Some of you might still remember the efforts by the People’s Solidarity Collective (PSC) one year ago. PSC was initially known as Industrial Workers of the World (IWW) Kolkata and now merged into the collective The Scarlet Underground (TSU).
The Scarlet Underground is an anarchist collective in India. It is a collective of activists, workers, farmers, and students looking to build and promote solidarity, antifascism, mutual aid, permaculture, and autonomy within all communities.thescarletunderground.com
Here we want to introduce the latest mutual aid efforts organized by The Scarlet Underground.
UPDATE (May 28th):
The lockdown announced by the Indian government was extended until June 14th. Mutual aid efforts need to be postponed. TSU therefore focussed on the distribution of masks in two villages severely impacted by CoViD-19.
After the lockdown the focus will be on food packages again.
In these dark times, while we need to remember to maintain physical distancing but must remember to not forget about social solidarity.thescarletunderground.com
And to have received that solidarity from around the world for Adivasi (Santhal and Lodha) communities, who are India’s indigenous peoples who have always been ignored, landless, and still largely live off the forest, (which itself is disintegrating because of the terrible effects of sponge-iron factories and deforestation of the forests) it really shows us the radically positive power of mutual aid as a form of direct action. So for that, we are eternally grateful.
Next steps (as of May 15th, 2021):
- Collect funds for lentils and more rice to be distributed in Aoulgeria village. Once a second distribution with these components is completed, the focus will be on the next village with the help of activists of the Lodha community itself.
- Trying to find someone who can provide sanitizers.
- Masks are scheduled to arrive on May 18th and will then also be distributed in the village.
- Collect funds to support a second village. Around 15,000 INR (approx. 170 EUR) are needed for that. As soon as the funds are available, the planning can start.
Our hope is to make a community centre through which we can have permaculture classes and other activities that promote autonomy. The idea is to create a federation of self sufficient, autonomous bodies or communities working together with the idea of mutual aid in mind.Aranya, chat on May 14th, 2021
The TSC needs solidary support to be able to continue their efforts. Currently they plan to uphold the mutual aid efforts until the end of the year. To support them consider to contribute and chip in:
ACC #: 20670110065730
IFSC CODE: UCBA0002067
India is not part of the IBAN system, therefore transfering money can be more difficult. In this case platforms such as wise.com and skrill.com can be easy alternatives.
In case you don’t want to use those platforms you can also contact Mo of the Free Workers’ Union (FAU) Hamburg: email@example.com.
On May 14th TSU activists went to Aoulgeria village, in West Bengal’s Jhargram district, to provide 130 families belonging to the Lodha community with some of the most basic goods (rice, potatoes, soybean and vegetables). Due to a lack of funds food like daal (lentils) could not be distributed.
Basically two communities are staying in the same village: Lodha and Mahato.
The Lodha are the poorest and the lowest in their caste. Therefore aid was given only to the Lodha this time. In fact at least two people from the Mahato community helped TSU during the action. And TSU bought the food provided to the Lodha from the Mahato farmers.
Mahatos were Adivasi too but they’ve “left the forest” as they say, for agriculture and Hinduism. Lodhas are still hunters and gatherers and considered a tribe.
On May 5th TSU members visited villages in the Jhargram district nearby Kolkata to find out what is needed most and where people are willing to join mutual aid efforts.
Already, through the show of solidarity, the use of mutual aid, and direct action, we have found that the people of Aoulgeria are willing to continue doing this project with us and help evolve this mutual aid action into something more permanent and with a clearer direction, where all of the poorest communities in the Jangal Mahal area will begin to use mutual aid and solidarity to cooperate and slowly become more autonomous regions where we can all take care of each other both socioeconomically, and not depend on corrupt political parties, and also have the power to take on everyone else who looks down upon the indigenous communities of India. […]source: thescarletunderground.com
Currently, for the approximately 100 families—(we had thought there was around 70, but learnt today that there was much more)— in the Adivasi village of Aoulgeria, we need approximately 18,080 rupees to buy the food and supplies (rice, soybean, dal, potatoes, and sanitizer for each of those 100 families.)
Thanks to your support, all our friends, supporters, and comrades from around the world, we have managed to raise around 9000 rupees till now. We only need a little more (around 5000) to be able to start off the Aoulgeria mutual aid action properly, without having to reduce the amount of food and supplies per family gets.
We’re also giving out pamphlets and posters contributed by one of our members and giving out free surgical masks contributed by another of our members.
We’re also making cloth masks here to distribute for free.Thank you to everyone who has helped till now and are standing in solidarity with the landless farmers of Jangal Mahal, particularly with the Santhal, Sabor and Lodha communities here.
For more background information check out the interview given by Aranya of the TSU on prasinoieleutheriakoi.wordpress.com.
Solidarity, not charity!