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.

Monday, January 13, 2014

Systematising Women's Power

Patriarchy is the bane of Indian society and it is a characteristic of Bhil society also. Therefore Khedut Mazdoor Chetna Sangath has systematised its interventions for improving women's status in Bhil society. Each village of the KMCS has a women’s group called the Kali Bai Mahila Samooh after the great Bhil woman martyr of Rajasthan who died fighting the British. Every month these women’s groups hold formal meetings. The issues include the lack of provision of reproductive health services by the Government, the non-implementation of the Integrated Child Development Services under which the Anganwadis are run, the non-implementation of the Mahatma Gandhi National Rural Employment Guarantee Scheme and Domestic Violence perpetrated by men especially under the influence of alcohol.
Currently the main emphasis of the women’s groups is on ensuring that the MGNREGS is properly implemented. So far the district administration has not been able to provide 100 days of work to all job card holders and neither has the Bhoomishilp scheme which provides for employment to be generated in soil and water conservation work on the farmer’s individual fields been implemented. Moreover, there are inordinate delays in payment of wages sometimes extending to more than one year which then require more agitations and applications. Therefore, this year applications have been prepared for work to be opened in each and every village in the Mahila Samooh meetings in which the men were also invited. The picture of one such meeting is shown below.

The Mahila Samoohs have also prepared applications to the district administration demanding that special health camps be organised in each cluster of five villages by rotation each fortnight in which the doctors and paramedical staff should attend with medicines as it is not possible for the poor women to visit Alirajpur which has the only functioning hospital with all facilities. The Mahila Samoohs proactively consider cases of domestic violence that are reported to them and propose them for resolution in the panchayats of the villages. Normally many cases of domestic violence are not reported to the Panchayats. However, the Mahila Samoohs provide a forum in which women can discuss these cases and initially the Mahila Samooh raises the matter with the accused man. If that does not lead to a satisfactory resolution then the matter is referred to the village Panchayat where men and women sit and adjudicate on the matter. This has brought down the incidence of domestic violence considerably.

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