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, January 2, 2014

Meeting with A Long Lost Friend

Away from the hurly burly of politics and back to what is close to my anarchist heart. I like nothing better than the secluded life of a farmer in remote hilly fastnesses. After almost thirty years I met up with Rajagopal again in the Western Ghats in Kerala serenely content in doing organic farming on his seven acre farm in Sholayur in Palakkad district. Rajagopal and I had started our journey in activism for Adivasi rights together in Tilonia which is the headquarters of the Social Work and Research Centre in Ajmer district of Rajasthan. We used to go up the hill to meditate under the full moon there!! However, after 1985 when we met briefly for the first and only time we had lost touch. But about a couple of years ago Rajagopal found me on the Internet and since then we have been in touch regularly. I finally found time a few days ago to make it to his farm. He gave up working for the Adivasis in Palakkad through his NGO in 1995 and has since been concentrating on organic farming and is part of an international network of organic farmers. Rajagopal and his wife Lily have together put in hard labour and developed this small hilly farm into a literal heaven of natural beauty. There is a pond with ducks quacking in it and hens and turkeys, a cat and a dog and of course the boars, elephants, monkeys, squirrels and the like from the jungles surrounding the farm.
There is a bewildering assortment of fruit trees, some of which I was tasting for the first time, and of course the Kerala staples of coffee and pepper which incidentally provide the most income. The life is simple and hard consisting of daily doses of labour. Rajagopal and Lily's two sons have grown up and gone away for higher studies but the two are enjoying themselves working away in their green heaven.
Here they are standing with their younger son Vivek in front of the many huge bamboo clumps that they have planted on their farm. There is even a tree house atop this clump which can be reached by climbing on the short branch stubs on the bamboos. The farm is in fact a hybrid between hard and simple living and modern communication as Rajagopal is a very active proselytiser for natural living on the Internet and spends some time everyday posting and propagating organic living.
Subhadra and I too plan to go to the villages and do farming once our son Ishaan is off to college in a few years time and so this visit to Rajagopal and Lily's farm was a pilgrimage of sorts that has inspired us and given us many ideas about how to go about living a natural life on a farm.

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