Mr. Prime Minister, we must remember this is a democracy !

Mr. Prime Minister,

I was shocked to read your interview in Science Magazine on Feb. 24, 2012. While drawing attention to India as a democracy, you have failed to respond to the legitimate and widespread democratic concerns of citizens on issues of genetically modified foods, and India’s aggressive nuclear expansionist policies. To sideline serious concerns over the safety and merits of both these programs as merely vested by funds from outside, is incorrect, and does not befit a person in your office. One might cast similar aspersions on the many ‘partnerships’ entered by GoI with foreign nations, which might not be considered by all to benefit our nation.

I ask GoI to respond to safety concerns posed by the independent expert committee report on Kudankulam Nuclear Power Plant (KNPP). Besides these particular safety issues with the KNPP project, there are also high health risks associated with radiation exposures for communities living around any nuclear plant. Two studies carried out in Germany and more recently in France show a spike in incidence of leukemia in children around nuclear power plants – a result that should not be taken lightly.

In any democracy, the voice of opposition or dissent – if heard and responded to seriously, strengthens the democratic process and yields solutions that are more representative of people’s needs and concerns. Yet, you have dismissed all opposition to your individual vision for the nation as effectively ‘non-thinking’.

India is at a serious crossroad – to subserve a State-Corporate nexus by siphoning off all national resources with processes such as SEZs, commodification of water, industrial energy subsidies, encouraging GM of our food security and promoting FDIs, or, to reassert the true sovereignity of the citizens of this socialist, secular, democratic republic, so that even the highest appointments of the State must first represent and serve people’s interest.

I ask that you do not resort to potentially slanderous, repressive tactics to gag discussions on nuclear or any other ‘development’ issues using any un-mandated powers of your office, but instead adopt a consultative approach with people of India, to resolve their issues and concerns. While this process may be slow, we must remember that we are not China, as you pointed out in the interview to Science.


Dr. Arati Chokshi







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