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.

Tuesday, May 14, 2013

An Amazon Rewarded

Here is a news report of an award to Dayamani Barla who has fought valiantly against the Government and Corporates in Jharkhand in the face of severe repression for the rights of her tribal community - 
Tribal rights activist Dayamani Barla who has been at the forefront of several mass movements in the past 15 years, including the campaign against Arcelor Mittal’s steel plant in Jharkhand, has been awarded the Ellen L Lutz indigenous rights award. Barla will receive the award from Cultural Survival, a Massachusetts-based non-profit organisation which supports the rights of indigenous people, at a ceremony at the Museum of the American Indian, in New York on 23 May.
“Her work makes a difference and impacts all of us by shaping hope and promise for the future — one story at a time, one protest at a time,” said the selection panel which sifted through a long list of nominees before picking the fiery Jharkhand land rights activist. Barla’s life story is one of extraordinary determination and achievement in the face of crushing poverty. Barla who belongs to the Munda tribe in Jharkhand saved on her small income as a housemaid to complete a Master’s degree. She later entered journalism, becoming the first Adivasi woman journalist from Jharkhand. For her writing, she won the Counter Media Award for rural journalism in 2000. She funds herself by running a small restaurant in Ranchi.
Dayamani Barla, a rousing voice against displacement, is also an outspoken critic against the injustices Adivasi communities face. Image credit: Cultural Survival.
Dayamani Barla, a rousing voice against displacement, is also an outspoken critic against the injustices Adivasi communities face. Image credit: Cultural Survival.
Much to the vexation of corporate houses and government officials, Barla has succeeded in upending their best-laid plans through peaceful Gandhian protests which have draw masses. She has been jailed on several occasions for tenuous reasons; once for nearly two months because of leading a protest that caused a roadblock in 2006. But threats, jail time, and a slew of cases and warrants against her haven’t broken her resolve to oppose the displacement of tribals. In 2008, the BBC forecasted that for Arcelor Mittal, Barla would prove to be as much trouble as Mamata Banerjee had been for Tata Motors in West Bengal. Sure enough, Barla’s spirited campaign against ArcelorMittal’s proposed steel plant in Gumla-Khunti, in Jharkhand has now forced the company to relocate to Bokaro. Arcelor Mittal wanted to invest $8.79 billion to set up one of the world’s biggest steel plants in the largely tribal dominated forest area. The steel project required 12,000 acres of land and a new power plant which would have displaced 40 villages in Jharkhand.
Barla’s group, the Adivaasi, Moolvaasi, Astitva Raksha Manch fought the move tooth-and-nail. They successfully convinced villagers not to negotiate with the steel-maker because apart from causing massive displacement, the project would have destroyed the forests in the area, contaminated water sources and hurt the ecosystem. The same reasons propelled Barla to fight the Koel Karo dam project. Miranda Vitello, development assistant, at Cultural Survival said India’s land rights activist edged out over 50 nominees to win the Ellen L Lutz award which comes with a $10,000 cash prize.

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