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.

Friday, October 9, 2015

The Dangers of Raising your Voice

Uttar Pradesh's Greater Noida Area next to the national capital of Delhi seems to have become the hotbed of rights violations. Close on the heels of the lynching by a mob last week of a Muslim man in Bisada village on the basis of a falsely spread rumour that he was eating cow's meat, comes the news of the beating and stripping of a Dalit family, including women and children and their public parading in the nude by a police officer in Dankaur village because they were demanding that a report be filed about a theft that had taken place in their house. In the first case the police did nothing to intervene and stop the mob from killing the Muslim man and in the second the police itself was involved in committing atrocities against a Dalit family (There are reports that the Dalits stripped themselves in protest and were not stripped by the police but even in that case it shows that there was authoritarian high handedness against which they were raising their voices). Both cases have now become causes celebres and are the subject of much discussion in the country. A few eminent literary personages have even returned their literary awards in protest at this culture of stifling dissent that is gaining in strength with many incidents of public murder and police high handedness against minority and under privileged communities and also outspoken intellectuals from the majority community. The hardcore Hindu majoritarians like Sakshi Maharaj have come out with aggressive statements that they will kill and be killed to stop beef eating and the venerable Mohan Bhagwat has demanded a review of the policy of reservations which provides some benefits to the Dalits in an otherwise hostile social milieu.
Especially with regard to the consumption of cow's meat, which is banned in many states of this country, there is now almost a paranoia among the Hindus. So much so that the Bhil tribe and some Dalits in Alirajpur who earlier used to eat cow's meat have now had to desist from doing so. Even in the 1980s the Bhils used to kill cows and eat their meat albeit surreptitiously in the jungles. One Dalit caste were scavengers of sorts and had the responsibility of skinning dead cattle and buffaloes. They would come to Bhilala Adivasi's house when a cow or buffalo died and skin it. They would then take, the hides and the bones which are sold for various uses and also the meat which they would eat. However, with time the eating of cow's meat has stopped altogether as has the killing of cows and also their skinning.
West Bengal, where I grew up, is one of the few states in India where cow slaughter and the eating of cow's meat is not banned and so as a young teenager I used to enjoy eating beef rolls in the famous Nizam's restaurant near New Market after seeing a film in one of the nearby cinemas. So on many occasions I joined the Bhils and Dalits in eating beef in Alirajpur also. I remember that as a young teenaged boy, along with some friends, I had witnessed a rally by some Hindu organisation demanding the banning of cow slaughter in Bengal in which the rallyists were shouting the slogan - " The cow is our mother". To this we vociferously replied that the rallyists needn't shout that out as it was visible from their visages!! Now things have changed drastically and it has become dangerous and even fatal to eat beef or talk about doing so. Even Nizam's in Kolkata gave up serving beef for some time though they have now started doing so again. The BJP Government has also stepped up the surveillance of the India-Banlgadesh border to stop the smuggling of cattle to Bangladesh where beef is eaten freely and there is supply shortage internally. The Home Minister, not only exhorted the Border Security Force to be extra vigilant about stopping cattle smuggling but also said that there should be an effort to reform the Banglaseshis and wean them away from eating cow's meat!!!
The many fears that were expressed when the Bharatiya Janata Party came to power with an absolute majority last year, about the impending attacks by Hindu majoritarian organisations on the plurality and freedom of expression and beliefs in this country, are coming out to be true. Ministers of the Government, law makers and the leaders of many of these organisations are continually harping on an aggressive sectarianisation of the culture of this country.
Dalits and Muslims have always been at the receiving end of many kinds of injustices and atrocities even in the best of times. However, the situation now is very dangerous as the Hindu majoritarian organisations have taken it on themselves to foment trouble and they don't baulk at anything to spread murder and mayhem. These attacks on beef eaters who are mainly Muslims and Dalits will almost certainly be followed by other attacks on these communities and a general attempt to strait jacket society into a mould that is authoritarian.

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