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, April 10, 2017

Individuals Count for Very Little!!

Two people are shot dead in an encounter by the Police in a remote rural area and it is given out that they are Maoists, revolutionaries who are trying to overthrow the Indian State through an armed struggle, who were trying to escape from police custody with the help of their comrades. One of the two killed, comes from the upper class English educated elite who has given up his privileges to fight for the oppressed classes and so there is a hue and cry in the media and parliament leading to the case being transferred to the federal investigating agency. The case is given for investigation to an officer who is a rarity, an honest and diligent man and this leads to his uncovering the complex reality behind the killings. Activist, researcher and author Shashank Kela, in this his first novella, "The Other Man", uses this main plot tied in with a few other subplots as a microcosm to depict the larger reality of governance in India and the futility of lone battles fought for justice in a generally sordid milieu.
While one of the two killed is a well known Maoist, the other man is only a lawyer who fights the cases of some arrested Maoists and is not one himself. He also fights generally for justice and against corruption, especially in the mining sector, which not only devastates the local environment but also is the source of huge corruption due to the nexus between politicians and corporations. The investigations by the officer reveal that it is the activities of this other man which are more worrisome for the powers that be than that of the Maoists who are content to let mining go on as long as they get their share from the proceeds. Yet neither the investigating officer nor this other man are in the end able to do much to change things for the better.
Written in very good English, liberally strewn with enticing imagery, quaint vocabulary ( I had to look up the dictionary for the meanings of a few words) and pleasing idioms, the novella is a very tight read from beginning to climax and then anticlimax. While one is riveted to the actions of the protagonist investigating officer, the author cleverly uses his investigations to reveal the courage and persistence of the other man who has been killed trying to fight for justice. There is some philosophising along the way that isn't really necessary and it detracts somewhat from the quality of the novella as a work of pure fiction but the author justifies it in an afterword as an acknowledgement of his debt to other authors whom he admires.
The great take away for me as an anarchist was the way in which the novella realistically portrays the fact that individual efforts to fight for justice against the increasingly powerful and malevolent centralised systems of our times, while brave and commendable, are futile in the end and so must always be fought as battles for lost causes without much expectation of success. 


renuka devi said...

So thoughtfully written that it is generating interest in the original novel. Thanks for posting and I am going to read the novel.

Tushar Mangl said...

Looks like an interesting read. Thanks for the suggestion.
Tushar Mangl