Why is the pos­si­bil­ity of al­ter­na­tive thought so out­lawed in this coun­try?

No mat­ter who is in power, the State is show­ing in­creas­ing para­noia over dis­sent.

Tehelka - - 20 - BY SHOMA CHAUD­HURY

THE LOP­SIDED con­ver­sa­tion about power in In­dia — how much is needed, how it should be gen­er­ated — masks a deeper left lobe cri­sis in the coun­try that no one is quite notic­ing. A re­cent is­sue of TIME mag­a­zine had for­mer US Pres­i­dent Bill Clin­ton spell­ing out five ideas that are chang­ing the world (for the bet­ter). Among the ideas he listed was green en­ergy. Ac­cord­ing to him, “Ger­many, where the sun shines on av­er­age as much as it does in Lon­don, re­port­edly set the world record for elec­tric­ity gen­er­ated from the sun in a sin­gle day: 22 gi­gawatts, or roughly the out­put of 20 nu­clear power plants.” In­dia should have leapt at that statis­tic with in­ter­est. If dank Ger­many can do that, imag­ine what sunny In­dia could gen­er­ate.

But back here in In­dia, Clin­ton might have been charged with sedi­tion for har­bour­ing such blas­phe­mous thoughts. That’s not to be idly face­tious. At Koodanku­lam — In­dia’s now-fa­mous bat­tle­ground nu­clear site — ac­cord­ing to ac­tivists, the Tamil Nadu Po­lice has filed 109 FIRs against a stag­ger­ing 55,795 peo­ple for protest­ing peace­fully against the plant; 3,600 peo­ple have been charged with “wag­ing war against the na­tion”; and an­other 3,200 peo­ple have been charged with sedi­tion. In real terms, this may not trans­late into ac­tual mass ar­rests and jail; but it’s a re­minder the chop­ping block is al­ways close. If any­one dis­tin­guishes them­selves from the crowd as a leader, the shadow will be­come a sword. SP Udayaku­mar should know: he is a fugi­tive.

Two weeks ago, con­fronted about the gov­ern­ment’s dra­co­nian re­sponse to protest­ing fish­er­men in a closed-door con­fer­ence, a young Cen­tral min­is­ter raised the usual sleight of a for­eign hand; a for­eign hand, he said, was be­hind the protests. Pressed to specif­i­cally re­veal who these hands were and what mo­tive gov­erned them, he said he wasn’t too sure

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