Wednesday, February 29, 2012

Two Responses to Prime Minister Singh

First, from my friend, Arati Chokshi:

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’.


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.

The second is from Pratap Bhanu Mehta in an Indian Express op-ed: Do Not Disagree.

... Second, the rhetoric, that the world outside, particularly of NGOs, is a conspiracy to hold India back, is second nature to paranoid regimes. The Chinese construct dissent as motivated. Indira Gandhi revelled in it. But in her case, in the backdrop of Allende, global geopolitics, the CIA and the KGB, there was a touch of plausibility. Now these arguments have so much a touch of farce to them. But they are pretexts to increase state control. Third, think of the pattern with this government. Like the Chinese, we have used the power of granting research visas to regulate research. Our visa regime for scholars is a shame for a liberal democracy. So great is our paranoia that in the small print of even PIO cards, you will see a prohibition on doing research. Like the Chinese, films showing India’s human rights record in an unflattering light are hard to release. Censorship, through formal and informal pressures, is legion. [...]


  1. Anonymous said...

    I read Aarti Choksi and was amused by these lines of hers,
    [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.]

    I would rather go by the recommendation of this expert,
    who has spent a lifetime studying nuclear safety.

    The voice of the opposition in this case is poorly informed and absolutely unconcerned about the dire straits our energy sector is in. There are large swathes of rural India that have power lines but no power. Tamil Nadu itself is struggling to bridge a generation deficit of 4000 MW. When the voice of the opposition disregards these circumstances it is incapable of producing a solution that represents peoples' needs. Strengthening democracy in these circumstances will make things worse and only result in a mobocracy. 'tis a pity that a scientists such as yourself has chosen to entertain such tendentious screeds.

  2. rahul said...


    well put