The right for rights: the lawful and the lawless in India

Kaur, Raminder (2019) The right for rights: the lawful and the lawless in India. In: Juss, Satvinder (ed.) Human rights in India. Routledge Research in Human Rights Law . Routledge, London. ISBN 9780367178598

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In the context of a fast developing neo-liberal India, it has become more and more evident that the right to life, public consultation and information in the public interest, along with the freedom of expression and to dissent are being suppressed and/or diverted in the interests of supposedly ‘higher goals’ to do with national security and the modernist mantra of development. In this chapter, we consider how people’s rights have been shaved and shred with a focus on the Kudankulam Nuclear Power Plant in south India. Despite the often capricious and varied interpretations and enactments of principles embodied in law and regulations by the ‘nuclear state’ - a term used to refer to state-endorsed nuclear authorities such as the Department of Atomic Energy and the Nuclear Power Corporation of Indian Limited bulwarked by an increasingly intransigent and militarised police, surveillance and intelligence apparatus under the umbrella of national security - communications and coordination continued among anti-nuclear campaigners in quite open ways, protagonists often arguing that there was no need to hide anything for what they were doing with their peaceful forms of civil disobedience was perfectly legal. Activists set out to demonstrate how they, the people were in fact lawful and therefore the authentic enforcers of justice, while the nuclear state was lawless for deploying established ‘law enforcement agencies’ to aggressively push through its agenda paying short shrift to constitutional, legal and mandatory protocol. After a brief account on the anti-nuclear struggle in south India culled from ethnographic fieldwork in the region since 2006 and an analysis of material available online, the workings of the inverted logics of the lawful and lawless are demonstrated with respect to three main areas: first, the twists and turns to people’s right to life as enshrined in the Constitution of India; second, the shunting of rights to information about mandatory procedures for the construction of a nuclear power plant, and to public consultations and hearings for project-affected people; and third, the undermining of people’s right to peacefully dissent and protest without the threat of punishment or detention.

Item Type: Book Section
Schools and Departments: School of Global Studies > Anthropology
Depositing User: Sharon Krummel
Date Deposited: 03 May 2019 15:18
Last Modified: 26 May 2021 09:42

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