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.

Saturday, December 6, 2014

Children to the Fore

There is a major debate in NGO and activist circles about the compulsions of external funding. Among other things one major issue is that of having to follow the dictates of the funding agency. Often NGOs and mass organisations have to take up issues that they would normally not have. This makes them lose their core focus and become Jacks of All Trades ending up with dissipated impact. The Khedut Mazdoor Chetna Sangath and Dhas Gramin Vikas Kendra have largely succeeded in maintaining their core focus on Adivasi rights despite taking external funding. Indeed the power of the organisation has increased in recent times due to taking directions from one particular funder instead of getting dissipated!! Action Aid Association India funds the Dhas Gramin Vikas Kendra for rights based work in Alirajpur. Action Aid raises the funds from individuals by asking them to sponsor the all round growth of children. Thus, apart from general rights based work, Action Aid lays special stress on the rights of children.
Now this is one area in which the KMCS had not done much earlier other than run some schools. Due to the direction given by Action Aid from 2012 onwards KMCS has become very proactive on child rights. Things have been made easier by the fact that the Right of Children to Free and Compulsory Education Act was enacted in 2009 and the Protection of Children from Sexual Offences Act 2012 which substantially increase the legal rights of children. Applying the modus operandi that the KMCS has applied very successfully over the past decade or so with regard to other powerful people friendly statutes like the Forest Rights Act, the Rural Employment Guarantee Act,Panchayat Extension to Scheduled Areas Act  and the Control of Usury Act, the organisation began pressurising the administration to run the government schools properly. In the span of two years there has been huge impact with the running of the government schools having improved drastically basically through making the teachers attend schools and teach and provide mid day meals. Many new schools have been opened and school buildings have been sanctioned. Though given the poor infrastructure and staffing the quality of education is very poor but at least the schools are running and the children are getting many benefits. Since very crucially in India, children are as good as their mothers given the huge malnutrition and ill health that plagues the majority of the population, the organisation has also run a sustained campaign to improve the reproductive health component of the National Rural Health Mission. Health services in the area are in even more of a shambles than they are nationally and so immense pressure has been brought to bear on the administration to hold special camps in the remote areas. The auxiliary nurse medics who were not visiting the villages but submitting false reports have now been made to visit regularly.
To further increase the pressure on the administration and also to showcase what has already been achieved over the past two years, the KMCS took out a massive rally of thousands of people and especially women and children in Alirajpur on 20th November 2014. This is the International Children's Day declared by the United Nations and this year is the silver jubilee of the adoption of the Convention on the Rights of the Child by the United Nations General Assembly in 1989. The rally was led by the women and children as shown in the picture below
 
 The children from the Rani Kajal Jeevan Shala, the residential school run by the organisation were the main sloganeers of the rally vociferously demanding child rights and child protection as shown below.
The rally traversed the streets of Alirajpur making the presence of the organisation felt in this town as it has done on many occasions before but this time specifically through children and women power. Then it went to the District Hospital to present the Health Department with a charter of demands regarding the proper implementation of the National Rural Health Mission as shown below.
It is to be noted that the sign board says that the district hospital is ISO 9001:2008 certified but it does not have any diagnostic facilities beyond the rudimentary ones. People have to go to private hospitals in nearby cities for advanced treatment. This is the blatant level of mendacity being practiced by the Government. After this the rally ended up at the District Collectorate to submit the general demands regarding the education of children and also other development issues as shown below.
 A public meeting was held in front of the collectorate in which the general secretary of the KMCS Shankar Tadwal and others set forth the charter of demands that were to be presented to the administration as shown below.
Finally the District Collector came down from his office and accepted the charter from behind the closed gates of the Collectorate surrounded by policemen and it looks as if he is imprisoned by the members of the KMCS!!
The collector saw the detailed demand charter which listed extensively all the many shortcomings of the administration in implementing various statutes and development schemes and exclaimed that the KMCS had done extensive research that even he with all his staff could not do!! Shankar told him that the difference was that the KMCS was powered by people's resolve whereas his staff were powered by the taxes extorted from the people and yet considered themselves to be lords of all they surveyed. In the end this attitude resulted in false claims like the one about the ISO certification for the hospital. Shankar of course did not reveal to the Collector that the painstaking documentation of administrative lapse had been done and submitted to him because the KMCS intends to launch a sustained campaign for implementation of all the lacunae documented by using the Right to Information and Public Service Guarantee Acts in the days to come!!!
All in all it was a very impressive show and for the first time in its three decades of mass action the KMCS took out a rally on children's issues with children at the forefront which was extensively covered in the newspapers.

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