His article appears in special edition of “The Lancet”
Human rights activist Binayak Sen, recently convicted on charges of sedition, has said the Indian state, in its commitment to blind indicators of growth, stands before the people as the guarantor of widespread sequestration of resources in the hands of Indian affiliates of international finance capital.
In an article published in India special series of The Lancet journal, Dr. Sen said there was widespread displacement and disenfranchisement of citizens and, in large parts of the resource-rich hinterland of the country, loss of access to common property resources vitiates the right to health. It is difficult to get this scenario in which public funds are being used for public welfare, he has said in the article, written while he was out on bail before the conviction.
The irony is that any recourse to public action and public finance is necessarily based on the manifest commitment of the State to the welfare of its citizens, he wrote. “In India today, such an assumption does not always appear tenable.”
“However, resources for hope do exist, even if not in the putative bona fides of State action. Instead, we note widespread challenges to the hegemony of the market, and the breaking forth of civil political action.” Important changes had already occurred in the Indian scenario as a result, including a stronger public distribution system, laws on right to information, employment guarantees, and the rights in forest areas, while those for healthcare, the Universal Access to Health Care Bill was much debated.
“Such debates are strengthened by the presence, in the Indian Constitution, of the Directive Principles of State Policy, which enjoin on all of us the responsibility to ensure that all State action is directed towards the reduction of inequity. It is these resources that the people of India must seek relief from their current impasse,'' he wrote while drawing attention towards huge inequity in healthcare delivery.
The huge inequity is evident, on the one hand, in flourishing international medical tourism and high-technology biomedical interventions done cheaply, and, on the other, minimum levels of healthcare being unavailable to those unable of pay for them.