Posts Tagged ‘malnutrition
Author: Dilip D’Souza
Publisher: Harper Collins Publishers India
Pages: 187, Price: 250, Year: 2012
Review by Mahtab Alam,
Ever since the pediatrician, public health and human rights activist, Dr. Binayak Sen was first arrested (leading to Life term imprisonment for allegedly waging war against the Country with the help of a Maoist) in a fabricated case in May 2007, much has been written about his life, work and the case against him—both positive and negative. The book under review, authored by Mumbai based writer, Dilip D’Souza is the fourth positive work in the form of a book, captivatingly titled, “The Curious Case of Binayak Sen”. However, the author in the very beginning, first chapter, makes it clear that, “this is really not a book about (Binayak) Sen, this one man. It is instead about his way of thinking about the world.”
Unlike previous works, this book, notably, covers what Binayak has been doing after he was released on bail granted by the Supreme Court of India’s direction in April last year. The author notes, “Since his release on bail, Sen has spoken often about another kind of connection: between malnutrition and secession” and “there’s an articulation of the same concern with human rights—indeed, with the human condition—that Sen speaks about.” Binayak believes and rightly so, that his case is no different from those of thousands of others who are suffering. He says, “Whatever has happened to me is the result of the suffering of thousands of people. Any personal imprint would be ghoulish.” But, the author tells us that through this Sen has “a broader point to make. The communities that face (this) structural violence are facing annihilation—strong words, but Sen clearly saw it as possible—because of famine and an inability to survive”. On an earlier occasion, the author quotes Sen while explaining what he really means by structural violence. In Sen’s words, “By structural violence I refer to the fact that half our children and our adults in this country suffer from malnutrition. Malnutrition casts a dark shadow over other diseases like malaria and tuberculosis.” Citing data produced by government’s own institution, the National Nutrition Monitoring Bureau and the World Health Organisation’s norms, Sen concludes, we are living in condition of famine. And “a third of our live births have low birth weights, this is what I mean when I talk of structural violence.”
Elaborating the flimsy and fabricated case against Binayak, digging in to charge sheets and reading out from the judgment of the trial court, which convicted him with life imprisonment, the author raises certain pertinent questions not only about the Chhattisgarh government and its police, on whose behest Binayak is convicted for no crime but also about the state of the judicial system in our country, especially in the state of Chhattisgarh. The author ably exposes the holes in the charge sheets, selectivity of the prosecution and the executive mentality of the judiciary.
Commenting about two emails, which were produced as major ‘evidence’ against Sen, totally out of context and selectively, the author observes: “It is hard for me to believe that any reasonable prosecution would actually seek to make a case like this.” He is referring to the fact that, for the prosecution, how the mere mention of the ISI (here, meaning the Indian Social Institute, New Delhi and not the Pakistani Intelligence agency ISI which is the “chimpanzee in the White House”), prove that Binayak and his wife Ilina are part of an International terror network! In this regard, he further observes, “It is harder still for me to believe that any reasonable judge would listen to this and take it seriously.” Towards the end of the book, the author does not forget to ask very simple yet important questions, while commenting on the state of Indian democracy. “The one major attempt to shut down Indian democracy happened in 1975 and was called the Emergency. Luckily, it lasted less than two years…But we can still ask: is democracy as we have known it in India really democracy? What constitutes democracy, after all? Elections? Freedoms? Rights?”
The book is an important addition in the available literature on Binayak Sen case, the issues of public health and state of democracy in India and its institutions. However, one strongly feels that the language and presentation could have been much simpler than one adopted in this book. Nevertheless, it deserves to be widely read.
(Mahtab Alam is a Delhi based Civil Rights Activist and Independent Journalist. A slightly edited and shorter version of this review first appeared in the Hard News monthly. Email: firstname.lastname@example.org )
The conviction of doctor and human-rights activist, Binayak Sen, could have implications for India’s attempts to achieve universal health-care coverage. Patralekha Chatterjee reports.
At a time when India is working towards making access to health-care universal, a 61-year-old medical doctor, nationally and internationally acclaimed for running health clinics for poor tribal communities in remote parts of central India, is fighting a grim battle to prove he is not a threat to the country’s security.
Doctor and civil-rights activist Binayak Sen, the first Indian recipient of the Jonathan Mann Award for Global Health and Human Rights, is in jail. On Dec 24, 2010, a trial court in Raipur, capital of Chhattisgarh state in central India, sentenced Sen to life imprisonment for sedition on the charge that he carried a letter between two members of a banned left-wing extremist outfit.
The doctor vehemently denies any wrongdoing and has appealed to the High Court, which will take up the matter on Jan 24. His family and legion of supporters inside and outside India point to the many glaring loopholes in the prosecution’s evidence.
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India: Towards Universal Health Coverage
Published January 11, 2011
This Series of papers on India’s path to full health coverage reveals that a failing health system is perhaps India’s greatest predicament. The papers in this Series reveal the full extent of opportunities and difficulties in Indian healthcare, by examining infectious and chronic diseases, availability of treatments and doctors, and the infrastructure to bring about universal health care by 2020. The Series brings together a rapidly growing body of evidence to show that Indian health is in crisis. As the country with the largest democracy in the world, India is well positioned to put health high on the political agenda.
One notable absentee from the launch of the Series on Jan 11, 2011 is paediatrician and Comment author Binayak Sen. He remains in prison, an appalling situation discussed in an Editorial in the Jan 8-14 issue of The Lancet.
The Lancet, Early Online Publication, 11 January 2011
Securing the right to health for all in India
The debates around securing the right to health for all in India are at a complex and sensitive stage. In India, we have gross inequity in health-care delivery. The huge inequity is evident, on the one hand, in flourishing international medical tourism, and high-technology biomedical interventions done cheaply, and, on the other, minimum levels of health care being unavailable to those unable to pay.1
The health status of people transcends the health-care sector, and the social determinants of health, such as food, water, sewerage, and shelter, still elude large numbers of the poorest citizens in India. Between the early 1990s, when the process of economic reforms began, and now, the yearly per head consumption of food grains in the country has drastically deteriorated.2 The latest National Family Health Survey (2005—06) provided grim evidence of very slow improvement in infant mortality, persistently low rates of child immunisation, and shocking rates of malnutrition.3 Inequity in social determinants of health and health care in a market-based system itself becomes a pathogenic factor that drives the engine of deprivation.
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On 4 January 2011, the occasion of Dr Binayak Sen’s 61st birthday, the Free Binayak Sen Campaign together with groups working on issues of the health and nutrition has launched an initiative to distribute blankets and feed homeless people in Delhi.
The month-long initiative is meant to help homeless citizens of Delhi to tide over the coldest part of the winter with additional nutrition. Many homeless people die every year in Delhi and other parts of northern India due to severe malnutrition during winter months.
The initiative is part of a larger campaign calling for the immediate release of Dr Sen, who has was unjustly sentenced on 24 December 2010 by a local court in Chhattisgarh to life imprisonment for ‘sedition’ and ‘conspiracy’.
The initiative is also meant to bring public attention on the issue of malnutrition among India’s poorest communities which Dr Binayak Sen, along with other public health workers, have been highlighting for many years.
in New Delhi
The Supreme Court directive to release Dr. Binayak Sen on bail raises the question of the illegality of his detention .
THE Supreme Court’s direction on May 25 to release Dr. Binayak Sen, vice-president of the People’s Union for Civil Liberties (PUCL), on bail from the Raipur Central Jail marks a milestone in the history of the civil liberties movement in India. Never before has the bail plea of an individual unjustly kept in prison been the subject of such an intense campaign by intellectuals and activists across the world.
The campaign seeking Sen’s freedom intensified after 22 Nobel Prize winners, including Amartya Sen, signed a public statement on May 9 last year describing him as a “professional colleague” and appealing to the President and the Prime Minister to ensure his release so that he could receive in person the prestigious Jonathan Mann Award for Global Health and Human Rights in Washington. The helplessness of the Centre, and the refusal of the Chhattisgarh government to oblige only indicated that the struggle for Sen’s freedom could be long and daunting.
Q&A: Dr Binayak Sen, a doctor and an activist
Sreelatha Menon / New Delhi May 31, 2009, 0:20 IST
A military solution to Naxalism is neither possible nor desirable, Dr Binayak Sen, a doctor and an activist, tells SREELATHA MENON, after his release from two years of detention.
You were teaching in New Delhi and could have settled there. What drove you to Madhya Pradesh in the late 70s to practise among tribals? Were the health facilities there as bad as they are at present?
They were not as bad. But, they were similar. There has been no marked improvement as far as healthcare infrastructure or services to the poor are concerned. The Chhattisgarh government did an evaluation of the services by using the Caesarian section facilities in government hospitals as an index. Only three government facilities were equipped to carry out this operation in 2004. Very few health centres are equipped to investigate and treat communicable diseases.
By Patralekha Chatterjee
There is much to celebrate. Dr Binayak Sen has been finally granted bail by the Supreme Court. The 59-year-old doctor and human rights activist has paid a steep price for defending the health and rights of tribal communities in remote pockets of Chhattisgarh: two precious years of his life spent within the four walls of Raipur jail, and denial of medical treatment at a hospital of his choice despite a heart ailment and worldwide pleas from Nobel laureates, human rights activists, doctors and numerous concerned citizens.
The personal ordeal of Dr Sen, winner of the prestigious 2008 Jonathan Mann Award for Global Health and Human Rights, appears to be temporarily over. But the issues thrown up by the Binayak Sen case go beyond an individual, his iconic status, or the suffering of his family. They raise inconvenient questions about India today, which can be dodged only at great risk.
“The bail has nothing to do with the ongoing trial. It’s the discretion of the Supreme Court to grant him bail. But the trial will continue”, said a miffed Raman Singh, Chhattisgarh’s BJP chief minister, immediately after the order of the country’s highest court. Dr Sen was arrested under the Chhattisgarh Special Public Security Act in May 2007 for suspected links with Maoist rebels. The prosecution has failed to throw up legally-admissible evidence to support the accusations in the chargesheet till date, and this is not for want of trying.
Here’s a bit of context to Dr Sen, the public health activist. I caught a glimpse of the man’s vision on a visit to the health clinic in Bagrimnala village, a tribal backwater plagued by malaria and malnutrition in Chhattisgarh’s Dhamtari district, in mid-April this year.
David Barsamian Interviews Satya Sivaraman
Satya Sivaraman is an independent journalist, filmmaker and human rights activist based in New Delhi. He is the author of “Asia Sees America and other Rants.”
In your article “The Mistrial of Dr. Binayak Sen” you write, “Anyone trying to figure out, after the recent Mumbai attacks, whether India will ever win its war on terrorism should take a close look at a court case currently underway in the central Indian province of Chhattisgarh.” Who is Binayak Sen?
Dr. Binayak Sen is a medical doctor who has been working in the province of Chhattisgarh. He’s a graduate of the prestigious Christian Medical College in Vellore, in south India. When he was employed at the one of the top universities in Delhi, he decided to go to this province where there was a very interesting independent trade union movement called the Chhattisgarh Mukti Morcha, where the union leaders, apart from the usual union kind of activities and activism, wanted to also address issues of health, particularly for workers, because the state of public health and public health infrastructure is so poor in many parts of India.
So he went there and he helped set up the Shaheed (Martyrs) Hospital, which became the first hospital run by a trade union in this country. It was low-cost health care for the first time affordable to a lot of people, not just workers but the whole area around the hospital. Shankar Guha Niyogi, the leader of the trade union movement was the visionary behind this whole idea of integrating health care into trade union activities. Health care as in direct intervention in health care; not just demanding that the government give them medical facilities but also actually doing somebody about it hands on. Niyogi was assassinated in 1991 by goons allegedly hired by the owners of the Simplex Group of companies.
India Continues to Imprison Human Rights Activist Dr. Binayak Sen
Last week marked the second anniversary of the detention of the internationally recognized award-winning human rights activist Dr. Binayak Sen, who’s worked as a public health professional in the central Indian state of Chhattisgarh for twenty-five years. He was arrested on May 14, 2007, for allegedly helping the Maoist, also known as the Naxalite, insurgency in the state and detained under one of India’s most draconian laws, the Chhattisgarh Special Public Security Act.
Watch it/ Download MP3 at Democracy Now
ANJALI KAMAT: Well, moving on to Binayak Sen, last week marked the second anniversary of the detention of the internationally recognized, award-winning human rights activist Dr. Binayak Sen, who has worked as a public health professional in the central Indian state of Chhattisgarh for twenty-five years. He was arrested on May 14th, 2007, for allegedly helping the Maoist, also known as the Naxalite, insurgency in the state and detained under one of India’s most draconian laws, the Chhattisgarh Special Public Security Act. He’s the National Vice President of the People’s Union for Civil Liberties, or the PUCL. He’s been denied bail and medical treatment, despite his worsening health.
I spoke to his wife, Ilina Sen, on Sunday.
The Lancet, Volume 373, Issue 9674, Page 1512, 2 May 2009
Indian doctor, Binayak Sen, continues to pay a steep price for defending the health and rights of tribal communities in the central India state of Chattisgarh. Patralekha Chatterjee reports.
Despite worldwide calls for his release, this May, Indian paediatrician and human rights activist, Binayak Sen, will be spending his second year inside a jail in Raipur, Chattisgarh.
Worryingly, the health of 59-year-old Sen, winner of the prestigious Jonathan Mann Award for Global Health and Human Rights in 2008, is now deteriorating. But he has been denied bail and has not yet got permission to seek medical treatment at a hospital of his choice, Ilina Sen, his wife, told The Lancet in mid April.
Sen’s continued incarceration is also hampering the health work he started in Chattisgarh. Indian doctors typically dodge rural postings. But Sen, a graduate from Vellore’s prestigious Christian Medical College, opted to work in the neglected hinterland, where most Indians still live. Rupantar, a non-governmental organisation (NGO) founded by Sen and his wife, set up a weekly clinic in 1997 in a village in central India (now part of Chattisgarh state) plagued by malaria and malnutrition. Local tribal youths were trained to become community health workers. Ever since, the clinic has been providing low-cost medical care to those living within a 50 km radius and who cannot access health services easily. Today, however, the health clinic is denied the services of its creator—the doctor, who once advised the state government on health sector reforms, is now branded an enemy of the state.
Sen was arrested under the Chattisgarh Special Public Security Act in May, 2007, for suspected links with Maoist rebels, known locally as Naxalites. But so far, the prosecution has failed to throw up legally admissible evidence to support the accusations in the charge-sheet.