Sunday, February 20, 2011

LJA -its meaning and import

“Khadaa hoon aaj bhi roti ke char harf liye

Sawaal yeh hai ki kitaaboan ne kya diya mujhko”

The debate on LJA is kind of very high on the intellectual plane. Not very sure whether ‘lok-vidhyarthy’ or any one of us would need that kind of philosophizing to understand ground realities in the social, socio-economical, and socio-political planes of , say, 90 crores of people in this part of the world.

The most visible and ubiquitous, in that part of the world, is poverty and the indignities of life that go along with it leading to total negation of their identity in the predominant section of the Indian society. It is not difficult to observe all this and not so difficult to un-earth the reasons for the same.

What I understand of LJA is that there is this need for this mass of 90 crores to evolve themselves in to a dignified society that resurrects their identity. For this to happen, they would have to look inwards rather than expecting the other world to bail them out.

If, indeed, the arts of, weaving, spinning, dyeing, steel making, soap & salt making, agricultural production etc., have survived the onslaught of the other world, then looking inwards may be a real possibility. These arts cannot be expected to be flourishing, but if the knowledge has not disappeared a beginning in the real world can be attempted.

I would say that the cause of poverty is that the people are not allowed to do that they are capable of; or cannot do because the circumstances are not conducive for them to practice their art. Therefore, if they get to practise their art then most of the questions related to their life shall find answers.

To look inwards to resolve the issues related to their very existence would implicitly have seeds of ‘disobedience’ & ‘non-cooperation’ that would become explicit and a challenge to the ‘modern’ sections of the society and their protagonists, if only over a period of time their skills can be harnessed to be useful and productive in their closed society with defined contours.

We need to initiate a meaningful & relevant (to the circumstances) intercourse with this mass of 90 crores to understand how various mechanisms can be put in place so that their skills become useful to them and their surroundings.

The starting premise is ‘I have not been an element in the schemes of socio-economic development of independent India till date and therefore, there is no reason why I should hope to be that element in future; therefore I resolve to be a useful element amongst the likes of me so that likes of me come to live a dignified life and become capable of asserting our collective identity.’

The deprived ones can be made to understand this premise by initiating a very intense dialogue with them. Concomitant with this dialogue should be some programmes that help mitigate their immediate concerns. In doing so, our own identities need to necessarily merge with theirs enabling them to perceive us as a part of them & not as outside sympathizers.

In my understanding, if the skills have to be harnessed then we need to determine a viable unit of ‘a number of villages’ where over a period of time their respective produce finds a market. While this may be possible to do; more important than this is their resolve to progressively boycott the goods that are not produced by them, so that their own produce is consumed. For example, if salt, over a period of time, can be produced by them in sufficient measure to meet with the requirements of their internal consumption, then there onwards the outside salt would be fully boycotted by them.

This kind of peoples’ movement will indeed be seen as an upcoming threat to the hegemony of the ruling class (at all the hierarchies of their existence) and is bound to face repression from them. Only the collective resolve of the people can blunt the repressive machinery; that is why the collective ‘resolve’ to defy the establishment to protect the new mechanisms of new world is more important and in that people like us would be in the fore front.

The fate of agitations –peaceful or otherwise- in independent India is known to all. I am sure that there is no reason why the ruling class would be impelled to give an ear to the demands (howsoever well articulated) of this mass of 90 crores. This mass has no strength to bargain with the other world and therefore this all important need to look inwards.

In the Vijayawada meet, I did put my thoughts to the members on the similar lines as above. I also told them that the day they reject wearing shirt & pant and accord respectability to their traditional way of dressing up that day their world would have emerged out of oblivion with an identity that the ‘modern world’ may follow too.

I draw strength in my thought process from the fact that I do not know how much Gandhi ji theorized before deciding to fight against injustice in South Africa!!

Lalit K Kaul

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