CREATING A POLITICAL SPACE THROUGH MGNREGA: RIGHTS, RESISTANCE AND ROLE OF NGO’s
AN ACTION RESEARCH INITIATED IN VILLAGE DUDHERA, MADHYA PRADESH
Date and Time : 7 April 2017, 11.30 am. Venue : Room No 60/8, SHS.
This action research initiated to create a political space through MGNREGA by using the provisions from the Act. This study tries to analyse MGNREGA, as a platform for the workers to mobilize, participate and locate the extent to which it can contribute significantly to the political learning, impact the political representation patterns and language of political claims of theirs.
The research begins with introducing the field of research with a detailed description of Dudhera village followed by identifying the problem of research. Later, it provides an overview of MGNREGA focusing on its right to work aspect which draws from both literature and by an empirical review of Act. In the following step, it takes to the action where the villagers, accessed the rights such as RTI and MGNREGA not merely as passive subjects but as active participants. The action initiated by them by filing an RTI or to formally demand work and claim the unemployment allowance which is a provision within the MGNREGA is not just a matter of getting employment or a small amount of money as compensation. Their demand should rather be seen as an action initiated resulted from collective deliberations at the community level where a consensus was arrived upon to resist the complacency of the implementing agents of state policy due to which the people had access to rights only in a truncated form. This political action by them is also an attempt to imagine and define a new political terrain where they too have a stake in setting the terms of empowerment and development.
Based on my field work and research the current study also makes analytically comment on the nature of the state, state-society relationship, the nature of participation and the nature of ‘action research’ itself.
29th March 2017
Electrifying a Tola in Pindrukhi : A Study on Energy and Development
Date and Time : 29 March 2017, 1.30pm venue : Room No 60/8, SHS.
This dissertation is based on an action research of electrifying Baiga hamlet in Pindrukhi village in Madhya Pradesh. It is a research on how social inequalities influence and impact on the distribution of energy in India. Though my ‘action’ research was confined to the coming together of the residents of the Baiga Hamlet for electrification, it also involved mobilizing the villagers to file RTI enquiry. Filing of RTI enquiries need to be contextualized against the backdrop of RTI applications related to infrastructural claims. However, in the contexts of larger developmental issues, the microcosm of electrification in Baiga Tola provides a backdrop to explore larger questions around energy and development – an area which is often interpreted as infrastructural development. I move away from the lens of electricity as infrastructure to electricity as energy and related questions of development.
Energy is perceived as an importance source of sustenance and hence the production and distribution of diverse forms of energy often creates levels of inequality across the globe. Drawing from Timothy Mitchell’s work Carbon Democracy I try to demonstrate that it is not the fiscal part of energy production but the outcomes of particular ways of engineering political relations out of flows of energy that creates inequality in a democracy. He points out that it is this inequality which limits the contemporary democracy from making energy as a decentralized commodity and we need to analyze it and overcome it for the building solutions to future energy needs. Electricity is seen as a modern from of energy which has become an integral part of our day to day lives and yet millions of people still live in the dark. According to Akhil Gupta, the future of electricity should be re imagined. The solution is not to add more and more people to the central grid. He suggests a combination of renewable energy sources to meet a community’s energy needs. But, the darkness in Baiga Tola was also a sign of inequality, discrimination and injustice. Baigas claiming for their existing right for electrification in their houses is their resistance against the society which dismisses even their mere existence and survival. Electricity in Baiga Tola therefore stands as the symbol of acceptance of their need for justice and well-being. As an energy form, the production, distribution and supply of electricity needs to be analyzed in the above manner. This involves a critical reflection on renewable forms and non-renewable forms of energy and its production and distribution network in India.
21st March 2017
4 day workshop on Ecological Economics and the Praxis of Conservation at CDP, March 21-24, 1:30 pm to 5:30 pm .
An alumnus of the Indian Institute of Science and a former Fulbright Scholar at the University of California, Berkeley, Dr. Deb discontinued his job at the World Wildlife Fund in the mid-1990s and embarked on a rough, institution-independent journey of conserving indigenous rice varieties. He traveled across the country collecting seeds from small farmers. With the extant peasant donors of seeds and through the distribution of seeds to other small farmers free of cost, a network and collective of cultivators gradually got formed resulting in turn in the reduction of the chance of varieties becoming extinct; the life form and knowledge embodied in the seed were thus preserved (http://www.seedsoffreedom.info/more-films/the-farmer-the-architect-and-the-scientist/).
Perseverance in this action research project for about twenty years led to the founding of Basudha (http://cintdis.org/basudha/), a two acre farm in an adivasi village in Rayagada, South Odisha; where 1200 landraces collected over the years are grown, culminating in the formation of an indigenous rice bank that promotes organic farming among an expanding network of small farmers. Jointly crafted by Dr. Deb and Debdulal Bhattacharya, Basudha, engages deeply with research in the human ecology of uncultivated foods from wild and eco-forestry practices.
Dr. Deb’s workshop at AUD aims to introduce students to hegemonic discourses in neoclassical environmental economics with it’s base in the strong commensurability of values and an understanding of environment as a resource from a weak sustainability lens. This will be followed by engagement with the counter-hegemonic transdiscipline of ecological economics with its base in weak/incommensurability of values and an understanding of resource as nature from a strong sustainability lens. Through this friction between hegemonic and counter-hegemonic discourses, the students will be guided towards (re)thinking the environment, ecology and human-ecology interface critically and differently; going beyond traditional and modern binaries the workshop shall try to arrive at an agricultural possibility that is ecologically just. The architecture of Basudha is an example of a way of life based on theories of ecological economics over environmental economics, and that in turn practices a kind of zero-ecological footprint. Basudha is an example of a different praxis amidst the ecological disaster of Bt cotton, eucalyptus plantation and mining seen across the long stretches of land in Rayagada, Odisha. Thus, the craft and craftsmanship of Dr. Deb and Debdulal Bhattacharya stands out as a symbol of hope (http://www.livemint.com/Leisure/bmr5i8vBw06RDiNFms2swK/Debal-Deb–The-barefoot-conservator.html) and generates possibilities and new imaginations of transformative social action in rural and adivasi contexts. The second part of the workshop, which is more about praxis, shall be conducted at Basudha in Rayagada.
8th March 2017:
Presubmission Seminar by Niraj Kumar, M.Phil Scholar, CDP, 8 March 2017, 1 pm”
‘Education beyond numbers: State, Policy and Pedagogy’
Date and Time: 8 March 2017, 1 pm. Venue : Room No 60/8, SHS.
Abstract : Education beyond numbers: State, Policy and Pedagogy
This research delineates the functioning of modern formal education at the level of a village. It is based on the study of a village named Badgunda situated in Jamui district of Bihar. There is a general perception among the villagers that ‘money’ is an obstacle to access education. The research attempts to go beyond the perceptions and understand the causes of the problems. Action research acts as a medium to change the ingrained perceptions and also put forth the inadequacies of the idea of access of education. The research narrates that in the process of refuting the belief of money being the utmost hindrance in getting modern formal education, the form and content of education became the most important question. There is a general understanding that education can make people’s life better. The study attempts to explore to what extent the situation of the educated youth has changed.