee said...

its true lamps that if there is a will to do away with hunger then it can be done. unfortunately this will is lacking in our country.