#Irom Sharmila completes 12 years of Fasting , Anna Hazare’s fast……

आज मेरा रोम रोम चीख रहा है 
एरोम तुम्हारे लिए
चीख पुकार तो कब से दबी थी
गुस्सा भी चीख चीख के निकला था
vt स्टेशन पे तुम्हारी रिहाई की गुहार लगाकर
मानों तन और मनं ऐसा थरका था
लोगों को तुम्हारे बारे में बताना
लोगों को अफ्प्सा काले कानून के बारे में बता कर
मानो मनं कुछ तो हल्का हुआ था

लेकिन कुछ दिन से इस देश की गुहार देखकर 
अन्ना हजारे पर प्यार देख कर
देश के कोने कोने से भर्ष्टाचार के यह एक आवाज़ सुनकर
खुश तो हूँ,
पर मेरा दिल चीख चीख के रो रहा है
मेरा दिमाग, मेरा तन…. इस क्रांति पे खुश है
पर मेरा दिल मेरा साथ नहीं है
मेरा दिल तम्हारे पास है इरोम
वोह तुम्हारे लिए रो रहा है
वोह इस देश को समझ नहीं पा रहा है
आखिर एक दिल है……

तुम दस सालसे भी ज्यादा से भूख हड़ताल पे हो
तुम्हारे साथ एक भी भारतवासी नहीं आया
तुम AFSPA के काले कानून के खिलाफ हो
तुम्हें किसी ने नहीं अपनाया

किसी को मत बताना इरोम
यह एक ऐसी पहेली है
जिसका जवाब इंसानों के साथ बदलता हैं
हम अन्ना हजारे के साथ है
यह हमारी देश भक्ति है
हम अन्ना हजरे के साथ है
हम आम जनता के साथ है

जब हम तुम्हारे साथ है 
हम देशद्रोही है
जब तुम्हारे साथ हैं
हम फ़ौज और जवानों के खिलाफ है
हम इस देश की सुरक्षा के खिलाफ है

भ्रष्टाचार तो बचपन से हमें
हमारी किताबों में भी एक गलत चीज़ है बताया गया है
पर इरोम, देश भक्ति हमें
केवल अपने देश को बचाना ही सिखाएगी

देश, फ़ौज , पोलिस—देश भक्ति का अटूट अंग बन गए हैं
वह मेरी तुम्हरी लड़ाई में हमारे दुश्मन बन गए हैं
भ्रष्टाचार में लाखों करोड़ों के घपले हैं
पर अफ्प्सा , जैसे काले कानून के कारण
इस देश भक्ति के कारण
लाखों करोड़ों देशवासी मौत की नीद सो गए गए है
उनके मरने से उनके परिवार भी मर गए हैं
और हम सब उनको आतंकवादी के नाम देकर….
देशभक्ति का प्रमाण देकर कहीं सो गए

इरोम, हम सरकार की इस बर्बरता को
देशभक्ति के परदे में देख नहीं पाते
कब हमारे देश वासी जागेंगे
और हम देश वासी बाद में , पहले इंसान है
इस एहसास को जान पायेंगे

कब इरोम कब 
कब हजारों लाखों तुम्हारे साथ भी
भूख हड़ताल पे जायेंगे
कब इरोम कब
हमारे देशवासी
इस देशभक्ति का
मुखोटा हटाएँगे

अन्ना हजारे तुम्हारी जीत हो गयी है
तुम्हारे ८५ घंटों के अनशन से
लोकपाल बिल आएगा…….
इरोम शर्मीला के दशक के अनशन पे
AFPSA हटा नहीं है
अन्ना क्या आप इरोम के साथ बैठोगे ?
क्या आप कानून के नाम पर जो लहू बह रहा है ?
उसको रोक पाओगे ?

( This poem I wrote last year in april after the Anna illusion began )

English Translation

Today every pore of my body is screaming 
For you Irom
The screams were suppressed since when…
Anger was coming out in my screams and protests
As I was screaming and shouting for your release at VT station
My being had shaken within
To tell people about you, what you stand for
To tell people about draconian law AFPSA
I felt lighter

For the past few days the country has been screaming
I am happy to see
All the love being doled out to Anna Hazare
To hear voice against corruption
From nook and corner of each city
I am happy to see
But my heart is crying
My brain is happy thinking about this Anna revolution
But my heart is not with me
My heart is with you Irom
It is crying for you
And it is unable to understand the sentiments of this country

After all it’s a HEART
You have been on hunger strike for more than a decade
But not a single Indian came with you
You were against the black law of AFPSA
But no one owned you

Do not tell anyone Irom
This is a riddle
Whose answer changes with people?
If we are with Anna Hazare
We are true patriots
If we are with Anna Hazare
We are with the common people

When we are with you
We are traitors
When we are with you
We are against our army, our soldiers
We are against the national security
Corruption has been embedded as a bad trait
Since our childhood in our text books

But Irom, patriotism
Only teaches us to defend our country
Nation, army, police are inherent features of patriotism
They have become enemies in our fight for freedom

There have been many scams of crores under the banner of corruption
Lakhs and crores of Indians have been killed
Their families have also died eventually
And we have given them the certificate of terrorists
Very conveniently and gone to sleep in the bed of patriotism

Irom, we are unable to see the human rights violation of government
Under the garb of patriotism
When will my countrymen awaken, to the fact that
We are humans first, and Indians later

When Irom, when
Lakhs of people will join you in your hunger strike?
When Irom, when
Will our people remove the
Mask of patriotism?

Anna Hazare, you have won
After 85 hours of your FAST
The Lokpal Bill will be implemented
After a decade of your fast
Still the AFSPA has not been repealed
Anna will you sit with Irom?
Will you be able to stop the bloodshed
In the name of law?

Listen to my recitation at CGNET SWARA

Kabir Suman recites the Bangla Translation of my poem

Faking Democracy- Free Irom Sharmila Now


‘ #Irom Sharmila feels fasting is what she is meant to do in life’

Irom Sharmila in her hospital ward prison

Rediff.com, Nov 5, 2012

Today, Irom Sharmila, the Manipur civil rights activist, marks 12 years of her fast in protest against the Armed Forces Special Powers Act in the state. She remains in judicial custody where she continues to be force-fed through her nose.

Deepti Priya Mehrotra, author of Burning Bright: Irom Sharmila and the Struggle for Peace in Manipur, recalls her association with the Iron Lady of Manipur.

I met her initially in October 2006 in Delhi just to pay my respects. But I kept going back to her, and met her on multiple occasions in the months to come. I found that she was extremely friendly and takes great interest in people and things around her.

She is very attractive, and is very sharp, quick and reactive. We hit it off and started chatting the instant we met. She really wants to know so much. She asked me questions about myself and asked what I teach — who were my students, how I travelled. I found that she preferred to do things the economical way; she would have preferred the bus.

She also started telling me about her own family. She is the youngest of nine brothers and sisters. She is very close to her family and extended family members who all live nearby in a village at the edge of Imphal.

She spoke very fondly of Manipur — her motherland, her birthplace, and has a sense of deep commitment, passion and involvement for it. She is also very close to many people in different generations of her extended family. She was readily involved with what other people in her family did, like spinning. She also liked to walk, and used to cycle around in Manipur.

She told me about her early school days. She said she didn’t like books in school.

Sharmila studied till class XII, and never went to college. The problem with text books, she said, was that they didn’t tell her anything about real life.

I feel the violence she witnessed triggered her poetry. She just couldn’t accept the violence and wanted to do something about it.

And then, one day, after the massacre at Malom village [an alleged encounter by Assam Rifles resulted in the death of 10 people in November 2000], she decided she had to do something. The next morning, she sought blessings from her mother and her elder brother, and the long fast began. I don’t feel that she could have gauged how long the fast would be. I doubt if she still thinks about it.

But she surely is very fond of food. When I met her in a jail in Imphal in 2007, the first question she asked me was if I had tasted Manipuri curries. She said she would cook for me once and then explained the dishes and ingredients in much detail.

She does have some skills in cooking. She is a vegetarian, a rarity in her family and the community.

Coming back to her education, Sharmila never attended college even though she experimented with many options after school. She learnt tailoring, worked with a social group for blind children, but it was her assignment a month before taking up the fast that I believe led her to a very strong belief in what she was doing.

The human rights group she was part of trained her for a few weeks about the Armed Forces Special Powers Act, and then she went along with this team to meet a cross-section of people. I feel it must have brought her to a kind of boiling point. She saw rape victims, spoke to them, went to villages where people had disappeared.

Irom Sharmila is produced at the chief judicial magistrate's court in Imphal every fortnight

I feel that she also connected very deeply with the Meira Paibis, a group of old local women, who have traditionally saved the community from alcohol and drugs, and later from the atrocities by the armed forces. This group is very special to Manipuri society and is present in every village. I feel she felt very strongly connected to them.

But as a person, I often think of her as a very quiet girl, sitting quietly in a corner, observing, feeling and thinking, and taking everything in. She is a very vibrant person, very warm, polite and close to nature.

She was briefly shifted to Ram Manohar Lohia Hospital in Delhi in 2006, and could move around in a garden closeby. I remember one evening, she saw a squirrel and wanted to know everything about it.

During her stay in Delhi, I always found a pile of book neatly stacked next to her bed. Among those books was a Quran, the Bible, Upanishads, books on Buddhism, religion and poetry. She also read Manipuri newspaper and Japanese folk stories.

I think she was really happy when she was in Delhi, because she could meet people. But when she is imprisoned in Manipur, she is not allowed to meet anybody. I mean, she is arrested every year on charges of trying to commit suicide because she refuses to eat. She has not been arrested as a political prisoner.

And so she is imprisoned for a maximum duration of one year, freed for a few days, and then arrested again.

You would be surprised to know that she has neither spoken to nor met her mother ever since she undertook the fast. She believes that her mother would be very unhappy with her not eating and that might make her weak. Her mother has not met her for the same reasons.

There is a small hut a little distance away from the prison in Imphal. Each year she stays in that hut for while, before she is re-arrested. And her demand is a single sentence: repeal of the Armed Forces Special Powers Act in the state.

I have often asked her family members the question: where does she get her strength from? And I remember her elder brother once said to me, “I will tell you where she gets her strength from. It’s our grandmother.” Her grandmother lived for 104 years.(Smiles)

Lots of people suspect that people pressurise her to stay her on fast. Also because the fast has been very effective, there is no doubt that it brought international attention to the state and its people.

But I don’t think she feels any pressure to continue it. The government and the authorities would love it if she breaks the fast. They will immediately grant her bail and close the case. It has become a big irritant for the government.

She feels that undertaking the fast is what she is meant to do in life. She believes deeply that that’s her purpose, and that’s what God wants her to do.

As told to Priyanka.


Image: Irom Sharmila in her hospital ward prison
Photographs: Chitra Ahanthem


#India- Appeal to PM -launch a national scheme of ‘free essential medicines to all’


November 05th 202


Dr. Manmohan Singh,

Prime Minister of India,

South Block, Raisina Hills,

New Delhi 110 011


Appeal to launch a national scheme of ‘free essential medicines to all’


Dear Prime Minister:


As you may well be aware, citizens of India spend exorbitant amount of money out of their pocket to seek health care, pushing every year more than 30 million citizens below poverty line.  An expense on a single hospitalization is an enough ground for 40% patients to sell assets or be indebted. About 70% of this expense is on medicines.   According to the CES 2009, about 29% patients cannot afford to seek any kind of medical care and expenses on a single hospitalization is an enough ground for 40% patients to sell assets or be indebted. Cost of medicines is the biggest slice in out of pocket health spending more for ambulatory but significantly to hospitalized patients. In addition, spiraling rise of prices of medicines is keeping away vast number of people out of reach to essential medicines. About 65% countrymen do not have access to essential medicines while India exports drugs to about 200 countries.

In the Independence Day speech of 2011, you had mentioned that the 12th Five Year Plan will be the ”Health plan” and you mentioned “A scheme to provide free medicines to all in public hospitals is being formulated” in your address to the nation on Independence Day 2012. But, unfortunately both of your announcements have yet to see the light of day even when the 12th Five Year Plan period has begun from 1st April 2012. Notwithstanding the fact that the ultimate solution to burgeoning health problems of the majority of India’s citizens


lies in “Universal health coverage through state funding” as recommended by the Planning Commission instituted High Level Expert Group (HLEG) and various working groups constituted to formulate 12th FYP, but even the implementation of any national scheme for free medicines to all is uncertain. Statements of many senior officials of the Union Ministry of Health & FW at various platforms imply that the Central Government has no plans to initiate a scheme of free medicines to patients but will promote this concept by persuading state governments to carry it out by seeking additional funds and incentives under the NRHM from the Centre. The Central Government has released a budget of Rs. 1300 crores for it which is grossly insufficient in contrast to the recommendation of the Working Group on Drugs and Food Safety of the Planning Commission for the 12th FYP. This group has suggested an annual budgetary contribution from the Centre of Rs. 5500 crores to ensure free medicines to all the patients accessing health care in the Public Health Facilities. It may be noted that this is much less than Rs. 30,000 crores suggested by the HLEG. Yet, even this smaller amount is not being budgeted!


In the absence of any national scheme, the objective of universal access to essential medicines is lost. At the moment, barring the states of Tamilnadu, Rajasthan and Kerala, all other states have very truncated schemes in which either some medicines are provided free from limited categories of health facilities or families of certain socio-economic categories are eligible for all kinds of free medicines. This has resulted into no qualitative or quantitative improvement from the previous state of affairs. In fact, previous experiences convince us that till universality of access is not ensured, patients who require free medicines will be deprived the most.


We the undersigned, therefore, appeal to you that a national scheme of ‘free essential medicines to all ‘ is immediately initiated with an annual budget of Rs. 5500 crores  & allocation  of required human resource & facilities without any further delay. If it is not launched  throughout India,  ‘free essential medicines to all ‘ which is the easiest of the components of UHC (Universal Health Care), then citizens would legitimately question any official talk about  UHC. We hope, the Government of India will abide by your pronouncements and send a message to all citizens.


It is important that while launching a national scheme, elements of transparent methods of procurement, quality assurance, promotion of essential drugs and rational drug concept as adopted by Tamilnadu and Rajasthan would be followed.


Best regards.


Yours sincerely,



(Dr. Narendra Gupta)

On behalf of all National Organisers , Jan Swasthya  Abhiyan

Prayas, 8, Vijay Colony, Chittorgarh 312 001

Convenor: JSA

B. Ekbal

­­Jt.Convenors/National Organisers

Ab­hay Shukla

Ajay Khare

Amit Sen Gupta

Amitava Guha

Joe Varghese

N.B Sarojini

Narendra Gupta

Renu Khanna

T. Sundararaman

Thelma Narayan

Vandana Prasad



National Co-ordination Committee:


All India People’s Science Network (AIPSN)

All India Drug Action Network (AIDAN)

Asian Community Health Action Network (ACHAN)

All India Democratic Women’s Association (AIDWA)

Association for India’s Development (AID)

Bharat Gyan Vigyan Samiti (BGVS)

Breastfeeding Promotion Network of India (BPNI)

Catholic Health Association of India (CHAI)

Centre for Community Health and Soc. Medicine, JNU

Christian Medical Association of India (CMAI)

Community Health Cell (CHC)

Forum for Creche and Child Care Services (FORCES)

Fedn. of Medical Representative Assns. of India (FMRAI)

Health Watch Forum

Joint Women’s Programme (JWP)

Medico Friends Circle (MFC)

National Alliance of People’s Movements (NAPM)

National Federation of Indian Women (NFIW)

National Association of Women’s Organisations (NAWO)



Voluntary Health Association of India (VHAI)


Participating Organisations:


Over 1000 organisations concerned with health careand health policy from both within and outside

the above networks.



#India – Wrongful acquisition spurs Naxalism: SC


Nov 5,2012, DNA

The Supreme Court has slammed the Maharashtra government for denying compensation to a landowner whose plot it acquired in 1981, and it has taken strong objection to a related Bombay high court judgement, warning that such “pro-state” verdicts helped the spread of Naxalism in the country.

On Friday, the apex court scrapped the Bombay high court judgement of November last year which had found fault with the landowner Tukaram Kana Joshi for not filing a petition for compensation from the Maharashtra Industrial Development Corporation (MIDC).
The SC directed the MIDC and the Maharashtra state government to pay compensation to Joshi at the prevailing market rate.

A two-judge bench of the Supreme Court observed that it was also because of such “pro-state” judgements that the country faced an increase in Naxalism in the industrial and mineral belts.

Justice SB Chauhan and justice Jagdish Singh Khehar said the attitude of some courts in matters of land acquisition had been pro-state till the Nandigram events when they realised that the people would not accept such “anti-poor” judgements.

The judges also ruled that matters relating to land compensation to farmers or landowners squarely fell within the “purview of human rights”.

Earlier, the court had examined the affidavit filed by the Maharashtra chief secretary, explaining the circumstances due to which Joshi was not paid compensation.

In its judgement, the high court had noted that in 1981, there was no legal requirement for issuing notice under section 4 of the land acquisition law and that it was only in 1984 that the amended law made it mandatory to pay compensation.

The HC had also pointed out that Joshi didn’t file any petition or application making a claim, but filed a law suit only in 2009.

“The petitioner (Joshi) is guilty of unexplained laches and therefore, in the extraordinary jurisdiction of this court, under article 226 of the Constitution, he cannot be granted any relief,” justice DK Deshmukh and justice Anoop V Mohta had ruled.
(‘Laches‘ is the legal term for an unreasonable delay in pursuing legal remedy.)



AFSPA should be scrapped totally and not just from Manipur


November 2, 2012 by Imphal Free Press | 

IMPHAL, November 2: “Chittanranjan na thawaigi pontha pokhiba amadi Irom Chanu Sharmila na chahi taranithoi chara hel-lkpa” was organised today by the Apunba Nupi Lup Bishnupur.

The original venue of the function was supposed to be Bishnupur market, but due to permit issues, it was held at Yangoi Ningthou Yangoi Leima Shanglen, Bishnupur.

IFP Resident Editor speaking at Bishnupur on AFSPA on Friday

IFP Resident Editor speaking at Bishnupur on AFSPA on Friday

Resident Editor Imphal Free Press Irengbam Arun, Asst Prof Dept of Economic, MU Dr Chinglen Meisnam, author of Sharmila: A Mission of Peace Dr Oinam Kulabidhu spoke as resource persons.

Delivering his speech IFP Editor Irengbam Arun said that there are three events which would always identify with the struggle against AFSPA which are Sharmila’s 12 years long fast, Pebam Chittanranjan’s suicide and the women nude protest at Kangla gate.

Delivering awareness to the participating young students, he said, Manipur is within the democratic boundary of India where suspected individuals are caught by the police and are supposed to be produced before the court and punish accordingly.

He said that in Manipur, however the security personnel especially the Indian military forces are given extra immunity and act themselves as police and judge and sometime kills a person without any judgement.

He elaborated that this Act lending extra arms power to the Indian military treats the people of Manipur like animals which has resulted in the loss of many lives in Manipur.

The Editor was also of the opinion that the time has come for all to echo together against the Act and its total deletion from the country.

He said that if the Act is removed only from Manipur, then it will still be imposed in other states where the people will continue to suffer.

He also pointed out that Mahatma Gandhi had fought with Non Violence for freedom and that his five days of fast was affective while, Sharmila’s 12 years of fasting is yet to bear any fruit.

He concluded by saying that it is time for the people to really understand the threatening solution in Manipur and find a concrete solution.

Dr Chinglen Meisnam said that AFSPA is benefiting some people which he called the ‘profiteer of conflict’.

He said that this is a serious issue that all the people of Manipur must understand and participate.

He said that young generations of Manipur are lacking in understanding this crucial situation which will lead to short term gain and long term pain.

As part of the function a rally was also held from the function venue to Chittanranjan’s death spot at Bishnupur Bazar where floral tributes were paid.

The 10 innocent deceased family committee also organised floral tribute at the tomb of Malom massacre spot where 10 innocent people were gunned down while waiting for bus at Malom bus parking, Boroi Makhong.


Day-long fast to highlight 12 years of struggle of #Irom Sharmila


By TCN News,

New Delhi: Volunteers and supporters of Save Sharmila Solidarity Campaign (SSSC) observed a day long fast at Jantar Mantar on November 4 to highlight 12 years of struggle of Irom.

SSSC is a nation-wide solidarity group against the neglect and suppression of Irom Sharmila, a Manipuri poet-activist who has been on a hunger-protest for 12 years now, on a protest against the Armed Forces Special Powers Act (AFSPA) in Manipur.



On November 5, she is completing 12 years of her hunger-protest.

Babloo Lothingam from Just Peace Foundation of Manipur also participated. Various students from colleges and civil rights activists such as writer Pankaj Singh, Mehtab Alam, and social activist Bilal Sultan from J&K were also present.

Devika Mittal of SSSC said, “We want to send out the message that she is not alone. We are with her. We feel for Irom because she is a true democrat and a citizen of this country. She has every right to be heard. Her struggle shows her faith in democracy and non-violence.” She added, “The Government must initiate talks with her.”

Ravi Nitesh, another core member of SSSC, remarked, “It cannot be denied that AFSPA has created problems in Manipur and other AFSPA-imposed states and it ruptured the normal life of people of these states.”

Gufran Khan, a volunteer for SSSC added, “If the government is not willing to do anything on this aspect, the judiciary must intervene as its about the violation of human lives.”

In another step to highlight the struggle, SSSC had also organised an article-series on Irom Sharmila wherein articles were invited from the public and were published on the website. 12 articles were selected and one article was published every day to symbolize one year of fast. This will conclude on 5th November.

A memorandum was also submitted to the Prime Minister of India with a copy to Ministry of Home Affairs and NHRC to demand the government to initiate the dialogue with her.


#India- #Irom Sharmila completes 12 years of protest against AFSPA MANIPUR #draconianlaw

,Posted on Nov 05, 2012 at 12:22pm IST

Imphal: Irom Sharmila, Manipur‘s ‘Iron Lady‘, on Monday completed 12 years of protest demanding repeal of the Armed Forces Special Powers Act (AFSPA). On an indefinite fast, Sharmila, who is force-fed through the nose to keep her alive began her fast till death after ten persons, including a boy who received the national bravery award, were shot dead in an alleged encounter with Assam Rifles personnel at Malom near Imphal airport on November 2, 2000.

A newspaper columnist and social worker then, Sharmila, went on fast on November 5 that year demanding repeal of AFSPA. She was arrested a day later and charged with attempt to commit suicide. Since then she has been produced in court from time to time, rearrested and produced again in court.

She is force fed at a government hospital at Porompat where the ward she is in has been converted into a jail. Sharmila has received several global awards and several prominent personalities from different parts of the country have visited her in support of her demands.

Her brother and spokesman Irom Singhajit said social organisations including Just Peace Foundation would hold candlelight demonstrations in Imphal while public discussions would be held during the day. Official sources said security and police forces would be deployed in various parts of the city as a precautionary measure.

On eve of 12th anniversary of Sharmila’s fast, activists protest government apathy


Staff Reporter, The Hindu

The ‘Iron Lady of Manipur’ Irom Chanu Sharmila, began her hunger strike after the death of 10 people in an alleged encounter with the Assam Rifles at Malom in Imphal Valley. File photo
The Hindu The ‘Iron Lady of ManipurIrom Chanu Sharmila, began her hunger strike after the death of 10 people in an alleged encounter with the Assam Rifles at Malom in Imphal Valley. File photo

‘Government ready to talk to Maoists but not to peaceful fighter against AFSPA’

Civil society activists on Sunday observed a daylong fast at Jantar Mantar here, urging the government to initiate talks with activist Irom Sharmila, who has been on a peaceful fast for the past 12 years for repeal of the controversial Armed Forces Special Powers Act (AFSPA) in Manipur.


Ms. Sharmila began her fast on November 5, 2000, a couple of days after Assam Rifles soldiers had mowed down 10 civilians at Malom village in the Imphal valley.


“We want to send out the message that Irom Sharmila is not alone. We feel for her because she is a true democrat and a true Gandhian. She has every right to be heard. Her struggle shows her faith in democracy and non-violence,” said Devika Mittal, from Save Sharmila Solidarity Campaign (SSSC), which is opposed to the neglect and suppression of the Manipuri activist’s peaceful fast.


“It is quite unfortunate that the government is ready to talk to Maoists but not to Sharmila, who responded to the extreme violence perpetrated by misusing the AFSPA with extreme peace,” said Rishikesh from Jamia Millia Islamia. Now the ‘Iron lady of Manipur’ was being force-fed through the nose at the state-run Jawaharlal Nehru Institute of Medical Sciences close to her Kongpal Kongkham Leikai residence in Imphal East, he said.


SSSC member Ravi Nitesh said the Army had reduced the AFSPA to a tool for violating human rights. “In a season when people are going on fast and the entire country’s political class engages in talks with them, it’s quite shocking that in these 12 years the government has not acknowledged her peaceful fast,” said Mr. Nitesh, who was among the 12 civil society activists who observed the daylong fast.


Gufran Khan, a student activist, called upon the judiciary to intervene, saying the executive was oblivious to the blatant rights violations in the entire north-east. He highlighted the fact that Ms. Sharmila had last month refused the Kovilan Smaraka Activist India National Award given by the Kerala-based Kovilan Trust, saying she would not accept any honour from any individual or organisation until and unless the AFSPA was scrapped.


Why Girish Karnad isn’t wrong about V.S. Naipaul

Karnad says honouring Naipaul, who justifies inter-generational transfer of guilt, is wrong
Salil Tripathi , livemint.com

First Published: Mon, Nov 05 2012. 11 05 AM IST

A file photo of Girish Karnad. Photo: HT
A file photo of Girish Karnad. Photo: HT
Once the word got around that Girish Karnad had evisceratedVidiadhar Surajprasad Naipaul, the Trinidad-born British writer who had been given the lifetime achievement award at the Tata Literature Live! Festival in Mumbai, the battle-lines were drawn clearly. Karnad had to be wrong because Naipaul was great and his critics were insignificant (he is a lion and people like me are “rats”, as someone on Twitter described me, when I defended Karnad, although Naipaul would have shown off his wider vocabulary, and called his critics “pygmies” or something suitably outrageous); Karnad had insulted his hosts by misusing the stage he was given, since he was invited to speak about his theatre, and not about Naipaul’s failings (even though his session was called, ironically, “Straight Talk”; that Karnad’s own understanding of Indian history was selective and his contribution to Indian culture was puny; that criticizing an award to Naipaul was an attack on free speech; and that Naipaul was somehow a flawless literary lion.
Wrong, wrong, wrong, wrong, and wrong. First, Karnad’s politics is irrelevant in evaluating Naipaul’s worth as a writer. Second, Karnad was invited to talk about his life in theatre. That life represents a certain world-view, certain values, of a syncretic, inclusive India. When he saw someone like Naipaul, who glorifies a worldview built on triumphalism, which justifies inter-generational transfer of guilt and who has supported vandalism (the Babri Masjid destruction) as a sign of “inevitable retribution,” Karnad uses the stage – he is an actor, after all – and tells a story of why honouring Naipaul is wrong. If you think Naipaul is right, you haven’t understood my theatre, my worldview – that’s Karnad’s underlying message. Third, one can of course challenge Karnad’s own reading of history and debate with him. But anyone who thinks “Hayavadana” and “Tughlaq” don’t matter in understanding modern India has the worldview shaped by growing up on a tiny island. Fourth, Karnad’s remarks do not attack Naipaul’s free speech; seeking to silence him attacks Karnad’s free speech. And nobody has suggested any lunatic idea, such as Naipaul’s books to be banned, that he be denied entry into India, or that his books be burned.
But what about the fifth part: Naipaul’s significance as a writer? Far too many critics have written eloquently about Naipaul’s prose – how good it is, how perspicacious and prescient he is, how uncanny his predictions have turned out to be, and, since the award is being given in India, to a writer of Indian origin, how deep his understanding of India is.
Karnad is right to challenge that. But it is worth noting that Karnad is not the first to point out that the emperor has no clothes. Think back and recall Nissim Ezekiel’s magnificent essay, “Naipaul’s India and Mine” which I read many years ago in Adil Jussawalla’s anthology, “New Writing in India” or William Dalrymple’s essay outlining the gaps in Naipaul’s retelling of India’s past. Naipaul’s fellow-Caribbean Nobel Laureate Derek Walcott once called him “Sir V.S. Nightfall.” His former friend Paul Theroux, (they have since been civil to one another) wrote an anecdote-rich, entertaining but ultimately bitter biography, “Sir Vidia’s Shadow” which showed many instances of Naipaul’s meanness. And Patrick French’s majestic biography “The World Is What It Is” revealed an emotionally-stunted man with a pathological dislike for most people except those who agreed with him.
Neemrana, 2002: soon after he won the Nobel Prize for Literature, Naipaul was being feted in India, the subject of three of the more than 30 books he has published. Those present portray a near-unanimous picture of an impertinent guest, unhappy with everything. During one of the sessions, when Nayantara Sahgal was making the rather sensible points about India’s failure in educating its children, how the country needed to do more to promote literature in Indian languages, and talked of the yoke of colonialism subjugating Indian languages, Naipaul interrupted her, saying he hadn’t come to listen to a political lecture. She held her ground; he raised his voice, and Ruchir Joshi stepped in, telling Naipaul he was being obnoxious and he should stop the inquisition.
Hardly the first time. A few years ago at the South Bank Centre in London, French, who was then working on his authorized biography, was interviewing Naipaul about his writing. Once the session opened for questions from the audience, a young American student asked Naipaul about his identity. Did he see himself as British, Indian, or Caribbean? Instead of answering, he called her ignorant, saying she had asked the question only because she liked listening to her voice. (This, apparently, is a recurring insult, usually directed at women: I know of at least two similar instances). Then a year ago at the Hay Festival, Naipaul said no woman, not even Jane Austen, was his literary match , and called the writing of Diana Athill, who edited Naipaul for years at Andre Deutsch, as “feminine tosh.”
Why the boorishness? French talks about a Caribbean trait, picong, which is supposed to be light comical banter deliberately said to provoke someone, but not the kind of verbal outrageousness that it becomes when Naipaul uses it.Good or bad, its origin is at least not Indian. Should one make a cultural consideration for Naipaul, when he does not offer the same courtesy to cultures he finds reprehensible? If Naipaul can give, surely he can take what Karnad offers?
These are not unknown secrets about Naipaul. He is his favourite subject. Throughout his life, scattered across continents,encompassing the colonial rule, the response to it, early hopes ofnationhood, and the inevitable disappointments that followed, he has carried a magisterial air, saying, “I told you so.”
But he was never the only one, nor the most original.
Should Naipaul’s meanness matter? Do we overlook the frailties of the painter Pablo Picasso, the film-maker Woody Allen, and the composer Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart, because of the haunting reality ofGuernica , the delightful charms of Annie Hall , and the sublime beauty of the 40th Symphony? Telling the man apart from his work is difficult in Naipaul’s case because so much of one influences the other. His life has its roots in resentment that displacement causes, a linear narrative begins with the arrival of Indian indentured labour in the Caribbean after British reforms ended the more blatant form of slavery from Africa, replacing it witha less crude form of slavery, this time from India. The nascent Indian community in the Caribbean included Naipaul’s ancestors; his father dreamt of becoming a writer, and Vidiadhar wanted to leave the small islands: his stage was meant to be bigger.
Carrying resentment on his sleeve, he despised the former colonized nations he encountered, calling them “half-made societies” in the post-colonial world, and grandly proclaiming, “Africa has no future,”unsympathetic to the humiliation of colonialism the society suffered. (David Hare mocks such a character brilliantly, naming him Victor Mehta, in his play, “A Map Of The World”.
There is an air of armchair intellectualism in the acuity of observations that he makes. What French describes in his biography about how he operates in India is not unlike how he has operated elsewhere, while observing other societies: “During his journey through India, Vidia would hone the technique he was to use in his subsequent non-fiction writing: he found experienced local journalists to guide him, took whatever assistance or hospitality was available, interviewed people in great detail, linked what he had discovered to his existing ideas about the country, and wrote up the results fast.”
In “A House for Mr Biswas,” Naipaul described his father as inadequate, lonely, but unassailable. Naipaul may not perhaps accept that he has certain inadequacies, but he believes himself to be unassailable. That explains his loneliness.

First Published: Mon, Nov 05 2012. 11 05 AM IST


#India-Kudankulam nuclear power plant on shaky legal ground

November 5, 2012

    D. Nagasaila
    V. Suresh, The Hindu
File photo shows the two reactors of the Kudankulam Nuclear Power Plant (KKNPP) in Tirunelveli district.
PTI File photo shows the two reactors of the Kudankulam Nuclear Power Plant (KKNPP) in Tirunelveli district.

Violations of Coastal Regulation Zone and Environmental Impact Assessment notifications make official claims questionable

The debate over nuclear energy will go on, but the issue with the Kudankulam Nuclear Power Plant (KKNPP) is one of the several illegalities on which it is founded.

In 1988, India inked the Koodankulam Nuclear Power Plant deal with the former Soviet Union. Two key elements in it were: the highly dangerous and toxic “Spent Nuclear Fuel” (SNF) would be shipped back to the Soviet Union; and the massive volumes of fresh water required to cool the plant would be supplied from Pechiparai dam, in Kanyakumari district, Tamil Nadu. The Ministry of Environment and Forests (MoEF) formally granted approval on May 9, 1989 on this basis. But there was no further progress until 1997.

In 1997, India signed another agreement, this time with Russia, to revive the KKNPP.


Between 1989 and 1997, the Coastal Regulation Zone (CRZ) and Environment Impact Assessment (EIA) Notifications were issued in 1991 and 1994 mandating compulsory clearances by environmental regulators before any new plant could be set up.

The CRZ prohibited all industrial activity within 500 metres of the high tide line. The only exception to this was industries and projects of the Department of Atomic Energy (DAE) directly requiring waterfront or foreshore facilities. The KKNPP today claims exemption from CRZ notification. This is untenable. The Nuclear Power Corporation of India Ltd. (NPCIL), which set up the KKNPP, is registered under the Companies Act as a commercial venture to engage in the business of power projects and “… to enter into partnerships with any person, including private entity or any foreign investing entity.” The NPCIL-KKNPP is thus, under law, only a “Company” and not a project of the DAE. The Supreme Court has consistently held that government departments are distinct from government companies. Further, merely because it draws seawater, it does not become an industry requiring waterfront facilities as per the decision of the Supreme Court in the shrimp farming case. Thus the KKNPP is not exempted from CRZ and the plant has been built in violation of the CRZ notification.

The EIA notification stipulated that for notified industries, environmental clearance is mandatory for new projects or expansion or modernisation of existing ones. Nuclear power is a notified industry and as per EIA notification, an EIA report must be prepared and made public. A public hearing should be conducted to record objections. The entire record would be considered by an independent “Expert Appraisal Committee” before environmental clearance is granted. Clearances are valid for five years. If the project does not commence within the five-year period, then fresh clearances will have to be obtained after fresh public hearings.

The NPCIL, the Atomic Energy Regulatory Board (AERB) and the MoEF all claim that the EIA notification is not applicable to KKNPP as it has obtained clearance in 1989. Is this claim valid? An explanatory note to the EIA notification says that in respect of existing projects as of 1994 (the year when the EIA notification was promulgated) only those which have completed the land acquisition process and which have obtained the “Consent to Establish” from the State Pollution Control Boards are exempt. The KKNPP has not even applied for “Consent to Establish” from the Tamil Nadu Pollution Control Board; nor was the land acquisition process completed.

Hence the repeated assertions of exemption from environmental regulations are untenable and seriously compromise environmental safety. The NPCIL started construction work only in 2001. More than 12 years had gone by since the grant of approval in 1989.

Two significant changes

There were two significant changes to the project. The first was that, contrary to the original proposal to ship out the SNF to Russia, the highly radioactive SNF from the nuclear power plant was to be stored, transported and reprocessed within India.

The second change was equally major: the freshwater requirement was now to be met by the construction of six desalination plants instead of sending piped water from Pechiparai dam. The environmental impact of the desalination plant on coastal ecology and marine life are serious concerns with implications for the livelihoods of the fishing community.

The environmental impact of storage, transportation and reprocessing of spent fuel as well as the impact of six desalination plants on marine ecology were not assessed at the time of initial clearance, and not since.

After launch of construction, the National Environmental Engineering Research Institute (NEERI) prepared an EIA report in 2003. Even in this report the environmental impact of spent fuel and desalination plants was not assessed. It is important to note that generally for all EIAs the baseline data on air, water, flora and fauna in and around the proposed plant are vital to assess the likely impact of the plant on them.

In the EIA for plants three to six, NEERI used baseline data from the Coast of Travancore on the west coast though the KKNPP is located in the east. The NEERI concluded that the heat from the coolant water from the KKNPP on the east will not affect marine life on the west coast, although it doesn’t require scientific expertise to arrive at such a conclusion.

The NPCIL and the AERB (the MoEF also agrees) put forward the erroneous proposition that spent fuel is no issue at all; it is actually an asset; it can be safely stored at the plant site for five years, then safely transported and reprocessed safely in a facility at a location which is yet to be decided. What is the supporting material for this assertion? Nothing.

In the U.S., Japan

No country has ever been able to reprocess more than a third of spent fuel. Even that involves significant quantities of High Level Waste which is equally radioactive and has to be stored.

In the United States, licences for nuclear power plants have been subject to the Nuclear Regulatory Commission’s (NRC) assurance in 1984 that a permanent storage by way of a geological repository would be available for all SNF by 2007-09 and spent fuel can be safely stored on site at the plants until then. In 1990 the deadline was extended to 2025. In December 2010, it was revised to conclude that a suitable repository will be available “when necessary” and in the meantime the spent fuel can be stored safely on site. This ruling was challenged before the U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit. In “State of New York, et. al., vs Nuclear Regulatory Commission and USA” the court ruled that spent nuclear fuel “poses a dangerous, long-term health and environmental risk.” It will remain dangerous “for time spans seemingly beyond human comprehension.” The court struck down the NRC’s ruling on two grounds. First, in concluding that permanent storage will be available “when necessary,” the commission did not calculate the environmental effects of failing to secure permanent storage — a possibility that cannot be ignored. Second, in determining that spent fuel can be safely stored on site at nuclear plants for 60 years after the expiration of a plant’s licence, the commission failed to properly examine future dangers and key consequences. In other words, no EIA was done by the NRC before coming to such a conclusion.

The real lesson from Fukushima is not merely on improved technical safeguards at plants from tsunamis and earthquakes. The “Fukushima Nuclear Accident Independent Investigation Commission” appointed by the Japanese Parliament warned that the disaster was man-made. The commission found that it was the government of Japan’s single-minded pursuit of nuclear power which resulted in collusion between the government, the regulators and the plant operator, TEPCO — leading to the practice of resisting regulatory measures and covering up violations.

(The writers are advocates. V. Suresh is also National General Secretary, PUCL. Email: rightstn@gmail.com)


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