Letters to the editor: Stan Swamy's custodial death, India's environmental goals
Take a stand
Sir — Anup Sinha must be lauded for his article, “More to come” (July 15). Sinha has rightly noted an eerie silence from the vast majority of the citizens regarding the cruel detention and tragic death of Father Stan Swamy, a humanitarian, and asked if this episode does not concern them or if they do not want to get involved in matters of statecraft.
In spite of the torment suffered by the octogenarian ailing from Parkinson’s disease, a majority of the population, barring a few individuals, activists and groups, preferred to look the other way and remain engrossed in petty pursuits. This sent out the clear message that society at large has no time for the lives of activists, especially those who are not in the good books of the government.
This indifferent attitude is providing a massive boost to the audacity of the government, enabling it to go all-out against the so-called ‘urban Naxals’ who dare to raise questions about the vested interests of the State by taking up the cudgel on behalf of the deprived, marginalized and exploited sections of the population. There is a remark attributed to Albert Einstein which says that the world will not be destroyed by those who do evil, but by those who watch them without doing anything. This seems to ring true in the present context. But people should also remember the poem by Martin Niemöller and know that if they do not speak up for others, then one day there would be no one left to speak up for them.
Sir — My heart sank as I read the article, “More to come”, by Anup Sinha. Many arguments are put forth by people supporting the custodial death of Stan Swamy. We had also heard many such arguments when Graham Staines was burnt alive along with his two minor sons.
The country is facing so many problems at the moment and so frequently that people are failing to figure out which problem they should prioritize. Large-scale unemployment coupled with retrenchment during the pandemic, the destruction of the economy caused by policies like demonetization, huge increase in the price of oil in the country at a time when global oil prices are falling, countless deaths of Covid patients on account of the lack of hospital beds and oxygen are just some of their concerns. So the eerie silence of the vast majority of citizens does not necessarily mean that people are accepting the cruelty of the State.
It will take pages to list the economic and institutional lapses under the current regime. Social activists are being put behind bars by invoking the draconian Unlawful Activities (Prevention) Act. The sedition law, which originated in England, has been abolished there but continues to be implemented in India. As such, there is only one satisfaction that we can derive: history will be witness that at least one section of the people protested against the atrocities of the present government.
Sir — In his article, Anup Sinha highlights the disturbing implications of the custodial death of Stan Swamy. It would not be out of context to mention another death which shook the conscience of the world: the murder of George Floyd. The police officer, Derek Chauvin, who murdered Floyd was arrested four days after the incident and was sentenced to 22.5 years in prison following his conviction within 13 months of the murder. The way American democracy responded to the murder of Floyd showed its strength. How Indian democracy responds after the tragic death of the elderly undertrial is yet to be seen. There is a high chance that the death of Swamy will end in another cover-up, with no convictions. This incident, however, must not be forgotten. In his death, Swamy might leave a larger impact on society than many living people do.
Sir — One must thank Anup Sinha for expressing his concern for and pointing out the consequences of the custodial death of Stan Swamy. It must be agreed that this was a death ‘allowed’ by the State if one must differentiate between ‘killing’ and ‘letting die’. We must register our protest in some form, so that political leaders in question do not mistake our silence for endorsement of such brutalities.
Sir — Anup Sinha’s article provides a clear analysis of the discouraging mindset of society at present. Stan Swamy’s death must be remembered so that other undertrials do not suffer the same fate.
Sir — The Indian government has made a big deal out of its reported progress in meeting its environmental goals. But a recent report revealed that only half of the 53 gigawatt solar power projects tendered in India are being actualized. The primary reason for this is that state electricity distribution companies are unwilling to sign power-sharing agreements with intermediary procurers owing to falling clean-energy tariffs. This goes to show that simply sanctioning projects — or talking them up — is not enough; proper incentives are needed to overcome challenges posed by market forces.