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Thursday, January 1, 2009

Intellectual Terrorism

These are the first thoughts on reading Ms. Roy's article 9 is not 11 .

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Every time the Indian state is in the cold glare of international publicity, whether it is its nuclear explosion, its difficulties in Kashmir etc, or the massacre in Mumbai, Ms Arundhati Roy author of God of Small things and intrepid writer of polemical essays discovers her moment of glory. Predictably enough she has chosen to engage in her favourite pastime of berating the Indian state on the Mumbai terror; to remind us that the comeuppance should hardly surprise any one. Ms Roy locates the root of the problem in the specific policies followed by the Indian state, the injustice and discriminatory treatment of its minorities, its callousness towards its own poor etc. As a creative writer of repute she brings no original insight into the unyielding dilemma of terrorism but only "restate(s) a case that has, over the years, already been made …. passionately, eloquently and knowledgeably" in several thousand words. Ms Roy knows "it's all been said and done before" yet she feels compelled to "say our line". Before we engage with her Mumbai Was Not India's 9/11 it would be useful to locate Ms Roy herself in the context of the global discourse on terror and why she says the things that she says. "If protesting against having a nuclear bomb implanted in my brain is anti-Hindu and anti-national, then I secede. I hereby declare myself an independent, mobile republic…. I own no territory. I have no flag. I'm female, but have nothing against eunuchs. "(The End Of Imagination). So Ms Roy is not speaking as a sympathetic Indian grieving at the things that have gone wrong and need to be righted, but as a secessionist, as a hostile alien indulging in virulent propaganda. No wonder there is such a congruence of views between her, the Lashkar-e-Tayaba and the hawkish opinion in Pakistan. She marshals pitiless evidence only to subtly, subliminally degrade the fetish objects of her hate-the Indian state, its security apparatus etc. But at the same time she provides a platform for the views of people like Hafeez Saeed, and goes to great length to explain the extenuating circumstances for the diminished responsibility – if at all they are responsible for their acts-of the fidayeen destructive and self destructiveness of the terrorist and their handlers. "What we are experiencing now is blowback, the cumulative result of decades of quick fixes and dirty deeds". The Mumbai attack has ushered in a new civilizational threat wherein soi disant stateless intellectuals, take it upon themselves to explain and contextualize the acts of mass murder and wanton destruction of terrorists disowned by their own state. There is another reason why Ms Roy can not find herself at peace with herself. The self confessed "fame junkie" that she is, suffers from withdrawal symptoms, if she is denied "the applause, the flowers, the photographers, the journalists", for any length of time. These essays which stir a great deal of controversy act as the much needed 'fix' for the publicity addict. But we still have this essay to contend with. The ugly communal incidents of the recent past have certainly been some of the worst in our political history. But these are local environments of oppression and injustice and can not be conflated over the whole body politic, to tar by the same brush the entire country to an extent that we have even "forfeited the right to our tragedies". Justice to all its citizens and the protection of their human rights are worthy goals no doubt for every state to pursue, and our record has certainly not been flawless, but which state as a model has she in mind while handing her damning indictment. Does she fancy the standards set by the Taliban, the achieved utopia of the army of the pure, where decapitating and dismembering people according to whatever jurisprudence is in vogue, or the summary punishment of death, decapitation, or externment handed out by the left extremists in the areas –liberated – they hold sway, to the "class enemies" Chastised perhaps by the example of Mohan Lal Sharma, Karkare and the two other police officers did their dying in the full public view under the eyes of the camera. But in her secular enthusiasm Ms Roy exchanges one form of extremism for another and insinuates some foul play because Karkare had unraveled the Malegaon case against Hindu terrorists. A rhetorical shape shifter that Ms Roy is, she has one voice for the terrorist and the other for the defenders of the Indian state. Justly proud to be a woman, she has nothing against the eunuchs but does that lead her to harbour such a deep seated prejudice against all the brave and committed members who bear arms to defend the state and society to take on these apocalyptic terrorists, so as to deny them their humanity and all that goes with it – the dignity of an honourable death, the glory of martyrdom.

Ms Roy will not give up though. "So already the neat accusation against Pakistan is getting a little messy ". The problem lies not with the evidence but her disposition because she can not bring herself to believe that the Indian state has a case or that its enemies can ever be wrong.

5 comments:

abhishek said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
abhishek said...

Well to me...with all due respect to Ms.Roy,she must have lost the plot.

1)To begin with let me remind...no state is perfect and democracy hasn't ever fully unfurled as the best form of governance..so the problems that she identified in India is not new and was prevalent even in da most advanced industrialised countries such as the issue of Australia's handling of aboriginies,U.S. attitude to the native Indians to name a few.So it is quite an unimaginable expectation for Ms.Roy to believe that India will be a perfect state and will cater to only well beings of all its citizens keeping in hindsight the people we elect to run the government.

2) This is true that people of India are not exactly content with the governance but that does not mean you go trigger-happy against the government,again understanding the fact that the latter will unleash its dogs of war and the casualties of war will finally leave a toll on da citizens only..such as oppression by the armed forces,coercion,influence and pressure by the opposite side and so on and so forth.

3)Thirdly if she really wants to extend her help to avoid such mishaps and bring forth the voice of some obscure terror personality like Hafeez Syed..then she should invite him to present himself forward and give his demands and opinions and anything else rather than hiding in some other inaccessible haven and giving long speeches on the camera and cowardly sending young boys to India to create mayhem...which incidentally dents its own legible or illegible demands to such an extent..that the actual problem( which could have readily solved) loses its sheen.
And to Ms.Roy's claims that all people are unhappy..then i wonder how come the recent state election in J&K has one of the most highest number of turnout of voters in recent times.This is something which she might be pondering about now.

4)Finally....the dastardly attack on Mumbai on 26/11/2008 should have never been so publicised as there is a general feeling that publicity stunts are just for accumulation of moolah and not really for mourning or share the pains of those people who have suffered such an atrocious attack.If according to Ms.Roy even this incident is due to the oppression of the government over people...then why the citizens of sum other country are so enthusiased to organise such a cowardly attack on India? Is she trying to mean that even we should also follow such acts if our countrymen face such ordeals in any other countries and send in such young men to create chaos in those respective countries.Definitely the comments made by Ms.Roy,who is an author of international repute, at this moment is uncalled for and is pretty naive...and not only she should stop calling herself an Indian anymore,she is not even worth of calling herself a human being.

Karan Makhija said...

well reasoned out sir,

i have read almost all of Arundhati Roy's writing (books, essays, articles, interviews...) and honestly tried to understand and agree with her, for her command over the language is extremely appealing. but i have been unseccuessful.
the problem, i find, with Ms Roy's writing is that she never provides alternatives to the current way things work. it also smacks of a naivety that comes with not having bothered to read enough about how things came to be the way they are. her research is almost always good, her assessment of the situations she writes about are fair. but her 'comments' and her reasoning are hardly worthy of her intellect. she seems to be a poor student of history. and she has no agenda but the proclamation of an ideology so convoluted and complex that none can follow it 'honestly' save herself, for it consists of her whims and fancies.

ajoyipsbhr85 said...

26/11 has brought into focus the weakness of the Indian State.... the citizenry fighting against itself, Mumbai had been unsafe for Biharis, only a short while earlier....
the arrival of the trigger happy aliens, united the Indian Nation, but for how long...
unless we find a way of not dividing the society any further, we may really be heading towards a "individual Sovereignty", in near future....
26/11 calls for national introspection.. why is it that we cannot tolerate a fellow citizen, and fight we must, unless external aggression takes place...?
everybody gets his own pieces of gold, from his pen.... whether in the form of salary or remuneration... and the one who declares the source of money, is the one open to public examination....
let us salute the martyrs of Mumbai by taking a pledge to respect a fellow citizen, irrespective of his religion, caste, region, mother-tongue, gender and political affiliation....
we have to build a stronger India, and we didn't have a repeat of 26/11, because it united us so much that the friendly neighbours found it counter-productive, let's say...
it is not a time to criticize or condemn... it is the time to unite....
in a bond of "fellow-citizenship"

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