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Binayak Sen on Jaitapur Nuclear Power Plant (plus DNA Interview)

From the Hindustan Times:

Binayak Sen [the civil rights activist], on Monday said any land acquisition that hands over public property to private interest was not legitimate as it was against the public equity. However, he, said the Jaitapur issue was different from other land acquisition issues.

as the protest was related to concern over setting up a nuclear power plant. “After Fukushima, anyone who advocates setting up nuclear plants should get his mental health examined,” Sen said.

Sen, speaking at a “Meet the Press” event at the Press Club here, said the notion of public purpose was being jettisoned by handing over common public property to private entities. “Government seems to be acting like guarantor to a process of expropriation of access to common property resources and handing over those properties to private parties.”

He said a large part of the population in India was “chronically malnourished” as over 50% of ST and over 60% of SC had a body mass index than 18.5.

Sen said that People’s Union of Civil Liberties held a meeting of human rights activists last month and passed a resolution against the sedition law in the country. “It is not befitting free people in free polity. We are going to campaign for repeal of the law. We plan to get one million signatures and present it to the Parliament.”

He said sedition charges were being misused against those who protest against government. He said though he was never physically tortured, there were others who were.

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India is on the verge of a famine, says Dr Binayak Sen

From DNA:

Dr Binayak Sen is a public health specialist and activist, and according to the Chhattisgarh government, a traitor to the Indian state who has been convicted for sedition. Sen was released from jail last month after the Supreme Court granted him bail. He was in Mumbai on Monday and spoke to DNA on a wide range of issues.

Your comments on the sedition charge against you.
There was no proof with anyone. I have always worked openly and have never hidden anything, even from police officers. One of the police officers in jail also mentioned that. I have visited people in jail for the past eight years. I am a human rights activist and a doctor, and have worked among displaced people. Even the Supreme Court found the sedition charges baseless.

You are a member of the planning commission committee. You participate in institutions that are part of the system but are also said to be close to Naxalites, who are against the system.
I am not a Naxalite sympathiser. I do not believe in violence. However, the Constitution clearly says there should not be inequality among the people. But what do we see? Today government policies for so-called public purpose favour private players. Land acquisition is taking place without any attention given to the common public. Are people really benefiting from the current development model? We do not see it happening. We are determined to not let this happen.

We have the Constitutional right to oppose such activities and will do so. As far as violence is concerned, when a government denies food, health facilities and drinking water to its people, I consider that as violence committed by the government on its people. Does anyone notice this?

Activists like you talk about people’s movement but never participate in polls. Why?
Elections are not the only way to run a democracy. It is one of the ways. Unless there is a concerned population, you can’t have a democracy. To run a democracy successfully, there has to be people’s politics — the politics to criticise, the politics to sensitise people about issues. People should understand that the government is not the owner. You, the people, are. The government is your servant. People are sovereign in democracy, not the government.

What’s wrong with the public health sector?
India is standing on the verge of a famine. Inequality, not only financial but in the social and political arena is a major problem. 47% of our children under the age of five are malnourished if you apply weight-for-age criteria. One third of babies born in India are below the normal weight. 37% of the adult population have a Body Mass Index (BMI) below 18.5. A report by the National Nutrition Monitoring Bureau says 60% of SC and 50% of ST are malnourished. What does it all indicate? Our agriculture minister says there is enough storage for food grains. Availability of food grains does not mean there is no famine. People have lost their capability to buy food!