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, February 11, 2014

Grassroots versus Electoral Politics

Any mass organisation is as vibrant and knowledgeable as its cadres and volunteers. Therefore regular ideological and strategy related workshops have to be conducted to discuss various issues confronting the organisation. One of the major issues is that of land. Apart from the struggle of implementing the Forest Rights Act there is also the matter of the Government Land that was to be distributed to landless people under the Bhopal Declaration of 2001. The Government of Madhya Pradesh has claimed that as many as 7 lakh hectares of land has been distributed to 3 lakh 44 thousand beneficiaries. However, ground level surveys carried out by various mass organisations associated with the forum Jan Pahal have so far been able to authenticate that only 1 lakh hectares have been distributed. The KMCS had filed an RTI application with the District Administration for the list of beneficiaries in the district under this scheme so that the list could be verified on the ground. However, the administration has not replied to this request despite many months having elapsed.
A two day workshop was held on the 29th and 30th of December 2013 to review the various laws and policies relating to land and their implementation. Shri Anil Karne and Shri Rahul Saxena from Jan Pahal forum attended the workshop on the first day in which about seventy village level workers of the KMCS participated. Shri Anil Karne explained in detail the provisions of the Bhopal Declaration with regard to the award of Government cultivable waste land to landless people and the status of its implementation. This was followed by a discussion of the various reasons for the Government not implementing this policy despite its obvious benefits to the landless poor.

Shri Rahul Saxena dwelt on the provisions of the PESA which make the Gram Sabha very powerful in Adivasi areas and related how the Madhya Pradesh Government has systematically trivialised this provision and deprived the Adivasis of a powerful institution for advancing their development according to their own genius. He suggested that the KMCS should pursue a well designed policy to implement this provision. In the discussion that followed Shankar Tadwal of the KMCS detailed how the organisation had conducted an intensive campaign for the implementation of PESA and the formation and registration of Gram Sabhas in each and every hamlet and how the administration had prevented this. A picture of the meeting is given below.

On the second day the relationship of the KMCS to the Aam Aadmi Party was discussed in detail. Some people including the Chairperson Shankar Tadwal felt that the KMCS should join the Aam Aadmi Party. Others felt that the position of the organisation towards the AAP should be the same as it had towards other political parties - that any member of the KMCS was free to join any party but the KMCS itself would pursue its independent agenda. The issue this time had become a little complicated because some of the senior activists who had till now never joined any party were now in favour of joining the AAP.
The discussions that followed were equally interesting. The AAP Madhya Pradesh unit is keen that KMCS and especially Shankar should join it and Shankar should also contest the forthcoming Lok Sabha elections from Jhabua Ratlam constituency. This led to a detailed discussion regarding the fighting of elections. It was pointed out that the AAP had spent on an average about Rs 25 lakhs per assembly constituency in Delhi. This would mean that about Rs 2 crores would have to be spent for a parliamentary constituency. Moreover, the Jhabua-Ratlam constituency was spread out over a huge area unlike the congested assembly constituencies in Delhi. Therefore a huge amount of time, money and labour would be required if the whole parliamentary constituency was to be covered. This was clearly not possible for the KMCS as it could neither mobilise the financial resources nor get so many workers. 
Thus, in the end it was decided that the KMCS would retain its independent status but that those members who wanted to join the AAP would do so but no one would fight the Lok Sabha elections. Instead if the AAP did put up a candidate then the KMCS would campaign for that person in its areas of influence. If the AAP did not put up a candidate then some KMCS members would go and campaign for a candidate in nearby districts where there were candidates. 
Overall it was accepted that the AAP was a progressive party that had emerged in the democratic system and the KMCS should align with it and help it to develop as a radical new political force that could further the cause of Adivasi Self Rule. The great thing about the day's discussions was the tremendous number of views that were expressed by various members and the depth of the analysis that was brought to bear on the challenges of political mobilisation at the grassroots and the way in which electoral politics could be used to face these challenges more effectively. 

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