Friday, March 11, 2011

No right to life?

People fighting for the rights of the excluded, seem to have no right to life of their own.

The murder of Niyamat Ansari, an activist for the National Rural Employment Guarantee program, who helped labourers file applications related to right to information, right to work, is another failure of the state of Jharkhand. He was also working on the right to food campaign.

This only adds to the long list of contemporary unsung Indians who are giving up life to restore institutions and people’s right to good governance.

Tehelka had a column in late February on the dangers of doing good in India. It takes off from Binayak Sen. I quote journalist Shoma Chaudhary, the author of this article:

“Doing one’s duty is no longer an imperative in India. Nothing governs us as a society now except the miracle of individual choice. We are secured by the fact that some people choose to be good, no matter what. But there are myriad dangers in that. There is not just the might of the State to confront. There is also the temptation at every turn to just give up, part the skin and slip over into the silken side where one half of India is living a charmed life. If you don’t fight the ugliness of the State, it will behave in benign ways with you. That is one of the hardest lessons being good in India teaches you.”

A whistleblower in Russia

In the age of Assange, whistle blowers are in vogue.

The Guardian had a story on Russian blogger Alexey Navalny and his efforts to jail the corrupt!

The article describes him as "Russia's chief whistleblower – a one-man WikiLeaks" who has made a career of going after Russia's untouchables. He uses publicly available information - an audit report in this case to get after Transneft - the state pipeline monopoly. How cool is that!

The story concludes on his quote - "But Navalny says he has no fear. "Any person who undertakes independent action in Russia – in journalism, business, anything – takes on risk," he said. "I can understand they can do whatever they want, but that won't stop me."" May force be with him.

Technology and capitalism

The cover story in the Wired magazine this month, certainly made me sit up and take notice. Not that poor labor conditions for the manufacture of iPhones was new, the fact that the cult magazine gave it cover story status was something.

You can read it here:
1 Million Workers. 90 Million iPhones. 17 Suicides. Who’s to Blame?

People will not stop buying iPhones or numerous other products, they may not boycott Apple and other companies, but hopefully they will take notice. There is a great cost to our conveniences that somebody else far away, in another part of the world, is paying for.

Of course, many believe that 17 is a small number. But that there is a number at all is worrying.