To call Anna Hazare’s crusade against corruption a ‘second freedom movement’ may be hyperbole but in recent times there has been no mass upsurge for a purely public cause, that has captured the imagination of so many.
For an Indian public long tolerant of the misdeeds of its political servants turned quasi-mafia bosses this show of strength was a much-needed one. In any democracy while elected governments, the executive and the judiciary are supposed to balance each other’s powers, ultimately it is the people who are the real masters and it is time the so-called ‘rulers’ understand this clearly.
Politicians, who constantly hide behind their stolen or manipulated electoral victories, should beware the wrath of a vocal citizenry that is not going to be fooled forever and demands transparent, accountable and participatory governance. The legitimacy conferred upon elected politicians is valid only as long as they play by the rules of the Indian Constitution, the laws of the land and established democratic norms.
If these rules are violated the legitimacy of being ‘elected’ should be taken away just as a bad driver loses his driving license or a football player is shown the red card for repeated fouls. The problem we face in India is clearly that there are no honest ‘umpires’ left to hand out these red cards anymore and this is not just the problem of a corrupt government or bureaucracy but of the falling values of Indian society itself.
That is why it is not clear at all whether the passing of the Jan Lokpal Bill with its draconian powers of oversight over government functioning will work as an effective measure against financial or political corruption.
Aarti Dhar, The Hindu
NEW DELHI: Human rights activist Binayak Sen, whose inclusion in the steering committee on health by the Planning Commission has upset the Chhattisgarh government, had contributed significantly to the conceptualisation and implementation of ‘mitanin’ or rural social health worker programme initiated by the State — now adopted under the successful National Rural Health Mission (NRHM). The ‘mitanins’ of Chhattisgarh are known as Accredited Social Health Activists (ASHAs) elsewhere in the country while mitanins continue to be known by the same name in the State as a special concession.
Dr. Sen was member of the State Advisory Committee that developed and conceptualised the Mitanin Programme in 2003 when Ajit Jogi was Chief Minister.
The guidelines had been brought out by the State Health Resource Centre with support from ActionAid India. Dr. Sen’s inclusion in the Planning Commission’s panel prompted the Chhattisgarh Chief Minister to register his protest with the Prime Minister and decide not to attend the panel meetings.
Dr. Sen was charged with sedition in 2007 and imprisoned for life by a trial court. His case is admitted and pending before the Chhattisgarh High Court while he was granted bail by the Supreme Court last month.
The case of Binayak Sen ( by this I mean the legal case as well as the whole body of civil society reaction across national and social boundaries) is in many ways a landmark in Indian jurisprudence. Apart from the personal pain and agony that I have gone through, in being witness to Binayak’s uncalled for incarceration and unjust conviction, the case has also intellectually challenged me along with many other citizens of my country and forced so many of us to look critically at the laws and statutes that govern our lives.
It has brought into the limelight the outdated provisions of the sedition law in India, and today our Law minister has gone on record as saying that this law needs urgent revision if not scrapping, in keeping with the spirit of the times. Many of us who are not legal professionals have looked into our statute books and discovered horror chambers in sections penalizing thought / action against ‘any Asiatic Power’ in alliance with the government of India. This particular statute obviously dates from the time when the British crown and the crown in Moscow were locked into the ‘great game’ over the control of Afghanistan, and reminds us that the Afghan people have been pawned in many games but that no game player has historically succeeded in selling them down the river.
We have also been forced to look at the way our lower courts function – at the way the police and the prosecution work in tandem, at the way in which the established law of evidence is disregared, at bizarre new interpretations of established legal interpretations and positions. One’s mind begins to form a sneaking question whether the mandate of the court at this level is to support the police in keeping anyone labeled as guilty in custody for some years, and leave the finer points of the law of the land to higher courts of appeal.
One has seen countless cases of miscarriage of justice as well as the horrendous conditions in Indian jails at first hand.
Championing the cause of human right for the people of Chattisgarh for many years, Dr Binayak Sen feels that genesis of corruption lies in the economic model of globalization and unhindered liberization adopted zealously by the government. Corruption can not be faught till people develop in them a comprehensive understanding of situation.
This war can not be fought merely on the basis of legislation, though no doubt legislation will help it somewhat. Panini Anand, Editor, Samaylive.com talked to Binayak Sen on various issues including corruption when he came to attend a meeting of Peoples’ Union for Civil Liberty in Delhi recently. Excerpts:
You are out of jail. What now? Tell us your plans and proposals.
We have decided to launch a nation-wide campaign against the provisions and acts of sedition being followed by the state. We decided this in our PUCL meeting and we also had consultations with other human right organizations on the issue. To begin with we are going to launch a signature campaign where 10 lakh people are expected to participate. This list would be sent to Parliament as proof of citizens’ opinion on the issue.
We are also opposed to special arms act. Campaign for repeal of this act is also going to launched soon. Operation Green Hunt is also being opposed by us. There is no place for such thing in democratic set-up. In the two days meet of PUCL we have deliberated upon many subjects and are now ready to take a plunge.
How do you see the effort to monopolize the resources such as land, forest and water by some influential people?
I do not support government act of capturing the resources and distributing them among private companies. Government should not displace people from his habitat on its whim and fancy. Common man can prosper only if the rule of justice and fair play are in vogue.
Many human rights organizations are fighting against this tendency of government.From naxalite movement to your organization PUCL are waging war on this front. What kind of strategy could help to end this conspiracy against common man?
PUCL and other organizations are fighting unitedly on this issue despite having difference on other issues.PUCL has a history. From the times of Jai Prakash Narayan we have launched many campaigns in democratic manner. Keeping our glorious tradition in mind we intend to wage many a fights in future too.
How do you look at Anna Hazare’s protest?
We see it as very important the way Anna Hazare is leading the protest. There are many people associated with this campaign whom we respect a lot. We wish that fight against corruption should be strengthened and it should usher in changes in our economic policy.
Aarti Dhar, The Hindu
NEW DELHI: Within weeks of getting bail from the Supreme Court in connection with charges of sedition, human rights activist Binayak Sen has been made member of the Planning Commission’s Steering Committee on Health, which will advise the panel on the Twelfth Five-Year Plan (2012-2017).
Binayak Sen, who was released on bail from the Raipur jail last month, will, based on his experience of having worked as a paediatrician in Chhattisgarh’s tribal belt, provide his input on the health of tribal children. He will represent the Bilaspur-based healthcare organisation, Jan Swasthya Sahyog.
The 40-member Committee on Health is chaired by Syeda Hameed and is expected to submit its draft report by September 30 and the final report by October 31. It is mandated to suggest effective initiatives for the monitoring and evaluation of health programmes and recommend measurable indicators for the 12th Plan.
New Delhi is India’s political capital; Bangalore the center of its showpiece software industry. If you travel from New Delhi to Bangalore and back, you fly over the poorest districts of the country, where, for the past decade, a bloody war has raged between Maoist revolutionaries and the Indian state. The conflict is invisible to the business traveler, and to the rising Indian middle class. Beneficiaries of an economic boom that is concentrated in the south and the west of India, this middle class has no reason to take notice of a conflict in districts they never visit and to which they have no necessary connection.
Every so often, though, the war in the heart of India forces itself on the national consciousness. In April 2010 the Maoists ambushed a platoon of the Central Reserve police, killing 75. The jihadis in Kashmir occasionally shot dead one or two policemen, but never before, in the history of independent India, had so many men in uniform died simultaneously at the hands of insurgents. TV anchors in Delhi called upon the government to order airstrikes in retaliation.
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By Gladson Dungdung
26 April, 2011
Anup Oraon is merely 10 months old Adivasi boy. He was born in mid of the summer in 2010. He started traveling in the winter. And now travelling has become part and parcel of his life. However, his travel is different from others. His travel is unique. He has been traveling with his mother Nirmala Kanti Oraon with the hope that one day someone will hear his cry. Of course, his travel is for demand of justice. He has already attended several public hearings, mass meetings, protests, seminars and conferences across the country, where he shared his agony with people and demand justice for his father, uncle and neighbours.
Last time, I met him in a national seminar held in Bhopal the capital city of Madhya Pradesh. It was the beginning of summer, when he had come to Bhopal with his mother to tell the concerned people about their pains, sufferings and sorrows. However, the climate of Bhopal added salt in his wound. He started suffering from cold, cough and fever. His mother was worried. She told me that they have traveled to many places but this time Anup fell sick. She said in anxiety, “I’m worried if something happen to my child, how I can explain to my husband when he comes out of the Jail.” She was there to tell the people that how the Odissa police humiliated, tortured and put her innocent husband in jail after branding him as a member of the CPI-Maoist.
The worst thing is Anup Oraon has not even seen his father since his birth. When he was born his father Paulus Oraon was already behind the bars. Though he cannot express his pains, sufferings and sorrows in words but his endless cry, anguish and anxiety are enough for describing everything he has been undergoing in absence of his father. Perhaps, he wants to play in the lap of his father, he wishes to hear the voice of someone else than hearing her mother’s voice every time he wakes up for the bed and of course, he wants to be loved by his father. But India’s war (for minerals) has put this child’s life in a stake. Both the mother and child have been running from pillar to post but no one is there to hear their plea. Can anyone hear their cry for justice?
The Chhattisgarh government on Wednesday opposed the petition of rights activist Binayak Sen in the Supreme Court seeking bail and stay on his life term for his links with Maoists saying he was involved in providing safe hideouts and logistic support to hardcore Naxalites.
“Sen provides active support and co-ordinates in spreading the base of the Communist Party of India-Maoist in the country. Apart from providing logistic support, he exchanges information and material directly and indirectly with the Naxalites in the area of Chhattisgarh, Bengal, Andhra Pradesh, Maharashtra, Bihar, Jharkhand and Orissa and propagates Naxal ideology,” the affidavit filed by the state government said.
Amit Sengupta, Hard News
Let’s not forget he is still in jail, in solitary confinement, aoutside the ‘national debate’ on ethics and absence of ethics post Wikileaks, forgotten by the Indian Parliament, and the ‘secular’ ruling regime with its heart beating inside the sacred NAC. He is left to rot, suffocate and die in silence in a Chhattisgarh jail, given life imprisonment on charges of sedition with completely fabricated evidence, hounded, harassed, humiliated and ‘handled’ by the cold-blooded, heartless, inhuman BJP-led Chhattisgarh government and its notorious police.
This is the state where they burnt villages, raped, killed, tortured and put innocents in jail — the Salwa Judum epic which continues till this day. The good doctor protested, documented, classified this narrative, hence, he was condemned and put in jail. They refused to accept his three decades of legendary health work in the most deprived zones of central India, something recognised by the entire world, including the medical fraternity and 50 Noble laureates.
In leadership summits or manufactured media conclaves of sundry celebrities and politicos, mouthing utter inanities, celebrating the clichéd cacophony of compulsive illiteracy, he is not even mentioned. Unlike they do with legendary Iranian filmmaker Jafar Panahi in international film festivals, jailed for six years and perhaps eternity, and unlike they did in the Lancet annual programme for the good doctor, no one keeps a chair empty as a mark of his absence and presence. He is beyond the demands of constitutional justice, the morality of morality, nowhere in the great debates, historic speeches and poetry read out in Parliament and political power centres, by top leaders of the ruling establishment, the honourable opposition, the scholarly, enlightened prime minister himself.