Arundhati Roy on Indian-Pakistani war clouds and the ‘secret’ hanging of Afzal Guru

Does Your Bomb-Proof Basement Have An Attached Toilet?

Afzal Guru

Afzal Guru

An execution carried out to thundering war clouds

What are the political consequences of the secret and sudden hanging of Mohammed Afzal Guru, prime accused in the 2001 Parliament attack, going to be? Does anybody know? The memo, in callous bureaucratese, with every name insultingly misspelt, sent by the Superintendent of Central Jail No. 3, Tihar, New Delhi, to “Mrs Tabassum w/o Sh Afjal Guru” reads:

“The mercy petition of Sh Mohd Afjal Guru s/o Habibillah has been rejected by Hon’ble President of India. Hence the execution of Mohd Afjal Guru s/o Habibillah has been fixed for 09/02/2013 at 8 am in Central Jail No-3.

This is for your information and for further necessary action.”

The mailing of the memo was deliberately timed to get to Tabassum only after the execution, denying her one last legal chanc­e—the right to challenge the rejection of the mercy petition. Both Afzal and his family, separately, had that right. Both were thwarted. Even though it is mandat­ory in law, the memo to Tabassum ascribed no reason for the president’s rejection of the mercy petition. If no reason is given, on what basis do you appeal? All the other prisoners on death row in India have been given that last chance.

Since Tabassum was not allowed to meet her husband before he was hanged, since her son was not allowed to get a few last words of advice from his father, since she was not given his body to bury, and since there can be no funeral, what “further necessary action” does the jail manual prescribe? Anger? Wild, irreparable grief? Unquestioning acc­eptance? Complete integration?

After the hanging, there have been unseemly celebrations. The bereaved wives of the people who were killed in the attack on Parliament were displayed on TV, with M.S. Bitta, chairman of the All-India Anti-Terrorist Front, and his ferocious moustaches playing the CEO of their sad little company. Will anybody tell them that the men who shot their husbands were killed at the same time, in the same place? And that those who planned the attack will never be brought to justice because we still don’t know who they are. Continue reading

The hanging of Afzal Guru is a stain on India’s democracy

Despite gaping holes in the case against Afzal Guru, all India’s institutions played a part in putting a Kashmiri ‘terrorist’ to death

The Guardian, Sunday 10 February 2013

Police bring Afzal Guru to court in Delhi in 2002

Indian police bring Afzal Guru to court in Delhi in 2002. Photograph: Aman Sharma/AP

Spring announced itself in Delhi on Saturday. The sun was out, and the law took its course. Just before breakfast, the government of India secretly hanged Afzal Guru, prime accused in the attack on parliament in December 2001, and interred his body in Delhi’s Tihar jail where he had been in solitary confinement for 12 years. Guru’s wife and son were not informed. “The authorities intimated the family through speed post and registered post,” the home secretary told the press, “the director general of the Jammu and Kashmir [J&K] police has been told to check whether they got it or not”. No big deal, they’re only the family of yet another Kashmiri terrorist.

In a moment of rare unity the Indian nation, or at least its major political parties – Congress, the Bharatiya Janata party and the Communist party of India (Marxist) – came together as one (barring a few squabbles about “delay” and “timing”) to celebrate the triumph of the rule of law. Live broadcasts from TV studios, with their usual cocktail of papal passion and a delicate grip on facts, crowed about the “victory of democracy”. Rightwing Hindu nationalists distributed sweets to celebrate the hanging, and beat up Kashmiris (paying special attention to the girls) who had gathered in Delhi to protest. Even though Guru was dead and gone, the commentators in the studios and the thugs on the streets seemed, like cowards who hunt in packs, to need each other to keep their courage up. Perhaps because, deep inside, themselves they knew they had colluded in doing something terribly wrong. Continue reading

Rape As Weapon of Domination: The Clout of Caste And Class in India

By Ershad Abubacker,  Countercurrents.org, 27 December, 2012

More often than not, Arundhati Roy speaks unwelcome truths, truths that essentially do not go down well with the elite class. And hence she always gets dubbed as outspoken and is being criticized for that. She was recently in the headlines for speaking out against Indian rape culture in the back drop the gang rape at New Delhi and the mass protests that drew attention all over.

She recently noted that India lives simultaneously in several centuries. While nearly 10 Indian industrialists make it to the first 50 in the Forbes World Richest Men List, the capital of India is dubbed as ‘The Rape Capital’ and is a combination of incredibly crowded, ill-smelling slums; wide modern roads and elegant villas; the extremely poor and wretched; the fabulously wealthy and super-indulgent, and yet unable to protect its women traveling in buses. Speaking to Channel 4 on the recent gang rape of a 23-year old women in a running bus in Delhi, she asks critical questions on how and why and could this case be an exceptional crime demanding widespread protests; something which was uncommon in many prior instances of violence against women mete out by the Upper Class, Police and Armed Forces.

There is no doubt, the cruelty of the gang rape in a running bus at New Delhi is brutal and the culprits should be given maximum punishment in a model way. Our thoughts and prayers must be there with the girl who had her whole life tormented within a night’s bus journey.

Having said that, the present case does not stand vindictively different from the many of the rape cases registered earlier in Delhi . So what makes it a flare point for youngsters to protest at India Gate daring to defy the water cannons of Delhi police? Continue reading

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

“Revoke ban on RDF”: Arundhati Roy

[The recent ban of the Revolutionary Democratic Front (RDF) in Andhra Pradesh is but the latest of many fascist moves by the Indian government against democratic and revolutionary activists.  Arundhati Roy has joined a growing protest of this ban, as reported below.

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Noted writer Arundhati Roy with revolutionary writer Varavara Rao at the meeting of the Revolutionary Writers Association in Hyderabad on Sunday. Photo: G. Ramakrishna

Hyderabad, Indian Express News Service, Sept 24, 2012

Writer and social activist Arundhati Roy on Sunday demanded an immediate revoke of the ban imposed on Revolutionary Democratic Front (RDF) in the state.

Addressing the gathering at a meeting organised by the Viplava Rachaitala Sangham (Revolutionary Writers’ Association) against the ban, Roy termed the ban unconstitutional and urged the members to keep on with their struggle against state-sponsored violence. “RDF is not a armed organisation. It’s activities are in consonance with the Indian constitution. Then why is it banned?,” she questioned.

However, she said that the ban had indirectly helped the RDF in growing strong. “The ban has indirectly benefited the RDF. It has allowed it to grow stronger and the bond among it’s members and with the people grow deeper,” she said. She lauded RDF’s members for fighting for the human rights of the dalits and the adivasis in rural India.

“The ban has forced mass migration of RDF’s members from Hyderabad to either Delhi or to the rural parts of the state but still the organisation has grown stronger in the state capital, she said indicating to it’s swell of ranks during the first national conference of the RDF in Hyderabad on April this year. Continue reading

Arundhati Roy: “Indian capitalism fully monopolistic”

HYDERABAD, August 13, 2012

Staff Reporter, The Hindu

Dr P.M. Bhargava, Former Director of Centre for Cellular and Molecular Biology (CCMB) releasing the Telugu translation of Arundhati Roy book Capitalism: A Ghost Story, also seen are are Prof. Haragopal, in Hyderabad on Sunday . Photo: M.Subhash
[The Hindu Dr P.M. Bhargava, Former Director of Centre for Cellular
and Molecular Biology (CCMB) releasing the Telugu translation
of Arundhati Roy’s book Capitalism: A Ghost Story, also
seen are are Prof. Haragopal, in Hyderabad on Sunday .
Photo: M.Subhash]

‘Nelson Mandela was not allowed to implement land reforms’

Noted writer Arundhati Roy has said capitalism in India is most unique as it tries to control the society in every possible manner by establishing monopoly on all key sectors connected to life, which is not seen even in most capitalistic western countries.

“Capitalism encourages everything that does not threaten its interests including the recent anti-corruption movement led by social activist Anna Hazare and his team. By encouraging social groups to take up different issues separately, capitalism will fragment social energy in a way that will deny a holistic struggle for justice”, the Booker prize winner said here on Sunday.

Speaking at a function organised to release the Telugu translation of her essay, Capitalism – A Ghost Story, the social activist said capitalism in the country would make people depend on them from commodities like salt to costly cars, communication to media and minerals to power. It would undermine everything to further its interests, she noted.

By employing perception management, capitalism would control public policy, resources and businesses as it would innovate itself continuously, Ms. Arundhati Roy stated. “It will criminalise the tribals and make them squatters on their own land. They fund human rights organisations but will never allow them to speak about pure justice,” she said.

Stating how foresighted and influential the capitalism would be, the writer explained how the capitalist forces made Nelson Mandela the President of South Africa in the name of ending apartheid and did not allow him to implement land reforms and nationalisation of natural resources. She also explained how the corporate philosophy would mould public policies to suit their interests.

Human rights activist Prof. G. Haragopal said the book was most relevant to the society at a time when the social conflict was on the rise. Former Director of CCMB P.M. Bhargava, Prof. Ghanta Chakrapani and others spoke. The original essay was translated into Telugu by one K. Suresh.

‘Terrorism Isn’t The Disease; Egregious Injustice Is’

PANINI ANAND interviews ARUNDHATI ROY

photo by NARENDRA BISHT

No one individual critic has taken on the Indian State like Arundhati Roy has. In a fight that began with Pokhran, moved to Narmada, and over the years extended to other insurgencies, people’s struggles and the Maoist underground, she has used her pensmanship to challenge India’s government, its elite, corporate giants, and most recently, the entire structure of global finance and capitalism. She was jailed for a day in 2002 for contempt of court, and slapped with sedition charges in November 2010 for an alleged anti-India speech she delivered, along with others, at a seminar in New Delhi on Kashmir, titled ‘Azadi—the only way’. Excerpts from an interview to Panini Anand:

How do you look at laws like sedition and the Unlawful Activities (Prevention) Act, or those like AFSPA, in what is touted as the largest democracy?
I’m glad you used the word touted. It’s a good word to use in connection with India’s democracy. It certainly is a democracy for the middle class. In places like Kashmir or Manipur or Chhattisgarh, democracy is not available. Not even in the black market. Laws like the UAPA, which is just the UPA government’s version of POTA, and the AFSPA are ridiculously authoritarian—they allow the State to detain and even kill people with complete impunity. They simply ought to have no place in a democracy. But as long as they don’t affect the mainstream middle class, as long as they are used against people in Manipur, Nagaland or Kashmir, or against the poor or against Muslim ‘terrorists’ in the ‘mainland’, nobody seems to mind very much.

“India’s democracy is for the middle class; for Kashmir or Manipur, it’s not available. Not even in the black market.”

Are the people waging war against the State or is the State waging war against its people? How do you look at the Emergency of the ’70s, or the minorities who feel targeted, earlier the Sikhs and now the Muslims?
Some people are waging war against the State. The State is waging a war against a majority of its citizens. The Emergency in the ’70s became a problem because Indira Gandhi’s government was foolish enough to target the middle class, foolish enough to lump them with the lower classes and the disenfranchised. Vast parts of the country today are in a much more severe Emergency-like situation. But this contemporary Emergency has gone into the workshop for denting-painting. It’s come out smarter, more streamlined. I’ve said this before: look at the wars the Indian government has waged since India became a sovereign nation; look at the instances when the army has been called out against its ‘own’ people—Nagaland, Assam, Mizoram, Manipur, Kashmir, Telangana, Goa, Bengal, Punjab and (soon to come) Chhattisgarh—it is a State that is constantly at war. And always against minorities—tribal people, Christians, Muslims, Sikhs, never against the middle class, upper-caste Hindus.
How does one curb the cycle of violence if the State takes no action against ultra-left ‘terrorist groups’? Wouldn’t it jeopardise internal security?
I don’t think anybody is advocating that no action should be taken against terrorist groups, not even the ‘terrorists’ themselves. They are not asking for anti-terror laws to be done away with. They are doing what they do, knowing full well what the consequences will be, legally or otherwise. They are expressing fury and fighting for a change in a system that manufactures injustice and inequality. They don’t see themselves as ‘terrorists’. When you say ‘terrorists’ if you are referring to the CPI (Maoist), though I do not subscribe to Maoist ideology, I certainly do not see them as terrorists. Yes they are militant, they are outlaws. But then anybody who resists the corporate-state juggernaut is now labelled a Maoist—whether or not they belong to or even agree with the Maoist ideology. People like Seema Azad are being sentenced to life imprisonment for possessing banned literature. So what is the definition of ‘terrorist’ now, in 2012? It is actually the economic policies that are causing this massive inequality, this hunger, this displacement that is jeopardising internal security—not the people who are protesting against them. Do we want to address the symptoms or the disease? The disease is not terrorism. It’s egregious injustice. Sure, even if we were a reasonably just society, Maoists would still exist. So would other extremist groups who believe in armed resistance or in terrorist attacks. But they would not have the support they have today. As a country, we should be ashamed of ourselves for tolerating this squalor, this misery and the overt as well as covert ethnic and religious bigotry we see all around us. (Narendra Modi for Prime Minister!! Who in their right mind can even imagine that?) We have stopped even pretending that we have a sense of justice. All we’re doing is genuflecting to major corporations and to that sinking ocean-liner known as the United States of America. Continue reading

Hyderabad meeting to focus on Green Hunt, economic crisis

Apr 19, 2012, IANS

Hyderabad: Resistance group Revolutionary Democratic Front (RDF), at its first conference here on April 22-23, will demand an end to the anti-Maoist Operation Green Hunt and discuss how to turn the current economic crisis in the country into a revolutionary opportunity.

More than 300 delegates from across India, including writer and activist Arundhati Roy, historian Amit Bhattacharya, Maoist leader Tusharkanti Bhattacharya’s wife Soma Sen and Dalit scholar Anand Teltumbde, will be present at the meet. At the two-day event, which includes a procession and a public meeting, the RDF will press for the withdrawal of paramilitary forces from the Bastar region of Chhattisgarh. Continue reading

India: Human rights activists urged to unite the struggles to free political prisoners

Release political prisoners unconditionally: CRPP

By Mohd. Ismail Khan, TwoCircles.net

Hyderabad, 24 March 2012: ‘Human rights activists should work together in cooperation, not in competition like different sects’, said well-known writer and human rights activist Arundhati Roy. She was speaking at a meeting organized by the Committee for the Release of Political Prisoners (CRPP) A.P. chapter on the occasion of the 80 death anniversary of Shaheed Bhagat Singh.

Two locks opened in 1991 to divide depressed classes

She said, in 1991 two locks were opened in this country, one was the lock of Babri Masjid, and other was of the Indian markets. “The demolition of the Babri Masjid and the opening up of Indian markets were a deliberate attempt to weaken opposition to India becoming an ally of the US,” she said.

Arundhati Roy addressing the CRPP meeting in Hyderbad on 23rd March 2012According to Mrs. Roy those two factors were used by different governments to divide the depressed classes and to isolate them. “Babri Masjid demolition was used to terrorize and demonize Indian Muslim community, whereas 1991 reforms were used against Tribals and to help corporate houses to exploit depressed classes,” she added.

She further said that the US relationship has never benefited any country in the world. She gave the example of turmoil, and civil war kind of situation in Pakistan which according to her is the result of US strategic partnership.

She warned India of same fate if it gets closer to US. “Indo-US relations were a ‘theatrical drama’ enacted to induce India to support the US with a view to isolate Iran on one hand and to help build a cold war situation in China. India had acceded to the US at every stage right from buying nuclear reactors to opening up foreign direct investment. The big investments right now were in the education sector wherein US universities wanted to set up franchises in India. That is why all universities in India were shifting to the semester system of examinations like in the US. It was also not a coincidence that spiritual leader Sri Sri Sri Ravi Shankar insisted that education should be privatized.”

Ending her speech she urged the audience to give up the narrow thinking of political prisoners, and widen its meaning which includes every person who is in jail in any false case, even if the case is so petty like pick pocketing. Continue reading

Capitalism’s Real Gravediggers

Thursday, January 19, 2012

Beware the ‘Gush-Up Gospel’ Behind India’s Billionaires

by Arundhati Roy, Financial Times, ZNet
Antilla Mansion on Altamount Road in Mumbai

Antilla Mansion on Altamount Road in Mumbai

Is it a house or a home? A temple to the new India, or a warehouse for its ghosts? Ever since Antilla arrived on Altamount Road in Mumbai, exuding mystery and quiet menace, things have not been the same. “Here we are,” the friend who took me there said, “pay your respects to our new ruler.”

Antilla belongs to India’s richest man, Mukesh Ambani. I’d read about this, the most expensive dwelling ever built, the 27 floors, three helipads, nine lifts, hanging gardens, ballrooms, weather rooms, gymnasiums, six floors of parking, and the 600 servants. Nothing had prepared me for the vertical lawn – a soaring wall of grass attached to a vast metal grid. The grass was dry in patches, bits had fallen off in neat rectangles. Clearly, “trickle down” had not worked.

But “gush-up” has. That’s why in a nation of 1.2bn, India’s 100 richest people own assets equivalent to a quarter of gross domestic product.

The word on the street (and in The New York Times) is, or at least was, that the Ambanis were not living in Antilla. Perhaps they are there now, but people still whisper about ghosts and bad luck, vastu and feng shui. I think it’s all Marx’s fault. Capitalism, he said, “ … has conjured up such gigantic means of production and of exchange, it is like the sorcerer who is no longer able to control the powers of the nether world whom he has called up by his spells”.

In India, the 300m of us who belong to the new, post-“reforms” middle class – the market – live side by side with the ghosts of 250,000 debt-ridden farmers who have killed themselves, and of the 800m who have been impoverished and dispossessed to make way for us. And who survive on less than 50 cents a day.

Mr Ambani is personally worth more than $20bn. He has a controlling majority stake in Reliance Industries Limited (RIL), a company with a market capitalisation of Rs2.41tn ($47bn) and an array of global business interests. RIL has a 95 per cent stake in Infotel, which a few weeks ago bought a major share in a media group that runs television news and entertainment channels. Infotel owns the only national 4G broadband licence. He also has a cricket team.

RIL is one of a handful of corporations, some family-owned, some not, that run India. Some of the others are Tata, Jindal, Vedanta, Mittal, Infosys, Essar and the other Reliance (ADAG), owned by Mukesh’s brother Anil. Their race for growth has spilt across Europe, central Asia, Africa and Latin America. The Tatas, for example, run more than 100 companies in 80 countries. They are one of India’s largest private-sector power companies.

Since the cross-ownership of businesses is not restricted by the “gush-up gospel” rules, the more you have, the more you can have. Meanwhile, scandal after scandal has exposed, in painful detail, how corporations buy politicians, judges, bureaucrats and media houses, hollowing out democracy, retaining only its rituals. Huge reserves of bauxite, iron ore, oil and natural gas worth trillions of dollars were sold to corporations for a pittance, defying even the twisted logic of the free market. Cartels of corrupt politicians and corporations have colluded to underestimate the quantity of reserves, and the actual market value of public assets, leading to the siphoning off of billions of dollars of public money. Then there’s the land grab – the forced displacement of communities, of millions of people whose lands are being appropriated by the state and handed to private enterprise. (The concept of inviolability of private property rarely applies to the property of the poor.) Mass revolts have broken out, many of them armed. The government has indicated that it will deploy the army to quell them. Continue reading

Arundhati Roy: “A few “pre-revolutionary” thoughts I had”

by Arundhati Roy at the People’s University, Washington Sq. Park, New York, November 16, 2011

opednews.com

Tuesday morning, the police cleared Zuccotti Park, but today the people are back. The police should know that this protest is not a battle for territory. We’re not fighting for the right to occupy a park here or there. We are fighting for justice. Justice, not just for the people of the US, but for everybody.

What you have achieved since September 17th, when the Occupy movement began in the United States, is to introduce a new imagination, a new political language into the heart of empire. You have reintroduced the right to dream into a system that tried to turn everybody into zombies, mesmerized into equating mindless consumerism with happiness and fulfillment.

As a writer, let me tell you, this is an immense achievement. And I cannot thank you enough.

We were talking about justice. Continue reading

Arundhati Roy on Occupy Wall Street, Empire, Obama, and Walking with the Comrades

Democracy Now, November 15, 2011

AMY GOODMAN: We return now to the renowned Indian writer, global justice activist, Arundhati Roy. She has written many books, including The God of Small Things, which won the Booker Prize. Her journalism and essays have been collected in books including An Ordinary Person’s Guide to Empire and Field Notes on Democracy: Listening to Grasshoppers. Arundhati Roy’s latest book, just out, is called Walking with the Comrades, a chronicle of her time in the forests of India alongside rebel guerrillas who are resisting a military campaign by the Indian government.

Last week, I sat down with Arundhati Roy when she came to New York—she had just visited Occupy Wall Street on her first day in New York—to talk about the significance of this, but also we spoke about the Arab Spring. We talk about her walk with the Maoists in India. Tomorrow, she will be speaking at Washington Square Park, part of a national day of action. First, Arundhati discusses Occupy Wall Street.

ARUNDHATI ROY: You know, what they are doing becomes so important because it is in the heart of empire, or what used to be empire, and to criticize and to protest against the model that the rest of the world is aspiring to is a very important and a very serious business. So I think that it makes me—it makes me very, very hopeful that after a long time you’re seeing some nascent political, real political anger here.

It does—I mean, it does need a lot of thinking through, but I would say that, to me, fundamentally, you know, people have to begin to formulate some kind of a vision, you know, and that vision has to be the dismantling of this particular model, in which a few people can be allowed to have an unlimited amount of wealth, of power, both political as well as corporate. You know, that has to be dismantled. And that has to be the aim of this movement. And that has to then move down into countries like mine, where people look at the U.S. as some great, aspirational model. Continue reading

Arundhati Roy, transcript of Q and A at CUNY Graduate Center, New York, 11/9/2011

By Sarahana, Impose Magazine

arundhati roy speaking at CUNY graduate center[Arundhati Roy at CUNY Graduate Center. All photos by Sarahana]

14 years ago, Indian author Arundhati Roy made her debut with The God of Small Things, a novel that won the Booker prize and went on to sell more than 6 million copies worldwide. But the world of fiction was quickly abandoned when she turned to full time activism, churning out fiery political essays, and generally getting into trouble with the Indian government and religious fundamentalists.

Most recently, she spent time with Indian Maoist insurgents — at their invitation — in the jungles from which they operate. The essay she’s brought back has been published as Walking with the Comrades, from which she read a few excerpts at an event hosted at City University of New York’s Graduate Center (despite the center’s further slashed, and quickly depleting, funds).

This is a transcript of the Q&A that followed the reading.
Some redundancies have been removed and friendly titles have been added.

—– TRANSCRIPT OF Q&A —–

(Love Makes Our Battle Ferocious)

Ruth Gilmore (CUNY): Thank you Arundhati for that amazing reading and the thoughts that you brought to my mind and all of our minds as you described this war against the forest people. One thing that I’ve been thinking about a lot having read some of your work over the years and listening to you read now is how much beauty you put into a story [..?] and I think all the time about how you help people to think about the worst things that are happening in the world so that we can do something about it. And I wonder if you would talk, if you’d be interested in talking, a little bit about the sort of political project and the aesthetic project and finding all of the beauty in moments of the greatest hurt[?].

Arundhati Roy: Well I don’t actively look for it because it’s there. You know if you read the rest of the essay that I read from, actually we spent so much of our time just laughing, you know, inside [the forest], because I always sense that when you’re outside the immediate area of resistance, it’s much easier to feel despair because you have that choice. You can always say, “Okay, doesn’t matter, I won’t study politics, I’ll do interior design” or something whereas people who are in there, they don’t have a choice, you know. Even despair is not a choice because whether you’re a pessimist or whether you’re an optimist, no one is asking you, like you have to fight that battle some way or the other and there’s a sort of clarity there. And a lot of beauty, and a lot of hope.

I think for me it’s not a strategy, the way I write. It’s just the way I write. Or it’s just the way I think. Continue reading

Arundhati Roy Advocates Buffer State Status For Kashmir

Kashmir Observer

New York, Nov 12: Internationally acclaimed novelist and activist Arundhati Roy has reiterated her support for an end to what she termed as “brutal” Indian occupation of Kashmir.

“I think that the people of Kashmir have the right to self- determination—they have the right to choose who they want to be, and how they want to be,” she said in the course of a discussion on ‘Kashmir: The Case for Freedom’ at Asia Society.

“Kashmir is one of the most protracted and bloody occupations in the world and one of the most ignored,” Roy said. Continue reading

November 9: Arundhati Roy’s reading in NYC

THE CENTER FOR PLACE, CULTURE AND POLITICS PRESENTS

** Walking with the Comrades **

Deep in the forests, under the pretense of battling Maoist guerillas,
the Indian government is waging a vicious total war against its own
citizens—a war undocumented by a weak domestic press and fostered by
corporations eager to exploit the rare minerals buried in tribal
lands. Chronicling her months spent living with the rebel guerillas in
the forests, Roy addresses the much larger question of whether global
capitalism will tolerate any societies existing outside of its
colossal control.

Arundhati Roy

David Harvey

A reading by Arundhati Roy
Followed by a discussion with David Harvey
Wednesday November 9th 2011, 7.00 PM – 9.00 PM
The Proshansky Auditorium,  Cuny Graduate Center
365 Fifth Ave at 34th Street

Free and open to the public

Arundhati Roy was born in 1959 in Shillong, India. She studied architecture in New Delhi, where she now lives. She has worked as a
film designer and screenplay writer in India. Roy is the author of the novel The God of Small Things, for which she received the 1997 Booker Prize. The novel has been translated into dozens of languages worldwide.

She has written several non-fiction books, including The Cost of Living, Power Politics, War Talk, An Ordinary Person’s Guide to
Empire, and Public Power in the Age of Empire. Roy was featured in the BBC television documentary Dam/age, which is about the struggle against big dams in India. A collection of interviews with Arundhati Roy by David Barsamian was published as The Checkbook and the Cruise Missile. Her recent work includes Field Notes on Democracy: Listening to Grasshoppers, and a contribution to the forthcoming anthology Kashmir: The Case for Freedom. Her latest book, Walking with the Comrades was just published by Penguin Books. Roy is the recipient of the 2002 Lannan Foundation Cultural Freedom Prize.

David Harvey, a leading theorist in the field of urban studies whom Library Journal called “one of the most influential geographers of the later twentieth century,” earned his Ph.D. from Cambridge University, was formerly professor of geography at Johns Hopkins, a Miliband Fellow at the London School of Economics, and Halford Mackinder Professor of Geography at Oxford. His reflections on the importance of space and place (and more recently “nature”) have attracted considerable attention across the humanities and social sciences. His highly influential books include The New Imperialism; Paris, Capital of Modernity; Social Justice and the City; Limits to Capital; The Urbanization of Capital;The Condition of Postmodernity; Justice, Nature, and the Geography of Difference;Spaces of Hope; and Spaces of Capital: Towards a Critical Geography. His numerous awards include the Outstanding Contributor Award of the Association of American Geographers and the 2002 Centenary Medal of the Royal Scottish Geographical Society for his “outstanding contribution to the field of geographical enquiry and to anthropology.” He holds honorary degrees from the universities of Buenos Aires, Roskilde in Denmark, Uppsala in Sweden, and Ohio State University.

Co-sponsored by the CUNY Committee on Globalization and Social Change and the Center for Humanities

• Link to the post: http://pcp.gc.cuny.edu/arundhati-roy-walking-with-the-comrades-followed-by-a-discussion-with-david-harvey/
• Link to The Center for Place, Culture and Politics: http://pcp.gc.cuny.edu