Friday, April 14, 2006

Himsa Paramodharma

Oasis once sang in Gas Panic

"That my family don't seem so familiar
And my enemies all know my name
And if you hear me tap on your window
Better get on yer knees and pray panic is on the way

My pulse pumps out a beat to the ghost dancer
My eyes are dead and my throat's like a black hole
And if there's a god would he give another chancer
An hour to sing for his soul"

This is precisely the way the UPA government is behaving as far as the NBA agitation, Bhopal Gas Tragedy Victims' agitation and Medha Patkar's fast are concerned. Contrast this with the peace talks with the NSCN (banned organisation in Nagaland), the PWG (in Andhra), the proposed talks with the ULFA through Indira Goswami and the much talked about and hyped Ramzan ceasefires with the people whose misison is to rip India apart, the Islamic militants operating in Kashmir.

The NBA agitation and the Bhopal Victims'agitation are excellent examples of peaceful struggles for just causes. I shall try to make a quick case in favour of the two:

The Narmada, from a mythological point of view is a holy river that arose from the perspiration of Lord Shiva. A legend relates that a severe drought gripped the earth. The gods and men appealed to Siva for succour. He began a severe penance along with Parvati on the Rksa mountain. The perspiration flowed from his body in such quantities that it became a river which cascaded down the slopes. It then assumed the form of a woman who propitiated Siva. He blessed her, saying that she would be holy and inexhaustible. Her sprightly movements and sparkling vivacity delighted Siva so much that he called her 'Narmada' or 'the one who gives pleasure' and 'Reva', 'the one who leaps'.

Geographically it is one of the 2 rivers of India (Tapti being the other) that flow from east to west. The demands of modern agriculture, indutry, power generation and flood relief mean that every major river has to be dammed. A notable exception to this is the Godavari which is not dammed because of major siltation problems. (Read "Taming the Krishna"). As the article in The Hindu says,

Nagarjunasagar has an assured life, performance-wise too. Its maximum storage continues unaffected at 408 tmcft for many years to come. This is because the Krishna is relatively free from siltation, a problem due to which projects on the Godavari have become dry. The latest example is Nizamsagar. Sriramsagar on the Godavari was designed to store 112 tmcft but because of siltation, its capacity has come down to 91tmcft. The Krishna flows through rocky terrain cutting through the canyons in granite while the Godavari collects huge quantities of black cotton soil en route.

India has a pretty tumultous history with regard to dam making. In the early days when issues like displacement, rehabilitation were all largely not considered, or even if they were, were brushed aside in the name of national development; a large number of dams like the Bhakra Nangal (u can find this on the Kangra-Chandigarh road), Hirakud, Damodar Valley, KRS, Mettur, Nagarjunasagar came up and revolutionised the face of Indian agriculture primarily.

The Narmada issue is related to the narmada valley project which includes the Sardar Sarovar dam, the Indira Sagar dam and a host of other dams. This is going to lead to a large scale displacement of people. A particular incident can be found in the coverage of the displacement of Harsud.

Many are confused with regard to the true nature of the problem. SOme writers present it as if the NBA is opposing the dam per se, which is not the case. The NBA is only saying this, "Yes, we oppose the project since it is environmentally harmful. But since you guys have decided to go ahead and there is no looking back, atleast perform ur fundamental duty of rehabilitating the affected people honourably and properly to suitable locations such that they can lead their lives with honour and less difficulty".

As is well documented by now, the governments of Gujarat, maharashtra and Madhya Pradesh have carried out a massive cheating campaign by claiming to have rehabilitated people suitably when they have not done so. This is what the NBA is fighting against (though this is a dilution of their earlier stand of not allowing the dam. I say, theres nothing much that they could have done in an India that is hell bent on destroying itself environmentally). In fact one of the respected writers in the Hindu (I don't remember whether it is harish khare or P V indiresan; (I guess its the latter because he has the typical IITian atitude acquired after being director of IIT Madras of money==progress) and Harish Khare usually argues for the downtrodden, though from very idealistic viewpoints) said that the progress of a nation should not be held ransom to the future of about 10000 people.

The Bhopal Gas Tragedy is an example of laxity on the part of Union carbide followed by insensitivity on part of the Government of India in bringing the culprits to book. Added to this is the crass business attitude of Dow Chemicals with whom Union Carbide merged, which says that what UC did is none of its responsibilities.

The NBA and the gas victims have never resorted to violence to get their aims fulfilled. The max they have done is to organise dharnas, fasting, street plays which by no stretch of imagination can be called violent. But what have they got? Lathicharges, police barricades, midnight arrests, "Attempt to suicide" cases etc etc.

Contrast this with the treatment given to the Maoists, the Islamists and the NE Ultras. The government makes a attempt to crush them and when it finds that it is impotent to do it, it immediately invites them to the negotiating table and more often than not ends up accepting their demands.

Contrast this with the treatment given to the Maoists, the Islamists and the NE Ultras. The government makes a attempt to crush them and when it finds that it is impotent to do it, it immediately invites them to the negotiating table and more often than not ends up accepting their demands.

What Ernesto 'Che' Guevara said sometime ago to hs friend Alberto Granado, "A revolution without guns? You must be crazy" seems to be coming true. The guy with the gun is feted whereas the guy with the slogan and the olive leaf is mercilessly harrassed.

Remember UPA, it took the death of Potti Sriramulu by fasting for widespread violence and the birth of Andhra to happen. (read this excellent article on the Birth of Andhra by Ramachandra Guha).Don't let Medha Patkar die.

PS:
1. The song, 'Gas Panic' seems to have Bengali overtures. Specially the part when they howl at the end of "My eyes are dead and my throat's like a black hole" is similar to the howling seen in Bengali weddings.(see Parineeta or Subarnarekha for a live demo; or better still pray that ur bong friend gets married).

2. Well, today i.e 14th April is my new year called Vishu. I am supposed to see a decorated set up early in the morning, which in my case is gonna be my messy desk (i.e. if i do get up). I am also supposed to pay respects to my elders and get cash in return which in my case is gonna be wising no-one and getting no money.

3. But yeah, I am getting a farewell from the Tamil association here at IIT Delhi.

4. Simran, Vindhya and Kovai Sarala campaigned for the AIADMK. COnsidering that the DMK has been able to put up only Bhagyaraj against this troika, the glamour quotient goes to the AIADMK. What else do you expect? Iduppu Azhagi (The Beauty with a sexy waist) Simran stole the thunder from the demure Vindhya (heroine of Sangamam).

5. Would also like you, my dear reader to ask urself these questions an answer it in the comments section: (a) Do you believe in the popular rumour that all film actresses have been through the casting couch? If yes, WHY and if no, WHY NOT? (b) Would you marry a film actress (if u are male) or an actor (if you are female) considering that she/he is ur childhood friend? (just as simran has married her childhood friend).

1 comment:

Sharath Rao said...

very info. post man ! u have some patience to write on these issues...i am totally off specific issues man ...prefer reading them like i just did !