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Medha patkar is one of the world's foremost anti-dam activists and a leading Indian environmentalist. She is the founder of Narmada Bachao Andolan (the Save Narmada Movement). The Narmada River flows through central India; millions of people rely on it for nourishment and economic activities. Large dams built on the Narmada threaten their livelihoods. Patkar, together with a number of like-minded people, has led campaigns against the dams and similar projects. These campaigns have drawn upon the tradition of nonviolent protest pioneered by Mahatma Gandhi. Hunger strikes have hurt Patkar's health but have heightened public awareness and sympathy for her causes. Following one hunger strike, the authorities arrested Patkar for attempted suicide, which is considered a crime.

The Indian government treats nongovernmental organizations with suspicion. In ...

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