Gorrepati Narendranath, well known human rights activist and organic farmer, passed away at Hyderabad on Sunday. The ever smiling Naren (see picture below in the rice field) was featured as some of you might recall in the article on New Farmers (a rough translation from Telugu was shared by Nemani).
There are many who know Naren through his work on civil liberties and fight for land rights through non violent means and not as part of any big funded organisation. Naren worked silently for these ideas even as he was keen to maintain his identity as a farmer always keen on experimenting on sustainable agriculture. It was no easy success story as both the natural resources of the area he was in, Chittoor district of Andhra Pradesh was diminishing and public policy became extremely unfavourable to farmers. Naren maintained his link with farmers movements even as he actively engaged with organic farmers and sustainable agriculture efforts. He wrote about his experiences in a lovely booklet titled Dilemmas in Agriculture http://www.all4all.org/2004/04/683.shtml and http://www.nadir.org/nadir/initiativ/agp/free/imf/asia/dilemmasinagriculture.html .
The Telugu translation of this was released recently at Hyderabad through the Hyderabad Book Trust and titled 'Itlu Oka Raithu' . Naren's submissions to the State Elecricity Regulatory Commission on farmers' difficulties with power supply motivated KICS members Ramamohan and Sreekumar to undertake the study on water and energy to try and demonstrate savings to the exchequer if only the state treated farmers as proper customers and enabled timely supply.
There are surely more competent people to write about Naren's work in the fields of human rights, sustainable agriculture, farmers movements etc. NAPM has rightly remembered him for embodying the values of equity, simplicity and self reliance (Samata, Sadgi and Svavalamban) http://aravinda.aidindia.org/?p=181
. To many who knew Naren as Aravinda has shown in her tribute http://aravinda.aidindia.org/?p=180
he was a great source of strength for so many of us who were thinking of opting out of the mainstream and exploring alternatives. Many of us remember the remarkable hospitality that Naren provided us with Uma whenever we visited Venkatarampuram, his village and the patience and understanding that he showed us.
For many who wondered if the paths of Ambedkar and Gandhi could ever be reconciled Naren was a reminder that another world was truly possible. We join Uma, Samyukta, (Kiran and Tanmay) and Lakshmi in prayer and so many others whose lives were touched by this remarkably gentle soul. Let us all hope that we will some day translate his inclusive vision of growth and development.
I am sure there are so many others in the KICS forum who knew Naren and would request them to share their reminiscences either now or later through a separate event that KICS could perhaps organise.