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.

Friday, February 9, 2018

Visitors to Pandutalab

Four distinguished visitors came to the Mahila Jagat Lihaaz Samiti last week. Shri Anandswarup Gadde a retired professor of Mathematics from Australia who was originally from Andhra Pradesh and has been associated with our work for more than a decade now. I first came to know him when he offered to fund the  print publishing of an edited version of my book on our work in Madhya Pradesh in 2007. He has been visiting various NGOs in India for some time now and last year he visited mainly the Alirajpur area of work of Dhas Gramin Vikas Kendra and also paid a brief visit to Pandutalab. This year he came on a more extended visit to Pandutalab and he was accompanied by three other social workers from Andhra Pradesh. Shri Pragnanand who is involved in education of tribal children, sustainable agriculture and holistic medicine, Shri Prasad who is a doctor by profession but for the past three decades has been involved in people's science movement and especially in science education for children and Shrimati Aruna Tella who is involved in providing assistance to victims of domestic violence including the running of a short stay home for such women where they are also trained in income generation skills to be able to lead an independent economic life. They are shown in the picture below enjoying the morning winter sun at the centre.
 Their visit started with witnessing the sunday coaching school that we have been running at the centre for the time being till the residential coaching centre for girls starts from the next academic session. Shri Prasad and Shri Pragnanand took turns to teach the children in their own innovative ways for some time.
Shri Pragnanand was very much interested in Subhadra's efforts to revive traditional indigenous agriculture at the centre. He had said before coming to Pandutalab that he would like to taste some traditional Adivasi food. So throughout he and all the other visitors got various dishes prepared in the traditional Bhil Adivasi cuisine from traditional cereals and pulses grown organically on the farm at the centre. The final parting delicacy were laddoos made from chikni jowar which is a vanishing strain of sorghum that Subhadra is trying to revive. Subhadra has also installed traditional flour grinding and rice pounding machines at the centre and Pragnanand enjoyed himself trying his hand at the grinding machine turning out tur dal with training from Subhadra.

 Eventually Subhadra and Pragnanand reached an agreement that Subhadra would supply organic cereals and pulses and Adivasi preparations to Avinaash the organisation run by the latter which provides holistic health solutions and also markets organic products. Prajnanand took samples of quite a few varieties of cereals and pulses that Subhadra had grown on the farm as the tribal areas in which he works in Andhra Pradesh too grow the same cereals and pulses though of different genres.
The visitors also visited other NGOs who are doing worthwhile work in the sphere of educatioin in the area like Adharshila Learning Centre for Adivasi children in Sakar village in Barwani district and Eklavya in Bhopal which is involved in designing innovative learning material for children. In between there were trips to our environment friendly house in Indore and for a meeting with Professor Swapan Bhattacharjee who is a great supporter of our work and the famous tourist spots nearby like Omkareshwar Jyotirling and Mandu Fort.
The big take away for us was the discussions we had with these senior activists about the way to tackle women's issues, problems of agriculture and children's education. Shrimati Aruna has over three decades of experience in fighting for the rights of women suffering from domestic violence and Subhadra had a few long discussions with her. She too enjoyed turning the grinding wheel and said that the exercise helped to ease the pain in her shoulder!!
The Pandutalab centre of Majlis has been developed to promote healthy living based on labour intensive sustainable agriculture and this is the first time we had visitors who tried out this earthy concept. As time progresses we hope we will be able to extend this to nearby farmers also. All in all it was a great four days spent together.  

1 comment:

Varadu Seshamani said...

A great effort to support the practises of the people of the earth.