Saturday, December 25, 2010

Binayak Sen gets life in prison, India Inc. gets Rs 1.76 lakh crore; what are we left with?

A Congress spokesman said yesterday that to dismiss the Sen verdict outright would mean India is a 'banana republic'...were his remarks more candid than he intended? 

The life sentence given to Dr. Binayak Sen for criminal conspiracy to commit sedition is almost too much to believe, even for those of us who have become jaded by a central government that talks endlessly about the common man, but seems to listen only to the oligarchs who are robbing the country--sometimes, legally, sometimes illegally--of almost unimaginable amounts of money. I find myself speechless.  Fortunately, the editors over at The Hindu were not speechless.  Here's what the opening sentence of the editorial they ran on Christmas day:
The life sentence handed down to Binayak Sen by a Chhattisgarh trial court on Friday is so over the top and outrageous that it calls into question the fundamentals of the Indian justice system.
Those are extraordinarily strong words, but this was an extraordinary verdict. Just as extraordinary, was the way Congress spokesperson Abhishek Singhvi explained his party's neutrality in the matter.  Here's how The Hindu reported his remarks:
Mr. Singhvi pointed out that dismissing the verdict outright would mean that India was a “banana republic.” He urged everyone to take pride in the fact that the country had an “independent judiciary.”  
Well, perhaps Mr. Singhvi is on to something. Perhaps it really is better for us to pretend this verdict is about justice, if only because the alternative is just too terrifying. 

By the way, what Mr. Singhvi really wanted to talk about--the BJP's connection to the Radia case--was reported in another article on the same page. As was the fact that the CBI investigations of  the 2G scam and CWG corruption are continuing. That's wonderful.  When someone steals Rs. 1.76 lakh core from the public coffers in a country where 1250 people die from diarrhea-related illness each day due to lack of clean water, then words like corruption and scam seem somehow inadequate.  Rs. 1.76 lakh core is a huge amount of money; invested properly, it would save lives--lakhs of them.

But does anyone expect anyone connected to the 2G spectrum mess to get a life sentence in prison? I'd be surprised if Niira Radia or A. Raja get more than a slap on the wrist.  And as for the guys they are working for--Ratan Tata, Mukesh Ambani, India Inc.--well, they'll just go on making fistfuls of money.

I've read a lot about the Binayak Sen case, and I'm not going to rehash it all here. You can start with this article from Hard News. Then google if you want more. I'm convinced the good doctor is innocent.  Forget the life sentence-- he deserves our thanks and respect for dedicating his life to the struggle for human rights.

If you want to do something more than read, you can start by signing this letter to the President.
You can also join the Free Dr. Binayak Sen Campaign on FB and spread the word.

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