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, February 13, 2017

Philanthropy at its Best

My college days in Indian Institute of Technology Kharagpur (IIT KGP) were very nice not so much because of the studies or the sports but more so because of the great time spent with co-students doing many other things. After graduating we all went our separate ways despite being so close together for five years. I, especially, having gone off into the wilds of Alirajpur completely lost touch with my college friends. Then after three decades with the advent of the internet and Facebook we began connecting and catching up again and remembering the great times we had spent together in college. Many of these friends are now American citizens but nevertheless they still have a deep connection with the land of their birth and their friends who have stayed back. Nagendra Subbakrishna or Noggy as he is more popularly known is one such individual. We got in touch again after many years about two years ago. We have a practice of having a get together of old IIT KGP alumni when one of us comes in from the USA. So about four of us got together in Bengaluru and had a great time. Noggy then expressed the wish to come and see the wilds of Alirajpur. What with one thing and another he could not make it till about three months back when he along with his wife Kathy came on a visit to Alirajpur. The upshot of it was that both of them fell in love with the school in Kakrana.
Noggy has to visit India frequently every three months or so on work and now he has made it a point to visit Kakrana every time he comes down to India from the USA. On his first visit itself he was disturbed with the fact that the children in the school in Kakrana mostly have to eat pulses and rotis. He said that growing children should get more vitamins and protein. The parents of the children being poor can pay only so much and so the school in Kakrana has to be heavily subsidised through grant funding and as this is inadequate the food quality is nutritionally deficient. Even so attempts are made to provide vegetables. Noggy would have none of this and insisted that more protein and vegetables should be served to the children and donated money for this.
Kakrana being on the banks of the River Narmada has an abundant supply of fish which is first class protein. However, since a majority of the children in the school are vegetarian they will not eat fish. Then another IIT KGP alumnus, Sanjeev Sabharwal, suggested that the children could be given soyabean nuggets which have high protein content and also are tasty to eat. Since they are vegetarian there would be no problem of feeding all the children with it. So I began scouting round Indore to see what the price of soyabean nuggets were. The branded nuggets from top food retail outlets cost as much as Rs 150 a kilo. However, since Madhya Pradesh is the biggest producer of soyabean in this country, soyabean nuggets are available wholesale from top soyabean processors for as little as Rs 55 per kg. So we bought a quintal of soyabean nuggets and transported them to Kakrana. Now twice every week the children are getting fried soyabean nuggets and they are eating them with relish as shown below.
India is ranked 97 out of 118 countries in the global hunger index and Adivasis have much more than their share in the population among the hungry in this country mainly due to income poverty. Hunger affects Adivasi children right from the womb as their mothers are hungry when they conceive. This affects not only their physical prowess but also their intellectual abilities. As mentioned earlier, the parents of the children in the school in Kakrana being poor, they find it difficult to pay large fees and so both the education and the food in the school has to be subsidised through external grant funding which is not adequate. Under the circumstances, Noggy's concern for the nourishment of the students of the Rani Kajal School and his contribution to alleviating the situation by ensuring more consumption of vegetables and protein by the children is philanthropy at its best.

3 comments:

Gargi Das said...

Rahul, absolutely fabulous! One humble suggestion from a doctor's point of view - steam the nuggets and to give taste, serve with nourishing chutney of fresh raw ground dhania/lemon/tomato as affordable, as a healthier alternative to the fried stuff

Rahul Banerjee said...

Yes I had suggested that the nuggets should be steamed and then cooked with vegetables but the people in Kakrana had other ideas!! we will get round to doing it right gradually.

n subba said...

A humble suggestion since I'm getting ready to make my lunch here! The suggestion by Dr. Das is right on the mark. Except, that with the steamed nuggets, I would add low fat noodles with the chutney and cook it with spinach and swiss chard. Of course, since I'm non-veg, I add pork or fish dumplings into the soup too.

BTW, I left a pack of swiss chard seeds with Swapanda and I hear that they're germinating and ready for transplant. Should be interesting because Swapanda is already talking about salad dressing when I get to Kakrana week after next.