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.

Sunday, March 8, 2015

A Seventy Year Old Dynamo!!

Swapan Bhattacharya the retired micro-biologist who has decided to stay at the Rani Kajal Jeevan Shala in Kakrana has gone from strength to strength. Apart from taking up the onerous task of training the teachers to teach science and mathematics better and teaching the children himself he has set up a library with many books in Hindi. The children take out the books from the guest house cum laboratory cum library where Swapanda stays and read them in the verandah in front as shown below
The children have been inspired by the reading to translate the stories and poems they read into their own Bhilali language so that they can read them to their parents. Some children have been inspired to write their own stories and poems. The makeshift laboratory that Swapanda has set up with a kit developed by the EKLAVYA science teaching organisation has become very popular. The children and teachers both now understand the scientific principles they are studying much better.
Being a botanist by initial training Swapanda has been studying the flora in the forest that has been protected by the villagers of Kakrana nearby. One day he went on a long tour of the hilly forest along with his young friends underestimating the vast area and the hilly terrain. He somehow made it back but that has not deterred him from planning more visits.
He has also started a new garden in front of the guest house. Here is what he has to say about it - "The children of the Kakrana primary school- Rani Kajal Jeevan Shala- grew the saplings from the seeds in trays with cocopit. They also made the garden.  We got the soil from the Narmada river bank because  the land is devoid of nutrients. Since cattle are let loose by the villagers they are a nuisance for unguarded farming and gardening. So a bamboo fence was made by Gulab and Dhani, who work for the school. "

The tending of the garden, the reading of books from the library, doing experiments in the laboratory and studying the textbooks all takes place together in a happy multi-tasking mode of pedagogy that has galvanised the learning experience in the school.
There is a discordant note however in this otherwise well orchestrated symphony of learning. There is no internet connectivity. There is some mobile connectivity atop a hillock near the school where people have to climb to make phone calls. Swapanda found that smartphones got a weak internet signal via the phone network and so thought that possibly a dongle would also work. He bought a tent and got it set up on the hillock so that he could spend time there accessing the internet.
However, the data connectivity is so weak that the websites don't open and only emailing is possible and that too with much difficulty. This is a serious problem in this day and age when quality learning is next to impossible without the internet. In the sense that the tribal children will be severely handicapped in their efforts to make a place in a modern world which is increasingly wired. Since there is little possibility of the wireless connectivity improving in such a remote location any time soon the only other option is to get internet through satellite. But this is an expensive proposition as both the capital investment and running costs are high with the VSAT option. Access to internet through a satellite phone is a cheaper option comparatively but it is restricted by the fact that the Department of Telecommunication of the Government of India doesn't give permission easily for the use of these phones. So this is an appeal to those who are in the know for some solution to this problem of lack of internet connectivity in this remote location.
Swapanda is the best thing that could have happened to the school in Kakrana. He is a veritable dynamo despite his advanced age of seventy plus. He says that the clean environment and the simple food of Kakrana has solved many of his health problems like constipation, respiratory afflictions and hyper tension and he is much fitter than he was in Indore earlier.

No comments: