“The country is fast moving towards a genocide-like situation. A major section of society is being deprived of the common property resources like land, water and forest. A section of the population is under chronic starvation. Massive displacement and corporatisation of farming has made survival virtually difficult for the poor. It is high time the country recognised the gravity of the situation and identified the focus areas. Otherwise, a genocide-like situation can occur here in five to ten years,” eminent human rights activist Dr Binayak Sen has said.
Binayak Sen, who was was in prison in Raipur for alleged Maoist links and later freed on bail following widespread protests both in India and abroad, was in Kochi.
Sen told ‘Express’ on Sunday that with about 120 million poor people in India, a possible genocide cannot be written off. Referring to the statistics from the National Nutrition Monitoring Bureau, Binayak Sen said 33 percent of the total adult population across the country suffers from chronic malnutrition.
“The data says 33 percent of the adult population has below 18.5 Body Mass Index (BMI) level. It includes 50 percent of Scheduled Tribes and 60 percent of Scheduled Castes. It has been found that such levels of chronic malnutrition leads to pulmonary tuberculosis and malaria,” Sen, a physician by profession, said.
While there is chronic starvation on one side, there is a decline in consumption on the other. “There has been a major decline in cereal consumption since 1991 in India. If an average family of five consumed around 880 kg of cereals a year in 1991, by 2004 it had declined to around 770 kg (that is a decline of 110 kg). But the cereal consumption is increasing among the rich. Therefore, the decline at the lower level is higher,” he said.
Adding to all these, is the agrarian crisis. People have been forced to abandon their land. Corporatisation of agriculture has led to small farmers abandoning their land. The government is supporting the efforts of multinationals. “These issues are more visible in areas of Maoist infiltration. People are forced to abandon their land.
Not only the Maoists, NGOs and a number of other rainbow organisations have come forward against these issues,” he said.
Dr Sen said there is widespread concern among people on the new developments.
Hardly does the authorities take action to prevent displacement and land grabbing in the name of development. “A major section is being denied its common property resources. We had incidents of genocide in the past. It is time the country identified the imminent threat,” he said.