Friday, May 18, 2007

Arundhati Roy on the growing cult of violence

As I have said before I am a great fan of Arundhati Roy. Imagine my delight when I got this link this morning and sat reading it, though pressing engagemements, meetings, interviews were scheduled. This article which was originally written in Tehelka and reproduced in www.commondreams.org is about India's growing violence, how we as a country, and a people in a hurry to get ahead are chewing our own limbs. "Our own limbs" meaning the poor, the minorities, the farmers, project affected people (PAP), etc. We have all seen violence on television wreaked by these people on the verge of losing what little they have to massive projects, the benefits of which would add to the already anointed.

That crime is growing in India is an undeniable fact. The day before a flat in Artist Village, where I live, was burgled by a gang of 40 dacoits (not fooling, but real) at 4 a.m. in the morning and the awake neighbours only watched. I mean, they only watched, and didn't offer to help or call the police. Maybe they were too shocked! The doors were battered open by forty men wearing masks and shorts, and the helpless women inside were robbed of nearly two lakh rupees worth of gold and other valuables.

Arundhati is one of the most original thinkers we have around. I think. Maybe, because her ideals have not be spoilt by thing imposed on her by some authority during childhood. She was tutored at home. The first few years of her life were not subject to the grind and pressures we all went through as children, of being cooped in a classroom with teary-eyed children, and a hard taskmaster of a teacher.

Therefore, her view remains uncolored, direct, original and unspoilt, which is why I like to read her. Every word has a fresh perspective, a welcome originality. Here's the opening paragraph of the article that is courtesy "Tehelka" and "commondreams."

"You don’t have to be a genius to read the signs. We have a growing middle class, reared on a diet of radical consumerism and aggressive greed. Unlike industrializing Western countries, which had colonies from which to plunder resources and generate slave labor to feed this process, we have to colonize ourselves, our own nether parts. We’ve begun to eat our own limbs. The greed that is being generated (and marketed as a value interchangeable with nationalism) can only be sated by grabbing land, water and resources from the vulnerable. What we’re witnessing is the most successful secessionist struggle ever waged in independent India — the secession of the middle and upper classes from the rest of the country. It’s a vertical secession, not a lateral one. They’re fighting for the right to merge with the world’s elite somewhere up there in the stratosphere. They’ve managed to commandeer the resources, the coal, the minerals, the bauxite, the water and electricity. Now they want the land to make more cars, more bombs, more mines — supertoys for the new supercitizens of the new superpower. So it’s outright war, and people on both sides are choosing their weapons. The government and the corporations reach for structural adjustment, the World Bank, the ADB, FDI, friendly court orders, friendly policy makers, help from the ‘friendly’ corporate media and a police force that will ram all this down people’s throats. Those who want to resist this process have, until now, reached for dharnas, hunger strikes, satyagraha, the courts and what they thought was friendly media. But now more and more are reaching for guns. Will the violence grow? If the ‘growth rate’ and the Sensex are going to be the only barometers the government uses to measure progress and the well-being of people, then of course it will. How do I read the signs? It isn’t hard to read sky-writing. What it says up there, in big letters, is this: the shit has hit the fan, folks."


She then goes on to blast the police raj that India is very likely to be in the near future. I have written about it in this post.
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