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With our pens, brushes and art

Story and photos by Sujatha Fernandes
GreenLeft Weekly, Wednesday, July 3, 1996

We will make you account for your repressive activities, one day
We will answer your sticks and bullets, one day
Until that day comes
Until this place is developed
The flame of revolution will keep burning in Uttarakhand

This poem, written by the young Garhwali poet and singer Narendra Singh Negi, expresses the struggle of the people belonging to Uttarakhand, a region in the northern part of the Indian state of Uttar Pradesh, in the Himalayan mountain range. Since the days of the independence struggle, there has been a strong tradition of protest in Uttarakhand — from the Chipko movement to save the forests, the anti-liquor movement and the anti-Tehri dam struggle to the movement for a separate hill state.

Negi’s song expresses the frustration of the Uttarakhandi people with a government which has exploited their forests, restricted their employment opportunities and denied them basic infrastructure such as roads, electricity, schools and hospitals. Negi is the product of a strong cultural movement that has developed in Uttarakhand — a movement of artists, poets, singers and actors using cultural and artistic forms to further the struggle. [more]