Saturday, 5 November 2016

FB Discussions - Gram Swaraj

November 6, 2015 

People assume that is a 'well educated' person moves to a village he will contribute more. Wrong. 

'Modern education' simply gives us one world view, implying that those outside of that are backward and need to be civilised. In actualality, the 'modern educated' people with their inventions have driven the world to its breaking point, and the answers can only be found in the village skills and sustainable practices.

The 'well educated' person needs a lot more of unschooling before he can see village realities and strengths and participate sensitively and meaningfully. I have been that person, and I know what I am saying.

(And my husband, 'well educated' in an IIT, realised soon enough that the actual practical engineering skills, and hands on ability of the farmer, was something way superior to his.)
Suraj Kumar Absolutely. This is why at Deep Green Resistance we advocate for standing in solidarity with native peoples. Even when it comes to ecological restoration of degraded forests, what (lay) people often find daunting is the amount of complexity in the science of "restoration ecology". So we say "Go learn from native people". That original knowledge is far simpler and easier to grab than several thick books.

That said, I'm not sure about the natives who lost their own original cultures and have been forced to adapt to civilized life (ex: most SC/ST people today are just farm labourers; This systematic destruction of forests, their livelihoods and freedom must have happened a long time ago, I guess).
Aparna Krishnan
Aparna Krishnan Why Deep Green Resistance - Gram Swaraj is a good enough valid structure for this ? Yes, much is lost and in the current generation far far more is going to be lost. Still that is what one anchors on, and not the city education of the city types who with best intentions go to villages.
Suraj Kumar
Suraj Kumar Gram swarajya, IIRC, is a means of democratic decision making. But what about confronting systems that are destructive and powerful right now?... Infact I see the two as complementary. DGR is anti-civilization; GS is post civilization decision making framework.

BTW, The Okanagans of so-called British Columbia. follow a method that is close to GS although they go beyond and have voices representing non humans, traditional knowledge and customs, etc.,
Suraj Kumar
Suraj Kumar Also Gandhi was too straight jacketed that he refused to see the evil that is in the world :) . DGR acknowledges the need to confront evil.

Aparna Krishnan
Aparna Krishnan Gandhi confronted the British empire.

Suraj Kumar
Suraj Kumar Of course, no denying that.. but is Gram Swarajya designed to confront and dismantle destructive systems?
Aparna Krishnan
Aparna Krishnan It is the essential structure of a valid anarchist world as as most relevent to this country. The study of the freedom struggle pointers on some of the processes at dismantleing. Of course the enemy is far more complex today with the industrial world we are questioning deeply incorporated inside each one of us also.
Kannan Thandapani Gandhi was usually late in seeing evil, but once he did it, he confronted it like nobody else.

Maybe it is too early for me to say this but you can take these as my initial observations - while I have developed a huge respect for the village skills, I don't see them getting transferred to the next generation and not too many sustainable practices are left in the village. The shops in my village import food and pretty much everything from the city. Plastics rule. Most sell their nuts and milk, and buy oil. Tea and Tasmac are the staple drinks. There are 5 tea shops for 500 houses. Everyone who sees us walking or riding the cycle advises us to buy a two-wheeler or bring the car. No, I am not complaining :-) Nor can I impose my 'civilised worldview' on the village - they are already more 'civilised' and 'modern' than I am.

The Gram of Gandhi doesn't exist anymore. Gram Swaraj is going to require more resistance and reinvention, than the freedom struggle.
Aparna Krishnan
Aparna Krishnan Agree completely.
Sunny Narang Aparna I have worked with traditional artisans and farmers , spoken with tribal medicine-practitioners and forest-produce collectors . In just about every space knowledge is getting lost or already lost to the next generation as we have completely schooled their children in a pathetic low-quality dis-interested teacher system of local state-run schools with no connect curriculum. If dribs and drabs survives it is due to the family cultures in few areas . Till respect is given along with support networks to even modern markets , nothing will survive within a generation . With the mobile , everyone is connected as with the TV in everyone's homes . There is the biggest and the largest process of flattening of cultures and knowledge diversity happening in the world , starting from the US University System at the top and the government schools at the bottom . Till local knowledge is made respectable again by groups and enterprises I am sorry it is all going to vanish like Native American tribes . Not physically but in the mind .
Sunny Narang
Sunny Narang We now have more and more documentation of traditions than living examples. We are more about museums than creating in-situ sanctuaries. Gandhi's village is now left in the driest or most remote regions. Anyone with good water or electricity is or will soon be in the commercial system .
Aparna Krishnan
Aparna Krishnan I am looking for answers. And yours is the bleakest, and most honest comment to date I have faced - the possibility that this may go the way of the Native American culture. Yes between schooling and TV the battle seems lost, but still we are not permitted to lose hope. Who knows.
Sunny Narang Let me take hand-block printing and natural dyeing as an example . To make wooden blocks a child needs to be trained from age 10 . Now they accept it takes 10,000 hours for excellence in any skill , even at 4 hours a day that is about 250 days a year 1000 hours , so 10 years . With anti child-labour there can be no training in traditional skills and that is what Modern activism desires funded by Western agencies who only know factory and outsourcing . No blocks no block printing . Even block printer skills are vanishing as screen printing can deliver similar work at lower costs and is still hand work , eg like Khadi will vanish but handloom live on since no women left to make hand yarn . And natural dyeing , with the desire to have same kind of shade no mass production possible as every bucket the shade will change , so only very elite possible . Agriculture by extension officials is all about synthetic fertilizer and how many places have no lab seeds left , almost nowhere in the green revolution spaces . Cows ? Mostly going hybrid way . What traditional processes are left ? Trees in forests , mostly teak or other wood based trees , even Forest nurseries have till now not more than 10% plants of medicinal or other use trees , forget shrubs and climbers . There is a major knowledge extinction going on and nothing is even noticed . I give the left traditions another 10-15 years at most . At best a few oasis will survive .
Nisarg Joshi
Nisarg Joshi May this survived oasis flourish again when the dust of the destruction settles down.
Aparna Krishnan
Aparna Krishnan Much will be lost forever. Many traditional texts are lost forever, including in Ayurveda. We need to do what we can do.
Marut Mitra
Marut Mitra There is no eternal loss. Lost in physical form is not the permanent loss. From these protected oasis, I am sure seers will emerge again, as they do often, to trailblaze the path one more time.

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