Prof. Rajni Kothari’s life and work will continue to guide and inspire People’s Movements
“People’s movements are based on deep stirrings of consciousness, of an awareness of crisis that could conceivably be turned into a catalyst of new opportunities. They are to be seen as attempts to open alternative political spaces outside the usual arenas of party and government though not outside the State, rather as new forms of organization and struggle meant to rejuvenate the State and to make it once again an instrument of liberation from exploitative structures which the underprivileged and the poor are trapped”- Rajni Kothari (Excerpts from the article ‘The Non-Party Political Process’)
20th January 2014, New Delhi: With lines quoted above, we remember Prof. Rajni Kothari as one of most influential public thinkers of our times who theorized the role of people’s movements in India and the third world and whose work continues to provide intellectual sustenance to the movements and the civil society at large. It is indeed a great loss to the people’s movements of India that Prof. Rajni Kothari is no more with us.
Combining academics and activism, merging research and action, uniting intellectual and political work, Prof. Kothari’s contribution to the realm of people’s movements has been immense. Further, his critiques to established development paradigm and political systems accelerated his quest for alternatives that operated outside the framework of mainstream politics and brought him even closer to the space of people’s movements. His direct involvement in the resistance against the Emergency and later through People’s Union of Civil Liberty (PUCL) as well as constant involvement with struggles for people’s rights and civil liberties over decades speak volumes about his committed activism. He was the first signatory to letter on Narmada issue to the then Prime Minister Mr. Rajiv Gandhi and since then, continued to be a pillar of support to various movements.
He was an inspiration and a mentor to generations of social scientists and activists alike. He founded CSDS and Lokayan, which are the premier platforms of research and interaction between intellectuals and activists respectively, and have been taking forward his belief that intellectuals must intervene in the political processes by linking critical ideas to political debates. His books and articles on themes such as politics, democracy, politicisation of caste, development, alternatives, have been guiding texts to understand and engage with the contemporary realities of India.
Through his tireless work as an ideologue, a scholar and an activist, he has left behind the legacy that attempts can indeed be made to produce a knowledge that goes beyond explaining the world to changing it. The National Alliance of People’s Movements pays a heartfelt tribute to Prof. Rajni Kothari, our saathi and our guide in the struggles for people’s rights, democracy and justice.
Medha Patkar – Narmada Bachao Andolan and the National Alliance of People’s Movements (NAPM); Prafulla Samantara – Lok Shakti Abhiyan & Lingraj Azad – Niyamgiri Suraksha Samiti, NAPM, Odisha; Dr. Sunilam, Aradhna Bhargava – Kisan Sangharsh Samiti & Meera – Narmada Bachao Andolan, NAPM, MP; Suniti SR, Suhas Kolhekar, Prasad Bagwe – NAPM, Maharashtra; Gabriel Dietrich, Geetha Ramakrishnan – Unorganised Sector Workers Federation, NAPM, TN; C R Neelkandan – NAPM Kerala; P Chennaiah &Ramakrishnan Raju – NAPM Andhra Pradesh, Arundhati Dhuru, Richa Singh – NAPM, UP; Sister Celia – Domestic Workers Union & Rukmini V P, Garment Labour Union, NAPM, Karnataka; Vimal Bhai – Matu Jan sangathan & Jabar Singh, NAPM, Uttarakhand; Anand Mazgaonkar, Krishnakant – Paryavaran Suraksh Samiti, NAPM Gujarat; Kamayani Swami, Ashish Ranjan – Jan Jagran Shakti Sangathan & Mahendra Yadav – Kosi Navnirman Manch, NAPM Bihar; Faisal Khan, Khudai Khidmatgar, NAPM Haryana; Kailash Meena, NAPM Rajasthan; Amitava Mitra & Sujato Bhadra, NAPM West Bengal; B S Rawat – Jan Sangharsh Vahini & Rajendra Ravi, Madhuresh Kumar and Kanika Sharma – NAPM, Delhi