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What is Happening in Jharkhand Deshum today 2010

The paper below was presented as the Concept Note[1] for a National Campaign & Consultation: Who are the barbarians on our Homeland? at Bagachia Conference Centre Namkum Ranchi Jharkhand[2] (India) on 8 – 9 June 2010. The delegates then voted that the Concept Note be circulated to all corners of our land as an annexure to the Declaration of the Consultation under the above title. A printed report of the Consultation is being prepared in Hindi and English and can be available from B.I.R.S.A. and Delhi Forum stopkillingusjkd@gmail.com.

The Campaign continues and the second National Consultation is being planned and will be held by the end of this year in accordance with the Adivasi way of handling life and death issues. For those interested please contact stopkillingusjkd@gmail.com

What is happening in Jharkhand Dishum Today 2010

1) What have peace, harmony & common living meant for us Adivasis?

a) We the Adivasi[3] peoples of Jharkhand Dishum[4] share many ways and thoughts with our fellow Indigenous peoples, spread over all the continents of this our World. The core and essence of them all being:

(a) A love and respect for life

(b) A reverence for all living things, and

(c) Their ever evolving creative capacities

(d) For us, life is not just an individual matter or concern.

b) We believe in all life

(a) The life within-ourselves

(b) The life out-of-ourselves and

(c) The life around-ourselves

(d) And above all the life we experience within the fellowship of the spirits of our ancestors …ever there to guide and protect us.

2) What do we mean when we say Respect for all life?

a) Respect for the life of others is so important for us Adivasis that, we consider territorial conquest and destruction of any livelihoods as barbaric and evil. Such acts disqualify a person from living amongst us humans as children of our Mother Earth.

b) As more and more colonizers invaded our territories, during the past two centuries, we kept losing more and more of our land and population. A time came when there was no more land left for us to run to or take shelter. For reasons we will explain below, we could not compromise by assimilation or integration into their communities, for this meant subordinating to their economic way of life. Therefore it was during these stages of colonization, and when we had no more land to run to that our ancestors were left with no alternative but to stand back, resist and fight. Our ancestors did just that and some of their brave and glorious stories make the history of peninsular India.

3) Confronting a Warring people

a) Our invaders had for centuries through war and conquest over long voyages mastered the skill of warfare. They were well developed and cruel warriors. As we Adivasis did not believe in territorial conquest and expansion we did not need to wage wars and hence were ignorant of the techniques’ of wars and weaponry. Therefore when the colonisers invaded our territories and tried to subjugate us to live like them we just could not comply. Instead we took flight eastwards to the next available space.

b) On the other hand it should be remembered that all through the above period (which spanned several centuries) we did welcome other communities. They had different languages and different ways of living. But the essence and core of their way of living was the same as ours –respect for life and its creative capacities.  From them and with them we shared whatever we had and progressed. We are Munda, Ho, Santhal, Urang, Khadia, Paharia et al. At one time we were innumerable. A people with different languages not known by all yet we all communicate well enough to live in peace and harmony under a common ethnic name ‘Adivasi’. Few recognize the fact that there are no records of conflicts among or between us. We shared an economy that kept us in peace and harmony and community living.

c) The above reading that for centuries we were a peace loving people can be supported by the fact that none of our Adivasi communities or groups living today in Jharkhand has developed any technology for war-fare. If during these centuries of continuous migration, we would have wanted to contest our predators, then we surely should have improved upon the pick axe and the bow & arrow as weapons of war, rather than as weapons to protect us from the animal kingdom. If despite the fact that others waged war against us (including the East India Company and the English Army) continuously for centuries and yet we did not develop warfare technologies to retaliate or defend ourselves, goes to tell how much we value peace, harmony and collective living.

4) Our needs for life and living

a) We Indigenous peoples have for centuries lived a life where wanting more and subjugating others to creating that more, is considered the first and primary threat to peace harmony and collective living.

b) Destroying the life and livelihoods of others, taking over and expanding into their territories are acts of war on humanness. The same is with taking from others what is theirs and enhancing your life possessions with what belongs to others, by depriving them of the very basis of their livelihood – their land, their forest, their villages, their waters, their clean air, their health, their youth and their longevity of life.

c) We were continuously for centuries invaded by such people whose interest in invading us was to plunder our resources to meet their insatiable demands. For their lavish and exuberant and wasteful life styles, their rulers needed their subjects to over work. In order that the ruling minorities have more; the majority (janata) had to work and overwork. They could not be content with what they had. Life for them is reduced to consuming things as rapidly and as voluminously as possible. Life is also meant to fight and compete over possessions.

d) Our desire for co-existence in total harmony with all the living is so essential that rather than contest or fight other intruders, we chose to abandon our lands and flee to begin habitation all over again in another distant land. Episodes of getting uprooted, taking flight, exoduses were routine and life shattering that even today they flow along the memory lines of each new born generation. The trauma of continuous forced exoduses against our will still imbibes fear in our people.

e) We are grateful to the few who acknowledge that our lands were usurped for the National Development agenda. What however is not much known is that more than giving up our lands, we were protecting our way of life that was based on a different kind of economy. Just as when a city is in siege the first thing its people do is to take their gods into protection so also when our lands were seized we were taking our Adivasi economy into protected areas.

f) We gave up the very source of our life, -our land and livelihood, in order to protect our values and way of life. This is the cost we Indigenous Peoples have paid for protecting our economy, the only economy on this earth which produces peace as it grows.

g) When we are not recognized as a people with a distinct identity, when the wealth that has been plundered from us is not recognized or acknowledged, how can we expect the outside world to admit the fact that we have been running an economy that produces peace? It is not possible to acknowledge the worth or value of something you cannibalise.

h) We today want it to be known that not only our land and our people but our economy, the only economy on this earth that produces peace, became the cannibalisers first victim. More than killing us or taking over our territories it was a economy that produces peace that they eat up in order to creates an economy that lives on blood.

i) For this reason we do not see territorial expansion as something only political. Territorial expansion and looting goods and lives of others is now an economy. Therefore territorial expansion is not just looking for land or resources it is also means killing an economy of peace and by doing so establish an economy of war. The first lie we all are though in economics or in school or collages by our civilised system is that the present economy is for the welfare of us all. Including National Development. Since it depends on war skills, looting, it cannot be called an economy producing peace. In fact this present economy cannot function in an atmosphere of peace it needs to destroy peace in order to expand. It is a Peace-destroying-economy. It is this Pease cannibalizing economy that governs and rules all of us all over the world

j) Therefore any talk of peace, harmony and collective living, which do not include the story of how a small group of people are creating wealth by grabbing or looting our land and minerals, cannot be taken as serious talk by us. If the talk is not serious then the intention to deal with the problem too is not serious. All the non serious talk about us Adivasis and our present position therefore becomes eyewash and a further joke on us.

k) This present day global economics grows by the creation of disparities within society. In the case of us Indigenous peoples, it has taken away all that sustained us and reduced millions of our people to slave labour or inmates in death traps. By producing excess and by creating the needs for the consumption of this excess, it is this economics that creates the politics of conflict, social discord, and cannabilisation. The breathing ground for human being to kill one another.

l) When killing and discord becomes an integral part of the economics of society and when it sells then killing and all the paraphernalia of weaponry and security technology becomes a profit making commodity and a full-fledged and growing industry. Killings have now become so casual that it has not only become a profitable commodity but also a mode of communication.

m) Refused a drink by the bar girl kill her. Over took my car kill him. Adivasis not fleeing from their lands kill them. No more places to rehabilitate them, kill them. Workers demand justice then kill them.

n) Despite these very obvious facts above those within the corridors of power or have access to it, especially the media prefer to keep the discourse on killings or violence, limited to a moral question. You are either with us and therefore are good or you are against us and therefore bad. Such arguments reduce our whole history and that of the exploited classes to a fairytale. This method helps to protect them from the well known fact that it is their economics and its politics that is responsible for our selective killings.

5) The Economy of Peace, Harmony & Collective Living

a) Peace, harmony and collective living, are not mere moral virtues that our ancestors have handed down to us as dogmas. The whole structures of our life, society, economic production i.e. the building blocks of all we have, are built on them. Take one apart and our society and the ecology around will together collapse.

b) Just as civilized society cannot live without an army or a police or a stock market our society cannot live without peace, harmony and collective living. This means that we can take from nature what we need to exist but not to accumulate in order that we have more than others and that when other do not have the necessities of life we still have plenty of it. Therefore our economy demanded and was managed in such a way that we all had what we wanted and needed. Within our community if there was any discrimination between uses of natures bounties by some, such individuals had to change their ways or find their path out of the community.

c) Therefore our economy grew-up building itself on the peaceful use of the earth’s natural resources and that in turn necessitated us to build a community of peace and harmony. What this means is that the earth can only provide for us if we use its resources peacefully.

d) This relationship is not just a memorandum of understanding between Mother Earth and us. It is a covenant with Her that comes by being born an Adivasi that we will use her bounties exclusively for the proliferation and magnification of all life. Therefore peace for us is not an option or a moral code or some cherubic desire. Peace is that bounty we receive by keeping and respecting the convenient we make with our Mother. When this basic point of our economy is understood then it will also be understood that if all resources of Mother Earth when used for peace can thwarter any social conflict or wars. May be even some natural calamities.

e) From this logic also flows one of the fundamental rules of our life and social governance. Living off the labour and common resources of others is therefore the fuel for conflict and violence. Such behavior or living is considered by our society as greed which is as bad a word as Satan or in-human. For this reason we Adivasis cannot worship money. Money for us is the measure and symbol of how much more we have taken from Mother Earth and from the labour of our fellow people.

6) We are, we were, we will be here!

a) In terms of free land, free mineral, free water, free forest produce and above all almost free labour, we Adivasi and Dalits and our other small farmer classes and caste have been the single largest forced scarifies for the National Development agenda. The blood on this sacrificial alter always flows the table of sacrifice never dries. If the value of the minerals being taken each day is taken and to that added the production of the ancillary industries, it becomes a gigantic and strategic amount. The economy of this nation will come to a halt if we close the tap. Yet this fact is not recognized nor accepted. We will have to go a long way before we are recognized as an equal partner in Indian society.

b) For two to three centuries we as a people have faced annihilation, killings and other brutal and life-altering modes of dominating us Indigenous/Adivasi/Dalit peoples. This method is now routine and an established way in which our dominator-classes and caste deals with us. It has not only been going on for centuries, but it has also been global.

(1) On which people of this country would the police enter a Mines hospital and bayoneted/machetes 17 of our relatives to death when they went there for medical attention? (IISCO Mines Gua Singhbhum 8th Sept 80)

(2) On which people would the Tata Steel Company together with the State Administration of Orissa plant landmines to kill and maim? (Kalinga Nagar Tata Landmines Adivasis 2nd January 2006)

(3) As this paper is being written (29th March 2010) another relative Khuntia has been short in the chest by Orissa police and Tata goons who were forcefully trying to drive out our people to make way for the Tata Kalinga project.

c) There and a hundred plus more of equally brutal killings our people have had to go through in the name of National Development Agenda.

d) Our ancestors would never have given up our ancestral lands and forest if they could foresee its consequence on their grandchildren. They were the victims of the legacies of Colonialism and the economy of modern civilization. It was too early for them to understand the ways of the outsider. We have paid a heavy price for the lack of this knowledge. Today we are trying not to make the same mistakes our ancestors did. We their decedents are now enjoying what they managed to rescue and save. But this little that we have left and which will be the deciding factor of our survival as an Adivasi people is now being encircled by the Corporate houses and their supportive governments.

e) The reason for going through all this explanations and history to make the following points:

f) Our understanding of peace comes from the covenant we make with Mother Earth. Our economy demands peace and without it will collapse.

g) Our peaceful ways and life has been right through history been violated by people who colonized us and now have the power over us this is the Indian State and the Business Corporations.

h) A genocide being committed on us not something new. Taking our lives one way or the other is now routine and part of the mode of production of the mainstream economy.

i) We are now better organized, better politically consciousness and all of us together have a common collective will.

j) It is the above 4th point that the State and Corporate houses are most worried about. They would like to break our will and have developed a multiple ways of defeating us.

k) The call for definition of words like violence v/s non-violence, who are the Maoist, are Adivasi Maoist etc etc are attempts to build up a narrative that will suit the demands of Corporations and the State.

l) The debate is deliberately being deflected to serve point No 6.

m) The new economic policy of India is therefore a grand plan to take away from us what little we have left. This time it will be left to be seen who are the winners and who are the losers.

n) The State, the Chamber of Industries and Businesses all know that the lines are drawn. In between we and these above two powers rest a majority of our country fellows who believe that both the parties we and the State and Industry can negotiate and come to a win-win situation. It has been so well orchestrated from the Government to Army General to Academician and Tribal experts that it is the only available narrative of our story

o) Those in-between people who refuse to see things deeper and want only to accept the mainstream point of view are actually looking for their very own survival need. They benefit by keeping to the story of the mainstream.

p) Before we go ahead we would like to give our understanding on the Government’s Grand Plan.

q) This is not the GP exclusively of the current ruling party. It is the GP of each and every political party that sits today in Parliament. Left, right and centre.

r) The GP is explained to the nation by a statistic. Last year it was a particular number and if you want show that the economy of the country has grown then that statistical number has to be bigger than what it was the last year. A one percentage of a point can make a big big difference. The Government wants that number to go up by more percentage points. That will make India a tiger among the world economies.

s) But without minerals, land, water, forest this growth is impossible. So they together with the Chamber of Industries are all in a state of panic.

7) Why are such powerful bodies the Indian State and the Chamber of Commerce in a state of panic?

a) The answer lays here deep in the ground of Greater Jharkhand and us its people.

b) For the past seven years when ever a Company or Government tried to enter a village to survey the land of the people the people drove them away. There were Tata officials, Mittal’s officials, NTPC, Coal India officials and even Chinese officials who were driven out. Some were tied to trees others had to leave in their underwear.

c) With the exception of the PANEM Coal mines in Pakur Sahebgunj no Mining Company could succeeded in enter our villages.

d) If you calculate these numbers they are very very large. Rs. 60,000/- crores (2004 Rupee rate) of just the TATA Company is held up. We the people of Jharkhand have turned the tables. From decades of being encircled by Mining Companies today we the people have encircled them by keeping their investments locked up.

e) This political development has been created through years of work of hundreds of our fellow activist and dozens of organizations. Some of these activists have been killed, others have died early. If you calculate the number will be in hundreds.

f) The State as well as the Industry love democracy and swear by the Indian Constitution. But their love lasts only as long as they are the beneficiaries of its outcomes. When the beneficiaries are the common people, especially when they do not want to give up their lands to Industry and mining, then the State and Industry does not like Democracy.

g) Our people today are well organized have a developed political consciousness and above all can recognize the game plan of the enemy. This mass awareness and joint action with a single slogan “Not an inch more of our lands” is what the State and Industry is afraid of. They are afraid of the democratic action of an organized and politically aware mass of people.

h) The above situation of the Indian State v/s its people is the crux of the problem here in Jharkhand. Adivasi homelands (including our Tribal brethren in the North East) have been kept in a state of seize ever since Independence. State of seize is a state of war. But who among our thinking friends will accept this?

i) Different people are giving it different interpretations and looking at it differently. Some call it increase in violence, some call it the biggest threat to the country, some feel that the Maoist have captured so much territory and people (read Adivasis) that they are going to overthrow the State.

j) The Communist Party of India (Maoist) has through their various statements declared that through armed revolution they are going to overthrow the State and capture power. The government of India should have the necessary intelligence to gauge this threat. Dissent is a democratic right and political groups of all ideologies have a right to form their own groups or parties. The Indian State has various laws to judge crime and if any individual or group has violated it they should be tried and punished.

k) The above paragraph may sound simple but it is not. The problem is that there are a multiple groups and parties operating in Greater Jharkhand. We are told by the press and the State that they are ‘Maoist’ or ‘Naxalist’ and now ‘terrorist’. As far as paper reports go there are several of these groups. There are reports that the State and some Industrial houses too are sponsoring these groups. It is today reported that the Tata Company has even financed the Salwa Junum programme in Chattisgarh. There are other incidents which show that some of these groups are actually bandits.

l) In order to tackle these groups/parties/individuals the State and now with the help of its paramilitary forces supported by air power are treating all our Adivasi and Dalit people living in these targeted areas as enemy. This means that in order to ‘save’ us the State need to kill us.

m) They are telling us what they would like to see and not what is really happening. Unfortunately some of us, our media people, and intellectuals etc pick up those words phrases and lines and amplify it. Unaware that they are learning from a group of people who do not know the real ground realities i.e. what is happening in Greater Jharkhand.

n) Just as we could not understand the whys of our invaders, we saw that they too probably could not comprehend why we wanted to live our life in the way we do.

o) This history continues and today its power and scope is threatening our very existence as Indigenous/Adivasi peoples all over the World. As more and more of our lands are being plundered and our commons looted we are not only becoming a minority in our own homeland but all that sustained us as a distinct people is being destroyed. Our forest that we cared for and successfully managed for thousands of years, our economy that is the only ecologically sustainable and fair economy will get wiped out.

[1] Original draft prepared by Philip Kujur, Umesh Nazir and Xavier Dias with the help of the B.I.R.S.A. team.

[2] Called by Bindrai Institute for Research Study & Action B.I.R.S.A. & DELHI FORUM

[3] The word Adivasi by the Jharkhand Movement to include all subaltern castes and ethnic peoples.

[4] Jharkhand Dishum or Homeland includes all the Adivasi areas within the original Jharkhand map that now comes within Orissa West, Chhattisgarh North and West Bengal South.