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 16, 2015

Women Raising Their Voices

"Thanks to Khedut Mazdoor Chetna Sangath (KMCS), I have been able to return to my home from which I had been chased away by my Father-in-law and am now earning my living through tailoring and am very happy", says Raisa, who is a twenty three year old Bhilala tribal woman from Umrali village.

Raisa, her husband Balwant Davar and their one and a half year old daughter had been chased out of their home by Balwant's father Bhaisingh and elder brother Rakesh, after falsely alleging that they were not doing enough work in the farm.  Actually,Bhaisingh is a drunkard and Raisa, who is both educated and an accomplished tailor who earns her living independently, had objected to his drinking and abusive behaviour and this made him very angry. He chased Raisa and Balwant away from the home and prevented them from farming the land also.

Raisa and Balwant had to run away with their infant daughter to her father's home in Badi Vaigalgaon.  Raisa came to the office of the KMCS in Alirajpur with her problem. Raisa was taken to the Counselling Centre in the office of the Superintendent of Police in Alirajpur. A preliminary complaint was registered under the Domestic Violence prevention Act and notice was issued to Bhaisingh and Rakesh. The officer at the counselling centre explained the strict provisions of the Domestic Violence Act to Bhaisingh and Rakesh who were unaware about it and told them that if they persisted in their unjust behaviour with Raisa they would be indicted and put into jail as the offence was non-bailable. This brought them to their senses and they agreed to let Raisa and Balwant come back to their house and also gave them their share of the land to farm. Raisa says, " I came to know about the power of the Domestic Violence Act from KMCS and raised my voice in protest against the injustice being perpetrated by my in laws. It has worked wonders and now I am happily living in my home and earning a good living through tailoring and farming in Umrali which being a market village provides a good clientele. "
This vignette illustrates how important it is for women not only to know the law about their rights and also raise their voices in protest. Bhil society is highly patriarchal and women have traditionally been oppressed. While the unlettered women earlier used to bear this oppression silently, educated and independently earning women like Raisa do not take things lying down anymore. However, since the society is ranged against them, they find it difficult to secure their rights. This is where the role of an organisation like KMCS assumes importance given the abysmally low level of awareness among women about their rights and the protection that they have been given under laws like the Prevention of Domestic Violence Act and that relating to inheritance of ancestral property. Not only must women raise their voices against patriarchy but they must do so in an organised manner.

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