The Coalition for Nuclear Disarmament and Peace, of which I am a founding member, recently sent a team to Jaitapur, in Maharashtra’s Ratnagiri district, where the world’s largest nuclear power station is proposed to be built. The people of Jaitapur...
There always were two components to the disclosures contained in corporate lobbyist Niira Radia’s telephone conversations tapped by the government and eventually leaked to the media. The first was the role of certain high-profile journalists as political fixers and corporate stooges, who acted at Radia’s behest to promote particular business interests and offered to carry messages to key politicians. The second was a demonstration of the enormous power that Big Business houses wield over politics, which they brazenly use to influence major official appointments, and the processes of policy-making and licensing of industries and their regulation.
The key to the United Progressive Alliance’s return to power in 2009 lay in its promise of “inclusive growth” centred on the aam aadmi. On top of the launching of the Mahatma Gandhi National Rural Employment Guarantee Act (NREGA), this gave the UPA immeasurably greater appeal and legitimacy than its rivals. But it also entailed obligations to implement other rights-based programmes, on food security, education, healthcare, etc.
India is obsessively pursuing nuclear power generation and imposing it upon an unwilling public, which doesn’t treat nuclear reactors as good neighbours. Inevitably, the government is getting into direct and imperious opposition to the people, with terrible consequences for democracy, which at minimum must respect the right to life with dignity, and the right to reject projects that are destructive of the environment and livelihoods. This is nowhere more evident than in Jaitapur in Maharashtra’s Ratnagiri district, on the Konkan coast, where Nuclear Power Corporation of India Ltd is erecting six giant (1,650 MW) reactors designed by the French firm Areva. Jaitapur is touted as the world’s largest nuclear station, generating 9,900 MW (India’s present nuclear capacity, 4,780 MW).
The Hindutva terrorist network must be ruthlessly exposed and brought to justice. Its infiltration into the police, civil services and security forces must be thoroughly investigated. This is a precondition for reaffirming the secular character of the state and the rule of law.
The life sentence awarded to Binayak Sen would only accelerate the process of debasement of democracy and the rule of law.
Thirtyfive years after it passed a bad human rights judgment during the Emergency, the Supreme Court has finally acknowledged its error. A Court bench has pronounced the 4:1 majority verdict in the ADM Jabalpur case as wrong in ruling that during Emergency rule, nobody can move a habeas corpus petition before a High Court on the ground that detention is illegal or mala fide. Habeas corpus (literally, having a body) is a fundamental right in any minimally civilised society, which empowers a court to order the police to produce a wrongly detained person to ensure that no harm is caused to him/her. Such an explicit correction was long overdue.
There’s no reason why India should not have a plural kind of federalism, in which various different regional arrangements are possible. But can the Centre summon up the courage to imagine and implement federalist solutions which reconcile contradictory regional demands and aspirations? That’s hard to say. But it’s clear that the alternative is endless chaos and bloodletting in all of Andhra Pradesh.
An Indian sessions judge has disgraced the country’s judiciary by sentencing celebrated health and civil liberties activist Binayak Sen to life imprisonment. He held Sen guilty of sedition, no less, merely for passing on to others letters written by a suspected Maoist imprisoned in central India’s Chhattisgarh state, called Narayan Sanyal. Even this minor charge wasn’t established beyond reasonable doubt. The trial followed the kangaroo court model – of reaching a predetermined verdict by substituting suspicion, surmise or conjecture for substantive evidence. The judgment has been condemned the world over by conscientious citizens – not least because Sen embodies the public conscience and civic courage.