Wednesday, July 13, 2011

Lokavidya and Livelihood

The crises of Lokavidyadhar Samaj ( that vast section of Indian society which bases its life and livelihood on Lokavidya )is that the (traditional) livelihoods have all but collapsed and the members of this Samaj(largely small and medium farmers, argicultural workers, artisans, tribals, small shopkeepers and home-maker women) are forced to live a life sans basic human dignity. They feel completely 'left out' and are at a loss to comprehend life and the future. This 'loss of identity and self respect' is being marked by a great groundswell of agitation (many times violent) by the members of this Samaj all over the country.

In the era of globalisation (post 1990) the agitations of farmers all over the country for remunerative prices and against acquisition and displacement , the agitation of traders and small shop-keepers against monopoly and entry of big houses into retail trade, the agitation of weavers demanding supply of yarn and market protection , the agitation of artisans of all types for protection of their livelihoods and market, the agitation of tribals against displacement and appropriation and exploitation of forest wealth to the detriment of their lives and livelihoods ; are all pointers to the growing alienation this vast section of Indian society experiences and the continuing exploitation of rampant financial, informational and industrial capitalism. The agitations also find expression against the erosion of societal norms and values, fuelled by crass comsumptive culture of urban India, in agitations for protection of 'culture' and 'identity'. Some of these agitations have led to demands for autonomy, linguistic and regional separatism with the apparent hope that a shared local-identity- based polity could deliver economically, socially and politically.

All members of Lokavidyadhar Samaj share something in common, namely, all they can claim to be truly their own and within their grasp is Lokavidya. Their lives and livelihoods are largely based on Lokavidya. Employability is now almost entirely dependent on acquired 'modern' skills and/or practices alone. As Lokavidya-based livelihoods have ceased to be capable of meeting basic life requirements, it is imperative that livelihoods based on Lokavidya be given a constitutional guarantee much like the fundamental right to life, liberty, school education, information, food and reservations in education and employment . This should take the form of a fundamental Right to Livelihood based on Lokavidya so that Lokavidyadhar Samaj can regain its lost momentum and impoversished men, women and children of the Samaj rebuild their lives with dignity.

This fundamental right could take the form of an ACT that constitutionally guarantees The Right to Livelihood based on Lokavidya and incorporates appropriate provisions to ensure that it is implemented in letter and spirit by making the State accountable as much as it is in case of Life and Liberty.


  1. This comment has been removed by the author.

  2. For someone who has recently been exposed to this dialogue I would like to better understand the outcomes that this movement wants to achieve.

    I would appreciate if you could shed some light on how the 'Right to Livelihood based on Lokavidya' will provide better provisions to life, liberty and dignity of the Lokavidyadhar Samaj vis-a-vis Article 21 of the Indian Constitution.

  3. I will use just one example to illustrate the point. The crises that haunts weavers is the lack of a reliable supply of yarn and a very restricted market-both of which are crucial to their being able to carry on with their livelihood. The problem with yarn supply is that synthetic yarn is mass produced by industry and is distributed widely(and cheaply) whereas a majority of handloom (and Khadi weavers) depend on cotton yarn.
    The cotton that is grown (now it is BT cotton) may not be suitable for the type of cloth that is traditionally woven.BT cotton has been thrust upon cotton farmers by the seed industry. Then the cotton fabric produced by weavers finds a very shrinking market because of reluctance of the industry controlled retail and wholesale market to market these products(there can be no branding for instance). So, due to all these industry/big business activities the livelihood of the weaver has been badly affected so much so that a very large number of them have committed suicide.

    A constitutional guarantee on this livelihood would ensure that there is no debilitating incursion into cotton production, yarn supply and market restriction. There would also be no consequent displacement of people from this livelihood activity.