Arundhati Roy: ‘Those Who’ve Tried To Change The System Via Elections Have Ended Up Being Changed By It’

[Common to capitalist politics, and especially in the areas of semi-feudal and semi-colonial countries dominated in comprador fashion by imerialism, is the currency of bribes, corruption, gangs and cartels all of which fuel the political system with gross threats and extreme illicit wealth.  Responding to inquiries about how this works in India, which has recently been visited by prominent anti-corruption campaigns, Arundhati Roy sums up some key points which illuminate this corruption in India and in many other countries. The interview appears in Outlook India Magazine, November 26, 2012. — Frontlines ed.]

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On the anti-corruption movement that has implications for politics, media and the national discourse

Saba Naqvi Interviews Arundhati Roy

In August last year, Arundhati Roy wrote a piece that raised important questions about the Anna Hazare movement. A lot has changed since then and Arvind Kejriwal and Anna have taken divergent paths. Kejriwal will launch a political party on November 26 and in the last few months he has, along with lawyer Prashant Bhushan, taken on powerful politicians and corporates. Saba Naqvi sent Arundhati five questions on e-mail to get her views on what is an evolving situation that has implications for politics, media and the national discourse. Here are Arundhati’s very detailed answers.

What do you make of these many corruption exposes and do you see this as a healthy development?

It’s an interesting development. The good thing about it is that it gives us an insight into how the networks of power connect and interlock. The worrying thing is that each scam pushes the last one out of the way, and life goes on. If all we will get out of it is an extra-acrimonious election campaign, it can only raise the bar of what our rulers know we can tolerate, or be conned into tolerating. Scams smaller than a few lakh crores will not even catch our attention. In election season, for political parties to accuse each other of corruption or doing shady deals with corporations is not new—remember the BJP and the Shiv Sena’s campaign against Enron? Advani called it ‘Looting through liberalisation’. They won that election in Maharashtra, scrapped the contract between Enron and the Congress government, and then signed a far worse one!

“Each scam pushes the last out of the way. If all it ends in is an extra-acrimonious election campaign, it’ll only raise the bar of what our rulers think we can tolerate.”

Also worrying is the fact that some of these ‘exposes’ are strategic leaks from politicians and business houses who are spilling the beans on each other, hoping to get ahead of their rivals. Sometimes it’s across party lines, sometimes it’s intra-party jockeying. It’s being done brilliantly, and those who are being used as clearing houses to front these campaigns may not always be aware that this is the case. If in this process there was some attrition and corrupt people were being weeded out of the political arena, it would have been encouraging. But those who have been ‘exposed’—Salman Khurshid, Robert Vadra, Gadkari—have actually been embraced tighter by their parties. Politicians are aware of the fact that being accused or even convicted of corruption does not always make a dent in their popularity. Mayawati, Jayalalitha, Jaganmohan Reddy—they remain hugely popular leaders despite the charges that have been brought against them. While ordinary people are infuriated by corruption, it does seem as though when it comes to voting, their calculations are more shrewd, more complicated. They don’t necessarily vote for Nice Folks.

Why do you think stories that the media knew about but never carried or paid a price for carrying are suddenly coming out like a rash and new details are emerging in the process?

Just because there is a new kid in town, we mustn’t forget that some media houses and several other groups and individuals, at cost to themselves, have played a part in exposing major scams, like the Commonwealth games, 2G and Coal-gate, which shone the light on private corporations and sections of the media as well. Ironically, the Anna Hazare movement last year concentrated solely on politicians and let the others off the hook. But you’re right, there are cases in which the facts were known, but they remained unpublished until now. And suddenly it’s raining corruption scams now—some are even being recycled. Corruption has become so blatant, so pathological that those involved don’t even try very hard to hide their tracks. Continue reading

Indian students on the disorienting focus of the Hazare ‘anti-corruption’ drive

[The recent ‘anti-corruption’ campaign in India led by the self-proclaimed Gandhian Anna Hazare has received enormous attention from media in India and internationally.  Simultaneously it has received substantial criticism from those who have noted its funding by major NGOs and corporate groups, and how, in its focus on government corruption, it has become an argument for reduction or dismantling of basic programs in favor of privatisation/corporatisation.  By turning a blind eye to the criminal appropriation by the largest capitalists of public resources, and attacking social government spending, it bears the same marks as the rightist and fascist “austerity” moves in Western Europe and those championed by the so-called “Tea Party” initiative (championed by Fox News and popularized by other bourgeois media) by corporate interests in the US.  The Democratic Student Union in India has turned a spotlight on the features of this anti-corruption campaign. — Frontlines ed.]

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Voice of the Revolutionary Youths

Manufacturing Dissent, Making Mahatmas: Manu, Market, Media And The Anti-Corruption Sham

By Democratic Students’ Union (DSU)

3o Agust, 2011

Source : Countercurrents.org

All historical struggles, whether they occur in the political, religious, philosophical or some other ideological domain, are in fact only the more or less clear expression of the struggles of social classes – Engels

When two events occur in the same space and time, more often than not, there is a correlation between the two: On the one hand the Indian Army, paramilitary and police forces — acting so plainly and clearly on behalf of the Indian ruling classes and multinational corporations—which continue to mount a war on the people of central and eastern India in order to facilitate a naked appropriation of the region’s resources is given marching orders to fight the most dispossessed yet resilient masses. Then there are 80% of the country’s population forced to eke out a living on a mere Rs.20 per day and over half of the children suffer from the permanent malnourishment because of the genocidal famine conditions their families have been placed under; land acquisition of a mammoth scale affects millions of people whose sole means of livelihood is being alienated from them; thousands of small peasants are forced to find ‘escape’ from an endemic agrarian crisis by committing suicide; over 2700 bodies of Kashmiris murdered by the Indian army once again reveals a Kashmir under occupation by India and the crushing of its struggle for national liberation—to name but a few instances revealing the brutal and systemic exploitation, oppression and occupation. And people are waging resilient struggles in many

Anna Hazare's campaign wrapped itself in Gandhian imagery

parts of the country against the ruling classes. On the other hand a base, distasteful drama is unfolding in front of us—the drama of an ‘anti-corruption drive’, which is supposed to serve India a ‘second independence’. Needless to say, although this latter ‘struggle’ seldom refers to the first set of struggles, events and phenomena, there is so simple a connection between the two that the silence over the relation between the two sets is nothing but deliberate.

The ‘Second freedom struggle’ is nothing but an attempt of the ruling classes to consolidate themselves: The Indian ruling classes today face an immense crisis, and are finding it increasingly difficult to sustain the mask of ‘world’s largest democracy’. Given the onslaught on the people and their livelihood—through the acquisition of resources such as land, forests and other means of livelihood; the steep price rise of basic commodities; the privatisation of health, transport, water, electricity and education — the state faces the resistance of militant peoples’ movements. And everywhere, the state is responding to this discontent and resistance with brute force. In addition to this central crisis, the ruling classes were reeling under the exposure of a series of scams such as 2G, Commonwealth Games, Adarsh Housing, etc. involving unimaginable amounts of money. It is precisely these circumstances that have given rise to an ‘anti-corruption drive’ led by the so-called civil society and made it possible for the corporate media to project a reactionary like Anna Hazare as a hero in the eyes of the urban middle classes. Sweeping under the carpet more urgent structural issues affecting the vast majority of people and their very survival, ‘Team Anna’ has projected corruption as the central issue plaguing Indian society. Continue reading

India: The state is an organized crime–the people wage massive struggles against corruption

COMMUNIST PARTY OF INDIA (MAOIST), CENTRAL COMMITTEE–Press Release (13 April, 2011)

 

Intensify Mass Struggles To Put An End To Institutionalized Corruption!

In recent times, corruption has once again come to the forefront as a main issue with the exposure of massive scams like 2G spectrum, Commonwealth games, Adarsh housing society, Karnataka land scams, S-Band spectrum scam. Workers, peasants, adivasis, dalits, women, and urban middle class – all classes and sections of the society are expressing their deep discontent and anguish. Recently we saw great support to the hunger strike of Anna Hazare, which is the direct consequence of the widespread discontent in the people against corruption, corrupt political parties and their leaders. Though the demand for hunger strike is Jan Lokpal Bill, the aspiration of the people is to completely wipe out corruption.

It would be innocence, if anyone feels that by setting up a committee to frame Lokpal bill and by selecting half of the committee members from civil society would itself finds a solution. In fact, lack of rules and laws is not the cause for endless and deep-ridden corruption. Way back from jeep scam, Lockheed’s airplane deal to late Rajiv Gandhi’s Bofors deals, our country has seen many a scams starting from a few million rupees to trillions of rupees. Not only main parliamentary parties like Congress and BJP, leaders and ministers of all other national and regional parliamentary parties like RJD, BSP, SP, DMK, AIADMK, TDP and hand in glove bureaucrats have a long history of corrupt practices. By proper implementation of the existing laws in the country and by the proper functioning of anti-corruption wings, scams like these can be prevented to a grate extent and those responsible for these can be severely punished. In the last 64 years history of ‘independent’ India, we don’t find a single incidence, where corrupt politicians, ministers, heads of corporate houses and bureaucrats have been punished. Due to pressure from people or opposition parties, even if arrested in some rare cases, by prolonging investigation and diluting of the charges, they get scot-free without any stringent punishment or with nominal punishment. This is because; the judiciary of this country is also an inseparable part of this exploitative state machinery. None can be under the illusion to end corruption through these laws and court rooms. Continue reading