Chennai-based writer and social activist Nityanand Jayaraman has been conferred with the Franco-German Prize for Human Rights and the Rule of Law. Jayaraman is known for his activism in a number of environmental issues like the Unilever Kodaikanal Mercury waste, Mettur Industrial pollution and the Kudankulam Nuclear Power Plant issue.
“Political tool to highlight that Human Rights need protection”
Franco-German Award Dedicated to the front-line warriors, and to the 14 protestors in Thoothukudi who were killed during…
While speaking to The Logical Indian, Jayaraman humbly dedicated the award to many other activists and collectives which have been working tirelessly to help people reclaim environmental justice and human rights.
Jayaraman said, “This is the 70th year of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights. The Indian constitution commits to uphold human rights. It also guarantees the liberty of thought, expression, belief and faith. However, one can see that this liberty and freedom is being trampled on. A dissenter is very quickly painted as a criminal.”
He further adds that this award is not just a recognition but is also a political tool to highlight “that human rights need protection”. “The award gives strength and re-energises us and tells us to continue what we are doing,” he said.
He also wants the government to understand the plight of people who are affected greatly due to the industrial crisis, for example, the survivors of Bhopal gas tragedy, those affected by Sterlite copper smelting plant in Tamil Nadu or the people of Kodaikanal who had to endure a battle of a sort against industrial giant-Unilever. “Government needs to make these citizens believe that they are their friends and are here to help them. They should restore their belief that they are rightful citizens who are valued.”
On being asked about what a common citizen could do to help those who are directly reeling under the effects of such crisis, Jayaraman said, “By not believing the WhatsApp forwards and relying on authentic sources of information before they form an opinion. I also urge people to speak out. By speaking out you are not only lending voice to maybe somebody who is affected by Sterlite plant, but in the process, you are underscoring your and the coming generation’s rights.”
About Nityanand Jayaraman
Nityanand or Nitty as he is fondly referred to is an engineer-turned journalist and activist. He is also called “travelling journalist” who holds issues related to environment and human rights close to his heart. As reported by The Tribune, he first came to Bhopal in 1995. “I did an article on groundwater contamination and got hooked to the issue.” He did and continues to help survivors of the Bhopal Gas Tragedy get justice.
In 2004, he along with three of like-minded friends began the Anti-Corporate Collective. In a 2013 interview with The Hindu, Nityanand said, “We allow communities to speak for themselves — and began the Community Environment Monitoring Programme. We don’t teach them anything but make sure their local knowledge is translated into a language that public servants understand.”
The group has helped with the Koodankulam protests, Kodaikanal citizen protest against Unilever and the protest against Sterlite in Tuticorin.
The Logical Indian Take
The Logical Indian congratulates Nityanand. We also hope that this award helps to draw the government and the citizens’ attention and interest towards the human rights violation and environmental crisis.