Nilupu Samaram: Redefining Political Struggles in a Democracy

Rupesh Kumar

dbof 4The five month long Standing Struggle ('Nilupu Samaram') of the Adivasis of Kerala has just ended. The Adivasis protested by standing in front of the Kerala Secretariat in Thiruvananthapuram all these months. The government has now agreed to the Adivasi demands and the movement is a historical success. This Adivasi Standing Struggle was not only for claiming their land and civil rights, but is a powerful democratic movement that has a message for Indian democracy as a whole. Though it has received mass support from civil society, the only groups that stood against and tried to ignore this most historical, democratic and non-violent protest are the ruling Savarna Right, Left and Hindutva groups.

A major part of the Kerala mainstream society having understood the political significance of such a struggle extended solidarity to the Adivasis, by providing physical, mental and economic support. No other struggle in recent history has received such a great support from the people, unlike the strikes, hartals and other token protests of the Left and Right wing savarna political outfits of Kerala. While the people have understood and accepted it, the mainstream Left and Right ruling political entities have no courage to address such a great struggle. This is because they have illicit relations with the land mafias who have grabbed the Adivasi lands and who will continue to terrorize society in the future too.

Nilpu-samaram 1

        Gothra Maha Sabha leader C K Janu and others 

It was evident that the UDF government under Mr. A.K. Antony had first agreed and then cheated on a contract for the release of the Adivasi lands, in a very cunning way. The left government in 2007 under V.S. Achuthanandan had also agreed to give them their land, but the given lands were inappropriate for their environmental and physical needs. The ignorant mainstream politics with their 'top-down' governance approaches had imagined that Adivasis would be satisfied with such gimmicks and tricks. They underestimated the power of Adivasis to intercept such attempts on their rights and lives. 

nilpu-samaram-kodungallur-news

Standing for Adivasi Rights

This strike is not only for their land rights but also to strongly affirm that they are fully equipped to enter into and claim their political space and define their political needs and means by themselves. The Gothra Maha Sabha leader C.K. Janu has clearly stated that this land struggle is not going to end even after the government agrees to their demands. They are going to enter the mainstream politics after future discussions on Adivasi issues. The aims and intentions of such discussions and political interactions should be seen as a positive development for the whole of the Indian society and for their own survival as a political movement working towards different environmental and power politics.

nilpuuu

Rupesh Kumar and colleagues at Nilupu Samaram

Kerala is witnessing an emerging understanding among the mainstream that they should become part of such historical struggles. A growing recognition that these struggles are not only relevant for Adivasis or the youth restricted to campuses and different organizations was evidenced as a huge section of the local media and intellectuals went to the venue of the Standing Struggle and stood in solidarity with the Adivasis creating a positive wavelength. The comment of the left leader Kodiyeri Balakrishnan that the Standing Strike is an anarchic struggle has been read as funny by Kerala society which trivialized such leaders and the Left's stand on this struggle. It has been clearly evident that the bureaucracy and the Savarna casteist political leaderships are the culprits who have ignored this struggle.

FOLK TVM

Music and Nilupu Samaram

One of the major problems that the Adivasis highlighted is the lack of Adivasi representation in the political institutions, groups, parties, bureaucracy and other agencies. They have a clear reading that the Savarna rulers without any knowledge of Adivasi issues are running a top-down mode of addressing their problems. They assert that decision-making about their needs cannot be done by excluding them from those processes. They reject the small scale relief programs as inadequate remedies for the poverty deaths or any other backward conditions of this society. It was the historical mistake of the ruling parties to avoid the representations of these sections in the decision making bodies. 

students_nilupusamaram

Students' solidarity with the Standing Struggle of Adivasis

But it is a positive sign that the students and other groups are standing hand in hand with the Adivasi society. Recently, thousands of students from institutions like Sacred Hearts College in Kochi had come out of their class rooms to stand in solidarity with the Standing Strike and the Adivasis. A group of students from the same institutions went to Trivandrum and extended their support to them. So many other organizations, colleges, media activists, mainstream media, people from different sections came and expressed the view that this struggle, unlike regular hartals and strikes, has a great significance.

Unlike the hypocritical and show off strikes by the mainstream parties, this strike is going to leave its mark upon history. And it is very revealing when political parties claim "if we give something, they will ask more and that would be a problem". The fact that the mainstream political parties and communities have again and again taken their rights, grabbed their lands and created cities and is not interpreted as a problem in history. Unlike Gandhi's 'non-violent' movements which strengthened the brahmanical politics of India, the Standing Strike which arose from among the Adivasis, with music and oral discussions on land rights, has brought in a different political dimension and ended as a sign board for new non-violent strikes.

The multilayered discussions of the Adivasis on the rights over land, environment, political decisions, self-determination, entry into the mainstream society is an invaluable text book for those who read democracy in positive ways. This strike goes in rhythm with various other black struggles and indigneous struggles all over the world. It is the creation of a different human philosophy of human struggles and human rights around the world. Despite extensive coverage by the Kerala media, the national and international media have not caught on to the significance of this struggle. The international media should focus on such important struggles in global spaces. This will help engender a positive movement towards democratic humanity addressing the rhythms of different identities around the world. And that would be the best thing to be done by the international media.

~~~

 

Rupesh Kumar is a member of the faculty of Cinema and Television, SH School of Communication, Sacred Heart College, Thevara, Kochi. He is a documentary film maker, writer and film critic based in Kerala.Please visit his production company's website Buddha Never Sleeps for more details.

Other Related Articles

Dalit Bahujan Missionary Efforts in North Karnataka
Friday, 19 May 2017
  Rohan Arthur And again I say unto you, It is easier for a camel to go through the eye of a needle, than for a rich man to enter into the kingdom of God. - Matthew 19:24 Religion is for man and... Read More...
Bahubali: Celebrating the grandchildren of Nehru and Savarkar
Monday, 15 May 2017
  Kuffir ~ Social and individual efficiency requires us to develop the capacity of an individual to the point of competency to choose and to make his own career. This principle is violated in... Read More...
The Rise of the Bheem Army
Saturday, 13 May 2017
  Vinay Shende Exclusive details on the recent caste incidents in Saharanpur, Uttar Pradesh, and the role of the Bheem Army. This report is based on a member speaking to Round Table India on the... Read More...
बुद्ध पूर्णिमा पर बुद्ध के दुश्मनों को पहचानिए
Tuesday, 09 May 2017
  संजय जोठे (Sanjay Jothe) बुद्ध पूर्णिमा के अवसर पर बुद्ध के सबसे पुराने और सबसे... Read More...
Romancing the Caste Violence
Tuesday, 09 May 2017
  Dr. N. Sukumar Mr. Venkaiah Naidu in the Indian Express dated 1st May 2017 (Romancing the Maoists) took umbrage at the human rights activists maintaining silence over the killing of security... Read More...

Recent Popular Articles

Fight against the Misogyny & Casteism of 'Best Indian Memes for Creamy Teens', FB page
Friday, 06 January 2017
  Vinay Shende "My final words of advice to you are Educate, Agitate and Organize; have faith in yourself. With justice on our side I do not see how we can lose our battle. The battle to me is a... Read More...
Gangrape and Murder of a 16 year old Dalit girl in Sendurai, Tamil Nadu
Saturday, 21 January 2017
  (A condensed translation, by Trevor Jeyaraj, of Mr. Venpura Saravanan's Facebook post in Tamil ) N (16), daughter of Rajendran R of Sendurai taluk in Ariyalur district, Tamil Nadu, who... Read More...
Revoke the Arbitrary Suspension of JNU Students Fighting for Social Justice
Wednesday, 28 December 2016
  BAPSA BAPSA's President, Bhupali Vitthal Magare and two other BAPSA activists, Rahul Sonpimple and Praveen Thallapelli have been academically suspended and debarred from hostels by the JNU... Read More...
The curious case of Indian psychoanalysis
Saturday, 11 February 2017
 Umar Nizar  Marxism has been critiqued variously for its occasional elitism and casteism. But the Freudian establishment in India, a flourishing one at that, has escaped criticism. Ashis... Read More...
The Battle of Bhima Koregaon: An Unending Journey
Wednesday, 01 February 2017
  Somnath Waghamare I am Somnath Waghamare, a Graduate in Sociology and Post Graduate in Media studies from Sangli, Maharashtra, India. The past few years I have been working... Read More...

Recent Articles in Hindi

पेरियार से हम क्या सीखें?

पेरियार से हम क्या सीखें?

  संजय जोठे  इस देश में भेदभाव और शोषण से भरी परम्पराओं का विरोध करने वाले अनेक विचारक और क्रांतिकारी हुए हैं जिनके बारे में हमें बार-बार पढ़ना और समझना चाहिए. दुर्भाग्य से इस देश के शोषक वर्गों के षड्यंत्र के कारण इन क्रांतिकारियों का जीवन परिचय और समग्र कर्तृत्व छुपाकर रखा जाता है. हमारी अनेकों पीढियां इसी षड्यंत्र में जीती आयीं हैं. किसी देश के उद्भट विचारकों और क्रान्तिकारियों को इस...

Read more

कृष्ण: भारतीय मर्द का एक आम चेहरा...!

कृष्ण: भारतीय मर्द का एक आम चेहरा...!

(कृष्ण की लोक लुभावन छवि का पुनर्पाठ!)मानुषी आखिर ये मिथकीय कहानियां किस तरह की परवरिश और शिक्षा देती हैं, जहां पुरुषों को सारे अधिकार हैं, चाहे वह स्त्री को अपमानित करे या दंडित, उसे स्त्री पलट कर कुछ नहीं कहती। फिर आज हम रोना रोते हैं कि हमारे बच्चे इतने हिंसक और कुंठित क्यों हो रहे हैं। सारा दोष हम इंटरनेट और टेलीविजन को देकर मुक्त होना चाहते हैं। जबकि स्त्री...

Read more

राष्ट्रवाद और देशभक्ति

राष्ट्रवाद और देशभक्ति

संजय जोठे धर्म जो काम शास्त्र लिखकर करता है वही काम राष्ट्र अब फ़िल्में और विडिओ गेम्स बनाकर बनाकर करते हैं. इसी के साथ सुविधाभोगी पीढ़ी को मौत से बचाने के लिए टेक्नालाजी पर भयानक खर्च भी करना पड़ता है ताकि दूर बैठकर ही देशों का सफाया किया जा सके, और यही असल में उस तथाकथित “स्पेस रिसर्च” और “अक्षय ऊर्जा की खोज” की मूल प्रेरणा है, यूं तो सबको...

Read more