Monday, October 12, 2009
Mr Samarendra Das is an Indian national, global activist and research scholar based in London and Orissa. He has been involved for the last sixteen years in grassroots activism with the ‘Dongria Kondh’ and ‘Majhi Kondh’, tribal communities who have lived sustainable and self-sufficient lives for centuries in the mountains of Orissa.
Kondh values and their mountains are at risk from multinational companies seeking to capture iron ore and bauxite for the metal industries. Mr. Das has developed extensive knowledge of transnational corporations, NGOs and the institutional architecture of the global elite who wield power over the earth’s resources.
His academic background includes a ‘first’ first class honours in mathematics and a master of computer science with distinction.
Samarendra has co-produced films with his brother Amarendra, published books, and written over 200 papers in his mother tongue, Oriya. His work is both technical and artistic, covering, culture, identity, conflict and political economy.
His recent film with Amarendra, Sept, 2005, ‘Wira Pdika’ (Earth Worm: Company Man) is a feature-length campaign-documentary on the resistance of the Orissa Kondhs.
His most recent book, co-authored with Dr. Felix Padel, titled ‘Out of This Earth: East India Adivasis and The Aluminium Cartel ’, is to be published later this year by Orient Blackswan.
Samarendra was invited to Trinidad by La Brea Concerned Citizens United, Rights Action Group and Fishermen and Friends of the Sea. He spent several nights in La Brea where he held community workshops and screened his film 'Earth Worm Company Man'. Samarendra appeared on IETV's 'One on One' with Vernon Ramesar, on Power 102.1 Radio - the 'Power Drive' with Anil and Sprang, on 'The Morning Edition' (TV) with Andy Johnson. He also met with a cross-section of interested individuals and groups.
Samarendra also visited Maracas Falls, the pristine mineral rich streams of Ortinola, Acono and the Indian Caribbean Museum in 'Waterloo'.
We are all very grateful to have had Samarendra in Trinidad. We continue to ruminate on the richness of his presence and the valuable information that he shared.