Guest post by SATYA SAGAR
The shocking spectacle of Siddharth Varadarajan, the Editor of The Hindu, being forced out of his post by a cabal of its owners is a brutal reminder to journalists all over the country that however fine a professional you may be you will always remain at the mercy of media proprietors.
Just around two years ago when N. Ram, the then Editor of The Hindu, passed on the mantle to Varadarajan, a highly respected and independent journalist, he had touted the move as a radical shift away from being a family run outfit to one headed by professionals.
Ram’s motives were neither clear nor very noble, engaged as he was in a bitter struggle with his siblings over control of the newspaper. Still, for the newspaper to move away from its long tradition of tight family control was a welcome, positive departure in a land where dynasties run everything from politics and religion to cricket and cinema.
Unfortunately, this flowering of corporate democracy was not to last too long. Ultimately the family managed to strike back with a vengeance, ganging up in a Board of Director’s meeting to demote Siddharth from the post of Editor to ‘Contributing Editor and Senior Columnist’ prompting his immediate resignation. Continue reading From dynasty to plain nasty: Satya Sagar
Press release issued by the PEOPLE’S MOVEMENT AGAINST NUCLEAR ENERGY (PMANE), based in Idinthakarai in Tirunelveli district of Tamil Nadu.
Please allow us to bring the following to your kind attention in the larger interests of our country, people and most importantly, our democracy and freedom.
As the Fourth Pillar of our democracy, the media in India plays an important role in the smooth running of our country and the perpetuation of our democratic heritage.
We are sure that you have noticed the postponement of the commissioning of the Koodankulam nuclear power project (KKNPP) to July 2013 without giving any reasons or explanations. Continue reading From Koodankulam, an open letter to the Indian media
Taking the debate on nuclear energy forward (after the wonderful review of MV Ramana’s book by Nityanand Jayaraman), here’s an exchange between Rahul Siddharthan and Madhumita Dutta in The Hindu in September 2012, Siddharthan advocating nuclear power, Dutta pointing to its utter indefensibility.
Jal satyagraha at Kudankulam in September 2012
Dutta says, in her response to Siddharthan‘s initial article:
In the case of Kudankulam, the fisherfolk have been…asking to see the disaster management plan which, till date, remains a secret, even under the Right to Information Act. Given the inherent uncertainties of natural disasters, questions about preparedness to mitigate impact of calamities such as tsunami waves of higher magnitude are being asked. Continue reading Responding to a debate on the Kudankulam struggle against nuclear energy
This is a review by NITYANAND JAYARAMAN of M.V. Ramana’s book The Power of Promise: Examining Nuclear Energy in India (Penguin/Viking).
Narayanasamy’s monthly promises of power from the Koodankulam nuclear plant may be something of a joke in Tamil Nadu. But the periodic promises served a function. They kept one section of Tamil Nadu hopeful that commissioning Koodankulam will solve the state’s power crisis, and therefore resentful of the agitators who were seen to be putting their own lives, livelihoods and safety over the needs of the state.
In late 2012 Penguin published the first solo book by Princeton University-based physicist M.V. Ramana. The book is titled The Power of Promise: Examining Nuclear Energy in India.
Ramana’s commentary is witty, articulate and rich with anecdotes. He makes a solid case for his central thesis – that delivering on the promises of power or security were never the actual goal of India’s nuclear program, and probably never will be. Rather, promises are the engines that power the program, he argues. By holding out the twin ideals of unlimited electricity and infallible security in the form of a credible nuclear deterrent, India’s nuclear establishment has carved for itself an enviable position. It is answerable to no one but the Prime Minister, and can spend billions over decades with nothing to show for the expense.
Continue reading Understanding the Empty Promises of Nuclear Energy: Nityanand Jayaraman
Guest Post by Vivek Vellanki
The death of the young girl brought incommensurable grief for the ‘Indian’ people. A national angst ensued with divergent voices seeking divergent ends: justice, death penalty, fast track courts, end to patriarchy, chemical castration, and a long list that cannot be spelt out here. There was a glimmer of hope that the discursiveness would ensue a quintessentially democratic process of debate, discussion, and deliberation amongst the people. The Indian state with its long-standing reputation wouldn’t allow for that to happen. It had to continue on its pet peeve of Breaking the Collective! The people’s movement in Koodankulam, the anti-corruption movement, the movement for seperate Telangana are some of the many instances that remind us of this pet avocation of the Indian state being pursued in recent times, almost, vocationally. However cynical it may sound, amidst the entire candle lighting and sloganeering, we failed to realise that the protest in Delhi was happening on the terrain that the government decided, in a manner that it wished for it to play out, and was party to the people it wanted to see there. I wish to argue that the closing down of the metro stations has a relation to the nature of the protests at Jantar Mantar. Furthermore it concurs with the tactics of chocking people’s movements logistically and stifling the collective by pathologizing the everyday life of masses. The tragedy of this lies in the fact that such actions of the state have become so recurrent that they have entered our common sense and they present themselves as normal and logical responses. Albeit they have been rationalized by invoking a specious reference to law, order, and safety, there is a need to unpack such a rationalization. My attempt is to extract these actions from that location of common sense and present them for public scrutiny. Through this essay, I would like to draw the connections between the democratic protests happening in locations across the country and state action in dealing with them. In doing so, I hope to bring to notice how the Indian state uses its machinery to purge protests of their democratic tenor and eventually, at least, attempts to break the collective. Continue reading Breaking the Collective – Notes from Jantar Mantar & Koodankulam: Vivek Vellanki
The power of imagined communities was never so evident to us as on the other day, when a group of us — Malayalee people of different political affiliations — made our way to Idintakarai in southern Tamil Nadu. In many ways,we were representative of contemporary Malayalee society — we were from districts spanning the length and breadth of Kerala, had very vocally-expressed mutual differences of opinions and interests, and belonged to of different socioeconomic classes, faiths, and castes, were composed of local residents, NRIs, and Malayalees settled elsewhere in the country. Of course, we were also representative of the gender imbalances that characterize even the oppositional civil society here — there were just two women in a group of nearly thirty. We went there to express solidarity with the people of Idinthakarai who have been struggling valiantly against the monstrosity that the government of India is determined to foist on them — the Koodankulam nuclear power plant — and who have been described as traitors to the Nation by the very people who have ripped apart our sense of what a nation should mean to ordinary people. Continue reading Imagined Immunities: The Cure of Idinthakarai
Tamil Nadu has always had a very high handed police, infamous for extrajudicial killings, torture and arbitrary arrest of political dissidents of all hues. In recent times, thanks to the popular Koodankulam agitation the authoritarian ways of the state police seems to have acquired a ‘nuclear’ edge.
On 6 October 2012, as 13 senior members of the Peoples Democratic Republic Party met at a school in Kundrathur near Chennai city they were all arrested by the ‘Q Branch’, as the local intelligence bureau is called in Tamil Nadu. The arrested members and supporters of the party have been since remanded to judicial custody in Vellore central prison and a case under section Cr. L.A 17 (1) registered against them. Continue reading A statement on the arrest of 13 political activists in Tamil Nadu
Guest post by PK SUNDARAM
After armed forces, nuclear establishment is another holy cow in the post-independence India. Our media does not only outsources all final judgements on nuclear issues to the nucleocrats, but has also happily joined them in slanders against the grassroots anti-nuclear movements.
We have seen the media discourse on nuclear weapons being shadowed almost entirely by national security and nuclear deterrence arguments. On the recent upsurge of mass protests against nuclear energy projects across the country, media is playing the official tune where people challenging these projects are reduced to illiterate crowd, foreign-funded groups, religious identities and even anti-nationals. On 24th this month, the Tamil newspaper Dinamalar published a story titled Truth and hype behind the Koodankulam row. This report is nothing but an utterly malicious piece of journalistic writing with ugly slanders against the leading activists of the ongoing anti-nuclear movement in Koodankulam – S P Udayakumar, M Pushparayan and M P Jesuraj.
Continue reading When Media is Nuked!: PK Sundaram
Steel drums with nuclear waste. The inescapable byproduct generated from the fission of nuclear fuel in the form of uranium or plutonium creates what is called nuclear waste. This waste comes in a huge variety of extremely radioactive material with half-lives ranging from 8 days to hundreds of thousands of years. In other words their radioactivity takes a really, really long time to decay, thousands of times our human life-times. These fission products if released to the environment will last a long time, and it is almost impossible to decontaminate them.
NITYANAND JAYARAMAN and G. SUNDAR RAJAN of the Chennai Solidarity Group for Koodankulam Struggle developed the fact-sheet below in response to real questions that they encountered during the course of street and college campaigns. They say: “The questions were sincere, so we felt a sincere response was warranted.”
Continue reading Some FAQs about Koodankulam and Nuclear Power: Nityanand Jayaraman and G. Sundar Rajan
Dr. SURENDRA GADEKAR is a well-published physicist of international renown, and a Gandhian. After an MSc and PhD (in theoretical physics) in 1979 from IIT Kanpur, he worked for two years as a post-doctoral fellow at Iowa State University, US and then two years as a research associate at IISc in Bangalore. He resigned in 1986 (a little before Chernobyl) to do antinuclear work when the Kakrapar Nuclear Power Plant was started. In 1987, he started Anumukti A Journal Devoted to Non-Nuclear India, and has carried out and published studies of the impact of nuclear energy around the plants at Kakrapar, Rawatbata and Jadugoda. He has also carried out a study at Pokharan, which is as yet unpublished. Dr Gadekar’s response follows:
Dr A P J Abdul Kalam and Mr. Srijan Pal Singh deserve a special thanks for their article in the Sunday edition of The Hindu (November 6, 2011) entitled “Nuclear power is our gateway to a prosperous future.”
Although most of what they write is irrelevant to their topic and the rest just plain wrong, the very fact that the establishment has to bring out its ‘Big Guns’ to answer the questions raised by the Koodankulam movement, is a testimony to the success of the movement.
Originally I had intended to write a point by point refutation of their article, but I have been deterred by the sheer length of the article. What I intend to do here instead is to paraphrase their points and answer them one by one. I would urge activists to visit the Hindu website at and to read the article in the full. I make this request specially so that friends can point out if I have been unfair in summarizing their work or have missed something important.
Continue reading The nuclear energy debate in India: Response to Dr APJ Abdul Kalam from Dr Surendra Gadekar