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 10, 2016

The Rights of the Disabled

Today is International Human Rights day commemmorating the adoption of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights (UDHR) by the United Nations General Assembly in 1948. Coming as it did after the excesses of World War II, it was a great document comprehensively setting out the basics of liberal rights of the individual for peaceful and just human existence. Article 25 (1)  of the UDHR states -  "Everyone has the right to a standard of living adequate for the health and well-being of himself and of his family, including food, clothing, housing and medical care and necessary social services, and the right to security in the event of unemployment, sickness, disability, widowhood, old age or other lack of livelihood in circumstances beyond his control". This is the only article that mentions that those who are disabled too have the right to live a fulfilling life. This is one area in which in India a lot remains to be done. There are some provisions from the Government to aid disabled people but they are minimal and in most cases inadequate. Therefore, NGOs have to step in to help people with disabilities.
Here is the story of one such disabled person who had to fall back on the Khedut Mazdoor Chetna Sangath (KMCS) for help and how he benefited from that. Vanji is the son of a veteran activist of the KMCS, Nevji, who has fought many battles for the rights of Bhil Adivasis in Alirajpur. On one occasion when he and Vanji were returning from the market town of Kavant to their village Vakner on their motorcycle there was an accident as another motorcycle driver crashed into them. Vanji was grieviously hurt and his kneecap was dislocated. Given the lack of proper Government health facilities nearby, Nevji took Vanji to a private hospital in a nearby town Bodeli. The private hospital did not treat Vanji properly and sent him back to his village.

After some time Vanji's leg developed gangrene and he had to be taken back to Bodeli where another doctor, an orthopaedic surgeon said that his leg would have to be amputated from above the knee. Thus, Vanji became disabled and his life became severely constrained. All through this time the KMCS had offered to provide proper medical treatment for Vanji but his father Nevji had decided to pursue his own remedies which included going to the traditional Adivasi medicine men. However, now that his son had lost his leg, Nevji finally came round to the view that the help of the KMCS should be sought. Research revealed that fitting a state of the art artificial leg which gives very good mobility would cost Rs 1 Lakh and other associated expenses. This was clearly beyond the budget of both Nevji and the KMCS. So instead a comparatively less efficient leg was fitted which was available free from the Bhagwan Mahaveer Vikalang Sahayta Samiti (BMVSS) which is famous for having developed the indigenous and cheaply manufactured Jaipur Foot. With time this organisation has collaborated with the Johns Hopkins hospital in the USA to improve the foot design so that now even feet that fold at the knee have been developed and one of these was fitted on Vanji. With a little practice, Vanji soon got habituated to this prosthesis and is now able to walk freely and even raise fifty kilo weights as shown below. He is running a grocery shop quite profitably and is very happy that he has regained considerable mobility.
The Government does provide financial help to the BMVSS so that it can provide its prosthesis to people free of cost. However, not all people with disability know of this organisation and so there are many disabled people going round without proper prosthesis in this country despite it being their right to get help from the Government. The Government has now decided to provide state of the art prosthesis that allows a person to drive motor vehicles and run also. It remains to be seen how soon and how effectively this new scheme is implemented. 

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