Thursday, 7 February 2013

“Whose country is it anyway?”

"Whose country is it anyway?"

6th February, 2013

Press Release

Releasing a book "Whose country is it anyway?"

A book entitled as "Whose country is it anyway?" written by Gladson
Dungdung, the noted human rights activist of Jharkhand, will be
released on 7th February, 2013 in the New Delhi World Book Fare. The
programme will be held at theme pavilion Hall No. 7 at Pragati Maidan,
New Delhi. The book will be releases by the renowned social activist
and religious leader Shri Swami Agnivesh, the renowned Anthropologist
Dr. Felix Padel and the renowned Gandhian Activist Mr. Himanshu Kumar.
The Kolkata based publishing house the 'Adivaani' has published the
book, which is 296 pages, with the cost of Rs. 200 per copy. The book
has been divided into eight parts i.e. Adivasis and violence,
displacement, land and forest, red corridor, corporate crime, dissent
voice, communalism and civil society. The book talks about how the
Adivasis are being discriminated, exploited, alienated, displaced,
brutally killed in their own country despite having conditional
provisions, laws and policies in favour of them?
The book describes about how the Adivasis were discriminated after
Aryan Invasion, they were alienated from their land, territory and
resources during the British rule, displaced, faced the state
sponsored crime during the post-independence period and there are
being alienated from resources after formation of the state like
Jharkhand and Chhatisgarh, etc.
The Author has raised serious questions against Jwaharlal Nehru the
architect of modern India, Dr. Mamohan Singh, Mr. P. Chidambaram, Mr.
Rahul Gandhi, Tata company, Mittal Company and Chief Ministers of
Jharkhand especially on the issue of so-called development, national
interest, displacement, land alienation and violence against the
The Author has also questioned the UPA chairperson Mrs. Sonia Gandhi,
the leader of opposition Mrs. Shushma Swaraj, Mrs. Smirity Irani and
Mrs. Mamta Sharma, chairperson of the National Women Commission on the
issue of violence against the Adivasi women that why do they keep
silent on the issue of sexual assault on Adivasis women either by the
state or non-state actors?
The Author concludes the introduction of the book with strong remarks
stating, "Therefore, the decedents of those who have come through
invasion and migration to India, must keep it in their mind next time
whenever and wherever they discriminate, exploit, subjugate, alienate
and displace any of my beloved people in my beloved country that this
country belongs to the Adivasis first then anybody else. Indeed,
people must know "Whose country is it anyway?" Of course, the tide
will turn from here."
The renowned dancer and choreographer Mallika Sarabhai has written
foreword for the book. She writes, "Take three maps of India, one
showing the habitat of the Adivasis, another showing the mineral and
forest deposits, and the third the spread of Maoists.  Not
surprisingly, they are pretty much the same. And there in lies the
continuing tragedy that the nation and the State unrolls for the
Adivasis today. She ends with stating that shis book comes of his
(Gladson) personal experiences and analyses. Indeed, it is an
important voice to listen to, to broaden our understanding of the
alternate narratives running within our peoples.
As a writer, this is Gladson's first book in English. He is author of
a Hindi book "Ulgulan Ka Sauda", co-editor of an edited book "Nagri Ka
Nagara" and editor of "Jharkhand Human Rights Report 2001-2011.
Another book in Hindi "Jharkhand main Smita Sangharsh" will be also
shortly released. He has been working on two more books in English.

Programme Details:
Chief Guest : Shri Swami Agnivesh, renowned social activist and
religious leader.
Speakers : 1. Dr. Felix Padel, renowned Anthropologist and writer.
2. Mr. Himanshu Kumar, renowned Gandhian Activist.
Date :  7th February, 2013-02-05
Time : 11 AM – 12 Noon
Venue : New Delhi World Book Fare
 Theme Pavilion Hall No. 7, Pragati Maidan, New Delhi.

Joy Raj Tuddu
JHRM, Ranchi

Gladson Dungdung - Whose Country is it anyway?

Review by Felix Padel

This book is out just when it is needed most: a book touching on every
aspect of the Adivasi situation by an Adivasi activist prepared to
take on the big questions and the key perpetrators of violence, from
the big companies staging takeovers, headed by Tata, to the police
increasingly serving these companies rather than India's citizens, and
the politicians facilitating the takeovers.
The book's starting point is a recent Supreme Court Judgement that
validates Adivasis' identity as India's original inhabitants.
Significantly, this case involved an Adivasi woman stripped naked and
shoved around a village in Maharashtra. Another piece focuses on the
plight of Anna, a domestic servant, whose unheard plea for justice is
symptomatic of mass exploitation and oppression of Adivasi women in
domestic service. As for exposure to rape – what about rapists in
uniform? Hasn't rape been used against tribal people as a weapon of
subjugation for decades? When tribal women are gang-raped by police or
army personnel, are perpetrators ever punished? "Are these women too?"
is one of the book's strongest essays, covering the sexual abuse in a
school in Chhattisgarh and other episodes that bring national shame.
The first essay starts at the beginning with the inspiring, yet
harrowing story of the first Adivasi to oppose East India Company
invasions, in 1779, with the words "Earth is our Mother". Baba Tilika
Manjhi paid for opposing the British with a gruesome death, giving the
lie to the mastermind of this Paharia campaign, Augustus Cleveland,
whose memorial in Bhagalpore claimed that he brought this tribal
people under British rule "without terrors of authority"!
The book's documentation of the many forms of violence and prejudice
ranged against Adivasis fills a vital gap in literature. The detail is
often sickening and will make any sane person extremely angry. It is
shown how Adivasis are being displaced by dams, by industrial/mining
projects, by continuing tricks of non-Adivasis, and – perhaps most
outrageously of all – by the new University for the Study and Research
of Law at Nagri. As Dungdung points out, the head of this university
is also Jharkhand's Chief Justice. If this isn't a blatant conflict of
interest, what is? This university's takeover of land lays down a
pattern of trampling on the Law that does not bode well for its
The book documents the situation in other states besides Jharkhand,
such as Chhattisgarh, Odisha and Assam, where the Forest Department's
use of Boro tribal people to evict Adivasis from their forest land
shows a typical colonial technique of turning one tribe against
another. As the author asks, if Rahul Gandhi says he is Adivasis'
sipahi in Delhi, he needs to speak up a lot louder and more often on
Adivasi issues!
Dungdung rightly points out that in many ways Nehru is the 'Architect
of Adivasis' misery', through his ideology of dams as 'temples of
modern India'. The experience of tens of thousands of Adivasis whose
lives have been ruined by dams forms a blatant contradiction to
Nehru's stated principle that tribal people should always be allowed
to develop according to their own genius. However well-meaning Nehru
was in his words, his violent actions towards tribal communities have
yet to be recognized: apart from the horror of his big dams, he also
sent in the troops against tribal communities in Telengana in 1948,
destroying the achievements of 3,000 villages who had effected a
democratic redistribution of land, and similarly in Nagaland and
Manipur during the 1950s, where troops used extreme levels of violence
to force submission. In each case, 'security forces' established a
level of habitual violence, including use of 'rape as a weapon of
war', for which thousands of perpetrators went unpunished. Operation
Greenhunt is just the latest manifestation of the recurring patterns
of state violence that these two operations initiated. Offering just
military action and 'development' to counteract today's Maoist
insurgency is no solution at all 'precisely because the injustice,
discrimination and denial are the foundation of the violence'.
Gladson Dungdung records the starvation levels of hunger still faced
by large numbers of Adivasis. As Binayak Sen has pointed out using
medical and nutrition statistics, over 50% of Adivasis and Dalits are
presently living under famine conditions of malnourishment. This being
so, how can India's rulers claim they have brought 'development' at
all to these sections of society? To be real, development needs to be
under local democratic control, not dictated by corporations and
opaque government hierarchies.
As the two most discriminated-against groups in India, Dalits and
Adivasis share many experiences. Yet the difference between the two
groups is also important to recognize: Dalits were more or less
enslaved by mainstream society, while Adivasis maintained a high level
of independence up to British times. As such, they developed their own
diverse cultures and languages to a high level. Adivasi cultures are
still too often perceived through stereotypes as 'primitive' and
'backward', when the reality is that they are extremely civilized and
highly developed in areas of life where mainstream society is weak or
degenerate. Centuries of development is often destroyed when Adivasi
communities are thrown off their land by projects usurping the name
Adivasi society needs to be recognized for its formidable
achievements, including an economic system that is based on and in
accordance with the principles of ecology, and therefore sustainable
in the true sense and the long term. Cultural Genocide is the term for
what Adivasis are facing now all over India, and this book is a
landmark in spelling out the injustice. By bringing out the truth, and
documenting the situation from an authentic Adivasi perspective, this
book gives hope for a turning of the tide that will counteract the
genocidal invasions and takeovers of Adivasi land.