Friday, February 19, 2021

Swaraj Dialogue – 2

Farmers Movement : Is there a Knowledge Conflict?

The conflict between the Government and the Farmers’ Movement does not appear to be heading towards a solution. On one side is the government (majority in the Parliament) and on the other is the farmers’ understanding of the three laws finding expression in the statements of Samyukt Kisan Morcha and the Mahapanchayts.

The government is talking about the advantage/profit to the farmers and the farmer is talking about ‘justice’. The world of knowledge, with which the parliament and the political processes their off are connected, is tied to the logic of ‘profit and loss’. This world of knowledge was born some 4-5 hundred years ago in Europe in a process in which were also born the new cities, trade and market which pushed the village and the farmer to the secondary position. Those who lived in the new cities became the citizens. Over time this process gave birth to parliamentary democracy. Morality, justice, and sacrifice have no place in this world of knowledge . It is this knowledge that is the ideal of the universities today. On the other hand, the worlds of knowledge to which the farmers belong have different traditions. We can call them swadeshi traditions of knowledge’ where justice, sacrifice and peoples’ agree-ability (lokasammat) are present intrinsically.

It appears that the stalemate, in the ultimate analysis, stems from the deep differences between these two worlds of knowledge. It is not easy to find a way in such an impasse. The government commands greater physical force and may find a solution based on such force. However, it will not be respectable and both sides would be hurt albeit in different ways. Anyway, the solution to be found will be determined by the leaderships of the two sides. They may be able to find a respectable solution, but one thing is certain that ways will have to be found to move towards a new arrangement of things and men/women, which incorporates the values of both, the Panchayat and the Parliamentary Democracy.   

Broadly speaking the whole society ought to be part of this search for the new arrangement, the systems of governance and conflict resolution. It will require fraternal relationship between various ways of thinking and streams of knowledge in society. Specifically, what is needed is a friendly relation between the knowledge in the university and the knowledge in society, namely lokavidya. Each will have to recognize and respect the interdependent, autonomous and sovereign nature of the other. This sub-continent is not unaware of such governance and social regulation. Traditions of swaraj is where we need to look to.

Sunil Sahasrabudhey 

19 February 2021

Vidya Ashram, Sarnath 


स्वराज संवाद – 2

किसान आन्दोलन और सरकार के बीच की जिच कुछ हल होने का नाम नहीं ले रही है. एक ओर सरकार (संसद में बहुमत) का निर्णय है और दूसरी ओर किसानों की समझ जिसकी झलक संयुक्त किसान मोर्चे के वक्तव्यों और महापंचायतों की प्रक्रियाओं में मिलती है. सरकार किसानों के फायदे की बात कर रही है और किसान न्यायकी बात कर रहा है.

संसद जिस ज्ञान की दुनिया से जुड़ा राजनीतिक उपकरण है वह ज्ञान की दुनिया फायदे और नुकसानके तर्कों से बंधी है. यह वही ज्ञान की दुनिया है, जिसका जन्म कुछ 4-5 सौ साल पहले यूरोप में हुआ, उसी प्रक्रिया में हुआ जिसमें नये शहर और नये व्यापार व बाज़ार ने आकार लिया, जिसने गाँव और किसान को दूसरे नंबर का बना दिया. नागरिक वे हो गए जो नगर में रहते थे. समयांतर में इसी प्रक्रिया में संसदीय लोकतंत्र का जन्म हुआ. इस ज्ञान की दुनिया में नैतिकता, न्याय, त्याग, आदि का कोई स्थान नहीं होता. यही ज्ञान आज के विश्वविद्यालयों का आदर्श है. दूसरी ओर जिस ज्ञान की दुनिया में किसान बसता है उसकी परंपरा अलग है. इसे हम स्वदेशी ज्ञान परंपरा कह सकते हैं, जहाँ न्याय, त्याग अथवा लोकसम्मतकी अन्तरंग उपस्थिति होती है.

इन दो ज्ञान-विश्वों के बीच के गहरे अंतर ही हल न निकल पाने की पृष्ठभूमि में हैं, ऐसा लगता है. इसमें से रास्ता निकालना आसान नहीं है. सरकार के पास भौतिक ताकत ज्यादा है और वह कोई बल आधारित हल खोज सकती है, लेकिन दोनों ही पक्षों के लिये वह सम्मानजनक नहीं होगा, उससे दोनों ही पक्ष आहत होंगे. बहरहाल रास्ता क्या निकलेगा यह तो इस गतिरोध के विविध पक्षों का नेतृत्व करने वाले ही तय करेंगे. शायद वे दोनों पक्षों के लिये सम्मानजनक हल भी ढूंढ लें लेकिन एक बात तो साफ़ नज़र आ रही है कि न्यायोचित और प्रभावी शासन के लिये संसदीय लोकतंत्र और पंचायत दोनों के मूल्यों को समाहित करने वाली नई व्यवस्था की ओर बढ़ने के रास्ते भी ढूंढने होंगे.

नई व्यवस्थाओं की खोज में पूरे समाज को शामिल होना होगा. समाज में जितनी भी ज्ञान की धाराएँ हैं उनके बीच भाईचारा और सौहार्द से ही वांछित उद्देश्य की प्राप्ति हो सकती है. मोटे तौर पर कहें तो विश्वविद्यालय के ज्ञान और लोकविदया यानि समाज में ज्ञानके बीच दोस्ताने का सम्बन्ध होना होगा. दोनों को एक दूसरे में निहित पारस्परिक निर्भरता, स्वायत्तता और प्रभुसत्ता को मान्यता देनी होगी. भारत देश ऐसे शासन और समाज सञ्चालन से अनभिज्ञ नहीं है. स्वराज की परम्पराएँ कुछ ऐसी ही हैं.

 सुनील सहस्रबुद्धे

19 फरवरी 2021

विद्या आश्रम सारनाथ


Sunday, February 7, 2021

Swaraj Dialogues

Farmer's Movement : Is Ethics at Issue?  

     All our friends and co-workers who have social concern are in support of the ongoing farmer’s movement in the country. They are pained by the suffering of the farmers and want the matter to be resolved soon. There have been several rounds of meetings between the Movement and the Government. But it is difficult to say whether any actual dialogue is taking place. Why is the dialogue not taking place? Perhaps because the idea that the farmers have of the future of this country, the society and their own well-being, is at great variance with the dominant view in the upper classes of the country and the world today. A farmer is not ready to accept his pauperization and also does not want that someone else take the decisions about his work and life. In the modern world, in the world of industries and metropolis and in the world governed by centralized rule, the farmer and the village have always been at the receiving end, forced to live a life without dignity and without resources. Value created by their labour and knowledge is transferred away from them and is used to build industry, metropolis and, as if, the entire modern life style. This happens both in the world of private or public enterprise. Therefore even if some solution is found to the immediate crisis, it is only legitimate to think about the long term. A small effort in this direction is attempted below.

It is necessary to keep the market away from food grains. And it is also necessary that the production of food grains be as attractive as any other agricultural production. It is here that the agricultural sector needs major governmental intervention. It is said that the year in which agricultural produce gets reasonable price, the market in the villages and small towns see visible increase in activity. This is where development and well-being meet. The extent and type of modernization such economic activity may lead to is what the nation needs. Hence, if capital unrelated to agriculture is invested in agriculture and that too without government control, it will lead to increased exploitation of the peasantry and profits generated in that process will propel the activity in the markets of the metropolis and in international market. This may enrich further a small percentage of people in the country, otherwise this is that jobless growth where the West has already arrived and our governments are so eager to follow suit.

People with social concern have been saying this for a while that our political system has become such that those sitting in the legislatures do not think about the well-being of the people in general or the farmers in particular. The chief reason for this seems to be that questions related to morality have become irrelevant in the public social space. That is if someone talks about morality in the market, people may call him a fool. The biggest question of today seems to be how morality finds a place in markets and politics. This means that in matters of buying and selling the issues of being morally correct and just would have precedence over considerations of profit. When the government makes a policy or passes a law, questions of justice would take precedence over other considerations. When the moral consideration takes a back seat in electoral contests and the political parties decide on contestants keeping only win-ability as the criteria, it is precisely here that the idea of honest ‘representation’ finds its burial. Those who win are under no constraint to be sensitive towards people’s needs, similar to what we find in the market place, namely that those who make money in the market through their cunning and heartless management, hardly have any fraternal feeling towards others in society. It may not be difficult to see that absence of dialogue between the Farmers' Movement and the Government, in spite of several rounds of meetings, is due to some such situation. It is only when morality gets its due place in public discourse that we can expect the dialogue to resume effectively and not to run into such dead end.

  We need to think deeply and dialogue on how to keep the market away from the food grains. Such reflections can take us towards including morality as an essential part of public discourses and this may give direction to thinking about systems of society and government which have at their center considerations of the well being of humanity, nature, society and country. Let us remember that some ten years ago there was a huge anti- corruption movement in this country which brought ‘swaraj’ in public discourse again. Perhaps in the understanding of ordinary men and women swaraj means that system of society and government which is based in morality, truth and bhaichara and not in competition, profit and power. Can starting a dialogue on swaraj open pathways for re-instituting morality among public criteria. This dialogue on swaraj will require to be wholesome- politics, society, economics, nature, culture, philosophy, global and local, everything to have its share. 

Sunil Sahasrabudhey 

Varanasi 7 Feb. 11.50 AM     

 

Monday, February 1, 2021

The Farmers Movement: the Political Message is Loud & Clear Lalit K Kaul

 The Farmers Movement: the Political Message is Loud & Clear

                                                                                                                        Lalit K Kaul

What Farmers’ movement in the 80s & thereafter stood for, is of no relevance; what Sri M S Tikait, Sharad Joshi, Prof. Nanjundswamy, Sri B S Maan, etc stood for and what were their demands are declared irrelevant today; the reasons why Dr. Swaminathan Report came into existence and what the farmers’ unions demanded based on the report is not relevant today; because all these have been consigned to the dustbin of history.

The trade unionism of farmer community (the numerical strength does not matter) seems to be approaching THE END while transforming itself into a political movement origins of which lie in the disillusionment with the extant democratic political dispensation. The call is loud and clear: Don’t have any faith/trust/confidence in what laws get enacted in the Parliament as it has ceased to reflect mood/aspirations of the people and has evolved into being an instrument for thrusting an ideology/agenda of development and growth on the people of India.

Therefore the call for unconditional withdrawal of all the newly enacted Agri laws while showing belligerent repudiation for any negotiations with the government of the day is a very momentous political event that has the potential to redefine the relationship between the ruler and the ruled.

The government of the day seems to have bowed down a bit by offering to withhold implementation of the new Agri laws for a period of 1 & ½ years. So, in a way, to a certain extent the government has acknowledged the irrelevance of the Parliament to the ground realities. The import of this offer from the government is that in future it shall be difficult for any government to enact a law in the Parliament without being sure of the ground realities.

How far can the farmers’ unions go? Let there be no mixing of what the farmers are demanding and what out of power political parties are doing to find for themselves a political space. While the farmers may not draw any strength from their support, the political parties hope to reap some harvest in upcoming elections next year. Whatever be the compulsions of the political parties, there is no imperative for the farmers to boycott them so long as they have an independent agenda.

By coming in support of the farmers, the participants in the degenerate politics that has been in vogue almost since the birth of independent Indian Nation have put themselves on a suicidal path in that they have ended up joining hands with the farmers in denying the supremacy of the Parliament in a parliamentary democracy. Either they don’t hope to capture power at Center for an unbearably long time – that may witness their disintegration from within- or they have unwittingly/ inadvertently and/or motivated by their blood boiling opposition to Modi ji  become pawns in the agenda set by the farmers; for, if this partial surrender by NDA culminates into total surrender to the farmers’ demands then those in opposition now wouldn’t know how to legislate in an irrelevant Parliament if & when they are elected to rule this cursed land.

Not very sure whether the farmers themselves have understood the import of what they have been demanding from the day one of Gherao for, if they succeed in rendering the Parliament Infructuous   then to run the parliamentary democracy would be the impossible task because no laws would be enacted for fear of the Gheraos. Shaheen Bagh is the Mother and has legitimized such activities. Not just farmers, but anybody/group can just do Gherao and the response of the law and order machinery will depend upon the election influencing capability of the mob.

The seed sown by the farmers for the change in the way this country of ours should be governed, in time they need to come up with alternative ways/set ups for governing this country. The farmers representing 2 & ¼ states have taken the lead and therefore they may have to take the farmers of other states in confidence to redefine & restate the parameters for governance of our country in a democratic way. Else, it will end up as an exercise that destabilized the extant political dispensation and governance model without throwing up a viable alternative. A huge responsibility now lies on the shoulders of the farmers’ leaders. 

Wednesday, January 6, 2021

A Civilizational Perspective on the Farmers' Movement

(Hindi Facebook post on 4th January 2021,        

 Sunil Sahasrabudhey )

The very serious and locked situation between the present Farmers’ Movement and the Government of India draws ones attention to questions of civilizational importance - what constitutes humanity and how should we reconstruct and relate again to the philosophies of life in the present century?

It is said that where there is no village, there is no civilization. We had heard this from Rin Po Che, a Buddhist scholar-philosopher many years ago in a discussion at the Gandhian Institute of Studies in Varanasi, when he was the Director of The Tibetan Institute of Higher Studies at Sarnath. It appears that some such thought was the backdrop of Gandhi’s insistence on village being the primary unit in swaraj. The supporters of the present farmers’ movement have again and again called the farmers ‘annadata’ meaning those who feed the world. It may be said that those who are not simply a tail-piece of the market or the state see the farmer as annadata, women as annapoorna (those who provide a square meal) and the village as both an existential and an epistemic condition of civilization. If we look at the tradition of wholesome thought , we are likely to find that no distinction is made between the concrete and the abstract, between the physical and the spiritual, between the body and the soul and between being and knowledge. Just as the Gandhian movement has given the slogan that ‘Khadi is not just a cloth, it is a way of thinking’, similarly his insistence on the village may allow us to say that village is as much a spiritual entity as a physical one. Gandhi did believe also that there is no difference of level between the evening prayer of a peasant and the most abstract philosophies. In different words it may be said that truth lies in the fusion of the concrete and the abstract.

It is not just that the BJP government and Adani/Ambani are the issues or hurdles, they are of course that, however the practice and policy of the farmers’ movement appears to say that we need to learn from the wholesome traditions of thought (sant parampara) and in accordance with that develop the human code of conduct. Will ‘food’ occupy the centre stage then? Is food then both physical and spiritual? Handling of food in the movement appears to point to that. Dialogues on the concerned laws are necessary but let this not circumscribe our present thinking. Appropriate respect ought to be paid to representative institutions, legislatures, but let us not take them to be everything. Peoples’ ways and thought should ultimately hold the sway. It is humans who will build the future of humanity. Capital and market need to be brought down from the high seat they have been given. The farmers’ movement is saying that this is possible.

Tuesday, December 29, 2020

On Farmer- Ruler Relationship

(A post made on Karigar Nazaria in Facebook in Hindi on 28 December, 2020 by Chitra Sahasrabudhey) 

The present farmers’ movement has touched our souls. It is at such times that people in large numbers and, as if, society as a whole, are able to selflessly concentrate and focus their thoughts for an appreciation of truth and justice as opposed to falsehood and injustice. On this occasion we are giving here a very special event which will increase our self confidence and help the country and society in pursuing the path of truth and justice.  

It relates to the summer of 1938. There was a small princely state by the name of Aundh in the region where Maharashtra and Karnataka meet – the Satara-Sangli-Bijapur area. It so happened that thousands of peasants (about 6,000) got together and marched towards the capital town raising slogans. They were very angry. The ministers and the advisers of the king were very worried but the matter was not immediately reported to the king.  When the peasants came very close to the capital they started demanding a dialogue with the king. Hearing this, the king came out (from his art room, for he was an artist too) and asked what the matter was. He heard the whole thing without being perturbed and looked at the prince, Apa Pant. The prince politely said that the peasants need to be asked “what was the reason of their anger?” The king said “fair enough, so be it”. The next day the peasants were treated to a full meal. By the evening many more peasants joined, among them also those who were not from Aundh.

The peasants had two demands : One, the taxes may be reduced and two, the administration needed to be improved. The king agreed.

However this was not all that happened.

The king implemented several measures in the next six months and on 23 November 1938, he announced before the people that they were now sufficiently competent to take the governance into their own hands. A Swaraj Constitution was developed and placed before the people and the king quit his thrown. This Aundh Swaraj Constitution was developed on the initiative of prince Apa Pant who sought Mahatma Gandhi’s guidance for this by travelling to Sewagram and spending some days with him. Also  leaders of Congress mainly Shankar Rao Deo and B.V. Shikhre studied and assessed the conditions of administration in Aundh and made recommendations towards the new constitution. This Swaraj constitution was implemented for about 10 years before the state was dissolved for integration with Independent India.

During these 10 years a number of pro-people policies took shape. Three specially worth mention are :

1.   The people of Aundh met with success the challenges of the severe famine of 1942,

2.    A system of education was implemented in 700 villages in less than one year, which continued for ten years. The election to Panchayat also required that the contestant be educated.

3.    The judicial system was made simple, pro-people and quick. 


Vidya Ashram 

12.06 pm 29 Dec. 2020