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.

Monday, December 19, 2016

A Philathropist With a Difference

A few days ago we received the news that Nico (Dr. Nicolaas Nobel), as he was popularly known, had passed away after a short illness at the ripe age of 83 on November 29th 2016 at his residence in Noordwijk in the Netherlands. This is a loss of a philanthropist with a difference. Dr Nico did not just collect and donate funds for philanthropy but took an active part in ensuring that the funds were indeed well spent by regularly travelling to the field and forming a deep understanding of the local context of the beneficiaries. The Rani Kajal school in Kakrana would not have been what it is today without his thoughtful support.

 Dr Nobel studied Law at Leiden University in the Netherlands. He subsequently worked in Amsterdam as a tax-lawyer and as a publisher of articles and newsletters about Dutch and international tax law. As a student, Dr Nobel became friends with an Indian boy studying at Cambridge University. This friend invited him to tour India after finishing his studies, and he accepted. In 1958 he completed a 7 month tour through India by car, nearly covering the entire country. Having made a number of new friends, he returned often for short visits. As a result, Dr Nobel regarded India as a second home, and himself as half-Dutch and half-Indian. During his many stays, Dr Nobel saw not only attractive areas of the country but also the misery in which a large portion of the population still lives. Dr Nobel was inspired to make a difference, and began organizing funds for development activities in India after his retirement. With some money of his own he founded a Charitable Trust that, after a few years, also received support from various funding agencies. From 1998 to 2005, the Trust financially supported several non-governmental organizations (NGOs) for development work to help prostitutes and their children, HIV-AIDS wards, leprosy colonies, orphanages, cataract operations for the blind, schools, drought relief, environmental conservation, sustainable agriculture and many other important causes.
However, what is most important is that in addition to managing the Charitable Trust, Dr Nobel maintained continuous contact with Indian NGO workers, traveling to meet them and see their work up close. Due to his age and the increasing demands of this work, he stopped travelling at the end of 2005. But his philanthropic work continued apace gaining in its depth and reach. When Professor Swapan Bhattacharya decided to take up residence in Kakrana and help with the development of the school, Dr Nobel enthusiastically supported the new initiatives which have now propelled the school into a much higher level than before. We can only pay homage in humility here to this great soul who is with us no more


Swapan Bhattacharjee said...

Dr Nico was indeed a different kind of philanthropist. A few weeks before he passed awy, he had called me up and asked me to give a plan for expansion of the school and its facilities.I was astonished when he said fund was no problem at all, and any amount needed would be made available! He was sorry that he could not transfer any money to Kalpantar which runs the school because it does not have FCRA legally required for transfer of foreign funds. He even wished Rahul would take and develop the school since he was actively involved in many of the projects. He was not prepared to handle such big money. I did give an ambitious plan however on his request and wondered what kind of a soul is this. I never called him. Only sent copies of my report of the activities to him along with others who helped us too. He would start by saying I read every thing you write though I may not find time to respond by mail. But I will talk to you. And he would be so kind, pleasant and inspiring in his talks that the words would stick to my minds for days together. It is a great personal loss to me that I won't hear his voice anymore. He woulds always end his talk with "May God Bless You". I thought, his blessing was all that I needed. I know he will remain an inspiration in all my activities on development for poorer section of our society, and particularly on education.

n subba said...

I wish I could have met him!