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Medha Patkar: Centre not for decisive dialogue
The Indian Express, March 15 2015, Mumbai: Social activist Medha Patkar has said that the NDA government at the Centre is not open to “decisive dialogue” citing the example of the new Land Bill, which has “betrayed the people at large”.
Patkar was speaking to on the sidelines of a recently concluded regional conference of “Asia Pacific Right Livelihood Laureates” at the Tata Institute of Social Sciences (TISS) in Mumbai.
“The previous government provided space for dialogue in making policies and laws, and that resulted in number of enactments that were pro-people. We, no doubt, questioned inadequacies, but also appreciated the reflection of our demands and priorities in those,” Patkar said.
“The new government, on the other hand, is not for dialogue that would be decisive. On Narmada, for example, our latest demand of a high-level dialogue, never received a responses from the PM or the PMO. The Ordinance on land acquisition is a clear example of how the new government demolished the long-term process through which the 2013 Act was finalised. It has, in a way, betrayed the people at large and insulted the farmers and labourers as well as their organisations,” she added.
When questioned if social organisations and activists in India enjoy freedom to pursue their movements, she said that India has had a more democratic environment for movements than any other countries in the subcontinent. “However, with the character of the state getting changed over the years, the dishonesty felt in the responses by the state to the genuine assertion of rights and related demands by the people is quite unacceptable,” she said.
Social activist and also a ‘Right Livelihood’ awardee, Ruth Manorama, agreed that social organisations and activists in India, to a certain level, enjoy freedom to organise, educate and mobilise people to pursue their rights. “…there is serious political interference in getting the issues known internationally,” she said.