Arundhati Roy on Human Costs of India’s Economic Growth 4 (of 4)


Maoistsupsurge in India, Chinese poster with Marx, Engels, Lenin, Stalin, and Mao. Caption reads, “Long live Marxism-Leninism and Mao Zedong thought.”
·

ROLE OF MEDIA, ENCOUNTER KILLINGS AND LISTENING TO GRASSHOPPERS

·

A N J A L I  K A M A TArundhati, can you talk about the state of the media in India? You talk about the different institutions of democracy. How would you assess the Indian media, and what is its role in this landscape?
A R U N D H A T I  R O Y: Well, if I had to talk about the—you know, I mean, the mainstream sort of corporate media, and if I were to have to make a kind of crude statement, I’d say that the mainstream media right now here is not a little to the right of Fox News. You know, that’s what’s going on here. There’s a kind of nationalist howl that I find pretty terrifying. Having said that, I think that, you know, now all we’re left with is to try and find some sane sort of bubbles within that. And there are those.
And, of course, the fact that India is a country where—I mean, forget the media; people don’t—you know, people don’t have access to water and food and basic healthcare. The kind of reach and that mesmeric spell that the media casts in, you know, developed countries, the media can’t in India. In fact, I was actually—you know, when I was in this place, Chhattisgarh, Dantewada, where the war is unfolding, a senior policeman told me, “You know, Arundhati, as a policeman, I can tell you that the police are not going to be able to solve the problem of these indigenous, you know, these Adivasi people”—“Adivasi” is the word for tribal people—“and I have told the government that the problem with these people is that they don’t have any greed. So, the way to solve the problem is to put a TV in every house. Then we’ll be able to win this war.”
So, you know, you have a situation where more and more people are just outside the barcode. You know, they are what you would call “illegible.” And we have a very, very serious situation here, where now they are planning, you know, once again, to make a—what do you call it—an electronic ID card. Of course, once again, to people who don’t have water, who don’t have electricity, who don’t have schools, but they will have ID cards, and people who don’t have ID cards are not going to exist.
But, sorry, I moved away from your question, which was a question about the media. I fear the media greatly here. You know, sometimes, like you see after the attacks in Mumbai, the government was more mature than the media. The media was spoiling for war. It was really—you know, the media and the elite and the urban middle class were spoiling for war. They were just pushing for a war with Pakistan. And so, I’d say highly irresponsible, with very little basis in fact. And a lot of my book is really a response to how the media has behaved over the last few years on very, very crucial issues. And it’s very troubling to live in a place where the media has actually no accountability.
A N J A L I  K A M A T: Arundhati, can you talk a little bit about encounter deaths? You mentioned this a little earlier in the program. What are police encounters, fake encounters? This is something that’s quite common in India. But can you explain to our audience what you mean by “encounter deaths”?
A R U N D H A T I  R O Y: Well, what happens now is that, you know, one of the ways in which people—the police and the security establishment deals with, you know, dissent, resistance and terrorism, or what they call terrorism, is to just deliver summary justice: kill people and say, oh, they were killed in an encounter, in cross-firing, or so on, and so on. So, in places like Kashmir and in the northeast, in Manipur and Nagaland, it’s an old tradition. In places like Andhra Pradesh, they had, you know, many, many hundreds of encounter deaths.
And, in fact, recently, there was a photo essay of an encounter death in Manipur, where the, you know, security grid just—security forces just surrounded this young boy. And it was a photo essay, you know. He was unarmed. He was a former militant, I think, who had laid down his arms, and he was in the market. And you just saw a policeman pulling out his gun, shooting him, and then they said, oh, he was killed in crossfire, you know.
So, it’s a very—you have people—we have cops here who are given medals for being encounter specialists. You know, so the more people they’ve killed, the more medals they’ll get. And in places like Kashmir, they actually get promotions. So, in fact, it’s something to be proud of, an encounter killing, for, you know, both the army as well as the police and the counterinsurgency forces.
A M Y  G O O D M A N: We’re talking to Arundhati Roy. She’s speaking to us from New Delhi, India. She has just published a new book called Field Notes on Democracy: Listening to Grasshoppers. Arundhati, why “listening to grasshoppers”?
A R U N D H A T I  R O Y: Oh, it was the name of a lecture that I did in Turkey last year on the anniversary after the death of Hrant Dink, the Armenian journalist who was shot outside his office for daring to talk about the Armenian genocide of 1915, which you’re not supposed to talk about in Turkey. And my lecture was really about the historical links between progress and genocide.
And “listening to grasshoppers” was—referred to the testimony an old lady called Araxie Barsamian, who’s the friend—mother of my friend David Barsamian, who is Armenian and who talked about how, you know, the wheat had ripened in her village in 1915, and suddenly there was this huge swarm of grasshoppers that arrived. And the village elders were very worried about this and said it was a bad omen. And they were right, because a few months later, when the wheat had ripened, the Turks came, and that was the beginning of the Armenian genocide for her.
And so, I talk about—the whole lecture was really about how societies are prepared for genocide and how genocide is, you know, it’s like part of free trade, and how, you know, genocides that are acknowledged, and denied, and prosecuted, all have to—all depend on world trade, and always have done, and about how I worry that a country like India, that is poised on the threshold of progress, could also be poised on the threshold of genocide.
And that essay was written in January of last year. And now, as you see, the troops are closing in on the forest areas where the poorest people live. And they will be sacrificed at the altar of progress, unless we manage to show the world that we have to find a different way of seeing and a different way of going about things.
But here in India, there’s the smell of fascism in the air. Earlier, it was a kind of an anti-Muslim, religious fascism. Now we have a secular government, and it’s a kind of right-wing ruthlessness, where people openly say, you know, every country that has progressed and is developed, whether you look at Europe or America or China or Russia, they have a quote-unquote “past,” you know, they have a cruel past, and it’s time that India stepped up to the plate and realized that there are some people that are holding back this kind of progress and that we need to be ruthless and move in, as Israel did recently in Gaza, as Sri Lanka has recently done with its hundreds of thousands of Tamils in concentration camps. So why not India? You know? Why not just do away with the poor so that we can be a proper superpower, instead of a super-poor superpower?
A M Y  G O O D M A N: Arundhati Roy, we just have less than a minute. What gives you hope?
A R U N D H A T I  R O Y: What gives me hope is the fact that this way of thinking is being resisted in a myriad ways in India, you know, from the poorest person in a loincloth in the forest saying, “We’re going to fight,” right up to me, who’s at the other end, you know. And all of us are joined together by the determination that, even if we lose, we’re going to fight, you know? And we’re not going to just let this happen without doing everything we can to stop it. And that gives me a tremendous amount of hope.
A M Y  G O O D M A N: Arundhati Roy, we thank you very much for being with us from, well, not far from your home, in New Delhi, India, in this international global exclusive broadcast on the publication of your book, Field Notes on Democracy: Listening to Grasshoppers, published by Haymarket Books.

Concluded.

Previous 1, 2, 3. 4

Arundhati Roy was born in 1959 in Shillong, India. She studied architecture in New Delhi, where she now lives, and has worked as a film designer, actor, and screenplay writer in India. A tenth anniversary edition of her novel, The God of Small Things, for which she received the 1997 Booker Prize, will be officially published within days. She is also the author of numerous nonfiction titles, including An Ordinary Person’s Guide to Empire. This piece was published by Outlook India

Source: Democracy Now Cross posted at: www.outlookindia.com
Disclaimer: The views expressed in this article are the sole responsibility of the author and do not necessarily reflect those of the ‘Wonders of Pakistan’. The contents of this article too are the sole responsibility of the author(s). WoP will not be responsible or liable for any inaccurate or incorrect statements contained in this post.

YOUR COMMENT IS IMPORTANT

DO NOT UNDERESTIMATE THE POWER OF YOUR COMMENT

Wonders of Pakistan supports freedom of expression and this commitment extends to our readers as well. Constraints however, apply in case of a violation of WoP Comments Policy. We also moderate hate speech, libel and gratuitous insults.



Arundhati Roy on Human Costs of India’s Economic Growth, Kashmir & Other Issues 3 (of 4)


·

ON KASHMIR AND THE NORTH EAST

·

[Note to WoP readers: On request from a large number of our readers who find it more convenient to read sizable documents in a serialized set of posts, we have divided Arundhati Roy’s interview to Amy Goodman of Democracy Now in 4 parts. Readers who may still want to read this interview in a continuous, singular post (1 piece format) can as usual take the link].
And if you look at—for example, if you look at the trajectory of somebody like Chidambaram, who’s India’s home minister, he—you know, he’s a lawyer from Harvard. He was the lawyer for Enron, which pulled off the biggest scam in the history of—corporate scam in the history of India. We’re still suffering from that deal. After that, he was on the board of governors of what is today the biggest mining corporation in the world, called Vedanta, which is mining in Orissa. The day he became finance minister, he resigned from Vedanta. When he was the finance minister, in an interview he said that he would like 85 percent of India to live in cities, which means moving something like 500 million people. That’s the kind of vision that he has.
And now he’s the home minister, calling out the paramilitary, calling out the police, and really forcibly trying to move people out of their lands and homes. And anyone who resisted, whether they’re a Maoist or not a Maoist, are being labeled Maoist. People are being picked up, tortured. There are some laws that have been passed which should not exist in any democracy, laws which make somebody like me saying what I’m saying now to you is a criminal offense, for which I could just be jailed. Even sort of thinking an anti-government thought has become illegal. And we’re talking about, you know, as you said, 75,000 to 100,000 security personnel going to war against people who, since independence, which was more than sixty years ago, have no schools, no hospitals, no running water, nothing. And now, now they’re being—now they’re being killed or imprisoned or just criminalized. You know, it’s like if you’re not in the Salwa Judum camp, then you’re a Maoist, and we can kill you. And they are openly celebrating the Sri Lanka solution to terrorism, to terrorism.
A N J A L I  K A M A TArundhati Roy, can you explain a little bit more about how India has so successfully hidden this side of it, this underbelly of democracy that you bring out in your book—murder, disappearances, torture, rapes, thousands—millions of people displaced, whether it’s for development projects or in the process of fighting wars, tens of thousands disappeared in Kashmir, the insurgency that’s being fought, the military that’s fighting the insurgency in the northeast? How is India, on a global stage, continues to be seen as this successful democracy, a place where investors are flooding to?
A R U N D H A T I  R O YWell, precisely because it is a democracy for some of its citizens, you know? And so, in a way, it has—this whole system has somehow created an elite that is now suddenly enriched in the last, you know, twenty years since the advent of the corporate free market. We have a huge middle class that is hugely invested in this sort of a police—or, you know, a police state that isn’t acknowledged as one. So you have—it’s not just a small sort of coterie of generals, like in Burma, or a kind of military dictatorship that’s supported by the US in America. You have a huge constituency in this country that completely supports this whole enterprise, and you have a free media where 90 percent of the turnover of those media houses comes from corporate advertisements and so on. So they’re also free, but free to also embrace this particular model, in which, you know, a small section of people—well, not a small section; there are millions and millions of people, but they are not the majority of the people of this country. The light shines upon this rising middle class, which is, as I said, such a huge number that it’s a very, very attractive market for the whole world.
So, when India opens its markets, you know, because it has opened its markets, and because it’s—you know, international finance is flooding in, and all of that is so attractive, it is allowed to commit genocide in Gujarat; it’s allowed to commit civil war in the center; it’s allowed to have a military occupation in Kashmir, where you have 700,000 soldiers, you know, patrolling that little valley; it’s allowed to have laws like the Armed Forces Special Powers Act in the northeast, which allows the army to just kill on suspicion. And yet, it’s celebrated. It’s allowed to displace millions of people, but yet it’s celebrated as this real success story, because it has all these institutions in place, even though they’ve been hollowed out.
So you have, for example, a Supreme Court in which there are very erudite judges, and there are some very erudite judgments, but if you look at how it’s actually functioning, it has hollowed out. To criticize the court is a criminal offense. And yet, you have judgments where a judge openly says something like—you know, that—I’ve forgotten the exact words, but how corporate—you know, a corporate company cannot basically commit anything illegal, cannot commit an illegal act, you know? Or you have a judge in court openly talking about, let’s say, Vedanta, which is mining in Orissa for bauxite. And the Norwegian government had pulled out of that project because of the human rights violations and so on; and, you know, for a whole lot of ethical reasons, they pulled out. And in India, you know, the company was taken to court, and a judge openly, in an open court, says that, “OK, we won’t give this contract to Vedanta. We’ll give it to Sterlite, because Sterlite is a very good company. I have shares in it,” omitting to mention that Sterlite is a subsidiary of Vedanta.
You know, but there’s so much fancy footwork. If it was a military dictator, they have would have just said, “Shut up” and “Vedanta will get the project.” But here, there are affidavits and counter-affidavits and a little bit of delay and everything; everyone thinks it’s democracy. You know, you have the Supreme Court hearing on, let’s say, the Parliament attack, where openly the Supreme Court of the world’s greatest democracy says, you know, on the one hand, “We don’t have evidence to prove that the person who was charged is—belongs to a terrorist group,” and a few paras later says, “but the collective conscience of society will only be satisfied if we sentence him to death.” And it’s just said so, blatantly, out there, you know? And you can’t criticize it, because it’s a criminal offense.
A M Y  G O O D M A N: Arundhati Roy, talk about Kashmir. I think it’s something, certainly here in the United States, a conflict people understand very little.
A R U N D H A T I  R O Y: Well, Kashmir—Kashmir was an independent sort of kingdom in 1947 at the time of independence and partition. And when—I mean, just to cut a very complicated story short, when partition happened, both India and Pakistan fought over it and hived off parts of it, and both now have military presence in this divided Kashmir. But to give you some idea of the military presence, it’s—you know, let’s say the US has 165,000 troops in Iraq. India has 700,000 troops in Kashmir.
Kashmir used to have a Hindu king and a largely Muslim population, which was very, very backward and so on at the time, because at the time, you know, Muslims were discriminated against by that princely—in that princely state.
But now, for—I mean, in 1990, after a whole series of events, which culminated in a sort of fake election, a rigged election in 1987, there was an armed uprising in Kashmir. And really, since then, it’s been convulsed by militancy and military occupation, encounters, disappearances and so on. Last year, there was a—you know, last year, they began to say everything is normal, you know, tourists are going back to the valley. But, of course, that was just wishful thinking, because there was a huge nonviolent uprising in which hundreds of thousands of people, you know, flocked the streets, day and night, demanding independence. It was put down with military force.
And now, once again, you have a situation where you can hardly walk from, you know, twenty meters without someone with an AK-47 in your face. Sometimes in places like Srinagar, which is the capital, it’s well hidden. But it’s a place where every action, every breath that people, you know, breathe in and breathe out, is kind of controlled by military force. And this is how—you know, people are just being asphyxiated; they cannot breathe.
And, of course, there’s a huge publicity machine. You know, I mean, I’d say that the only difference between what’s happening in Palestine and Kashmir is that, so far, India has not used air power on the people of Kashmir, as they are threatening to do, by the way, in Chhattisgarh, you know, to its own poorest. It has not—you know, the people, technically, they are able to move around, unlike the people of Gaza and the West Bank. Kashmiris are able to move around in the rest of India, though it isn’t really safe, because their young get picked up and disappeared and tortured and so on. So, you know, it’s not something that they easily will do. And there has not been this kind of system of settlements, you know, where you’re trying to sort of take over by pushing in people from the mainland. So, other than those three, I think we’re talking about an outright occupation.
A M Y  G O O D M A N: We’re speaking with the great writer Arundhati Roy, social justice activist. She’s speaking to us from New Delhi, India. When we come back, we’ll talk about India, Pakistan, Afghanistan, and the view of President Obama from India. This is Democracy Now! Stay with us.
[break]
A M Y  G O O D M A N: We continue with our exclusive global broadcast with Arundhati Roy in New Delhi, India, the world-renowned author, social justice activist. Her first book, The God of Small Things, translated all over the world, won the Booker Prize in 1997. Her new book, just out: Field Notes on Democracy: Listening to Grasshoppers.A M Y  G O O D M A N: We continue with our exclusive global broadcast with Arundhati Roy in New Delhi, India, the world-renowned author, social justice activist. Her first book, The God of Small Things, translated all over the world, won the Booker Prize in 1997. Her new book, just out: Field Notes on Democracy: Listening to Grasshoppers.
I’m Amy Goodman with Anjali Kamat. Anjali?
A N J A L I  K A M A TArundhati, years ago, under the Bush administration, you called yourself a “subject of empire.” Today, can you talk about what Obama’s America looks like from India, from New Delhi, as the Obama administration expands the war from Afghanistan into Pakistan?
A R U N D H A T I  R O YWell, I think, you know, when people would ask me what I thought of Obama, I said I hope that he would land the American empire gently, like the pilot who landed the—who crash-landed the plane in the Hudson.
Yes, he’s expanding the war in Afghanistan. I think, basically, people, including Obama, just don’t know what to do in Afghanistan, and expanding the war is certainly not going to end that war or create any kind of just peace in that region. It’s, in fact, going to exacerbate the situation, draw Pakistan into it, and when Pakistan is drawn into it, so will India, and so on. So it goes.
I think, you know, the real change that has taken place in the last, you know, ten years is also the rise of India and China as kind of imperial powers, you know, playing out their games in Africa and also in parts of Latin America. So it’s a very—and, of course, the rise of Russia.
So, I think the situation in Afghanistan, Pakistan, Kashmir is very volatile. And, of course, let’s not forget that these are nuclear powers, even though a scientist recently has announced that India’s nuclear tests were a damp squib and that they were not successful, but I don’t know what that’s about and why he’s coming out with it now.
But I think we are headed for a lot of chaos. And in India, you know, as I said, while the situation in Kashmir—even now, as I speak in the studio, there’s news coming in of what they call “encounter killings,” you know, almost a few every day. So, obviously, given that nonviolent protest has been put down violently, things are going to go back to a previous era of some kind of militant violence there. And, you know, the heart of India being sort of hollowed out by this civil war and this assault on its poor.
I really don’t know what to say or what to expect, except to say that this kind of pressure can never result in an orderly submission, even if people wanted to submit. What’s going to happen and what is happening is that unpredictable kinds of battles and chaos is erupting all over the place, and, you know, the government is constantly firefighting and trying to douse those flames.
But out of this chaos, something new has to come, and will come, because it cannot go on like this. And I don’t know whether that thing will be worse or will be better, but it can’t go on like this. You know, the kind of polythene bag over our heads has to burst open at some point. You know, we have to be allowed to breathe. And this kind of surveillance and drone attacks and all this that’s being planned is not going to be able to hold down millions of people who are just getting impoverished and hungry and homeless.

Continue reading

Previous 1, 2, 3. 4 Next

You might be interested in:

Source: Democracy Now Cross posted at: www.outlookindia.com
Disclaimer: The views expressed in this article are the sole responsibility of the author and do not necessarily reflect those of the ‘Wonders of Pakistan’. The contents of this article too are the sole responsibility of the author(s). WoP will not be responsible or liable for any inaccurate or incorrect statements contained in this post.

YOUR COMMENT IS IMPORTANT

DO NOT UNDERESTIMATE THE POWER OF YOUR COMMENT

Wonders of Pakistan supports freedom of expression and this commitment extends to our readers as well. Constraints however, apply in case of a violation of WoP Comments Policy. We also moderate hate speech, libel and gratuitous insults.


Arundhati Roy on Human Costs of India’s Economic Growth, Kashmir & Other Issues 2 (of 4)


According to Pakistandefenceforum.com, a Pakistani  website the armed Maoist movement, which started as a peasant uprising in 1967, has spread to 20 of India’s 29 states, and to which the Indian prime minister has repeatedly referred to as country’s “gravest internal security threat.”.


FUSING DEMOCRACY INTO A “CAPITALISTIC” FREE MARKET


[Note to WoP readers: On request from a large number of our readers who find it more convenient to read sizable documents in a serialized set of posts, we have divided Arundhati Roy’s interview to Amy Goodman of Democracy Now in 4 parts. Readers who may still want to read this interview in a continuous, singular post (1 piece format) can as usual take the link].
A M Y  G O O D  M A N: We turn to a woman the New York Times calls India’s most impassioned critic of globalization and American influence, Arundhati Roy, world-renowned Indian author and global justice activist. Her first novel, The God of Small Things, won the Booker Prize in 1997. She has a new book; it’s calledField Notes on Democracy: Listening to Grasshoppers. An adapted introduction to the book is posted at tomdispatch.com, called “What Have We Done to Democracy?” Arundhati Roy joins us now from New Delhi, India, on the country’s biggest national holiday of the year.
Arundhati, we welcome you to Democracy Now! And as you listen to this report from the streets of G-20 by our producer Steve Martinez, talk about globalization and what has happened to democracy.
A R U N D H A T I  R O Y: Well, that’s a huge subject, Amy. And I think my book—in my book, I discuss it in some detail in terms of what’s happening to India. But as we know now, because of the way the global economy is linked, countries are not—you know, the political systems in countries are also linked, so democracies are linked to dictatorships and military occupations and so on. We know that. We know that some of the main military occupations in the world today are actually administered by democracies: Palestine, Iraq, Afghanistan, Kashmir.
But what I think is beginning to be very clear now is that we see now that democracy is sort of fused into the free market, or to the idea of the free market. And so, its imagination has been limited to the idea of profit. And democracy, a few years ago, maybe, you know, even twenty-five years ago, was something that, let’s say, a country like America feared, which was why democracies were being toppled all over the place, like in Chile and so on. But now wars are being waged to restore—to place democracy, because democracy serves the free market, and each of the institutions in democracy, like you look at India, you know, whether it’s the Supreme—whether it’s the courts or whether it’s the media or whether it’s all the other institutions of democracy, they’ve been sort of hollowed out, and just their shells have been replaced, and we play out this charade. And it’s much more complicated for people to understand what’s going on, because there’s so much shadow play.
But really we are facing a crisis. And that’s what I ask. You know, is there life after democracy? And what kind of life will it be? Because democracy has been hollowed out and made meaningless. And when I say “democracy,” I’m not talking about the ideal. You know, I’m not saying that countries that live in dictatorships and under military occupation should not fight for democracy, because the early years of democracy are important and heady. And then we see a strange metastasis taking over.
A M Y  G O O D M A N: We’re talking to Arundhati Roy. She’s joining us from New Delhi, India, the world-renowned author, global justice activist. Her book The God of Small Things won the Booker Prize, well known all over the world. Now she has written a new book. Today we will talk about it for the first time in the United States in a national broadcast, Field Notes on Democracy: Listening to Grasshoppers. We’ll be back with her for the rest of the hour in a minute.
[break]
A M Y   G O O D M A NWe continue with Arundhati Roy, speaking to us from New Delhi, India, talking about India, war and globalization. I’m here with co-host Anjali Kamat. Anjali?
A N J A L I  K A M A T: The Indian and Pakistani foreign ministers met in New York Sunday on the sidelines of the United Nations General Assembly meeting but failed to agree on a timetable for negotiations. Talks continue to be stalled by the fallout of the November 2008 attack on Mumbai that killed 163 people. India blames Pakistani militants for the attack and has emphasized the need for Pakistan to prosecute those responsible. The Indian Foreign Minister S.M. Krishna told reporters he raised these concerns with his Pakistani counterpart Shah Mehmood Qureshi.
S. M .  K R I S H N AAs you are aware, we do have serious and continuing concerns about terrorist and extremist groups in Pakistan, which are—which are a national security risk for us and for our people. Foreign Minister Qureshi conveyed to me the seriousness of his government in bringing to book, through their legal process, those responsible for the terrorist outrage in Mumbai ten months ago.
A N J A L I  K A M A TMeanwhile, inside India, the focus has shifted to a different adversary. The stage is set for a major domestic military offensive against an armed group that the Indian prime minister has repeatedly called the country’s, quote, “gravest internal security threat.”
Operation Green Hunt will reportedly send between 75,000 and 100,000 troops to areas seen as Maoist strongholds in central and eastern India. In June, India labeled the Naxalite group, the Communist Party of India—Maoist—a terrorist organization, and earlier this month India’s home minister came to the United States to share counterterror strategies.
The Indian government blames the deaths of nearly 600 people this year on Maoist violence and claims that Maoist rebels are active in twenty out of the twenty-eight states in the country. The Indian Prime Minister Manmohan Singh outlined the threat to a conference of state police chiefs earlier this month.
P R I M E M I N I S T E R  M A N M O H A N  S I N G HIn many ways, the left-wing extremism poses perhaps the gravest internal security threat our country faces. We have discussed this in the last five years. And I would like to state, frankly, that we have not achieved as much success as we would have liked in containing this menace.
A M Y  G O O D M A NWell, to help make sense of what’s unfolding inside the world’s largest democracy, we continue with the Booker Prize award-winning novelist, political essayist, global justice activist Arundhati Roy. She won the Lannan Cultural Freedom Prize in 2002. She’s the author of a number of collection of essays and the novel The God of Small Things. Her latest book is called Field Notes on Democracy: Listening to Grasshoppers.
Can you make sense, Arundhati, of what is happening inside India for an audience around the world?
A R U N D H A T I  R O Y: Well, let me just pick up on what Anjali was talking about just now, about the assault that’s planned on the so-called Maoists in central India. You know, when September 11 happened, I think some of us had already said that a time would come when poverty would be sort of collapsed and converge into terrorism. And this is exactly what’s happened. The poorest people in this country today are being called terrorists.
And what you have is a huge swath of forest in eastern and central India, spreading from West Bengal through the states of Jharkhand, Orissa and Chhattisgarh. And in these forests live indigenous people. And also in these forests are the biggest deposits of bauxite and iron ore and so on, which huge multinational companies now want to get their hands on. So there’s an MoU [Memorandum of Understanding] on every mountain, on every forest and river in this area.
And about in 2005, let’s say, in central India, the day after the MoU was signed with the biggest sort of corporation in India, Tatas, the government also announced the formation of the Salwa Judum, which is a sort of people’s militia, which is armed and is meant to fight the Maoists in the forest. But the thing is, all this, the Salwa Judum as well as the Maoists, they’re all indigenous people.
And in, let’s say, Chhattisgarh, something like the Salwa Judum has been a very cruel militia, you know, burning villages, raping women, burning food crops. I was there recently. Something like 640 villages have been burned. Out of the 350,000, first about 50,000 people moved into roadside police camps, from where this militia was raised by the government.
And the rest are simply missing. You know, some are living in cities, you know, eking out a living. Others are just hiding in the forest, coming out, trying to sow their crops, and yet getting, you know, those crops burnt down, their villages burnt down. So there is a sort of civil war raging.
And now, I remember traveling in Orissa a few years ago, when there were not any Maoists, but there were huge sort of mining companies coming in to mine the bauxite. And yet, they kept—all the newspapers kept saying the Maoists are here, the Maoists are here, because it was a way of allowing the government to do a kind of military-style repression. Of course, now they’re openly saying that they want to call out the paramilitary. (Same strategy seems to have been adopted in Balochistan province of Pakistan where there are mineral deposits as well as gas and oil reserves, Ed.).

Continue reading

Previous 1, 2, 3. 4 Next

You might be interested in:

Source: Democracy Now Cross posted at: www.outlookindia.com
Disclaimer: The views expressed in this article are the sole responsibility of the author and do not necessarily reflect those of the ‘Wonders of Pakistan’. The contents of this article too are the sole responsibility of the author(s). WoP will not be responsible or liable for any inaccurate or incorrect statements contained in this post.

YOUR COMMENT IS IMPORTANT

DO NOT UNDERESTIMATE THE POWER OF YOUR COMMENT

Wonders of Pakistan supports freedom of expression and this commitment extends to our readers as well. Constraints however, apply in case of a violation of WoP Comments Policy. We also moderate hate speech, libel and gratuitous insults.


Arundhati Roy on Human Costs of India’s Economic Growth, Kashmir & Other Issues 1 (of4)


·

LISTENING TO GRASSHOPPERS

·

[Note to WoP readers: On request from a large number of our readers who find it more convenient to read sizable documents in a serialized set of posts, we have divided Arundhati Roy’s interview to Amy Goodman of Democracy Now in 4 parts. Readers who may still want to read this interview in a continuous, singular post (1 piece format) can as usual take the link].


Author Arundhati Roy on the Human Costs of India’s Economic Growth, the View of Obama from New Delhi, and Escalating US Attacks in Af-Pak


Note for WoP readers: In March ‘09 issue (here and here) of WoP we brought to you a detailed essay on 26/11 attacks in Mumbai by Arundhati Roy, India‘s most independent writer who has won the Booker Prize for her novel, The God of Small Things, and in 2002, was awarded the Lannan Cultural Freedom Prize. Roy is also a well known activist for social and economic justice.
In our current issue, we bring now courtesy ‘Democracy now’ an interview from this world renowned figure of literature. While reading the transcribed text, however, often you may note a repetition which might seem disturbing but in audiovisual sessions, such repetitions are indeed necessary. Since I am reproducing the transcribed text done by ‘Democracy Now’ editorial staff in verbatim, therefore, every thing has been put up as was asked and replied in this session. [Nayyar]
To listen to original radio interview follow the link to Democracy now at http://www.democracynow.org/2009/9/28/author_arundhati_roy_on_conflicts_and
We’re joined from the Indian capital of New Delhi by the Booker Prize-winning novelist, political essayist and global justice activist Arundhati Roy. Her books include the Booker Prize-winning novel The God of Small Things and her latest essay collection, Field Notes on Democracy: Listening to Grasshoppers. We speak to Roy about India’s conflict with Maoist rebels, the occupation of Kashmir, ongoing Indian-Pakistani tensions, Obama’s war in “Af-Pak,” and more
Guest:
Arundhati Roy, world-renowned Indian author and global justice activist. Her first novel, The God of Small Things, won the Booker Prize in 1997. Since then she has written numerous essays on war, climate change and the dangers of free market development in India. Her new book, published in September this year, by Haymarket Books, is called Field Notes on Democracy: Listening to Grasshoppers. But first an adapted introduction to the book from Tomdispatch.com.
Captioned Is Democracy Melting? writes Tom:

So you, as a citizen, want to run for a seat in the House of Representatives? Well, you may be too late. Back in 1990, according to OpenSecrets.org, a website of the Center for Responsive Politics, the average cost of a winning campaign for the House was $407,556. Pocket change for your average citizen. But that was so twentieth century. The average cost for winning a House seat in 2008: almost $1.4 million. Keep in mind, as well, that most of those House seats don’t change hands, because in the American democratic system of the twenty-first century, incumbents basically don’t lose, they retire or die.
In 2008, 403 incumbents ran for seats in the House and 380 of them won. Just to run a losing race last year would have cost you, on average, $492,928, almost $100,000 more than it cost to win in 1990.  As for becoming a Senator? Not in your wildest dreams, unless you have some really good pals in pharmaceuticals and health care ($236,022,031 in lobbying paid out in 2008), insurance ($153,694,224), or oil and gas ($131,978,521). A winning senatorial seat came in at a nifty $8,531,267 and a losing seat at $4,130,078 in 2008. In other words, you don’t have a hope in hell of being a loser in the American Congressional system, and what does that make you?
Of course, if you’re a young, red-blooded American, you may have set your sights a little higher. So you want to be president? In that case, just to be safe for 2012, you probably should consider raising somewhere in the range of one billion dollars. After all, the 2008 campaign cost Barack Obama’s team approximately $730 million and the price of a place at the table just keeps going up. Of course, it helps to know the right people. Last year, the total lobbying bill, including money that went out for electoral campaigns and for lobbying Congress and federal agencies, came to $3.3 billion and almost 9 months into 2009, another $1.63 billion has already gone out without an election in sight.
Let’s face it. At the national level, this is what American democracy comes down to today, and this is what George W. Bush & Co. were so infernally proud to export by force of arms to Afghanistan and Iraq. This is why we need to think about the questions that Arundhati Roy — to my mind, a heroic figure in a rather unheroic age — raises about democracy globally in an essay adapted from the introduction to her latest book. That book, Field Notes on Democracy: Listening to Grasshoppers, has just been published (with one essay included thatoriginally appeared at TomDispatch). Let’s face it, she’s just one of those authors — I count Eduardo Galeano as another — who must be read. Need I say more? Tom

Continue reading

Page 1, 2, 3. 4 Next

You might be interested in:

Scurce: Democracy Now Cross posted at: www.outlookindia.com
Disclaimer: The views expressed in this article are the sole responsibility of the author and do not necessarily reflect those of the ‘Wonders of Pakistan’. The contents of this article too are the sole responsibility of the author(s). WoP will not be responsible or liable for any inaccurate or incorrect statements contained in this post.

YOUR COMMENT IS IMPORTANT

DO NOT UNDERESTIMATE THE POWER OF YOUR COMMENT

Wonders of Pakistan supports freedom of expression and this commitment extends to our readers as well. Constraints however, apply in case of a violation of WoP Comments Policy. We also moderate hate speech, libel and gratuitous insults.



The Pot Calls The Kettle Black


According to reports, a few years back the British arms firm EADS paid over 2 billion pound sterling of secret contract kickbacks to high Saudi officials, one of whom was a close associate of the Bush family.


Eric Margolis


Not so long ago, Hamid Karzai, the US-installed president of Afghanistan, used to be hailed by Washington and the US media as a noble democrat and statesman.
But as things in Afghanistan went from bad to worse, and Taliban gained strength and popularity, Washington directed its ire at Karzai, who had almost no power of his own and was forced to rely on the US, the Tajik-Uzbek-Communist Northern Alliance, and assorted drug-dealing warlords.
After some of Karzai’s henchmen became over-zealous in rigging Afghanistan’s last already rigged election, Washington exploded in anger and frustration, blaming its wayward puppet for the growing mess in the Hindu Kush.
Secretary of State Hillary Clinton was sent to Kabul last fortnight like an angry super-nanny to give Hamid Karzai a sound spanking for being such a corrupt bad boy.
Just as Karzai’s second inauguration ceremony was getting under way, Mrs. Clinton commanded Karzai reduce rampant corruption in Afghanistan so Washington could justify sending more troops. Karzai had recently suffered similar public humiliation from visiting US Senator, John Kerry.
Mrs. Clinton, we recall, was the former first lady of Arkansas, a state whose high ethics and good governance stands as a model of probity to third world miscreants.
Perhaps she brought election monitors from Chicago, where the dead regularly rise to vote for the Democratic Party machine. From Ohio, where funny voting machines allegedly helped George Bush win re-election, or from those bastions of Athenian democracy, New Jersey and Florida. They have so much to teach wayward Afghans about clean politics.
Like nearly all third world nations, Afghanistan is corrupt. But compared to his western critics and accusers, poor Hamid Karzai is a mere beggar in the Kabul bazaar.
For example, take Britain’s indignant prime minister, Gordon Brown, who imperiously commanded Karzai to root out corruption.
PM Brown knows about corruption. It was Imperial Britain, after all, that gave rise to the delightful African term for bribery, `the white man’s handshake.’
Three years ago, Exchequer Chancellor Brown and boss Tony Blair quashed Britain’s biggest ever criminal investigation by its Serious Fraud Office into accusation the British arms firm EADS paid over 2 billion pound sterling of secret contract kickbacks to high Saudi officials, one of whom was a close associate of the Bush family. The European Union even rebuked Britain for its `tolerance of corruption.’
France’s president, Nicholas Sarkozy, also blasted Karzai over corruption. Sarko’s rebuke came right after a major judicial investigation of three thieving but useful African dictators who had stashed away billions of swag in France was quashed – at Sarkozy’s orders, claimed the opposition.
One of the parties, Teodorin Obiang, son of the dictator of oil-rich Equatorial Guinea, recently spent $35 million on a Malibu, California mansion and $33 million on a private jet.   Another, Gabon’s late Omar Bongo, is said to be France’s single largest property owner. Wags in Paris call the chic Avenue Victor Hugo, the `Avenue Bongo.’
Next, Transparency International, a respected NGO monitoring state corruption, published its annual honesty survey.   It was an eye-opener.
New Zealand was named the world’s least corrupt nation. Canada was eighth most honest, and least corrupt nation in the Western Hemisphere. Hats off to Canada.
Embarrassingly, the United States ranked a miserable 19th. The report noted, `the US Congress is most affected by corruption.’ Mark Twains described Congress as, `America’s native criminal class.’
Western Europe and Japan were way ahead of the US. America’s ally Israel ranked a sorry 32nd. Other US Mideast allies had awful scores, but the Gulf emirates Qatar and the UAE, came in way ahead of the rest of the Mideast in honesty– including Israel.
An important Los Angeles Times investigation reports hundreds of millions of dollars, a full third of CIA’s foreign budget, has been going in payoffs to Pakistan’s intelligence service, ISI.
American `black’ programs deliver more tens of millions to Pakistan’s ruling People’s Party and leader, Asif Zardari, known to all Pakistanis as `Mr. 10%,’ and other senior Pakistani politicians, generals, and media figures.
Critics are now calling Pakistan, `Rent-a-Stan.’
Zardari, the widower of Benazir Bhutto, has been dogged for decades by serious corruption charges. He denies them and claims they are all politically motivated.  Benazir Bhutto told me her husband was the victim of political persecution.
Adding to the pressure on Zardari, his own legal officials released a shocking list of 8,000 politicians and officials, many from his own People’s Party, who had benefited from an amnesty for past corruption and other serious crimes. Included on the list were Zardari and his strongman, Interior Minister Rehman Malik.
The amnesty was engineered by the US and former dictator Pervez Musharraf in an effort to fashion joint rule between Benazir Bhutto and the then discredited Musharraf.   Most of the pardoned criminals hailed from Sindh Province, the home of Zardari’s People’s Party.
The US has given Pakistan more than $15 billion over the past eight years to support the Afghan War, not counting huge   bounties for capturing or killing suspected enemies, and `black’ payments.
In Iraq, some estimates say $10 billion delivered to that nation’s US-installed regime are missing. American `contractors’ and large corporations in Iraq are accused of gargantuan fraud. Pallets of US $100 dollar bills vanished into thin air. And on it goes.
Ironically, across the Muslim world, the same western powers scourging Karzai are seen as major sources of corruption, keeping repressive regime in power by buying dictators, generals, and politicians.
Many Afghans support Taliban because it is seen as an enemy of corruption and an enforcer of justice, however harsh.  In Palestine and Lebanon, Hamas and Hezbullah enjoy wide popularity and respect for the very same reason.
The Transparency report finds, to no surprise, that places like Somalia, Afghanistan and Nigeria are the world’s most corrupt nations. But it must be remembered that citizens of these benighted nations pay no income taxes. So each government official levies his own little personal taxes. What we call corruption is inevitable and normal.
President Karzai will of course establish an anti-corruption commission. Some big turbans will be prosecuted to please Washington. But this charade will fool no one but US voters.
Most Afghans see Karzai as a US puppet. But maybe the exasperated puppet will turn on his string-pullers, open real peace talks with Taliban, and demand the USA and its allies pull their occupation army out of Afghanistan.  That, of course, could very well be a life-ending gamble for Karzai.
Copyright Eric S. Margolis 2009, Photo: http://www.soxfirst.com/50226711/bae_bribery_fallout.php
Pakistani readers of this blog are invited to read an Urdu column by Nazir Leghari, a PPP loyalist who has aptly described the plight of the people of Pakistan under the presidency of Mr. Asif Ali Zardari.
Disclaimer: The views expressed in this article are the sole responsibility of the author and do not necessarily reflect those of the ‘Wonders of Pakistan’. The contents of this article too are the sole responsibility of the author(s). WoP will not be responsible or liable for any inaccurate or incorrect statements contained in this post.

YOUR COMMENT IS IMPORTANT

DO NOT UNDERESTIMATE THE POWER OF YOUR COMMENT

Published in: on 26/11/2009 at 10:44 pm  Comments (2)