Champion of Non-Violent Civil Resistance in India: Medha Patekar

Early Life and Education
Born on December 1, 1954 in Bombay to social activist parents Vasant Khanolkar, a well-known freedom fighter and trade unionist, and Indu Khanolkar heading a women's organization, Swadhar, Medha Patkar is a household name in India and is well known internationally too for her pioneering work.



Coming from a family
with a background of struggle and activism, she grew up to be highly motivated, exceptionally brave and always ready to speak out for a social cause. Her ideological orientation, which was embedded in values of equity, justice and democratic socialism, came through attending various rural vacation camps and participating in social activities of youth organizations. Patkar completed her B.Sc. from Ruia College, Mumbai and she did her MA in Social Work and completed her studies upto M. Phil on the theme of Development and its impact on traditional societies, from the Tata Institute of Social Sciences (TISS), Bombay.

 

Involvement with the Displaced people of the Dam of the Narmada River Project
Medhahad become deeply involved with issues of displaced people in the Narmada River Valley, which spans the states of Gujarat, Maharashtra and Madhya Pradesh. While studying for her Ph.D. and doing research on social inequality and social movements, she came to know about a judgement of a tribunal granting permission to build 30 Mega dams, 135 medium-sized and 3000 small dams. She made her debut visit to Gujarat, and got a first-hand account of the plight of the tribals living in the north-eastern region of the State. She began to work with groups of Adivasi (Tribal) youth in the districts of Dang, Sabarkantha and Banaskantha as well as among farmers in the Narmada Valley. Earlier she had done an action research Project with a Professor at the Indian Institute of Management, Ahmedabad on the social action groups which had been focusing their work among adivasis. She also worked as a consultant for the Integrated Child Development Services (Anganwadis), for UNICEF and contributed significantly to the improvement of the structure and procedures adopted by the Scheme. However, later, she resigned from her position as a TISS faculty, abandoned her doctoral research, and plunged into the Narmada Bachao Andolan.

 

History of Social Action -Involvement in the Narmada Bachao Andolan
The Narmada Bachao Andolan (Save the Narmada Campaign) came into being in 1985 under the leadership of Medha, who was one of its founder-members, even though in her own words, “it is the collective leadership of NBA which needs to be recognized.” Patkar and the NBA believe in the Gandhian doctrine of non-violence; hence, most of her movements are „Satyagrahas‟. NBA, through various public actions, has made attempts to publicize the impending ecological disaster and highlight the plight of the people being displaced due to construction of a series of mega dams on the river Narmada. Actions mostly include sit-ins, rallies, fasts and satyagrahas. But the NBA's tireless campaigning, continuing for the past nearly thirty years is based on an in-depth study of short and long-term environmental and other impacts of construction of big dams. A lot of documentation has also been carried out by the activists of NBA, in order to prove to the world that mega projects like the Narmada River Valley Project would have a devastating impact on the life and livelihoods of people in the valley. The Narmada Bachao Andolan has always maintained a dialogue with all the stakeholders, including the Government. The international impact of NBA's advocacy with research, dialogue and deliberations, has also led to the World Bank acknowledging that its continued support to the Sardar Sarovar (Narmada) Dam would be disastrous for the environment and people. It was forced to finally withdraw support and funding from the project in 1994.
Patkar always felt that the Narmada Valley Project is a result of a lopsided, anti-people development plan, where the benefits for the rich and the powerful overweigh benefits to the poor, for example displacement and loss of livelihood. She and NBA challenge this displacement and the loss of livelihood as well as the rich natural resources and invaluable archaeological heritage of the region, without fair compensation and rehabilitation. She also calculated the actual cost and benefits of the Project. Today, when the Project seems to be not accruing due benefits to the drought-affected regions of Kutch, their questioning has been proved right.
Several fact-finding reports, People’s Tribunal reports, Court Judgements and reports by prestigious institutions like TISS have vindicated NBA‟s and Medha Patkar's position. She is a committed campaigner for the cause of the displaced and participates in numerous fora to educate the world about the atrocities against the helpless tribals and villagers. In 1999, she had to be forcefully removed from a nearly submerged village (State) where she was protesting against the submergence of villages for the Project. In March 2006, Patkar participated in a 20-day hunger strike to protest against the authorities' decision to raise the height of the dam.
Support to her cause has poured in from many eminent people. Baba Amte joined the leadership of Narmada Bachao Andolan for over a decade. Noted writers Mahashweta Devi and Arundhati Roy, social activists like Swami Agnivesh, Aruna Roy, jurists like Justice Krishna Iyer, Justice Rajinder Sachar, Senior Lawyers K G Kannabiran and Prashant Bhushan, Directors Vijay Tendulkar and Anand Patwardhan, cine artists Sadashiv Amrapurkar, Shreeram Lagoo, Rahul Bose, Aamir Khan and Shabana Azmi, academicians like Amlan Dutt, Prof Yashpal, eminent journalist and ex-MP, Kuldeep Nayyar, JNUSU as well as leaders from Left Parties have been involved with her causes from time to time.
Patkar is one of the leading activists of a powerful network of over 250 mass-based movements across India called the National Alliance of People's Movements (NAPM) of which she is the National Convenor. The NAPM is involved in various people's struggles in at least 15 states of the country where human rights are being violated. Apart from taking up the issues of rights' violations, NAPM also work towards a more people centric polity, with accountability and transparency as its core.
The major issues on which Medha Patkar and NAPM have campaigned and achieved success in some measure through various struggles include the cause of the farmers and agricultural workers, unorganized / unprotected sector workers, the urban poor and their right to housing, the right to food and malnourishment in the tribal region and decentralized development with the rights of local communities to the local resources.

Mass Leader fighting to Protect Civil Rights
Beyond the Narmada valley, Medha Patkar played a crucial role in the empowerment of people, struggling to protect their civil and political, as well as economic, social and cultural rights in as many as 20 states of the country. Apart from extending support to such struggles, a few notable ones where her name prominently appeared are the ones against massive evictions in Mumbai's slums, for farmers and the fishing community affected by anti-poor policies in various states, and against projects such as the Kakinada SEZ in Andhra Pradesh, Coca Cola company in Plachimada of Kerala(for water rights), for rehabilitation rights of various dam affected people in Maharashtra and many other issues related to displacement in Orissa, Karnataka, Madhya Pradesh, as well as West Bengal; such as Nandigram, Singur and Katwa. Some important struggles where she was directly involved were:
· Against the Tata Nano car plant in Singur, where a young tribal girl Tapasi Malik was raped and killed by Guards deployed by the CPIM-led Left Front Government of West Bengal. Due to popular protest, the plant had to be relocated to Sanand, Gujarat.
· Against the proposed Chemical Hub of Salim Group of Indonesia, in Nandigram. While proceeding towards Nandigram, Patkar’s vehicle was attacked by CPIM goons at Kapaseberia in East Midnapore.
· Against the Lavasa City project near Pune in Maharashtra. Medha protested against environmental damage in Nagpur and had filed a PIL in the Supreme Court against the Project.
· Against Kovvada Nuclear Project in Srikakulam, Andhra Pradesh. She was opposed to land acquisition for the Project in Ranasthalam Mandal.
· Against the Hiranandani Housing land (230 Acres) scam, which amounted to Rs. 450 billion. Medha had filed a PIL to force Niranjan Hiranandani to respect the tripartite agreement which had put a condition of constructing affordable houses of 40 and 80 square meters.

· Against the Golibar demolition in Mumbai, Maharashtra where more than 200 people were displaced. Medha sat on a hunger strike and demanded stopping of the demolition till a proper inquiry had been conducted into 6 Projects that had been taken up by the Slum Rehabilitation Authority. She alleged wide-spread corruption and atrocities on slum-dwellers in the Projects.
· For saving the Sugar-Co-operative sector in Maharashtra, which was being taken over by powerful politicians. She alleged that the State had been selling assets of the industry at extremely low prices.
· Besides these, she has also supported the struggle of people of the Koel Karo region of Jharkhand where 8 Adivasi’s were killed in firing9, since a dam was being constructed. But she was in the eye of a controversy because of not openly supporting the Jaitapur peoples‟ struggle in her own birthplace Konkan, on the pretext of being too busy.
· Against the Nuclear Plant in Kalppakam, she supported the fishing community. She said, during her visit to the area, “Going to the seashore was once tourism and an entertainment. But now, the „manmade tsunami‟ has changed that pleasure. (File/PTI) She said that scientists had enough evidence to prove the damage that would be caused by radiation, and hence the Kalppakam Nuclear Plant should be a case study for other Nuclear Reactors.
· Against Koodankulam Nuclear Project in Tamil Nadu, she joined a one-day protest-fast by 2000 people, mostly members of the fishing community, environmentalists and residents of the area. She said that the setting up of 6 Russia-made Nuclear Power Plants would pose a serious threat to the environment as well as lives of people in the area.
· Against POSCO steel plant in Jagatsinghpur, Orissa, she joined the protest and demanded that the Plant be wound up unless the Chief Minister conducted a public debate on the matter and could prove its claims of employment and developments. She said, in a statement to the Media, “Development of Orissa with an investment of Rs. 52,000 crores by a foreign MNC, revenue and export earnings and jobs (18,000 by 2014) to unemployed are the reasons cited for justification of the project. Not one reason withstands a detailed scrutiny”
· Against the Ordinance on Land Acquisition, she warned that “the new ordinance on land acquisition will allow land grabbers to deprive millions, destroy agriculture, horticulture, rivers, forests, tree cover and mangroves to extract minerals as well as ground water, without replenishment at a pace that will not leave anything for the next generation”
· Against Mining in Niyamgiri Hills, Medha joined the protest of environmentalists who had been raising issues like contamination of rivers, climate change, displacement of Tribals, decline in wildlife habitats and deprivation of future generation of mineral resources.
In all these cases, she tried to ensure that there is space for political dissent and that the people who are directly affected by those projects are heard and their voices are not scuffled by the State and justice is ensured. She stood against atrocities against Dalits and casteism as well as communalism.
She is always ready team to do relief work immediately after any major national calamity or disaster, including the Morvi dam breach in Gujarat, Latur earthquake in Maharashtra, Hudhud cyclone in Andhra Pradesh, earthquake in Kutch, Tsunami in Tamil Nadu and Kerala and the recent Kosi-calamity in Bihar. Medha has evidence to show how the new paradigm of development resulting in climate change is going to have a devastating impact on the lives of the common people. Medha and many others came together to draft the principles for rehabilitation and reconstruction.


Attacked and hounded by the State
Having led these struggles from the front, Medha Patkar herself has been subjected to police atrocities many a time in different states. She was attacked and severely beaten up by Mayor Amit Shah and other BJP goons in Mahatma Gandhi’s Sabarmati ashram in Ahmedabad, Gujarat, where she was thrown to the ground and blows were rained on her and her head was dashed several times to the wall „in a pre-planned conspiracy to kill me‟, says Patkar, as she was conducting a Peace Meeting after the Gujarat Pogrom. The police remained silent bystanders and the Police Commissioner refused to file a complaint. Shiv Sena leader Raj Thakre had justified the attack on Medha in a Conclave at Shirdi, calling it „not an attack on a woman but against a tendency”. Physical assault, intimidation and threats, false defamation cases filed against her were some of the most common ones. All cases were either quashed by the courts unconditionally for want of proof, or the State itself withdrew the case, realizing it would not stand the test.


Nonviolence and Civil Disobedience
In spite of a hostile State, and at a time when the principles of Mahatma Gandhi are rarely followed, Medha Patkar's strategies centered on non-violence and peaceful protests. A vehement crusader of non-violence, all the struggles that she had led and in which she participated were known for upholding these values. While at the face of continuing atrocities by the State, it would have been quite easy to incite people to violence, it is remarkable that she, in her quarter century of leadership of people's movements, did not divert from the path of non-violence or ahimsa and stood consistently with non-electoral social and political initiatives.


Policy Level interventions
While she is known more for mass actions and political campaigns for the protection of people's rights, her contribution to the development of policies is unparalleled.
The discussion on a comprehensive policy on rehabilitation and resettlement was started under her initiative in 1987. The Rehabilitation and Resettlement Policy, 2003, 2006, the Bill of 2007, was inspired by and drawn heavily from the initial draft prepared by a small group led by Medha Patkar. Ultimately, the Right to Fair Compensation and Transparency in Land Acquisition, Rehabilitation and Resettlement Act, 2013 was enacted by the Parliament after a long struggle by various peoples‟ movements based on the experience of forcible, unfair & unjust land acquisition under the Land Acquisition Act 1894, which was found woefully archaic and unfair by the entire political class and the judiciary. The Draft Policy on Development Planning prepared by people's organizations with her major contribution was approved by the National Advisory Council.

She also served as a Commissioner to the World Commission on Dams, the first independent global multistakeholder Commission constituted to enquire on the water, power and alternative issues, related to dams, across the world. She was one of the most successful representatives of people's organizations on the Commission, which could bring out a unanimous report with detailed analysis of large dams across the world and in-depth recommendations on the planning of large dams or any development project.
She has raised international issues of human rights violations due to dams in Brazil, South Africa and other countries due to WTO policies or non-compliance of various UN Conventions. She has made powerful representation at the UN Commission on Human Rights and many international fora.
Due to relentless struggle by NBA and Medha Patkar, the Sardar Sarovar Project in Gujarat has been currently halted. There are two major official investigations going on. One by a Committee of the Ministry of Environment and Forests on the (non-) compliance of environmental stipulations and measures. The other, a Judicial Commission has been constituted by the High Court of Jabalpur, after NBA filed a PIL and unearthed massive corruption/fake registries in the rehabilitation of the SSP affected people.


Other Achievements
The movement in the Narmada Valley and various other people’s movements that sprung up in various parts of the country compelled the Govt. to take cognizance of the issue of displacement, which was otherwise totally ignored. Critics of Medha Patkar have conveniently forgotten that just three years after initially declaring dams as “temples of Modern India”, in 1958 Nehru described big dams as “a disease of gigantism” that we must withdraw from.


Propagating an Alternative Paradigm of Development and Technologies
The NBA itself successfully adopted the micro-hydel projects model, which is renewable, indigenous and nonpolluting and can generate 5 KW to 100 KW of energy, suitable for homes, schools and hospitals. It also adopted the model of community and life-based education for non-school-going children, through its Jeevan Halas, which are Primary Schools in the Narmada Valley for tribal children. While the two micro-hydel projects in the Narmada valley got submerged due to faulty surveys of the dam-builders, there are 14 Jeevan Shala (life schools) with 1400 children run as residential schools in the mountainous Adivasi regions of
the Satpudas.


Interventions in the Situation of Conflicts between People and the State

Conflicts related to the impacts of development projects and plans or injustice in the Government schemes which are not pro-people in design or modus operandi. This has been done through fact-finding exercises, public hearings, short studies and working on the Joint Committees.


Joining, then Saying ‘Quits’ to Electoral Politics
Medha joined the Aam Admi Party in January, 2014. She had hopes that this Party, led by Arvind Kejriwal, and stalwarts like Supreme Court Lawyer, Prashant Bhushan as well as Socialist Yogendra Yadav, would be a Party with a difference and would help to usher in a new brand of pro-people, pro-poor politics in the country. Her frontal Organization, the NAPM supported AAP candidates in the 2014 Lok Sabha Polls and she herself contested on an AAP ticket from the North East Mumbai Constituency. She lost the seat to Kirit Somaiya of the BJP, with NCP coming second and AAP standing third with 8.9 % of the votes cast. She resigned from the primary membership of the Party on March 28, 2015, when Prashant Bhushan and Yogendra Yadav were ousted from key positions (Members of the National Executive Committee) in the Party. The Party has become a „tamasha‟, commented Patkar, saying political principles were being trampled upon in the Party.

 

Awards
Medha Patkar has been the recipient of several awards including the Right Livelihood Award for the year 1991, which has often been referred to as the alternative Nobel Peace Prize, the Goldman Environmental Award in 1992, Goldman Environment Award 1992, Green Ribbon Award for Best International Political Campaigner by BBC, 1995, M.A.Thomas National Human Rights Award from Vigil India Movement, 1999, and the Human Rights Defender’s Award from Amnesty International, Germany, Deenanath Mangeshkar Award, 1999, Mahatma Phule Award, 1999, Mother Teresa Award for Social Justice, 2014, and many more . Indeed, one of her greatest rewards came in 1995 from the Supreme Court when it ruled in favour of the NBA, but the oppositional gains were, once again short lived.

 

Present Day Involvement
Since 2004, she’s served as Member, Civil Society Commission on Interlinking of Rivers, to examine the Interlinking project and recommend changes and alternatives in the plan. She is continually assessing the impact of various large-scale development projects on communities, livelihood and environment and is engaged in defending democratic rights which were secured by people’s struggle and incorporated in the constitution.
Her role in mobilizing political action against changes in the historic Land Acquisition Act of 2013 (RFCTLARR) deserves special mention. Farmers across India rejected the ordinance which took away their fundamental right of deciding whether they want a project to be built on their land or not. Medha was of the concerted opinion that, “the new ordinance on land acquisition will allow land grabbers to deprive millions, destroy agriculture, horticulture, rivers, forests, tree cover and mangroves to extract minerals as well as ground water, without replenishment at a pace that will not leave anything for the next generation”. The Land Acquisition Act 2013 was being amended through an Ordinance by the Modi Government in 2015.


Urban Intervention
She founded the Ghar Bachao Ghar Banao (GBGB) Andolan in Mumbai and has, with other colleagues, helped thousands of slum households gain access to electricity, water, toilets and education. GBGB is an urban housing rights movement with a mass support base in Mumbai’s extensive slums.

GBGB exposed the Adarsh Society scam in Mumbai. It has helped slum dwellers expose builder corruption, resist illegal demolition and land grab, and lobby for alternative housing schemes that allow the working class to determine how land is distributed and used.
GBGB mass rallies have gained unprecedented support from the historically marginalized slum population of Mumbai and today they have come forward in huge numbers to demand their rights as seen in the recent Mandala and Malvani slum mobilizations. While the Mandala uprising can be seen as a campaign to secure rightful habitation which was promised to the evicted people by the government but never delivered, the Malvani satyagraha was to protect the slum against demolition.


Conclusion
Whatever criticisms some people may have on the functioning of the NBA and NAPM, it is due to the hard work and commitment of Medha and her followers that the Tribals and the poor have been able to fight for an alternative model of development in this country and expose corporate loot which has been given sanction by the powers that be.

 

○○ One Liner GK ○○

 

जीवाणुओं को नष्ट करने के लिए किस गैस का प्रयोग किया जाता है?

कलोरीन

 

कहाँ काम करने वाले व्यक्तियों को ब्लैक लंग रोग हो जाता है?

कोयला खान

 

ऑक्सीजन मिश्रित वह निष्क्रिय गैस कौनसी है जो अवरोधित श्वसन से पीड़ित रोगियों को दी जाती है?

हीलियम

 

अम्ल वर्षा वनस्पति को नष्ट कर देती है, क्योंकि उसमें?

सल्फ्यूरिक अम्ल होता है

 

हरे फलों को कृत्रिम रूप से पकाने के लिए प्रयुक्त गैस है?

एथिलीन

 

मनुष्य के शरीर मे कुल कितनी हडियॉ होती है ?

(206)

 

आग मे कौन सा पदर्थ नही जलता है ?

एसबेस्ट्स

 

बर्फ पानी मे क्यो तैरता है ?

इसका सापेछित गुरुत्व पानी के गुरुत्व से कम है

 

मनुष्य के ऑसू मे क्या पाया जाता है ?

सोडीयम क्लोराइड

 

सबसे जहरीला पदार्थ कौन से होता है ?

रडियम

 

सबसे कठोर अधातु कौन सी होती है ?

हीरा

 

कौन–सी गैस हवा मे जलती है ?

कार्बन मोनोऑक्साइड

 

वायुमण्डल मे कौन–सी गैस नही है ?

कलोरीन

 

किन–किन धातुओ को मिलाकर चुम्बक बनता है ?

एल्यूमिनियम व निकल

 

विटामिन B की कमी से कौन सा रोग होता है

बरी बेरी

 

टायफायड से शरीर का कौन सा अंग प्रभावित होता है

आत

 

रबिज के टीके की खोज किसने की

लई पाश्चर ने

 

हजा व टीबी के जीवाणुओं की खोज की

राबर्ट कोच(1982)

 

रक्त में पाया जाता है

लौह तत्व

 

सर्योदय से पहले सुर्य दिखने का कारण

परकाश का प्रकीर्णन

Mayank Rai

Hi, My name is Mayank Rai. I found that Blogging is an easiest way to share your knowledge with everyone & learn something new from there. facebook telegram

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