Friday, September 12, 2008

Onam Release : Film on Chengara by Sharat

A film by C.Sharatchandran on the Chengara land struggle in Kerala. 36 minutes, split into four parts of nine minutes each. Music by another filmmaker K.P.Sasi. The titles running at the end (in part 4) says "copy left, right and centre."

Part One

Part Two

Part Three

Part Four

The film gives some insight into the cultural and historical background of the struggle. Some excerpts from the film below.

Some Historical Background

  • communist party held a convention at trichur in 1956 where they accepted the slogan 'krishibhoomi krishikkaranu' .. and thus came the land reforms bill.

  • the bill intended to distribute land to the tenants who 'leased' the land (
    പാട്ടത്തിനെടുത്തു കൃഷി ചെയ്തിരുന്ന കുടിയാന്മാര്‍) and to the dalits and others who were agricultural workers who toiled in the land..
    for this there were two conditions in the bill: one, to give ownership to the tenants, with a ceiling of 15 acres per family. two, the surplus land should be given to dalits and adivasis.

    if we consider the land distribution in kerala, it failed to account for the caste system that existed in that society, so the tenants and workers who could articulate better got the land.. there is no caste below ezhava which benefitted from this bill.. which meant the middlemen got the land.. they were exploiters of the dalit working class.. as a result, the dalits were naturally thrown out from the land..

    when ems govt initiated the land reforms bill, the liberation struggle (
    വിമോചന സമരം) started.. in turn the central govt dismissed the state govt. the govts which came to power later diluted it.. the landlords approached the judiciary to protect their property.. this led to changes by the intervention of judiciary.. this process left the land reforms incomplete and majority of the population remained landless..

    since majority of the lower caste communities were neglected in the land reforms, the govt introduced the right to shelter and decided to provide 10 cents in the villages, 5 cents in muncipalities and 3 cents of land in the corporations.. a large population was left out of this also..

    the govt stopped this and later introduced 'lakshamveedu' (literally, a lakh houses) colony or the harijan colony, but still a significant percentage of this population was left out without any land by the end of land reforms in 1970. they are the people living in small huts as outcastes in the roadsides and on the wasteland..

  • the plantations in kerala have been exempted from the land reforms act around 38 years back.. not any single political or social agency demanded that the waste land or the govt owned land in the plantation sector be distributed to the landless people.

  • Reactions

    നമ്മള് കൊയ്യും വയലെല്ലാം
    നമ്മുടെതാകും പൈങ്കിളിയേ
    എന്നുപറഞ്ഞ്‌ വോട്ടുകള്‍ നേടി
    അധികാരത്തില്‍ വന്നവരെല്ലാം
    തൊഴിലാളികളെ വഞ്ചിച്ചു..

    (a slogan that recalls a famous communist song/slogan of the earlier days that says the fields that we toil on will become ours)

    the leaders of communist movement took refuge in our huts in the earlier days..
    we used to go for daily wages works (koolivela) and get tea or coffee powder..
    we used to feed them with what we earned..

    please don't think we are speaking shamelessly, it is a matter of our integrity and culture..
    but thats how the dalits of this state have given their lives for the communist movement in kerala..
    we had many hopes when they came to power in 1957..

    they showed the black and downtrodden people of kerala the dream of getting a better life.. of getting land..
    that is how the communist party came to power through ballot (for the first time anywhere in the world).

    അപ്പോ ഓണം ഉഷാറാക്ക്.

    [earlier post and comments : kill a struggle?]


    Anonymous said...

    sudeep - since lot of people don't have cars, I suggest that let us first distribute your car to the workers of your car company.

    Anonymous said...

    sit in your sinking boat and boast about your onam sadyas, feudal hangovers and communism! did you even share a meal with these members of our hidden nation? how can you because you may only be intersted in nano and honda, i think.

    sudeep said...

    Anonymous 1,

    If the workers of Maruti are getting a bad deal, they will surely fight for their rights. If lots of people who don't have cars wake up one day and try to go in for a struggle demanding cars, may be I will have to give my car. I don't think I "deserve to be" riding a car because I have an IIT degree or an MNC job.

    I know I am among the privileged lot in this country, and I am trying my best not to misuse that privilege without giving it up. Giving up that privilege and hitting the street is another way of reacting to it (which I have not chosen now).

    sudeep said...

    S wrote over e-mail: "I am sure all of you have seen the most shameless and disgusting statements by V.S on Chengara sturggle, calling the landless dalits 'thiefs' who are surviving on stolen property..and much more... ('Mathruboomi' Delhi edition have reported this detail today)

    We, in Delhi must respond to this. How?

    Let's think of some innovative and powerful way to express our anger and a way which is more strategic to get back the strength of the chengara struggle."

    B responds: "vs has become cm bec people has empowered him. he is responsible to pay back people. otherwise he ia a theif having stolen votes in his pocket. he is a hypocrite of the system in which he is empowered. more over he is a hypocrite of the ideology with which he functions..

    ..he must step down since he has insulted the people insulting democracy and marxism as well."

    sudeep said...

    The report on VS statement came on 23 October 2008.