Mar 06 2014

Conversation with Acclaimed Indian Activist, Medha Patkar – Part 1

India, the largest democracy in the world, is facing a challenge similar to what the American system faces: a highly polarized landscape dominated by only two major parties. Now, an independent third party, called the Aam Aadmi Party (which means the Party of the Common Man), is making waves for its uncompromising stand against corruption, which plagues the Indian legal and political system.

One of India’s most famous political activists, Medha Patkar, after decades of agitating for change on the streets, has decided to enter the electoral fray as a candidate for the Aam Aadmi Party.

Medha Patkar is best known for founding the Narmada Bachao Andolan organization against major dam projects in India such as the Sardar Sarovar Dam on the Narmada River which threatened to displace thousands of poor families. In the tradition of Mahatma Gandhi, Patkar went on a hunger strike to oppose the building of the dam.

Patkar continued her political activism, convening the National Alliance of People’s Movements. She is outspoken in her criticism of neo-liberal capitalism embraced by the major political parties. She has won a number of international awards for her work including Amnesty International’s Human Rights Defender’s Award, the Right Livlihood Award, considered to be the alternative Nobel Prize, and the Ramon Magsaysay Award considered to be Asia’s Nobel Prize.

Recently Uprising producer Bipasha Shom met Medha Patkar in Los Angeles and sat down with her for an in-depth conversation about her work. Today, in honor of the approaching International Women’s Day, we’ll play part 1 of Bipasha’s 2 part interview with Medha Patkar – tomorrow we’ll hear part 2.

Medha’s visit to the USA was sponsored by the India Friends Association. Visit their website!

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