Wednesday, October 27, 2010

Ms. Arundathi Roy - Stop Meddling Please!

I love reading Arundathi Roy’s articles, even though she tends to ramble. I love her language – its surprise turns. She is a lover of human race, and an ardent advocate of equity. Her earnestness reflects in her style, in her imagery. She becomes extremely poetic at times. She is genuine, not a publicity monger, as many make her out to be. I can sense that when i read her works.

But her position regarding the Maoists and Kashmir, well, it’s a big question mark for me. I cannot subscribe to her views. That’s because i think like an Indian citizen. Roy’s concerns cut across political boundaries, while she enjoys the freedoms and benefits of Indian democracy. She sees herself as a citizen of the community of human beings where there are the privileged and the underprivileged, where there is miscarriage of justice against which she feels the need to raise her voice.

I think like an Indian and i feel that when my country is going through a crisis, i should not do anything or say things which can put the state in a difficult situation. That’s my idea of patriotism, of loyalty to my country. Maybe that’s how nonentities think.

My knowledge of the Kashmir in not that of an expert, but of the average Indian who is convinced that the government of India’s position on Kashmir has been the right one. No matter which government is in power, the Kashmir policy has always remained the same.

We know that right from the time of accession, there has been discontentment among several elements in Kashmir. But we also know that they did not constitute the majority. When Pakistan sponsored an invasion of Kashmir in 1947, the then NC under Sheik Abdulla appealed to New Delhi to send the Indian army which received not only a rousing welcome from the people of Kashmir but also all support to repel the marauders.

We also know that Pakistan too stood in the way of plebiscite on the pretext of demilitarisation as a precondition to it. The actual reason was the fear that a referendum would be in favour secular India.

We know that the separatists were supported and sponsored by Pakistan with the aim of altering the demography of Kashmir. This resulted in the exodus of the Kashmiri pundits and other minority groups.

A referendum would no longer be valid - not without the votes of those who were driven out of Kashmir and are settled elsewhere, or are in the refugee camps.

We also know that the Muslim community in Kashmir is divided. The Shias in Kashmir shudder at the thought of accession to Pakistan, or even azadi for fear of a theocratic dispensation in an independent Kashmir.

So when Arundati Roy talks of voicing the wishes of the people of Kashmir, whom does she have in mind? That section of the population who have found voice because of the support from across the border?

Ms Roy talks of the brutal military rule in Kashmir. Hasn’t she any problems with the ruthless, mindless carnage that the Pakistan sponsored terrorists inflict on the people of Kashmir? Is it their rule that she advocates? The Indian army in Kashmir has come in for a lot of flak, it is true. But when it deals with hard core hate filled inhuman terrorists who not only indulge in bloodshed but also instigate insurgency and terrorise people into indulging in violence in the valley, its predicament is unenviable. Excesses happen, and they cannot be justified. It is a crisis situation. People like Ms Roy who get a lot of media coverage should not be so impervious to the predicament of the government and indulge in such irresponsible clamour for azadi.

Same with her position regarding Maoists, whose appalling violence deserves no justification whatsoever. Let Ms Roy address the situation constructively by using her celebrity status to propagate and perhaps set afoot through an NGO an alternate mode of development which is inclusive. Let her throw her heart and soul into evolving development models which factor in those who are marginalised by the present developmental policies. The nation will be grateful to her.

But if she goes up the hill and down the dale justifying violence and trivialising the sovereignty and integrity of the country, she is doing a terrible disservice to the nation and is no different from the armchair critics of establishment who get carried away by their own voice.

And if her speeches cause disaffection to the state the way Madani’s fiery speeches created the likes of Nazeer Thadiantavide, then the sedition law should be evoked against her.


  1. By your own honest admission, you are unaware of the pulse of Kashmir. In the fiery patriotic support that you offer to Indian politicians and policies that retain Kashmir within India lies the salvation of unified India and alienated Indians. And thank God, we are far away down here in Kerala; our women cannot be raped by the soldiers.

    I do not know whether you have been to Jammu and Kashmir, Ma'am. If you have, the dire economic backwardness of the land would have hit you. And educational. And social. And life.

    You talk of Maoism. Where is it? In the tribal belts; among the most undeveloped, most neglected communities in the country. Have you inquired why?

    To know the plight of tribals you don't have to go to Chhathisgarh or to the Narmada Valley. Go to any tribal area in Kerala- Attappadi, Wyanad. You will see how these people have been cheated and exploited.

    People who are far away from such harsh realities can afford to be patriotic, sitting in their comfortable arm chairs.

    You would agree that Arundhati Roy is no 'armchair critic' of establishment. She writes about Narmada Dam, sitting right there with the oustees; she writes about Kashmir not from the confines of Pallikkoodam but listening to the aggrieved people of Kashmir.

    What Arundhati Roy is speaking out is against injustice; yes, not as an Indian, but as a human being. I would rather be a human first; and an Indian - like Narenda Modi, Suresh Kalmadi, Prakash Karat, Manmohan Singh,Chidambaram, Mayadevi or Pinarayi Vijayan- NEVER!!

  2. @balachandran v
    the situation is too complex,but the solution is definitely not the break up of india. that's what i mean.
    pl read my post on maoism.this is the link.
    the red belt has its reason for its existence. it reflects the failure of the system. but violence and beheading of innocents is not the solution.
    the solution for both kashmir and the rise of maoists is inclusive development. let celebrities who have an impact be proactive in evolving an alternative mode of development (like verhgese kurien of amul fame)instead of supporting violence and separatism.

  3. The content of your post is well within the sentiments of the Indian majority.
    I admire Ms Roy for her research, knowledge, incisive and honest comments. Mincing words is not her art.
    I would rather leave her views on Kashmir which you disagree, and comment on my position.
    Jammu and Kashmir is mentioned in the Mahabharata. It has also been ruled by various Hindu Indian Kings until the Muslim invasion. So the question is did this make that territory a part or dominion of India?
    The Instrument of accession used in Kashmir was in the same lines like that were used for the other 500 odd princely states. But the other Princely states merged with the Union of India. And the stupidity of Nehru ensured that Kashmir did not, and against the sane advice of men like Ambedkar he gave Jammu and Kashmir a special status under the antediluvian article 370, and a separate constitution. Both are in vogue to this day. What a paradox in the Indian Union. Goa was annexed by force but it merged with the Union and so did Sikkim in the seventies. Then the foolishness of Nehru saw his ridiculous offer to the UN of holding a Plebiscite. What was the legality of a plebiscite when the territory was legally a part of India under the instrument of accession? There stands the recent history. But the successive Governments only exacerbated the stray and simmering of discontent, that now Kashmir is one of the most brutalised places on the planet. What happened in Shopain where two young women were brutally violated and killed, their bodies later thrown into a shallow rivulet? That was one of the many, and what happened to the culprits? Nothing! KPJ, that could have happened to your or my daughter in a police state.
    The Pundits -well dispossession happens everywhere where democracy is a sham. What happened in Gujarat after the Ghodra? In New Delhi, the national capital after the assassination of Mrs Gandhi?
    The state Kashmir has been pushed into an abyss, that can happen anywhere in India. Remember India as it is now is a political entity created after the British left. If we have to preserve it ,it cannot be by brutality , force and myopic ideas.
    As for the Maoist, Ms Roy has not in any of my readings uttered one word favouring their atrocities. Yes like all liberation movements Maoist uprising may be hijacked by elements with other agenda. But if development and growth is not inclusive we will have more such brutal uprisings in many other pockets too. And we all will soon feel the heat in the comforts of our armchair philosophies and exhortations.

  4. "If I was a person who is being dispossessed, whose wife has been raped, who is being pushed of their land and who is being faced with this 'police force', I would say that I am justified in taking up arms. If that is the only way I have to defend myself....There should be unconditional talks with the Maoists.”

    "We should stop thinking about who is justified. You have an army of very poor people being faced down by an army of rich that are corporate-backed. I am sorry but it is like that. So you can't extract morality from the heinous act of violence that each commits against the other,"

    Interview with Karan Thapar on CNN-IBN’s show "Devil's Advocate".

    Is there any thing wrong in what she said? How can any one say her stand was unjustified? She spoke in very simple terms, and used no linguistic jargons of the usual writers.

  5. During our recent visit to Srinagar, we spoke a few locals. All of them wanted independence. They have suffered that much. Not a single family is there without a member dead or missing. You are looked at suspiciously every time you move around. The military rules! Step into their shoes and we realise they are right. But is breaking away from India is the solution? We don't think so, considering the excellent neighbours! When asked how would they survive after separation, they said "Do not underestimate our strength." But that's only wishful thinking. The moment Kashmir is not part of India, Pakistan will bring it under its control. Will China sit quiet?
    So independence is not a solution; but continuing military presence will further alienate Kashmiris.

    As to maoists/naxal, though they started fighting for the rights of tribals, now they themselves do not know what they are fighting for. Even tribals are scared of them - this is what we got to hear from Anandvan, Baba Amte's ashram, whose son Prakash Amte works among tribals in the naxal-dominated Gadchiroli.

    It's all so complex. Arundhati Roy have the freedom to say anything; but she should look from all angles before making such statements.

  6. Roy is confused and I dont know why we listen to her since she admits that she is a mobile republic. Yesterday if she was talking about Maoists, today it is Kashmir.. nd all this when she enjoys the fruits of a free nation like India. We know our politicians and we know what is happening in Kashmir but I dont think we need a Roy to tell us how less or more patriotic we are. She talks about Azadi when not all Kashmiris are looking forward to that and specially when the state is going through a tense period.

    I wish Roy would stick to writing novels.. she fails to convince me in the rest.

  7. Happy Kitten , thankfully your name itself denotes happiness, as they say "let peace and happiness be with you".
    But if we choose to close our eyes to the reality in Kashmir, in the poorest belts and tribal areas of Chattisgarh, Bihar, Orissa , at the fate of the Narmada valley outees and many millions who are pushed eternally into desperation, by the "free and democratic India", well then we are asking for the very disintegration of India, where patriotism and nationalism dawns in the minds only during a cricket match.Where arm chair comments and angst is expressed by all . While people like Ms Roy, Medha Pathkar and the many conscientious Indians speak as Balachandran also mentioned not from the comforts of the living room but from the very dumps they speak about.Such people confront reality and cry in anguish at the plummeting of the country.
    Please dont try to wish away inconvenient truths , they dont go away the stay here with you and me to haunt. And that is what Arundati Roy also opine.

  8. Anil & Balachandran, I don't understand why you have such disdain for people who are against Ms. Roy. What is it about the comforts of the living room when somebody criticizes her?

    I can give you a counter point. Do you know the objective of the Sardar Sarovar project? It is electricity, among others. Government decided to construct the dam because of the demand for electricity. So, in theory, the less people use electricty, the less the need for another dam. So, according to you, Ms. Roy being a 'true human' would NOT use electricity to show support to the displaced people. After all, she is not an 'armchair critic' like me or some other people here. She would not add to the growing demand of electricity that prompted the government to construct the dam in the first place. Am I correct?

    That was to illustrate how flimsy your argument that we all are 'armchair critics' and she is a 'true human' having a divine right to give opinion. All she have is the freedom to give an opinion which all Indian citizens have.

    All countries have some problem or other. India also have many, including the maoist. Inciting a group against an elected government is not one of the solution. We will fix it, but we don't want a rebellion against government. Very few rebellion against a democratically elected secular government ended up beneficial to the people. I would like her to rethink her "I don't like their violence, but I like their ideology" policy. She has the freedom to support or oppose them, of course. So do the 'armchair critics' who does not like to see CRPF soldiers killed by maoists.

    (Warning: Sarcasm below. Insensitive, I know, but needed to illustrate a point. )
    I don't know if the verdict in suryanelli case did justice to the girl. If she didn't get justice I demand a separate country called Kerala. How long will the Indian govt deny justice to malayalees? This is inspired by the way kashmiri freedom fighters use the shopian case

  9. @Bindu
    Then where is the solution?Our presence will alienate us.If we leave, others will occupy.And they cannot survive by themselves, but they want independance.So?
    See,the truth of the matter is that there is a game of religion underneath.Do you think you or me or anyone can keep a Muslim population against their choices..what ever. They will be always be a pin in your a....There is no way of sitting on the fence.Take a stand and do it. There can only be a solution of either taking it or leaving it.

  10. @Anil Kurup Peace and happiness be with you too...
    I agree to what you say... but I do not need a Roy to tell me those facts in such a confused way. In fact, I have always wondered why those Maoists targets only those who have no choice or power...including our policemen who unlike Roy can only die for India. The Maoists can hide in the forest or behind people like Roy. Is there not a nexus between the so called innocent Maoists fighting for the poor and the Politicians? In my humble opinion, the situation in Kashmir and in the Maoists troubled places have escalated only since there is support from outside and yes our elected government over the years are guilty too. But I do not think those who are leading these people are innocent and are devoid of sinister plans. Today if it is Kashmir or the Moaists lands, tomorrow it can happen anywhere in India. Unlike Roy, I would prefer to see this situation as an Indian and not like a mobile Republic. I did try to express my own angst in the following short note..
    @ Dr. Antony .. there is a game of religion but let us also remember that not all of Kashmir has bought it just like how millions of Muslims chose India over Pakistan. Kashmir needs peace and Roy is only escalating the situation and even diverting the public opinion.
    do read the following:

    even the following one has tried to put the anger of ordinary citizens in words.. if one can forget the language used..

  11. KPJ,
    My feeling is Kashmiris should have the final say not Roy or any one of us,not even the Govt in Delhi.That is democracy. Both Indian and Pakistani Govt do not want that.

    In a way we are colonizers in Kashmir and North East,giving no voice to the people living there.That is why people there feel they are not part of India.
    Do Roy has the right to express her opinion? Yes she has if we beleive in democracy.

    Why we are bothered when Roy express the wishes of majority of Kashmiris in the valley but is not bothered when a Kashmiri youth tells the same? Is it not like the British period when a Britisher expressing the wishes of Indian people was derided in Britain?
    We find it easy to ignore the Kashmirir voice but is uncomfortable hearing Roy saying the same.

    Democratisation and de-militarisation of Kashmir is the only solution and let people decide what they want.
    Only thing I am bothered about is the reactionary nature of the leadership in Kashmir.Though the youth in the streets are much more progressive the leadership remains with Islamists and reactionaries.Main reason for this is Indian Govt which systematically emasculated elected State Govts.Local Army Commander and Defense Secretary in Delhi always had more powers than the CM.But this should be the botheration of Kashmiris. We have such reactionary political leadership in some of the Indian States too.

    If Patriotic India want Kashmir to be a friendly territory we should make the people there want to remain in India.Same is true of North East and tribal Maoist belt of India.
    There has been no violent street demonstrations after the visit of the all Party delegation.THat is a positive thing. We need more Indian politicians going there to talk to the people. We need the Lallus,Mulayams, Mayawatis,Digvijay Singhs,Owaisis,Kunjalikutty's and Yechury's to go there and listen. We need such a panel of Political leaders arrive at a broad consensus on how to make people there want to remain in India.

    Let me end with a quote from C.P Surendran writing in TOI
    "And the problem is that in any given situation-- Mizoram, Manipur, Nagaland or Kashmir—patriotic India cannot see itself as a wrong doer. This partial blindness is brought on by self righteousness, a staple colonial trait. Just as the Brits thought they were doing Indians a favour by colonising them. Or the Americans think they are doing right the world over, exporting various versions of their democracy, from Latin America to Iraq to Afghanistan.

    Patriotic India confuses the state with all that is fair and just. Their reasoning is simple: since we are Indians, we can’t be doing wrong. You may point out innumerable examples of the state making a mess of its myriad social responsibilities, reneging on the trust of the people, especially the half a billion- strong underclass that dutifully votes this democracy along. But the patriots will dissociate a pure and abstract State from its misdeeds, absolve it of all blame. They believe unquestioningly the intentions of the State to shower benefit of all"


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