Thursday, December 29, 2011

The Big Lokpal Logjam

As I write, the news is coming in that the Lokpal bill will fall and get deferred, once more. While we are novices and incapable of understanding the nuances of drafting legislation and its constitutional validity or otherwise, we realize that all the parties in this issue have violated the KISS (Keep it simple Sir) principle.
The basic question is corruption and underlying it is man's greed which is seemingly insatiable. So the simplest and most effective solution to the problem is to live for others, acquiring wealth to acquire basic comforts and needs and giving the excess to others or holding wealth as a trustee and custodian for our less fortunate brethren.Where there a bribe demander, there is a giver and behind their action is often a desire to acquire something out of turn or something undeserved. So the simple mantra, is to reduce ones needs and live unselfish lives.

What do we get instead? A popular group of self styled representatives of civil society activists professing to be Gandhians, but far removed from his methods or ideals. Their intemperate utterances, intolerant views and inconsistencies, reduced their credibility and negated a lot of the good work done. The sneaking suspicion that they were acting on behalf of someone else did not help too. However, Anna and his movement has let the genie out of the bootle and nothing can stop the idea of the Lokpal and accountability of public servants. Also team Anna must learn the most important lesson from their mentor Mahatma Gandhi that good ends can never be achieved by bad means. The Government on its part has come out of this fiasco  as a confused dithering entity, at best lurching from crisis to crisis. They can also be accused of diabolical cunning and plotting to undermine and destroy all attempts to give a strong Lokpal bill to the nation, while wearing a mask of showing positive intent. The cynical use of minority quota and reservation is really a ploy to not allow this bill to go through and is evidence of the rulers playing political games at the expense of the people they claim to represent. Lokpal is an office of selection and the best among the best should occupy this office and no other consideration should come into the selection. However, I see some merit in trying to give representation to all sections based on reservation criteria if suitable candidates are found. The opposition also has double standards, and could have voted in favor of giving Lokpal a constitutional status, as that could have enabled even a weak Lokpal to acquire fresh powers through legal methods much like T.N. Seshan did with a weak election commission in the past. The BJP also opposed the Lokayuktas or state Lokpals on grounds which were at best technical and this went against the assurances given in Parliament that Lokayuktas will be part of Lokpal bill. The Laloos, Mulayam Singhs and Mayawati BSP groups all were puppets banked upon by the political class to destroy the bill, which after all could potentially dry up or curb the avenues of corruption for our netas. Laloo was the only man who "honestly" admitted the political classes discomfort at passing a law which actually threatened to undermine and expose themselves. The political class in unison proclaimed their right and supremacy to enact laws, but forgot to mention that their rights and power came from the people they represent. So in totality is it a case of "already seen" or "already done"? or can we derive some positives?

I feel that there are many positives to be derived. The acknowledgement and engagement of the rights of civil society and people in the direct process of law making, even with flaws and aberrations is a huge positive of this movement. However, the government must listen and respond to the peoples aspirations and listen to all sections and not merely to the ones who make the most noise. While groups like NCPRI and Loksatta party had suggestions often better than the Jan Lokpal bill, their views were not given the amount of consideration that the loud mouthed team Anna were given. This movement led to the passing of the judicial accountability bill, whistle blowers bill and citizens charter bill. Many civil society experts see these as far reaching reforms.

In conclusion, the solution to this logjam is really very simple, it lies in the ability of all of us to overcome greed, desires and live unselfish lives. For every corrupt person there is a corrupter and if we resolve not to give a bribe or take a bribe then we can have a corruption free society. We live in an imperfect world and there is no perfect solution to the problem of corruption in India. However, we owe it to team Anna that we have reached thus far and won a few battles. The war is not yet over and it will take many more battles, sacrifices, hardship and struggles before we can reach at least closer to a corruption free India. 
sincererly,
Dr. Vispi Jokhi



Thursday, December 01, 2011

Our Prime Minister and his policies

Who is a leader? Who is a CEO? Our Prime Minister never leads but is always lead by 2G's (Soniaji and Rahulji). He is a CEO working in the interests of the corporates. This is but natural because he has been appointed by Soniaji and is on the pay roll India inc. He has never faced an election and therefore cannot care for the people who elect their leaders. Everybody, without exception says that we have a gentle PM with the best CV in the world, but the net result of his interventions since 1990, when from an obscure position of chairman UGC, he was made finance minister in the Narsimha Rao government, his policies have led to the massive enrichment of the rich at the cost of the poor. The last two decades have seen,unprecedented rise in economic disparity, hitherto unknown in the history of India. While the 8-9% GDP story has made headlines, the rise in hunger, the decrease in per capita food consumption to pre-independence levels has barely made it to the consciousness of the people. The cost of deforestation, land degradation, destruction of livelihood of farmers, now traders, the nuclear disasters waiting to happen and the threat to our food from GM crops is yet to be calculated. In all probability the 1,76,000 crore 2G scam loss would be far less than the damage this man is inflicting on our nation. To top it all his insensitivity to the poor and makes his government undermine and dilute the few positive initiatives made by this government. If RTI Act, MGNREGA. Land Acquisition Act, Right to education and Right to food are on the agenda, every attempt is made to make reluctant concessions to the people of India. Corruption is a consequence of coalition dharma and if our poor PM cannot be blamed for it then he cannot even take the credit for the jailing of his ex-ministers and bureaucrats, as these were the result of judicial intervention only.

We the privileged classes have in the past two decades seen rising incomes, prosperity and exposure to world class products. These lollies have distracted us and disconnected us from poor classes. However, there are grass root workers and leaders who are working tirelessly for the voiceless masses. As concerned citizens, we must firstly come out of our cocoons and open our eyes to the reality surrounding us. The least we can do is apply our mind and exert pressure on Government to see reason and make its policies pro-people. I do not think that the situation is not yet reached an irreversible slide, and there is still hope for our country and its people.
Dr. Vispi Jokhi

Sunday, August 28, 2011

India wins

After 13 days of fasting finally our dear Annaji broke his fast on national television at the Ramlila grounds. Let us now look back at the phenomenon called Anna and attempt to analyze from where it has come and what is its future trajectory.
The man seems to be a rustic villager, simple looking but complex personality who from all accounts seems to have a big ego. He claims to be destiny's child as he considered his escape from the jaws of death, a call to a higher calling in life. The man dedicated his life to rural upliftment of his bretheren and by all accounts Ralegan Siddhi became a model of rural development based on watershed development and social reform. All this was done by Anna in a manner an army man would adopt, a combination of coercion and persuasion more of the former than the latter. His work and his spartan life style won him admiration and acclaim in Maharashtra, India and abroad resulting him getting the Magsaysay award, an asian equivalent of the Nobel prize. His work made him engage with the political class and he like his inspiration Gandhi cut his teeth in agitation politics at the lower levels before taking the might of the Indian state. While self sacrifice and fasting as a symbol of the same was typically his method of protest, he has to the surprise of seasoned politicians mastered the art of symbolism, public speaking and tactical timing and in this he has faithfully emulated Gandhi. His choice of issue was corruption which has peaked in the last few years and has become so brazen, that the people came to a point where they felt "enough is enough", helped him to connect instantly with the masses. However, nothing succeeds without luck and Anna's luck came in the form of a Government run by a bunch of technocrats and lawyers, who knew the rules of law but were not the spirit in which they were framed. They engaged Anna's team in drafting, but only tried their level best to undermine them and discredit them. When they seemed to partially succeed they made the crucial mistake of arresting Anna, on August16 and made him a hero and converted the fence sitters to become his supporters. Coupled with that the opposition was in position to jump on to his bandwagon as they were a discredited lot too. The icing on the cake came in the form of media exposure, which was truly unprecedented. Anna played to the gallery and made his movement a reality show surpassing any event including the cricket world cup. In fact, Dhoni and his boys must thank Anna for diverting the peoples attention from their disastrous showing in England.

On the flip side, Anna's methods, show disturbing trends too. His arrogance, intemperate language, tendency to abuse like in public and dictatorial attitude are not the qualities of his mentor Gandhi. While Anna is not personally corrupt, notwithstanding a ten year old report indicting him of some minor blemishes in NGO account, he is power hungry and wants the attention to himself. Dictating to Parliament, Prime Minister and intolerance of other views are qualities which can destroy him and his movement. While I accept that in the heat of an agitation maximalistic positions are taken as tactical ploys, by both sides, I felt that both sides crossed the limit on more than one occasion. However, better sense seems to have prevailed, the movement remained at least physically non-violent. To my mind, the verbal assaults, by both parties prevent me from calling this a pure non-violent agitation.

On the elected establishment side, parliament acted, finally to accede to some of Anna's demands with some grace, notwithstanding a few MP's who are still riding the high horse, they did so only under the sheer weight and force of public opinion. The realization that they were disconnected from their constituents and ran the danger of becoming irrelevant, made them speak in favor of Anna's demands.

What is the future? Our PM and government must learn that they cannot run a nation state which benefits the top 10% and ignores 90% of the population. A government which cares only for GDP, sensex and market parameters has been told that India cannot become a superpower, if it ignores Bharat. Corporate India, has directly benefited by their cosy relation and collusion with our shameless netas and babus. This movement must take on other issues like electoral reforms, land reforms, unorganized labor issues, health care, education, and many others and we must become a participatory democracy with the village Panchayats and local bodies getting the place Gandhi dreamt of in independent India. But, Anna must shed his arrogance, refine his approach and finally create a political platform where a person of modest means, who is not dynastically connected and who is neither communal or casteist, but who wants to work for people can get elected.

I end my blog by invoking the blessings of the supreme power above through this prayer.

Lord, make me an instrument of thy peace.
Where there is hatred, let me sow love;
Where there is injury, pardon;
Where there is doubt, faith;
Where there is despair, hope;
Where there is darkness, light;
Where there is sadness, joy.

O divine Master, grant that I may not so much seek
To be consoled as to console,
To be understood as to understand,
To be loved as to love;
For it is in giving that we receive;
It is in pardoning that we are pardoned;
It is in dying to self that we are born to eternal life.

Sincerely
Vispi Jokhi

Thursday, August 25, 2011

Anna Hazare: Hero but not flawless

Well in continuity of my blogs, today our PM finally made the grand gesture and the appeal to a great citizen called by a simple name Anna which means brother to call of his fast. If we go back to the beginning, Anna Hazare was an army man who survived a near death experience. The subsequent introspection led him to a path of rural development and uplift. One thing led to another and he started developing the habit of fearlessly taking on the establishment on issues of corruption at the state level. Destiny led him on to greater achievement, and today he stands on the threshold of a revolutionary change in Indian democracy.

While his critics, including myself feel that he has exceeded his brief, by insisting on holding the Government and Parliamentary system to ransom by taking maximalistic positions, even his worst critics will acknowledge, that but for his fast and agitation, the political class would certainly not have acted. Even today there is still a feeling amongst his team and the people at large that the political class is not sincere. However, more than Anna, the people of this nation have through Anna and his movement, scared both the establishment and all parliamentarians, to such an extent that many feel that if they fail to give us a Lokpal with powers and jurisdiction as envisaged by both Jan Lokpal or Aruna Roy's draft bills, they risk losing power and their seats in Parliament. This to my mind is the greatest gain of this agitation. The establishment and many of us, failed to gauge the public anger and disgust at the scale and shamelessness of corruption. The overwhelming public support, enabled Anna to become a hero, who was saluted in Parliament, by our PM just 10 days after ordering his arrest.

To his credit, Anna did write letters to the PM about his intentions and plans and used every democratic forum to appeal to the establishment, they just did not care or bother about him or actually intentionally wanted to wear him out and his movement. However, the main problem with Anna Hazare is that he is unable to realize that the ends and means cannot be divorced. His choice of associates and inability to intellectually grasp the deeper implications of his actions will end up weakening his movement. Anna has done his job of awakening and mobilizing the nation, now he must allow the politicians under sustained public pressure to formulate a strong and effective law.

I hope that saner elements will help Anna Hazare take the correct decisions, leading to a peaceful and amicable solution to this unfortunate impasse.
Sincerely,
Vispi Jokhi

Sunday, August 21, 2011

Where do I stand on the Lokpal issue a week after?

A week is a long time in politics, but a very short time to take a considered stand on an issue as important as the Lokpal issue. While I was expecting a confrontation between Government and Anna Hazare, I never expected seasoned political figures in Government to blunder so badly as they have done so. Well I can only say that this is the result of making a technocrat with a CEO approach, the Prime Minister of a nation. While we feel comfortable having an honest, sincere, hard working qualified man as PM, we cannot feel inspired by his leadership. In fact, today more than ever before in his career, Dr. ManMohan Singh's deficiencies as a leader have shown up. At the end of the day the buck stops at his desk and he must take responsibility for the series of errors of the UPA2 government.
However, the governments' loss has been team Anna's gain and a predominantly middle-class, urban movement has transformed into one that has captured the imagination and mood of the nation. 24/7 news channels have brought the movements into our drawing rooms, but have also inspired the average Indian to join in the various demonstrations and dharnas across the length and breadth of this nation. Historically, we seem to draw comparisons between this movement and the JP movement of '77 or even our freedom struggle.
My instinct and emotions tell me to come out on the streets and add to the fervor and excitement and become part of this historical revolution. However, I am not there on the streets of Mumbai as I am feeling uncomfortable with the utterances of Anna Hazare and his team. Setting unreasonable deadlines, and his coming across as a simpleton, not able to grasp the complexities of law and law making, refusal to be more self critical are the main weaknesses of the team Anna campaign. The juxtaposition of Gandhi on the stage is also a matter of discomfort to me. Gandhiji was always very careful about the issue, he took up and was completely well informed and aware of intricate details of the issue he took up. His attention to detail and most careful attention to the means adopted was indeed exemplary and worthy of emulation by anybody aspiring to lead any such movement. He considered his adversary as a misguided friend and even at the worst of times never used intemperate language or set unrealistic deadlines. His most important quality was his ability to be brutally self critical, and accept his mistakes and correct his course, when the people and his own conscience led him to the truth. Also. I still feel that team Anna must give the Government an opportunity to correct its course and initiate a debate on this issue and its wider ramifications, in a time bound manner. Speaking for myself, I will try my level best to be the change I desire to see in my country. Cleansing myself, not giving a bribe and obeying the rule of law as a dharmic duty are somethings that I hope to do consistently, before I feel like becoming active part of this campaign.
I still maintain that notwithstanding my reservations, that Mr. Anna and his team deserve praise and appreciation for doing things rather than just mere talk and empty rhetoric. With the help of this foolish incompetent government, today the nation can hope that we will in all probability be able to get a Lokpal, after over four decades of waiting.
Time will tell weather I have made a correct choice in not coming out on the streets of Mumbai or done a disservice and injustice to a great man, a phenomenon called Anna Hazare.
Sincerely
Dr Vispi Jokhi

Monday, August 15, 2011

Jan Lokpal vs Govt. Lokpal

Dear friends,
On the occasion of India's 65th birthday, I was keenly looking forward to a PM who would rise above the pettiness of his government and party and make a grand gesture of reconciliation to the civil society members. This especially after they had demonstrated over the last few months the widespread support their draft had amongst the intelligentsia. I personally am among the few who have read both the drafts and realized the clever game played by Pranabda Sibal Chidambaram cabal. Very cleverly they have defanged every bit of the snake venom an effective Lokpal would have been able to inject into the corrupt system that we have in the name of governance and rule of law.
Our country today has reason to be proud of its democracy, however, we need to understand that our system has many flaws which need correction. Politics and politicians of all parties with exception of perhaps the communists have become a professional exclusive club, where familial lineage, money power, caste and community are the main factors determining electability and in these circumstances no ploitician is ready for a Lokpal which can stop corruption effectively. So in this situation, I am certain that the government and opposition will play a sinister game of "lack of consensus","disagreement on wordings" etc. etc. to defer and put into cold storage any bill, effective or otherwise. I am also of the view that Anna Hazare and his team cannot claim exclusive rights to represent the masses. The complexity of the issues precludes the possibility of a referendum too as the issue is not of a simple yes or no on a single point of reference. On the positive side the members of the civil society drafting group have impeccable credentials and expertise. Besides, they have not just opposed something without attempting to use all democratic means to engage with government. They have offered reasonable solutions. If there is a fault in Anna, it lies in his intemperate language, often bordering on arrogance along with his immaturity. The mud flung on them has not stuck but government is smugly confident on account of their two major strategies. They know that public memory is short, and they only have to wear out the opposition with committees and delays, after which a cynical nation will go about its business as usual attitude. This strategy is time tested and proven to work as in the issue of terrorism or woman's reservation bill.
However, this time i feel that the Government has underestimated the nations determination to root out or at least reduce corruption to tolerable levels. Anna Hazare and his team have shown that Governments can be made to yield to public pressure, but the question is weather they can out last government's delaying tactics? The way forward for both the groups is to have wider consultations and instead of egos coming in the way seek a reasonable middle path. Have a Lokpal, see how it works and amend and improve the institution on the way.
Sincerely
Vispi Jokhi

Thursday, June 09, 2011

Noble Ends Ignoble Means


Noble Ends Ignoble Means
This is something which has had me thinking for a very long time and is especially relevant to the anti-corruption campaigns which have become the hottest issues, dominating the headlines. Corruption has become part of our DNA, almost as if we cannot help but be corrupt. It exists in varying degrees, minor most are the so called “harassment bribes”, given to get things that we are rightfully and legally entitled to, not out of turn or for any other direct or indirect consideration. This is the first and most elementary example of noble ends achieved by wrong means. However, a fine distinction can be made, where we may feel that the alternative of not paying is so cumbersome and involves such a lot of trouble that we would rather pay. On the other hand the receiver is often a clerk or a poorly paid peon or orderly who while working in a government office has no incentive or scope for promotion. Often we cloak this “harassment bribe” in the garb of “baksheesh” or the ubiquitous “chai-panee” and justify it. The socialist license-permit raj coupled with very high tax rates made the climate impossible for any business venture to even start and individuals saw their hard earned money given away as income tax. To top it all the government and public sector functioned at best, inefficiently and often was guilty of gross corruption. Most of us were brought up to believe that some degree of concealment of tax and gratification of lowly officials was hardly scandalous and could be passed of as normal so as to enable one to function peacefully in life an example of good ends justifying the bad means. Even here there were rare breeds of persons, who never broke the law and paid all their taxes. These guys were considered freaks and worthy of medals but certainly not role models worthy of emulation.
Till the days of liberalization, and while we were still under the Gandhi-Nehru-Indira hang over we still saw profiteering and selfish acquisition of wealth as something undesirable and morally unacceptable while our millions toiled under the sun. So even while we had people who were corrupt, the broad principle of noble means were adopted to achieve noble ends. Corruption was there but the figures were smaller and caused shock when revealed. The guilty felt at least a sense of shame and at least felt that they had done wrong. After 1992, profit and grand life styles became not just acceptable but became the be all and end all of life. We were sold dreams and continue to dream and believe in super power status for India and for us Indians. A country which never failed to extol the Gandhian virtues of renunciation, sarvodaya and trusteeship of wealth, suddenly started counting its billionaires. Ignoble means, adopted to achieve material wealth and comforts were not only acceptable but desirable. The figures became astronomical and the corrupt become more and more brazen with a care a damn attitude. However, even as this went on and the middle class almost disconnected from the poor under belly of India. Profit and billionaires became the nations pride and people who were believed in values and adopting noble means to achieve noble ends were seen as obsolete Gandhians.
However, enough is enough and the massive corruption reflected in the recent CWG, 2G scam became the proverbial last straw that broke the camels back. Today, we seek role models who are Gandhian and at least must stand the test of noble means to achieve the noble end of making our country free of the scourge of corruption. While, we have persons of impeccable credentials, leading the anti-corruption crusade, we can see unsavory elements jumping on to the bandwagon for their own selfish motives. Civil society cannot and must not become autocratic themselves and condemn the elected leaders. Fortunately, India’s people and leaders do not need to look far away as we have the excellent example of Mahatma Gandhi where there was no conflict between thoughts, words and deeds. Means and ends were never divorced from each other, as we were the first nation which achieved freedom from our masters and yet retained friendship with them. The anti-corruption crusaders have every right to agitate and press for their demands, but they must adopt unscrupulously correct means. They must be conscious of the fact that they are speaking on behalf of the poorest voiceless Indian whose stake in the system is being diluted by the GDP model of growth represented by the corporatization of India. At the same time, the system can be changed by working with one and all including, government, politicians, bureaucrats and all shades of opinion.
While it will be almost impossible to find leadership of Gandhian stature, at least persons with reasonably clean records or who at least acknowledge their past mistakes and promise to adopt noble means at all times should be entrusted with the leadership of this movement. We as individuals should use our discrimination and choose our leaders wisely. May we guided by divine wisdom and may our nation regain its stature as a country which the world looks upto rather than looks down at.
Dr. Vispi Jokhi

Saturday, March 26, 2011

Euthanasia My views

Civilization is a term which means many things in many a context, but we tend to rank a nation, its people and social-religious groups based on its civilization content. As a nation, we Indians justifiably if I may add take great pride in our ancient heritage and civilization. The principle content of this is the concept of the universal consciousness or oneness, which pervades all that exists. These kind of conclusions came from highly advanced and Self realized souls. Thus civilization contrasts with barbarianism or primitive existence. Civil society is governed by laws which address the questions rising out of difficult situations. India is blessed with a visionary constitution which has taken care of many situations. Aruna Shanbaug's case has served as a catalyst to open up a debate on euthanasia.

Euthanasia stands for good death "Eu" good and "thanatos" death. It really means a humane end to existence in those undergoing inhuman suffering. This can take the form of death by consent in those suffering , but conscious to decide for themselves whether they wish to continue their existence. On the other hand is the situation, where the person is kept artificially alive by life-support systems for a sufficiently prolonged period, in which there is no hope of recovery in the current medical scenario. Here also comes the question of utilization of scarce resources and money for keeping alive in a vegetative state a body with negligible consciousness. The danger is of voluntary suicide in the former and involuntary murder in the latter situation.

When we wish to address this situation we cannot see it in isolation. Laws of the land consider suicide to be illegal, but consider abortions of unwanted babies to be legal. In this land of the Upanishads, where good and evil exist, but are believed to be part of the same one universal consciousness, we have a law on the statute which permits capital punishment for rarest of rare crimes. While life and death are inevitable as creation and destruction, humans have as a race tried to overcome nature and have been trying to play God with some may say varying degrees of success. On the other hand natural disasters and our constant desire to acquire more and at any cost is leading us to doomsday. Our ancestors have contemplated on these phenomenon and rationalized human suffering as a consequence of "Karma" or tainted action resulting in individual and collective suffering. We can overcome our "karma" by our attitude towards suffering and pleasure. Adversities bring out the best in humans and history is replete with the saga of men and women who have overcome tremendous odds and achieved impossible feats.

The protagonists of the right to die with dignity seem to be able to decide that there comes a point where existence of a person is useless merely because a normal individual loses his or her physical or mental faculties. Taking this argument to its logical conclusion we have already decided that abortion is legal and now we wish to make ending existence legal. Although, there will be safeguards to minimize or prevent misuse, I submit that no existence can be deemed useless. Every form of life has a divinely ordained purpose and we as humans cannot decide on this matter. A virus, bacteria, amoeba, plant and for that matter any life form in any stage of evolution has a purpose which we may not perceive with our human faculties.

As doctors, we have been trained to treat the patient based on "evidence based research" on a physical or at best physiological model, without taking into account emotion, intellectual or spiritual insights. We seem to believe that we when we cure we are eliminating disease. Curing is defined as caring and assisting nature to self heal. Thanatology is a field of study wherein human beings are made to accept death and embrace it as a part of universal consciousness and instead of having a conflict with it, to embrace it. Modern medicine does not recognize this and we are not trained to tell the patient that we have nothing more to offer to patients facing terminal illnesses which have no cure. If at all we need to cure we need to learn to withdraw ourselves and allow nature to decide whether the body will heal or die. Alleviation of suffering, in the form of palliative medicine and all forms of comfort physical, physiological, emotional, intellectual and spiritual must be given to the sufferer, to enable him or her to embrace his suffering as a consequence of his or her "karma" .

It is another matter that we human beings are endowed with the freedom to decide what we want to do within the constraints of law, condition to not impinging on the choice of others. We are considered different as we have the faculty of discrimination, which enables us to make choices. Many of us make the wrong choices and chose to die by our bad habits, wrong diets, drugs, substance abuse, stress , petty jealousies and shameless materialism. We also have a right to end our lives or allow our lives to end by choosing not to take treatment for terminal illnesses which have no known cure. We have a right to palliative care, but we do not have the right to die or to decide that someone can be allowed to die. Our journey of life came with a destination and a return ticket which cannot be canceled, preponed, postponed or refunded. It is governed by the divinely ordained laws of Universal consciousness.

Wednesday, January 26, 2011

Is Binayak Sen guilty???

First, I do not know Binayak Sen personally, nor do i have any direct knowledge of the issues or the stake holders in this battle. Hence, I plead that I am unable to answer this question based on evidence or facts. Therefore, the next question, you may ask is why write about the issue and waste my precious time and yours. To that pose, I certainly have an answer. In any situation faced in life, we need to make a choice and this choice is based on many factors, the most important of which is "discrimination", known in Sanskrit as "viveka". As a human being, I possess an intellect which allows me to use my reasoning faculty to make a judgment and decide weather Dr. Binayak Sen is an enemy of the state and a traitor.

A gold medalist, pediatrician, from CMC, Vellore, gives up a life of comfort and relative fame and glory and chooses to work in a tribal area among the poorest of the poor. Dr. Sen, by his example and by all accounts of his body of work should serve as an inspiration and role model to the young doctors of the nation. Instead, he finds himself caught in the cross fire of a battle between, India Inc and Bharat.

The tribals and forest dwellers of the so called red belt or the Naxal corridor are the most neglected section of our country. They have been displaced and dispensed with in the name of development and democracy. While, the law of the land, recent Forest act, are meant to preserve and protect their life to exist in the forest, this right exists only on paper. Such a situation, has led to desperation and all forms of non-violent protests have been crushed by the state over the years. This left the field open for the propagation of violent ideologies, like those of the Maoists to take root. Their failure, lead them to extreme violence and a racket of extortion. Co-incidentally, the red corridor is the richest mineral belt of India, and MOU's worth trillions of dollars have been signed to do mining in this belt. Caught in the cross fire, the Government set up vigilante groups of tribals called Salwa Judam. It is this policy that Dr. Sen openly opposed. Persons like Himanshu Kumar of Dantewada and Dr. Binayak Sen, could have acted as interlocutors and brought peace to these troubled land, if the Government had supported them. However, corporate India wanted to crush all such opposition, by destroying Himanshu Kumar's ashram by terming it illegal, and planted evidence on Dr. Sen to make an example of him, by declaring him an enemy of the State.

I do not hold any brief for Naxals or support any violent movement, I feel the evidence against Dr. Sen appears at best flimsy and at worse inadmissible in legal terms. Being a well wisher and supporter of the poor does not amount to support for violent ideologies. We as citizens must raise our voice to see that true justice is done to Dr. Sen.

It is ironical and indeed a sad day for our democracy, that we find, mass murderers, corrupt leaders and even terrorists out on bail, leading normal and even wasteful lives in freedom, while Dr. Sen is spending time in jail. We hope and pray for his early release and pray to the Lord to give strength and courage to his family to fight this long and grim battle.

It may sound cliched but in these times more true than ever, "Eternal vigilance is the price to be paid to protect our freedoms". The state by making an example of soft targets like Dr. Sen is creating a situation where civil society will be scared of standing up for the poor. My discriminative faculty feels that Dr Sen is not guilty. However I may be wrong as I have no direct information. I only hope that finally Truth prevails. "Satyameva Jayate"

Dr. Vispi Jokhi