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.

Tuesday, August 29, 2017

The Rigours of Indigeniety

Modern civilisation has reached such a stage that it is very difficult to remain indigenous anymore!! Our efforts to promote indigenous agriculture on our farm in Pandutalav is a case in point. For two years now we have collected indigenous seeds of rice, bajra (pearl millet), rawla (foxtail millet) jowar (sorghum), makka (maize) from remote adivasi areas where they are still being cultivated and tried to cultivate them on our farm during the monsoon crop. While maize has been a success the cultivation of the other grains has proved problematical. Primarily because we are the only ones cultivating them in Pandutalav where everyone else cultivates only hybrid varieties of maize. So the birds from early morning till evening come to feast on the ripening grain beginning with the bajra and rawla which are the first to ripen, followed by the jowar and rice. Last year there was no one to chase away these birds so very little could be harvested. Just enough for seeds for the next year and our own limited personal consumption came through.
This year we have gone about it in a more systematic manner. We have built a centre on the farm and there is an Adivasi couple who are expert in farming who are supervising our farming operations. Even so it is a very difficult task to keep the birds off the ripening bajra. Two scare crows have had to be planted in the bajra and a wire with empty tins has been tied to the scarecrow which has to be regularly pulled so that the empty tins bang against each other and make a noise. This is not enough, however, and so a slingshot has to be used to fling stones at the birds as Budibai is doing in the picture below.
Both Budibai and her husband Uttambhai have to take turns to keep the birds off the rawla and bajra all day. The Rawla has been harvested and within a week or so it will be the turn of the bajra and by then the jowar next to it will ripen followed by the rice. So for two months or so it is a daily exercise to ensure that the harvest does come in. What then does this do to the economics of indigenous grain production? It makes a big hole in it!! While there is still a fair amount of subsidy and marketing support for hybrid seed and chemical fertiliser based agriculture, there is none for indigenous agriculture. That is why, except for some remote hilly areas where it is difficult to transport fertilisers and the soil quality does not suit hybrid seeds, indigenous seeds are not being cultivated at all. So we are providing the subsidy to make it possible on our farm on a pilot basis.
To spread this kind of indigenous farming among the farmers nearby, they too will have to be subsidised to do so. Since there is very little likelihood that the Government is going to provide this subsidy, we will have to implement a project to do this and build up a big enough base of indigenous farmers so that a few years down the line indigenous farming can be revived in the area. In fact developing and establishing an indigenous and sustainable ecosystem of farming which is also climate change resilient, requires considerable investments in soil, water and forest conservation, composting and decentralised energy generation from biomass for post harvest processing.  This is a herculean task at present given the Government's support for chemical agriculture in collusion with the agricultural multinational corporations who rule the world of agriculture globally right from production to consumption.


Sumit said...

Have you tried to tie some kites (where synthetic paper is used to make it such that it is not spoilt easily by rain) with some 3/4 ft string attached to it such that it could fly while wind blows? It might frighten the birds. Another man I know used nets over the field which also have some trap attached to it. Je would catch the birds, parrots in this case in UP, and would sell the birds in the market. But you may not like that idea of selling birds.

Rahul Banerjee said...

Someone has given a better idea than using kites. He has suggested hanging a model of a raptor bird like kite or falcon and swinging it in the wind!! we will try that out soon!!