Tuesday, February 4, 2014

Agenda for the Nation

This note is prepared and distributed, already in Hindi, for an extensive discussion meeting at Vidya Ashram, Sarnath on 10-11 February 2014. Lokavidya Jan Andolan (LJA) plans a dialogue on the agenda for this Nation between February and April now from the lokavidya point of view which also insures in this dialogue the participation of the lokavidyadhar samaj. The meeting on 10-11 Feb. now expects participation of LJA activists from Singrauli, Indore, Darbhanga and Varanasi. Leaders of Bharatiya Kisan Union and some artisan organizations will be here too. Dr. Sunilam and some other friends from Lucknow and Delhi are also expected to join. This may be treated as an open invitation to all who want to be here during the meeting. 

The immediate backdrop of this dialogue is considerably determined by the anti-corruption movement led by Anna Hazare and the possibility of new political culture brought in focus by Aam Admi Party (AAP). In these three months immediately preceding the General Elections, LJA will bring into public debate the necessity and significance of people's knowledge, partaking in any process of radical change in the politics, economics and society of this country. This people's knowledge called lokavidya is the knowledge with peasants, artisans, adivasis, women and the small retailers. It will be argued that the interests and initiatives of these very large segments of society require that lokavidya have a public role in the determination of the agenda of this Nation. 

There is always a variety of methods available  to solve any problem or to do any thing. It is true that the decisions on what is to be done and how is it to be done need to be taken in the villages, the  settlements, the localities, however in the meetings at such places it should be abundantly clear that people are free to give suggestions from their own point of view however different it may be from that of the higher educated or the social activists. The activists need to take initiative to clarify that people need not think in the context of the given policies or programs and need to say fearlessly what they think is right, for it is very clear by now that the rulers of this country have no solutions either to people's problems or to the problems of the Nation, they on the contrary are often seen as creating these problems. For years now the development model thrust upon the people has suppressed people's thinking and initiative for doing things by their own methods and based on their own knowledge.

Any task can be performed in many ways, it may be done based on university knowledge, by capital intensive technologies and management techniques or by people based on their own knowledge. It is true for almost everything, for all sectors like water, health, agriculture, forest, industry, administration, conflict resolution, market management, politics, name any. People even know how to use and manage electricity technically. Technics that are useful for the people get internalized in lokavidya overtime. It should be obvious that lokavidya is not just traditional knowledge. It is living knowledge residing in the midst of the people, who constantly upgrade and update it based on their needs and experiences and by their own genius. We need to transcend the unjust and the debilitating dichotomy of traditional versus modern and understand that lokavidya welcomes and internalizes all new knowledge and technics, which are useful for their initiative and which fulfill their needs. Without understanding this and without radical faith in people's ability, it is not possible to build a politics of radical change or determine a correct agenda for the Nation.

The following methods will be used for this campaign. 

  1. Dialogues will be conducted with the struggles and organizations of farmers and adivasis, urging them to stake public claims of their knowledge and use the language of their knowledge for coordination and unity among them. 
  2. The organizations of women, artisans and small retailers will be urged to make public claims of their knowledge. It will be clarified how they can present their demands using the language and capacity of lokavidya.
  3. The parties and candidates partaking in the elections will be urged to include lokavidya in their agenda. 
Since its first conference in November 2011 in Varanasi, LJA has been trying to focus debate on those issues which will enable lokavidya to acquire its just role in the process of change and recovery of this Nation and the world. These discussions continued in the meetings and regional conferences in 2012 and 2013 at Sewagram, Darbhanga, Chirala, Singrauli, Indore, Mumbai and Pune. As a result of this debate the following five points were agreed upon in the LJA conference at Multai (M.P.) jointly organized with Kisan Sangharsh Samiti, Madhya Pradesh, in January 2014. These five points are expected to guide this campaign for the national agenda from the point of view of the lokavidyadhar samaj. 

  • To live by lokavidya is the birth-right of every human being. So stop all displacement and pay just and remunerative prices to farmers, artisans and adivasis for their production and services.
  • Hierarchy in the world of knowledge is totally unjust. Those who live by lokavidya must get as much return as the modern educated do. As a first step ensure that those whose work is based on lokavidya have a steady income, equal to that of a government employee. 
  • Everybody must have an equal share in national resources - electricity, water, finance, health and education. 
  • Local society must control local systems-governance, market, resources, Jal-Jangal-Zameen, all. 
  • There should be a media school in every village. This is a nav-nirman effort to enable the village youth in the representation, communication and articulation of the standpoint of the village, the lokavidya standpoint. 
We expect to organize this campaign for a new agenda for the Nation from Varanasi, Darbhanga, Singrauli, Indore, Multai, Nagpur, Hyderabad and Chirala. More places may be identified in the meeting on 10-11 Feb. at Vidya Ashram. More meetings are likely between now and say April end. 

After the General Elections, we should meet for an evaluation and determination of further tasks in this respect. 

Vidya Ashram

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