Niyamgiri’s Ku Klux Klan
All the rabid Rightwingers with tunnel vision in the English media in India, who worship market fundamentalism like the Ku Klux Klan (KKK) worships the anti-god, have suddenly discovered Niyam: the tribal deity of Niyamgiri. They are suddenly journalists turning anthropologists overnight, plus half-baked holy cow development fanatics, the Blackberry renaissance stooges of the Great Industrial Revolution that never happened. You can suddenly find them swarming all over the backward capitalism spaces in the rat-trap pages of their biased, agenda-driven newspapers, and in their zero sum game incestuous clubs - deconstructing Niyamgiri. But they are blind, dumbed, numbed by the sheer shallow mediocrity of their mercenary, crony capitalism.
They never thought they would ever enter these remote, pristine interiors of the heavenly gates of a precious ecological hot spot which never registered in their consciousness all these years. Even as the invisible struggle moved from low to high, angst to anger, sacrifice to suffering, repression to starker, darker repression; from bauxite to aluminium, totem to taboo, indeed, from tribalism to nationalism and internationalism, from defeat to victory. In text, image, sound, across the civil society struggle and solidarity network, this narrative was documented. In the notebooks of journalists who dared to write despite being branded jholawalas (Oh! what a lovely designer brand name this is!). In short films and songs, which captured the cinematic beauty of this magical landscape, this struggle was recorded. In blogs and subversive spaces, untouched by 'paid news'. On walls and posters. In silent protest meetings across India, and the world.
And yet, you can see through this KKK game: they now want to snatch, from the hands of the tribals, yet another defeat from the jaws of victory. So that Vedanta can come back and crush the god of Niyamgiri.
The market fanatics in the Indian capital, especially in the cocooned high moral ground of the petty little clubs they inhabit, like Kafka's cockroaches forever in metamorphosis, compulsively bestowing annual awards to each other, celebrating their obscenely bloated comfort zones - they have suddenly discovered that totems and taboos also exist. And yet, they just can't see.
They can't see this amazingly beautiful and pristine realism of the folk, primordial narrative which has an unwritten language written on the wings of a song, the wind of the trees, the gurgle of the springs, the flutter of the butterflies, the night of the night sky, the skin of the young, the flowers, flora and fauna of the meadows, the wild and wildlife of the hills, and, of course, the dogged innocence and resilience of the indigenous people, the original inhabitants of this ancient land, who know the meaning of how nature moves in synthesis with the body of daily life's simple desires.
And they they care little for the fanatic development paradigms of the rich and corrupt, which will ravage their landscape and their lives.
This is the story of the entire eastern ghats, and it is a story which all the KKKs of mindless globalisation clearly missed.
Located in the poverty-stricken zone KBK (Kalahandi-Bolangir-Koraput) region, where crores have been pumped for years but not a pie has reached the people, where para-military forces, police, contractors and goons of big business with no number plate cars move in tandem, you will not find public distribution systems, schools or health centres. This is the story across this lovely landscape - where the State has existed either in absence or in the presence of repression. Instead, the State, now, like some of these KKK journos, operates like a pimp of the corporates - in this case Vedanata - perhaps entering into the business of dirty notoriety in the same big scale as the notorious inheritors of Blood Diamonds.
This is the dogged story across the landscape, at Kashipur in the eastern ghats of Orissa, where tribals have been jailed, beaten, killed, hounded: but the bauxite mines are still a figment of the corporate imagination. The same resistance narrative has been enacted in Kalinganagar and Jagatsinghpur, despite the repression: locals call them "Tata goons and Posco police". But the journey from angst to anger, and defeat to victory, continues.
For the KKKs, they can't even call the tribals damned Maoists and kill them in cold-blood or fake encounters. Because these are non-violent indigenous movements with great originality, mixing many streams of consciousness and oral histories, fiercely radical and militant as the thousands of bloody tribal uprisings against the British: from Dantewada to Niyamgiri