Monday, March 4, 2013

Lokavidya Jan Andolan (LJA) - One More Step

Mumbai Meeting Expands LJA Scope

The meeting in Mumbai on 23-24 Feb. 2013, helped to consolidate the activities of LJA during last one year, mainly since the Sevagram meeting on 17th March 2012. Whereas there was good discussion on the Lokavidya philosophy, the details from the various regions of activity got reported. Building of Lokavidya Ashrams and initiating dialogue on Lokavidya Tana-Bana were fresh high lights that infused a creative strand and a sense of looking beyond what one keeps doing organizationally. The meeting attended by about 40 persons concluded on a forward looking and imaginative note.

LJA Organization - The Regions
The program adopted in the November 2011 Varanasi Conference was implemented through the last year. There was the Darbhanga Conference for Bihar state on 31st March-1st April 2012, the Chirala Conference for Andhra Pradesh on 24-25 May 2012, the Singrauli Conference for Madhya Pradesh on 28-30 September 2012 and the Indore regional event on 19-20 January 2013. Dialogue on Lokavidya Tana-Bana was initiated at Varanasi through a large meeting at Vidya Ashram on 19-20 February 2012. The LJA worked very closely every where with peasants in their struggles, which were often to save their lands from forced acquisition. It also tried to develop links with artisan and adivasi groups and organizations. All this got reported concurrently on this blog.

In this meeting in Mumbai the report from Varanasi by Premalata Singh underlined the integral connection of the LJA work in Uttar Pradesh with Bharatiya Kisan Union and attempts to build lokavidya relations with weavers and other artisans. A state level LJA Meet jointly with BKU U.P. is proposed for November this year.
Work in Singrauli has taken some strides forward after the state level convention of LJA held there in end September 2012. Ravishekhar reported on their present activity in far flung areas and amid those displaced by the continuous stream of new private power companies. It is planned to publish a monthly paper from Lokavidya Ashram in Singrauli. They also plan to undertake a Lokavidya tour of the state jointly with Indore activists and Vidya Ashram Varanasi. It is proposed to have a state level lokavidya activists meeting in Bhopal on 22-23 June 2013.
Sanjeev Daji reported from the Indore region. Here the highlights include a Bazar Modo-Lokavidya Bazar Banao campaign, Gyan Panchayats on the issue of displacement rampant there due to Delhi-Mumbai Corridor and expanding industrial-educational-habitat activity, a fresh program of loka gayaki mainly with Kabir mandalis and a continuous dialogue with the somewhat socially inclined middle classes of Indore city. Kisan-Adivasi unity forms the general basis and the direction giving context of LJA work in this region.

Mohan Rao and Narayan Rao  talked about the organizational activity among artisans around Chirala and Vijaywada and the publication of Lokavidya Prapancham, a Telugu periodical, from Hyderabad. Krishnarajulu gave a picture of displacement of peasants and fishermen along coastal Andhra Pradesh and the LJA connection with it, particularly with work in Sompeta, Shrikakulam and Nellore.

Lokavidya Ashram

Dilip Kumar from Varanasi, Ekta from Singrauli and Sanjeev from Indore reported on the building of Lokavidya Ashrams in their regions. Dilip also talked about the possibility of building a Lokavidya Ashram on the bank of the Son river in Anooppur (M.P.) jointly with Kabir panthis there.

Lokavidya Tana-Bana

Friends from the world of art in Mumbai, Pune and Chennai had joined for the debate on Lokavidya Tana-Bana. They included a shahir, a designer, a singer,a cinema director, a TV shows and short films director,  a cinema script writer, a theater person, a sculptor and a university lok-kala teacher. The idea of Lokavidya Tana-Bana as the space of relationships and connectivity among the lokavidyadhar samaj was presented and a discussion initiated on how this could be the critical space where the artists could contribute to building of new imagination and initiative in return to what they incessantly take from the people. They all spoke. The attempt was to focus on the possibility of artistic activity giving new and politically significant meaning to Lokavidya Tana-Bana. It was felt that this is a new dialogue and there is need to explore the variety of forms that this dialogue can take.
Kelai Draupadi, a Tamil film by Sashikanth, was screened. It presents a forgotten aspect of the tradition of struggles in this country, struggles for negotiating peace settlements with aggressors.

Lokavidya Darshan 

A participatory discussion took place at the beginning of the meeting on the question of political imagination that may derive from the lokavidya stand-point.Among many questions raised while initiating this relatively philosophical discussion, two got the focus.  One, whether there was a clear need again to think in terms of 'swaraj' and not in terms of 'democracy' ? And two, what is the nature of our engagement - are we engaged in a war to finish off the present and build the future anew OR is it a struggle based negotiation for a peaceful settlement through which the people can regain their lost initiative and also new opportunities for fresh initiative ? Builders of the lokavidya darshan and Vidya Ashram present in the meeting came forward to express deeper thought on people, change and the knowledge loci in society. This was a discussion taking place for the first time in the context of Lokavidya Jan Andolan and it was felt that attempts should be made to get more and more people to participate in it.

In the End 

The following emerged through these meetings.
  • All the regions of activity shall have full autonomy in their work. It is important that activists from different regions collaborate for work. 
  • Definite income for everyone based on lokavidya work and emoluments equal to that of a government employee, emerged as the idea around which extensive coordination within LJA can be achieved. Concrete methods of doing this may be envisaged in relation to the ideas and work going on with respect to this in different regions. 
  • Peasants' struggles are steadily on the rise across the country. They exhibit great variety and all feel the need of cooperation from and coordination with others. Coordination of peasants' struggles all over the country is a challenge that LJA needs to accept. 
  • The building of Lokavidya Ashrams should continue. 
  • Lokavidya Tana-Bana provides a new location for experiments and new enterprise with and for different types of artists. 
  • Vidya Ashram Varanasi remains the secretariat of LJA, until concrete proposals are received from some other place. 

Vidya Ashram

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