Wednesday, 27 April 2011

Arundhati Roy: "Stop the waste. Recapture the imagination. "

Interview with Indian author and activist

In 2011 India will likely grow faster than China. Yet not everything chapati and egg in the land of Tata, Infosys and Reliance. MO * talked about this in Delhi with world-renowned author and activist Arundhati Roy.
Arundhati Roy's only home when I call her, returned early from Japan, earthquake, tsunami and the growing nuclear disaster still in her voice. When I next day at her apartment for hours talking to her about the state of things in India, remains the violence of the universe clearly bouncing in her answers. The realization that they themselves could disappear into the spectacular nature of violence, is increasing its focus on the everyday details of life: the white lilies in a vase, a green beard bird suddenly to the window and believes the spring, the silence. That silence, looking them in the classical Indian music in which she was not so long engrossed.
Arundhati Roy is in a meditative mood. In Japan, she saw that "we build a civilization on the thin layer of ice on the constant availability of electricity. Her own life is at a turning point: "I feel that I, as a writer, did a full circle," she says. "I have a wide range of major social issues raised, and threatening to repeat myself as I continue on the path I have walked the last ten years. It is time for reflection, for a new phase in my life, for another letter. " But first she wants to answer my questions about the great social debates in India. We start at the Mahatma Gandhi National Rural Employment Guarantee Act, a major social programs that the poor of rural India a minimum employment and therefore a minimal income. India 2011, a 1233-page compendium of public sector, states that the program no less than in 2009 reached 45.1 million families. Impressive, right?
Arundhati Roy: That is indeed impressive as a collection action for the millions who fall by the wayside of economic growth. Meanwhile the government has continued with its economic policies, even if this leads to more and more people no longer own or maintain their income because they can take care of their land or driven from their forests, or as water and energy privatized. This injustice can not be rectified by giving them a handful of rupees for breaking rocks and digging wells. Moreover, there are increasing reports of corruption, of which the large flow of funds intended for the poorest prime purpose of the accounts of local politicians, contractors and brokers to marshmallows.
Economic growth is still well taken millions out of poverty?
Arundhati Roy: The economic liberalization, the Indian society in turmoil. The feudal society with its traditions rooted in inequality was the mixer of the neoliberal growth removed, creating a new consumer class-was given a very attractive global markets. You also have a massive underclass that is considered redundant because it has no means to consume. The only thing that underclass offered is the promise that they can later be part of the dream as they are today major consumer policy accepts that disowns them. The first thing to do is destroy that dream consumption, because it creates an intolerable rapid destruction of the earth and its natural resources.
You want the hundreds of millions of poor people do not return to a sober lifestyle "?
Arundhati Roy: Of course not, I just want the consuming class know they are talking about a different strategy to throw. I want to expose the lies of the middle class. Whenever there is a dammed river, a forest cut down or expropriated a village, one comes away with the argument that it is necessary to develop the country and fight poverty. In reality, this destructive development only in the short-term interests of those who consume more electricity and stuff. Who really wants to do something in the name of the poor, but should not consume the waste stop. That would create room for development by the poor themselves can be selected and managed. Such a radical change does not arise as an individual to eat organic or natural cotton wear. This obsession with personal correctness is a form of social anorexia: because you did not get control of the system outside yourself, you obsessively monitor your own behavior. There will always be contradictions in our lives. Gandhi was also supported by the industrialists of his day, the Birlas and the Tatas. It is never a pure matter of personal virtue, but of policy.
How would you describe the current economic policy of the Indian government to characterize?
Arundhati Roy: If internal colonization. Europe justified the colonization of the rest of the world with beautiful concepts of civilization and progress, while in reality was a way to get a handle on the natural resources of other nations. I must not tell you as a Belgian. India, which sees itself as a twenty first-century superpower, such a possibility has not, so colonizes itself. In places where the rich in the soil, colonize India's own population and territory. To justify the concepts of civilization are also here, happiness and progress redefined. Yet success is the poorest in recent years in projects of the largest companies in the world to stop when they are vulnerable to further undermined.
Those successes stop the companies, but also create any progress for the poor and tribal groups.
Arundhati Roy: For each megadam which was built, there were other options not chosen or realized. Progress is not a one way street, but a question of choosing between alternatives. This presupposes that the monopoly of the capitalist imagination is broken and that different representations requalify and space. The tribal imagination and worldview it crucial, but the Gandhian vision a sustainable perspective than the current consumerism. And I do not mean that all cotton woven to be. It often has more to do with self-affirmation than an economic alternative. But textile deserves a new approach, a synthetic alternative to the giant machine that has become today.
India is the world's largest democracy, but is increasingly faced with armed uprisings. Progress is not a one way street, but a choice between alternatives. 
How do you explain this contradiction?
Arundhati Roy: India is a democracy in the better neighborhoods of Delhi, Mumbai or Bangalore. But if you look at the interior of Manipur, Orissa or Chhattisghar, then it is unlikely that people will you talk about a democracy. Democracy, like development was synonymous with neoliberal free trade. In the fifties fought imperialism even democracy in Iran and the Arab countries, today they try to introduce democracy in arms because one has learned to manipulate her. In India it is almost impossible for a political campaign without the support of big business. A majority of the parliamentarians themselves have been a millionaire. Big business has all the democratic space, with its parties, media and legal institutions over-bought. Of course even this democracy preferable to dictatorships and authoritarian regimes, yet it is clear that the current form is not equal to the task of the current crises to address. Only when we face that problem and articulate, we can begin to formulate alternatives.
Which alternative is you have in mind?
Arundhati Roy: We should think not so much a blueprint for a future form of government, but a modified form of opposition to the dominant structures and stories of today. In recent months the Indian newspapers have been filled over the Radia Tapes [intercepted telephone conversations of an industrial lobbyist, showing how great the influence of big bosses on the composition of government and private offices, gg]. These recordings confirm what we have been saying for years: that the politics represents the people but the business interests of a small elite. Even the middle class no longer benefit from this way of working. There continue to talk about is a form of resistance.
Which brings us back to the armed resistance. Is that an "appropriate form" of resistance?
Arundhati Roy: We moralize quickly as marginalized people take up arms. Their lives and their environment is destroyed to make our lifestyle possible, but if they are armed resistance, we find it inappropriate. Is an economic policy that makes 820 million people survive on less than twenty rupees (thirty cents) per day may be no violence? Are the two hundred thousand farmers who committed suicide not an expression of structural violence? As long as I do not pick up arms, I will not preach the armed resistance. But I would ask what the adivasis (original inhabitants of India, gg) to do that live in a village that four-day march away from the nearest city, when their village is surrounded by a thousand soldiers who want them off their land drive so that industrial development can take place. Should they go on hunger strike? Nonviolent actions have an audience that can respond to the unjust violent confrontation between government and non-violent response. I think that adivasis themselves should decide how they react and what kind of resistance to them can be productive.
In Kashmir in recent years, elected to the armed struggle to omit because it only resulted in increasing militarization of the valley. You have firmly supported the requirement for a free ranged Kashmir, which was heavily against you.
Arundhati Roy: How the power elite so worried is that there are cracks in the wall of propaganda for years Kashmir was built. And the young Kashmiris themselves who have caused them through stories and images of their nonviolent resistance and the brutal military response thereto via Facebook and YouTube to spread. The youth of Kashmir have been three summers in a row held their own Tahrir rebellion, but the rest of the world remains blind to it. The hopeless conflict in Kashmir increasingly corrupts the whole political and social system of India. The permanent presence of more than half a million soldiers in Jammu & Kashmir has created enormous interest in continuing the conflict, and that comes at the expense of other priorities in India. The entire nation slips into a state where violence is acceptable as long as it provides a constant increase in the gross national product.
Are there ever times when you are glad to be Indian?
Arundhati Roy: I particularly appreciate the Indian heritage, the wilderness of the mind that this is real. For me, India is not a nation but a way of life that allows to color outside the lines, not all attempts to control disorder. I've never encountered women so free and powerful as here in India, though this time the country where babies are killed because they are female. The complexity of India is so large that you are all emotions and human capabilities need to understand it and made you one hundred percent live intensely. That leaves both admiration and disgust, and so I know.

From 'beautiful curls' to 'poison pen'

Arundhati Roy gained international stardom with her novel The God of Small Things. The Indian middle class wore on her hands because she thought her own ambitions Roy imagined and realized. In the nineties wanted to say two to three hundred million middle class Indians' status as a developing and join as soon as possible a full role to play globally. The love that the writer was translated into forty languages, ended with a loud bang when Arundhati Roy in 1998 the Indian nuclear weapons, by the same middle class with much show of national pride-received mercilessly condemned in her essay The End of the imagination.
Roy said since no novel, but many critical essays, on the Narmada dam, the violent Hindu nationalism, India's energy policy ... The love Arundhati-in-the pretty-curls hit into hatred for Arundhati-with-the-toxic pen. In 2010 published a long report that her week with the Maoist guerrilla's in Chhattisgarh described in a way that yielded very much sympathy for the armed uprising in the heart of India. And when they end 2010 in which she made two speeches in the cause of the Kashmiri separatists argued, was the final gate of the dam. If it is the Indian media had been lying, she was indicted for treason.

Courtesy: Gie Goris

Tuesday, 19 April 2011

Arundhati on Arundhati

Sunina Karki/Bibek Bhandari
Kathmandu, April 19:

“Thin, black, clever” in her words, Sryian Christian from Kerala, Arundhati Roy thought she was the “worst that a Christian girl could be.”

In the village of Aymanam in Kerala, Roy observed that she was one of the girls who hadn’t been indoctrinated. She rather spent time catching fish and knew every insect, grass and dragonfly.

The 1997 Booker Prize Winner for The God of Small Things, Roy was in Kathmandu to attend a conference “Count Me IN’ organized by CREA, a feminist human rights organization.

“I had to get out of here (the village). To be a woman and to be married into the community was like being buried alive,” she said during a two-hour session on Monday that was part of a three-day conference. Moderated by Shohini Ghosh, an essayist and documentary filmmaker, Roy shared her childhood experiences of being a woman – and that too, a rebellious one – and the moments that made her strong.

The talk mainly delved into her personal life. Listening to Roy’s life ordeals, euphemized by her signature wit, it seemed as if the writer had channelized the low moments of her life to boost her self-esteem.“I didn’t see much complexities, I just saw a simple terror of being a normal woman,” recounted Roy who ran away from home at the age of 16. And in fact, years later, she seems to have succeeded for she is nothing like a ‘normal’ woman.  She has proved to be an exceptional one usually clouded by controversies for her political write-ups ranging from India’s nuclear issue, separation of Kashmir and the growing Naxalite movement to global topics like the United States’ war in Afghanistan.

For Roy, the inclination toward political writing started during her student years at the School of Planning and Architecture, New Delhi.“By third year I started questioning about cities, urbanization and who are they for, among other topics.”After graduation, Roy went to Goa, sold cakes on the beach and later returned to Delhi where she lived amongst the underprivileged strata of society in the Nizamuddin Basti. It was during this time, before she started working on The God of Small Things, that she met her husband Pradip Krishnen, wrote scripts for movies and penned a series of political essays on the movie Bandit Queen which raised a series of debates.

“I was shocked that they had changed India’s most famous bandit into history’s most famous case of rape,” Roy said.Though the controversy was covered – momentarily- because of her famed novel The God of Small Things, she noted that a lot of people quite didn’t understand the book.

“A lot of people were looking at me like I had won the World Cup without knowing what the book was all about,” added the 49-year-old writer. Her award-winning novel, however, also turns to be the pages from her past.  Some of the characters are, thus, inspired by her family members, her brother to name one. Another influential figure in her life is her mother, Mary, who is also a woman’s rights activist.

“My mother and I have a very complicated and a conflicted relationship. My mother was, is and has been a huge influence in good and bad ways,” she revealed. The conversation was paused by laughter, triggered by her humor.

Moderator Ghosh didn’t miss talking about Roy’s essay ‘Walking with the Comrades’ that appeared in Outlook India, an Indian magazine, in March 2010 and her trip to Chattisgargh. ( In February 2010, quietly, unannounced, Roy decided to visit the forbidding and forbidden precincts of Central India’s Dandakaranya Forests, home to a melange of tribespeople many of whom have taken up arms to protect their people against state-backed marauders and exploiters.)

Informing about the women ‘s status in the tribal group, Roy added on how she went with a firm prejudice that in an armed struggle women were going to be sufferers and at the receiving end of violence.  However, she was completely disabused by the fact that the Maoist armed forces comprised 48 percent women.
“I interacted with many of them and also learnt the reasons behind their joining the movement.  They had watched their mothers and sisters being raped and killed, their houses being burnt down by the police” observed the writer. However, according to Roy, women’s struggle and revolt was not only the struggle with the state demanding their rights but also to break out from the boundaries of the patriarchal society.

Thus writing about these issues, the questions she often faces is if she is a feminist, to which Roy rhetorically questions back,” Writing about millions of women being displaced isn’t a feminist issue.” But being termed a feminist, another adjective that finds its way toward her is – romantic.

While walking with the comrades, Roy was frequently branded as romantic to which she reiterated”"Often when you’re in the middle of a huge and dangerous argument, one of the strategies is to use labels as missiles in order to not deal with questions. I have no problem with romance but what do they mean by that?

And amid different labels and loathing that Roy has come in for because of her writing, especially that with political connotations, she has underscored issues sidelined by the urbanites in her home country. She added that one doesn’t have to belong to a particular caste, creed, religion or any affiliation to write about issues surrounding them.

“For me the idea of being a writer is someone who tries to break out of that and who believes that eventually all of us must reach out and be able to have relationships outside our own little cocoons.”

‘Count me In’ conference held from April 16 to 18 brought together marginalized women from South Asia – India, Pakistan, Nepal, Bangladesh and Sri Lanka – to discuss violence against women and strategies of resistance.

Source: My republica

Tuesday, 5 April 2011

Why I am committed - Exclusive interview with Arundhati Roy

224.gif It may well be that one day is extraordinary, the Nobel award to Arundhati Roy two of their most prestigious awards: one for peace and that of literature. Although, in his first book, "The God of Small Things," his name in the rankings very closed, very envious, stars of world literature, earning a contract of one million dollars and the Booker Prize In 1997, the lovely queen of Indian novel (it was also listed by People magazine among the 50 beauties of the year 1998), immediately turned his back on the career easy, and international glamourisée, who offered to it. Ceasing to write novels, she chose to defy rather, with a courage that no one denies it, and risking his life, the government of his country to denounce not only the great injustices of our time, but especially horror economic, ecological, and social policy of a country, India, passing yet for any of the civilized democracies of the planet.
Where does this fire, this determination, married to the greatest kindness? It should probably seek the origins far her in her childhood in India, with his father, a tea planter Bengali, and her mother, Mary Roy, a headmistress of Kerala is also known for his activism. This Kerala which Arundhati tell the poetic beauty in his first novel, inspired by his very own experience. After a perfect architect and designer and screenwriter, she joined the protest against the construction of huge dams in the valley of the Narmada dams forcing entire populations to leave an ancestral home, in the name of self- called "economic progress". She became involved with this writer the Indian government is afraid.
In "Democracy: field notes," she protests against American imperialism, argues against the "occupation" of Indian Kashmir, it claims independence, denounced the stranglehold of multinational corporations on local economies. She castigates a visit to India of President Bush and screams when the genocide of Muslims are being massacred in Gujarat. Against all intimidation, she visited last year, in February 2010 into a forbidden zone, where the tribes in the heart of Dandakaranya forests in the state of Chhattisgarh, took up arms against the mining conglomerates international, hand in hand with the Indian state, began to devastate their territory. She spent several weeks together with the Maoist guerrillas who have vowed to overthrow the Indian state at risk of being killed in a raid by hostile forces, or move backward for a Maoist official media did not deprive caricature of the commitment of the novelist. But can we in any way, stop Arundhati?
Nothing is more urgent, as we have understood, that to read, and to read the manual of indignation which the first qualities is not to have been designed in a comfortable club chair, but have known, the small notebook where passionaria usually registered his impressions, the dust of the road, tears of impotence, a notebook stained, crumpled, and where it seems that, for ink, Arundhati Roy has spent the most fabulous containers: his rage and hope - that make life a little better one day for all.
Arundhati Roy-007.jpg What do you think of U.S. policy since the election? Obama is better than Bush?
The problem is no longer, I believe, think international politics, wars, military occupations or ecological suicide in terms of good or evil. The irony is rather that every man, good or bad, when it becomes, as U.S. President, the most powerful man on earth, immediately lost all power, and becomes the slave of a system which is supposed to control the operation yet. The real question is it not, rather, the civilized world we call Will it save us, or will it destroy life on Earth and the Earth itself?
You were not happy with the victory of Obama?
Obama has widened the scope of the wars in Asia. With the blessing of the Pakistani government, he is now bombing Pakistan. Meanwhile, the economy continues to sink. When he became president, a satirical newspaper in New York as in essence: "A black posted the worst job." It was true. He was appointed to endorse the end of the American Empire.
images.jpg What is your feeling about the revolutions in Tunisia, Egypt, Libya?

Protesters have shown real courage. But I think the stakes today are elsewhere: this is for big powers to divert the energy of these revolutions by using them for their cynical purposes. When we read in the press things like: "Egypt is free, the military took power," one can not help but smile! It is well known that the Egyptian army and the U.S. government go hand in hand. Hosni Mubarak was not a scoop, sick, close to the end. The transition would have been risky. Does it has not given a little air to the Egyptian people, oppressed and angry, before tying up again? Without control of Egypt, Israel can no longer organize the siege of Gaza. The United States can they accept that? When the major Western media enthusiastically celebrate the Revolution, it still worries me. After all, Palestinians are rebelling, we may kill millions in the Congo, it does not raise the same reactions. In Kashmir, hundreds of thousands of demonstrators braved the streets for years, Indian security forces, which were far from peaceful: courage is it yet one of the Western press?
What about the situation in the Narmada valley, where you intensely protested against the construction of huge dams, to the detriment of local people?

All dams in the valley are being built. The great anti-dam movement, which was based on arguments and just deep, is now limited to the pleadings of a small group of lawyers trying to get compensation for displaced populations. It is a monumental tragedy. There are hundreds of dams that are being constructed in the high Himalayas. The consequences will be catastrophic for the environment. But these areas are sparsely populated. Nobody complains.
royarundhati_cp_3116344.jpg You are also very sensitive to the situation in Kashmir. Were you there recently?
Yes, I go there often. This is the area most heavily militarized in the world. The Indian security forces stationed there amounted to 700 000 soldiers. Even at the height of the war in Iraq, American units had never exceeded 200,000 items. There are countless more, in this valley, army camps, checkpoints, torture chambers, and graveyards. 68 000 people have been killed since 1990. Living there is equivalent to live without oxygen and dignity. It is an absolute hell. A huge open-air prison.
What should I expect you believe in international terrorism? Do you believe a worsening situation in the future?

Much of the economic power of rich countries is based on the arms market: missiles, warplanes, torpedoes, helicopters, nuclear bombs. In India, where 800 million people live on less than 20 rupees a day (30 cents), the government is spending billions to buy weapons like this. Like Pakistan, whose economy is in tatters. Yet all these weapons are of any efficacy against the terrorist threat? I would say that most of these countries amass weapons of war, and pay correspondingly the most boastful nationalism, the more they make them vulnerable to terrorism that may completely destroy them. We saw in the attacks in Bombay in 2008, how a handful of teen suicide have put an entire country to its knees for days. And he does not even touch the leaders of our country that the only valid response to terrorism is to resolve the injustices that engender.
What about writing fiction? You will come back?
Yes, it's been a while since I started writing a novel. But I advance slowly. I am often disturbed ...
Pietrasik Roy-Guardian2.jpg What is your life like everyday 
My life has, thank you god, nothing of everyday life.
Can you describe the room where you work?
This is not always the same. I'm moving a republic. But I often write in my flat in Delhi. I love working there. I sometimes kiss the walls, to thank them for giving shelter to a girl like me. Someone not easy, as many people will tell you.

Courtesy :  Didier Jacob Blog (Translated from French)