Monday, November 18, 2013

Arundati Roy, & The Corporate Hindu India

This is rubbish, outlandish innuendo and utter nonsense. I want to scream so, that people may take note. My Blog readers are only a few so this post will not reach out and only the few who read this may take note. The only way to reach this bizarre observation of Ms. Arundati Roy to the notice of many is to highlight this in Twitter and Facebook so the spiraling information gets moving afar. Also I’m further convinced that one should always be skeptical before being judgmental, be it even the commandments from the good Lord himself.

Arundati Roy, is a person whose views, analytic opinions and articulation that has impressed me. Her book, “The Shape of the Beast” and her many writings , foremost being the essays, “Walking with the Comrades”, and the well balanced piece on the Parliament attack and sentencing of Afzal Guru. Her acumen in distancing from the Anna Hazare fanfare was well justified, to me in hindsight. But she foresaw and that is one of her special ability. Her novelette though not a great creation ringed bell for me as it was moored in the times I grew up and many scenes she poetically wrote in prose brought back instances from my childhood days. I could empathize with a person who was my age and grew up in the same social times.

Now after listening to a video lecture she gave in the USA, I feel angered and revolted by her callous, ill-informed and untruthful comments on certain incidences in India’s early post independent days. Her erudition and the information that percolates to her repository have either deserted her or she chose to go into an India bashing offensive -playing to the gallery. In the bargain it may have done much harm to the country and how India is perceived in the West. (The video link is given here and I would suggest that people listen to the portion in question, which is in the very beginning of the video).Check this link-

Ms.Arundati Roy alleges that India is a Corporate Hindu State that has been perpetually at war with its own people, starting from the moment she gained independence- the Muslims in Hyderabad and Kashmir, the Christians in Goa, the natives of the North-East and recently with the Sikhs in Punjab. She claims that the Indian Army has been perpetually waging war against her own people.

This is utter nonsense and at total variance to history and facts. Yes in the central heartlands of India, now there is an ugly bourgeois war against the indigenous people – the tribes, and blessed by big businesses who want to eliminate or dispossess the tribal once and for all so that the rich and untapped natural resources can be exploited. But what has the Indian action against the Portuguese in Goa, against the belligerent Nizam in Hyderabad and against the terrorism of the renegades in Punjab got to do with corporate manipulations and Hindu agenda?

Elsewhere Ms.Roy has opined that Kashmir was never a part of India. Can she tell what is India and when did the concept of India come about? She must be aware that the political India is an idea of the nationalist movement and a post-colonial metamorphosis, a fact. Nowhere on the planet has a country been demarcated and fenced soon after creation of the planet by the Lord as believers would like to believe? Nations evolve. Social, natural, political and historical factors play much part in the evolution of a country. Is Ms. Roy endorsing the British cunning in leaving what was called India to fend for herself by drafting a very crafty instrument of partition and exit where in the six hundred odd princely states where given the choice to join the two nations or stay independent? Yes indeed the country was partitioned on communal lines and the rulers of the tiny kingdoms were free to join the Indian Union or the country formed on communal and theocratic ideology-Pakistan. Going by that yard stick there was nothing irregular in the ruler of Kashmir opting for the Indian union. If Ms.Roy argues that the Muslim majority states must go to Pakistan based on the communal partition agenda then what right did the Nizam have in staying aloof with Hyderabad – a Hindu majority State? And again no sane man or a practitioner of State craft would want a recalcitrant and belligerent little kingdom in its midst, which Hyderabad could have potently become? Is she not aware of the atrocities of Nizam –post independence and the large-scale forced conversion of Hindus to Islam?
As for Goa where she claims that India fought its own Christian population, one can only laugh at her silliness. Post World War -2 the colonial structures all over the world disintegrated. And what right did the obstinate Portuguese have to stay in Goa with their anachronistic colonial dispensation? Moreover, is Ms.Roy not aware of the nationalist movement in Goa that was in sync with the freedom movement all across the sub-continent? Her argument may even serve to smear the nationalist movements against the East India Co and the British rule in India!

The then US President John.F.Kennedy said denouncing the Indian action in Goa, “the preacher has been caught coming out of the brothel”. Their representative to the UN branded India the colonial aggressor. Ironically, Ms. Roy seems to be echoing those sentiments fifty years after.  

Yes the criminals and thugs sponsored by the Congress were unleashed in Delhi after Indira Gandhi’s killing. They wrecked the most dastardly communal frenzy upon the hapless Sikhs. But what went about in Punjab in the early 1980s and the Frankenstein that Sikh religious frenzy created (apparently aided by self-serving politicians themselves) was Kafkaesque that could have snowballed into a greater disaster. Tactically the Indian government erred when they sent the army into the Golden temple when they could have smoked the terrorists out. But that was no war against the Sikhs.

The matter of the north eastern states is far more critical when it comes to the process of nation building. With diverse regional and tribal loyalties it was a herculean task to integrate the minds than the land into the Union. Ms.Roy must be also aware of the long years that it took for the integration of the fifty states into the Union and federation of America. There was in the years since independence resistance from tribes and regional outfits in the north east which snow balled into insurgency and conflict with the Indian State and the army was deployed. There has been covert and not so secret logistical and material support to the insurgents from across the border too. The historical separation of the north east during the colonial period created problems for the national formation and integration post-independence. In the north east a sense of incompatibility grew into resentment and being made a part of the union especially when the Indian government cold shouldered local aspirations.

 Ms. Roy should understand that it is not the Hindu corporate agenda that brought about as she alleges military action in Goa, Hyderabad, Kashmir, Punjab and the North East, but matters that are diverse. The shortsighted vision of successive governments in New Delhi has contributed to the alienation of Kashmiris, but that is a different story. Pray what is wrong in Punjab now? While in North East the internecine animosities among tribes and their regional loyalties may have to be grappled with for more years while nation building.

What does Ms. Roy subscribe- a perpetually unstable cauldron of tribal, ethnic and regional loyalties at logger heads like in Afghanistan or an evolutionary process of nation building. Or is she still voicing the colonial mindset that should bring back the Portuguese to Goa, the Dutch to the Coromandel, the Danes to Tranquebar, the British East India Co  back to Calcutta and we still will have to find some space for the Spaniards.

Erudition, knowledge and the courage to articulate it earnestly and candidly is indeed a splendid gift. But using those special qualities to spread innuendo, corner pats in the back, some acclaim and applause in elitist arenas is tawdry.


Tracy Terry said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Tracy Terry said...

Whoops. Apologies I clicked on the wrong key.

Ah the power of social media. As Sigmund Freud said 'The voice of the intellect is a soft one, but it does not rest until it has gained a hearing.'

jijo moolayil said...

I too do not agree on all points with her. But I think there is some point in what she says on Kashmir issue. We cannot highly affirmative on Kashmir being an indivisible part of India. There are lot of dispute still going on on "Instrument of Accession". Mountbatten accepted the accession with a remark, “it is my Government's wish that as soon as law and order have been restored in Jammu and Kashmir and her soil cleared of the invader the question of the State's accession should be settled by a reference to the people.” It's true that neither law and order was restored nor her soil was cleared of invaders so that a free and impartial plebiscite could be held in Kashmir. But if such a thing happens, will the Political-India be ready to respect the finding of the plebiscite and act accordingly? I don't think.

Camila Rafaela Felippi said...

The media is really strong. We never know what we will read...

rudraprayaga said...

First of all I acknowledge you for touching the post-independent situations in such a detailed way.By reading the stones of remarks pelt by Arundhati Roy seemed to be just thoughtless out-pour of emotions,not of reasons.I fully second your opinion.Had the insurgency not been dealt with stringent(though not so stringent)procedures,India's soul would be burning in a kiln.The countries of Christianity or Islam or any may not be allowing this much of freedom for their people,what Indians enjoy here.

Usha Menon said...

Let Arundati Roy live in a world of her own with her own ideologies, claims and notions.

Rama Ananth said...

I never really liked her books nor her. Something is wrong with her.

BK Chowla, said...

Problem in India is the drawing room polity.
Likes of Atunadhati are a realty and will conitnue to be so.As time progresses,as we keep becoming a weak nation,as national interests are not the first priority more and more like her will emerge.
We can not change them...we must change India

anilkurup said...

@ Tracy Terry,

Well T, the power of the media depends upon how-many know you.

@ Jijo Moolayil,

J, the question of Kashmir would have been settled, if Nehru did not drag it to the UN and then rubbish the UN demand for plebiscite. Even after that stupidity of internationalizing the issue of Kashmir various govts in Delhi especially Indira Gandhi did all that she could to keep it festering.
However as per the terms of partition the Ruler of Kashmir had the prerogative to join India.
Kashmir is what it is now because of Indian politicians.
All said and done this woman seems to have gone berserk- Arundati Roy.

@ Rudraprayag,

Thanks Sarala.

@ Usha Menon,

She seems to be intoxicated by international popularity that she believes that any nonsense about India and her history will go down well in the West.

@ Rama Ananth,
I too have begun to feel after all this.

@ BK Chowla,

He valid work and opinion will be rubbished by the intelligentsia if she continues to misrepresent and mislead with such utterances.

Meera Sundararajan said...

@ Anil, contrary to your opinion about Arundhati, I have always disliked her. She is a publicity seeking person and a rabble rouser. She likes to write about issues that are anyway controversial and then turn the spotlight on herself. So I take whatever she writes with a pinch of salt!!

Insignia said...


I read every word of your post; and I must say that you did a fantastic job is keeping reader's attention on such heavy subject.

No offense; but I cant help compare Arundati Roy's speech to what Mallika Sherawat said about India. Thats a bad comparison. But why do people who hold responsible position as her make such statements. Sad.

anilkurup said...

@ Meera Sundarajan,
I do not agree with you entirely. In fact her opinions on the Maoist, The Afzal Guru case for instance is well researched and pertinent. So is her views on the neo imperialism. However I now see that her views on the unification of India for instance is utter nonsense and contrary to historical facts. Her lectures on this matter which was done on a wide tour of the West is detrimental and is in tune with your apprehensions and opinion about her.

@ Insignia,

B, Ms Roy has gone overboard and swept of her feet by the smooching (sic- I use this word in this context deliberately) she has been getting outside India , especially in the West.

Ashwini C N said...

Just because a person has the right to speak/write, doesnt mean they can get away with it. As much as I love the way Ms Roy writes (the style and not the content) I am not a great fan of her works. I wonder where she got her facts from.

Happy Kitten said...

And I missed this wonderful post of yours! A timely lesson in Indian history is what you have given. Thank you!

As for Roy, I have given up in trying to understand her. She oscillates between an Indian and a world citizen. Sometimes she tries to be both in a bizarre way. Either she is trying to garner attention or this is her style.

anilkurup said...

@ Happy Kitten,

Thank you Asha for the comment.

Yes you are right. Ms Roy is bizarre and she seems to be wanting the international lime light. Well that is fine , but why distort? In fact I have been fascinated by her writing and have been buying her books( essays and interviews). They all are excellent for analytic skill and blunt comments.The piece on Maoist and Afzal Guru were classic. But this nonsense on post independent Union of States is nonsense. Wonder what her agenda is.