Mumbai, January 14, 2011
Citizens’ ownership of local resources communities need to be seen as co-operatives and given the first right to resources, said social activist Medha Patkar on Thursday. Patkar was speaking at a discussion during the release of diplomat LC Jain’s book, Civil Disobedience: Two Freedom Struggles, One Life, at Nehru Centre. “Co-operatives are the true models of democracy and the challenge before the state and society is to use the spirit of the cooperative,” said Patkar. “We need to have new forms of political consciousness and stand by people with full faith. We need to use people’s institutions and capacities.”
Jain passed away last November, having essayed many different roles through his life to participant in various people’s movements such as the Narmada Bachao Andolan and the Bhoodan movement. The book documents what he perceived as two of the nation’s defining struggles – the movement for independence and the ongoing movement for tackling inequality and ensuring social justice.
The book, a memoir of the freedom fighter, administrator and social leader, documents the country’s history from the Quit India movement to the present day, distilled through Jain’s personal experiences. Jain was a supporter of cooperatives, having revolutionised the crafts sector through the creation of the Cottage Industries Emporium.
“Two things struck me about the book; what an exceptional life he had, and how he was very much both part of the establishment as well as of civil society. It really was an extraordinary act,” said filmmaker Shyam Benegal during the discussion.
The narrative was fashioned out of interviews Jain had participated in as part of an oral history project by Delhi’s Nehru Memorial library and interviews with his son, journalist Sreenivasan Jain. Shabana Azmi, Gerson D’Cunha and Chandrashekhar Prabhu were also present.