EAS Sarma has made an appeal to the state government to close the doors to POSCO permanently and act as a genuine representative of the people who have elected them to head the government today
EAS Sarma, former secretary to the Government of India (GOI) and resident of Visakhapatnam, has condemned the forcible eviction of villagers at Balitikra along Govindpur-Nuagao border in Odisha for the POSCO project. He says that it is illegal and involves violation of human rights. He has made an appeal to the Odisha government to stop it forthwith.
From visual media reports and other sources, it is evident that Odisha government has resorted to hasty, coercive action to evict thousands of villagers, including women and children, near Balitikra along the Govindpur-Nuagao border, with a view to accommodate the interests of POSCO. Such action violates the human rights of the villagers and defies the basic norms of democratic governance.
EAS Sarma clearly points out, “The latest coercive action unleashed by the state government represents the culmination of crony capitalism that seems to characterise both the Centre and the states. The mining franchise is under suspension. The environment clearance has been held invalid. However, the state government seems to side the foreign company rather than its own people.”
The story of POSCO is the story of how low can our country’s leaders stoop in order to promote crony capitalism of the worst kind. To the best of our knowledge, the selection of POSCO was through a highly non-transparent process that raised questions on the propriety of the state government in granting permissions to the foreign company. What followed thereafter was highly predictable in today's environment of the close nexus between the politician and the businessman.
The arguments put forth by EAS Sarma are as follows: First, The PMO (Prime Minister’s Office) and MOEF (ministry of environment and forests) acted in an orchestrated haste to throw all the environment norms to the wind and accorded environment clearance for POSCO. Second, under civil society pressure, the then Union minister of state for environment & forests appointed a committee to examine forest rights violations and other statutory infringements involved in the clearances given in favour of POSCO but he chose conveniently to reject the recommendations of the majority of the members of that committee and accept the report of the minority member to uphold the environment clearance for the project. Finally, it was the National Green Tribunal (NGT) that overturned the action of MOEF and quashed the environment clearance for POSCO. NGT ordered a fresh appraisal of the project.
Despite this, the local political leaders and the officials continue to act for the foreign company, forgetting that they are accountable to the Constitution, the law of the land and the public at large.
While some ‘expert’ institutions tried to exaggerate the benefits of the project to justify the remuneration they had received from the project proponent, an independent evaluation would show that the social costs of the project far exceed the social benefits. Both the central and the state governments have chosen to close their eyes and work for POSCO!
An independent investigation by the CBI under judicial oversight will unravel the numerous improprieties that were committed at different stages of pushing through this project.
EAS Sarma has made an appeal to the state government to close the doors to POSCO permanently and act as a genuine representative of the people who have elected them to head the government today. The Union government should review its own stance on POSCO and on its mis-conceived approach to ‘development’ in general and persuade the State to respect the Constitutional rights of the people, the law of the land and the basic dignity to which the citizens of this country are entitled.
EAS Sarma concludes by saying, “We hope that good sense will prevail over the minds of our rulers even at this belated stage and they desist from unleashing state violence against men, women and children living in the area.”
We are made up of hydrogen, oxygen, carbon, nitrogen and other trace minerals. When we die we go back to the same elements. In between we are an amazing enigma called the human mind seen as a human body which, for all intents and purposes, looks solid having a perfect shape
“Maybe we're grass—our roots so interdependent that no one is dead as long as someone is still alive”— John Green
Nature is an amazing engineer. Although mankind has been trying to unravel the mysteries of nature under the name of scientific discovery, she gives us only small bits and pieces of her secrets, through our keyhole view. Hurray, the man who gets that view gets the Nobel, which rightfully belongs to nature as nature alone could do that job!
We are made up of hydrogen, oxygen, carbon, nitrogen and other trace minerals. When we die we go back to the same elements. In between we are an amazing enigma called the human mind seen as a human body which, for all intents and purposes, looks solid having a perfect shape. In short, human body is immaterial—mental and spiritual.
Matter being another name for energy, human body is a bundle of energy vibrations, made up of nearly seven octillion atoms. In the physiological sense we are a colony of 50-100 trillion individual human beings (human cells) which lived as individuals for millions of years before coming together to form this human body. During our evolution we have also inherited trillions of germs as our integral part resulting in the human body being made up of nine germ cells to every human cell in us. Human meta-genome, therefore, is made up of only about 25,000 human genes and trillions of germ genes.
Our world view is not real and so our reductionist scientific view also must be distorted. Electrons exist not as distinct entities but as only probabilities which are called as happenings or Haps. Atoms that make up matter do not touch each other as they are repulsed when they come very close. The force of this repulsion is so great that when you lie down on your mattress you really do not touch the mattress. There is a very thin gap between your body and the mattress! Your eyes give you only a distorted version of this universe. Our brain makes a model of the world by getting inputs of light, shade, edges, curvature, etc. This also makes up for the fine jerky movements of the eyes called saccades, resulting in a false picture of steady vision. Imagine the TV screen, the picture you see is very artificial as there are hundreds of movements of each action of the pictures there, like someone talking in the TV. Our brain also creates a bigger than normal size of the objects, at times, like that of the moon.
Although we think we only have five senses, there are many more senses that we get help from. When you stand on one leg with eyes closed you are being assisted by the sixth sense of proprioception which tells you where you are without the eyesight. You can walk in complete darkness. Telepathy and intuition are other senses that help us at times. Our schooling teaches us to neglect our intuition to develop our intellect. Epi-genetics teaches us that our genes are not the be all and end all of our existence. They play a tiny 3% part in our existence. The germ genes have a bigger say in the remaining 97%. In addition, our environment plays a major role. No gene can work outwith the environment. Lamarck was more right than Darwin, although the conventional scientific world wants to hang on to Darwin’s coat tails since there is big money in genetic engineering and (in medicine) stem cell therapy, the new money spinner.
This brings us to a new area of body parameters we measure and treat in sick human beings, totally unaware of the wholisitc nature of the human body. 29th February 2010 was a great leap in knowledge for mankind when the Institute of Medicine in the US, which audits medical research in that country, agreed to accept the term Whole Person Healing (WPH) as the future of medicine. The term was coined by Late Professor Rustum Roy, a great scientist of world repute. Our reductionist, organ based, specialties have come to grief. For the purposes of this article I shall confine myself to only a few of the parameters like sodium, potassium, calcium and magnesium which are routinely checked and corrected by us in any sickness scenario. How scientific are we in doing so? What are the outcome measures of these reductionist methods?
These are areas not much talked about and researched. Even if one applied an ointment on the dorsum of one’s palm, a bio-photon camera today can show changes in the brain cells in response to the ointment! Imagine the damage that our powerful reductionist chemicals can do in that background.
We see doctors prescribing calcium tablets to most women that see them to build the latter’s bone strength! Now let us see what happens in the whole organism? While calcium intake, as a reductionist molecule, sets in calcium induced calcium loss in the kidneys resulting in negative calcium balance in the whole system! Oral calcium gets deposited in the vessel walls encouraging more atherosclerotic blocks, especially in the coronary vessels. In addition extra calcium intake pushes out magnesium, a vital element that stabilises cell wall electric polarity, making the cell walls electrically unstable. Recent reports of sudden death syndrome in oral calcium taking women has been ascribed to magnesium deficiency giving rise to cardiac electrical instability! Oral calcium also gets deposited at all unwanted places inside like scars in the lungs, etc. If one wants to increase the calcium levels in any patient one should ask the patient to do three things—reduce intake of salt (sodium chloride), exercise daily by walking for an hour and sit in the sun for at least an hour with as little cloth cover on the body as is possible under the given circumstances. The last one gives her the best D3 to build bones and calcium levels without the need for extra oral calcium. One scientist looked at calcium levels in patients given lots of cow’s milk to boost the calcium levels in 25,000 humans over several years only to get surprising result that calcium levels went down inversely proportionate to the milk intake.
I have been encountering a new disease these days which I had not seen frequently in the olden days, which is low sodium syndrome. Every other elderly person inside the ICU these days seems to be suffering from this new syndrome. S/he gets sodium infusion in the ICU to get the right laboratory report of sodium. If s/he survives s/he will have to come back again after a week or two for the same complaint. Professor Harlan Krumholz, in the department of cardiology at Yale, studied this new recurrent admission syndrome with reference to heart failure where diuretics are the mainstay of treatment. He came up with a new syndrome—Post Hospitalisation Syndrome (PHS)—where the patients once admitted to ICUs come back again and again (a good business). The multitude of drugs that we give to patients inside and outside the ICU these days plays a major role in these PH Syndromes. Many of these drug combinations with diuretics deplete the body of vital sodium. Potassium is another headache for doctors. While we fill the potassium deficit or excess by drugs in the hospital little do we realise that while the body’s total store of potassium is almost twenty five times that of the measure that we see in our report of extra cellular potassium, God only knows what the body does with our intervention of extra cellular levels. This enigma is another cause of sudden deaths. In this whole drama we have forgotten what the body can do without outside intervention. The body is capable of converting sodium to potassium or vice versa if there is dire need—so called biological transmutations!
Magnesium is another story. It is the most vital element which we were getting in abundance in our olden days’ sea salt which we have done away with, thanks to modernity now that we eat white refined salt with added iodine! This pure and deadly salt does not have any trace of the life-saving magnesium. Few doctors measure magnesium levels routinely in disease set-ups. Even when they measure, the story is the same as potassium. We are still groping in the dark about our elements. Trace elements are rarely tracked in disease states to the patients’ detriment. All in all iatrogenic diseases are on the rise, thanks to advances in modern medical claptrap. Do we have to remind doctors what Hippocrates said: “Primum Non Nocere.” (First do no harm) What we do not yet know is if Hippocrates ever said that since he never knew Latin!! Hippocrates never wrote anything in Latin. We only have a keyhole view of everything in medicine. We have to take our elements more seriously.
(Professor Dr BM Hegde, a Padma Bhushan awardee in 2010, is an MD, PhD, FRCP (London, Edinburgh, Glasgow & Dublin), FACC and FAMS. He is also Editor-in-Chief of the Journal of the Science of Healing Outcomes, Chairman of the State Health Society's Expert Committee, Govt of Bihar, Patna. He is former Vice Chancellor of Manipal University at Mangalore and former professor for Cardiology of the Middlesex Hospital Medical School, University of London.)
One cannot really say that the largest democracy in the world has lived up to its potential—much remains to be done. The youth will have to ensure that the democracy in India remains on track even though at times there will be jerks and hiccups in the journey to a better tomorrow
India just celebrated its 64th Republic Day on 26 January 2013. It is a good time to take stock of the situation as it is time to do some introspection before talking of where the country is headed to. We recall with pleasure and pain the happenings preceding the declaration of the independence of India that included the tumultuous events resulting in the partition of the country.
We recall with misty eyes the events that unfolded at midnight of 15 August 1947, as India marched towards independence with Pandit Jawaharlal Nehru delivering the Tryst with Destiny speech proclaiming India's independence:
“Long years ago we made a tryst with destiny, and now the time comes when we shall redeem our pledge, not wholly or in full measure, but very substantially. At the stroke of the midnight hour, when the world sleeps, India will awake to life and freedom. A moment comes, which comes but rarely in history, when we step out from the old to the new, when an age ends, and when the soul of a nation, long suppressed, finds utterance. It is fitting that at this solemn moment, we take the pledge of dedication to the service of India and her people and to the still larger cause of humanity.”
Looking back one can say with reasonable pride that we have come a long way. The very fact that India has survived as a single entity since independence for the last 66 years itself is no small achievement; keeping in view the sheer size of the country, the number of states, diversity of languages, ever growing population and the various pulls and pressures by competing interest groups. Even the economy that had been accustomed to moving along at bullock cart speed or as the economists liked to call the “Hindu rate of growth” has also started gathering steam since the liberalisation process commenced during the year 1991.
Today’s India is totally different from the one that fought for and attained independence, not just in terms of population profile or the material trappings that have enmeshed us, but even the ethics and morality that is on display today.
The questions that need to be asked are, “Whether the largest democracy in the world has lived up to its promised role? Or has the Indian Democracy been derailed on the way? Has the Indian Republic started breaking at the seam or is it mere withering of the frayed edges? Will the Indian Democracy survive?”
Before we consider these questions, let us glance at the term ‘democracy’, particularly in the context of India. Does democracy only mean giving voting rights to the citizens and holding regular elections? While these two elements do form a part of the core of democracy, democracy means much more than merely holding elections and citizens participating in it.
While it may be difficult to give the exact definition of ‘democracy’ as seen from the experience of various countries, what cannot be denied is the fact that freedom of expression and equality before law are two of the innermost cores of ‘democracy’. The absence of either of them would certainly mean no democracy. If there is no freedom to speak or if the citizens are not treated equally before law then such a rule cannot be called democratic.
The Indian government has always claimed that our people enjoy freedom of speech and all the citizens of India are treated equally before law and this is guaranteed by the Constitution. However, can anybody with his heart on the hand say that these two claims are really true?
In fact, at times even the question whether India is a single country itself raises serious doubts. While legally we may be a single entity, but with different states at times behaving worse than an enemy country, rules seem to have been made to deter people from easily doing business in multiple states, official language varying from state to state and so on, such doubts seem to reasonable. A person no less than Mr Lee Kuan Yew, the former prime minister and the creator of modern Singapore, the man who single-handedly changed the face of Singapore, remarked that India is not a single country, it comprises of 32 separate nations.
How many of us are aware that it is easier to do business between different European countries, though they are all separate and independent countries, than within the different states of India. Not just business, as the events of the last few years indicate the very idea of India is coming under a serious threat from various quarters. Regional, Religious and class identities are becoming stronger, even as in the process Indianness is getting diluted.
Of late the Indian democracy has come under pressure with the two of the most important features of a democracy under attack. It is universally accepted that freedom of speech is one of the most important pillars of a democracy which would include discussion, debate, dissent and decision. Has India lived up to its reputation in this regard? Since the last few years the tolerance limits in India have been rapidly going down with different groups ruling the roost at different times in various parts of the country.
Exile of renowned artist late MF Hussain is a sad example of that, while the ban on the exhibition of a Kamal Hassan movie in Tamil Nadu is the latest example of the same feature and similarly the fatwa by Muslim groups on the all-girl band in Kashmir is another glaring example. Even as I am writing this article comes the news that a Christian group is targeting Mani Ratnam’s latest movie. Even a person fighting for social justice for poor and downtrodden can be termed a Maoist and put behind bars.
It is not just one state or one group, from time to time, small rowdy groups in different states have held the authorities to ransom and in the process denied the legitimate rights of the majority of citizens. Time and again it has been observed that a small group professing one or the other identity can blackmail the state. The question that needs to be asked in this context is, “Should the government protect only the rights of a rowdy microscopic minority or it has a duty to protect the rights of the silent majority? What the recent events indicate is that the states have been failing in their duty towards the majority of the citizens?
What should the citizens do when a chief minister takes everything as personal and a cartoon or a joke makes the CM initiate police action; then one would not be wrong in asking whether we are in a Democracy or a dictatorship. Is our democracy so weak that an innocuous remark on Facebook results in the arrest of two hapless young girls at the instance of a rowdy political group; while those thugs go scot-free for all the damage they have caused to victims’ families.
Similarly, where is the equality before law? With due respect to the courts, it is the money power on display in the courts. A poor litigant has hardly any scope to reach the courts and seek justice. Fighting in the courts seems to have become pass time of the rich and the famous, ordinary mortals only get grinded by the system and most of the time they are worse off when they approach the courts.
We need to ask ourselves where India is headed. Let us take a pause from our daily routine and think as to what is happening to the country. All these events taken together indicate the serious underlying malaise that is eating away at the vitals of the country. We are becoming more and more self-cantered, our political and labour leaders (whatever are left) can’t see beyond their noses and would compromise national interest to serve their own ends.
It is easy to overlook these as mere aberrations in the short history of independent India and believe that the overall structure is very solid; the idea of India is still alive and kicking. Yes, that is true, India is alive and doing well and will hopefully continue to do so; the younger generation will ensure that it remains so. However, we should remember that if a wound is not treated in time it can become septic and can lead to gangrene which may even call for amputation.
After all, continuous hammering can bring even the strongest mountain down. Playing with emotions of people and manipulating the same is the game which political groupings play for serving their own ends even if that means some more erosion of democracy.
To come back to the two questions raised earlier, one cannot really say that the largest democracy in the world has lived up to its potential—much remains to be done. Space for dissent is shrinking by the day; we need to remember dissent is essential for having healthy democracy. Similarly, rule of law is being seriously undermined by the 3 Ps—Power, Position and Pelf; in such a scenario what does a common man do to get justice?
While democracy in India may not be breaking at the seams, but the edges one is afraid to visualise the consequences. However, as an incorrigible optimist, in spite of the prognosis, one has to believe that the youth will ensure that the democracy in India remains on track even though at times there will be jerks and hiccups in the journey to a better tomorrow.
(Dr SD Israni, advocate & partner, SD Israni Law Chambers, is one of India’s leading authority on corporate, commercial and securities laws. He was a member of the Naresh Chandra Committee for simplification of Company Law relating to private and small companies. He has been on SEBI's committee on disclosures (called the Malegam Committee) and the one on buy-back of shares. Dr Israni has been a member of the Legal Affairs Committee of the Bombay Chamber of Commerce and Industry, Indian Merchants' Chamber and Indian Council of Arbitration. Dr Israni is an active member of the Institute of Company Secretaries of India and was on its Central Council for four terms and headed the Capital Markets Committee of the ICSI.)