Friday, June 16, 2006

India not democratic: Arundhati Roy

NEW YORK: In an explosive expression of her views, celebrated Indian writer Arundhati Roy told an audience here that India is not a democratic country. The biggest PR myth of all times is that India is a democracy. In reality, it is not Roy, the author of The God of Small Things told the 1,000-strong audience at a book reading function she attended along with Eduardo Galeano, one of Latin Americas most distinguished writers.

With her aggressive speech, Roy, the 1997 Booker winner, dominated the event with Galeano playing second fiddle.

She surprised the jampacked Town Hall as she stopped reading The God of Small Things midway and said she wanted to speak on an issue, which had been bothering her for quite some time.

She said she was confused, as India was passing through a terrible time.

Amidst frequent clapping, she blasted the Indian government and the Bush administration. She did not spare even Prime Minister Manmohan Singh. There is no real democracy in India. Several states in India are on the verge of civil war, she said.

Challenging the much-acclaimed views of columnist Thomson Friedman praising India, a democracy of a billion population, for conducting peaceful elections year after year, she said, He probably needs a new tour of India... Does Thomas know that in Kashmir Valley alone, some 80,000 people have been killed? In Iraq, there are 1,50,000 military personnel, whereas in Kashmir Valley there are some 7,00,000.

Referring to the visit of President George Bush to New Delhi in March, she said, without elaborating: Bush visit was the most humiliating experience of my life. As the venue for Bushs address changed from Parliament to Vigyan Bhawan to Metro Park, he finally ended up addressing India from a Zoo. I am not joking. This is reality and the giraffes were disappointed, she said amidst laughter from the audience.

She did not agree with Prime Minister Manmohan Singhs views in his lecture at the Oxford University praising Britain for all the good things that India has, like its democracy, judiciary and bureaucracy. India, she said, was a free market meant to steal from the poor and subsidise the rich.

Later, during her dialogue with Galeano, she urged the Americans to oppose the occupation of Iraq by the US and allied forces. She said Iraq and Afghanistan were not the only nations occupied by the US. The others were controlled by checks and public diplomacy, she said. The audience gave her a standing ovation.

The Booker Prize-winning author recently took part in a meeting organised to demand the withdrawal of criminal charges framed against CPI(M-L) general secretary Dipankar Bhattaccharya by the Jharkhand government.


  1. The very fact that she is allowed to make such comments itself proves that India is a democratic country. We need to understand that arundhati is not above everybody else. Just because she is not given importance, she is making such comments, which in itself is quite a shock. I guess, she needs to understand that in a democratic country, we listen to everybody, not to a select few and arundhati comes in the 'select few' category. I admire her a lot but such comments are not what I expect from her.

  2. Well sandeep freedom of speech is not the only criteria which need to be fulfilled to be considered a democratic country.

    Well lets just look all around us what do we see ?
    Civil war in the whole of Kashmir ,civil war in north east, civil war in Chattisgarh.

    When civil war comes it brings along with it the police/armed forces who bring in all sorts of terrrible ordinances which deny even the most basic of rights to the residents of these areas.

    The point that arundathi roy is trying to drive home is that some parts of India may be democratic but in other parts it is anarchy and total terror.

    If you have been following the terror campaign called Salwa judum you will know that more that 60,000 poor villager have had their huts
    razed down and have been moved to
    relief camps.In the process hundreds of people and women have been raped .

    What kind of a democratic country does this to its own people ?

  3. Look, Democracy cannot bring instant relief to all strata of society, the process is a gradual one.
    The only reason economic reforms do not reach the lower strata of society is because of corruption.
    What we need in India is CIVIC sense which will erase corruption.
    Naxals are NOT the answer and Ms Roy is criminally mistaken if she thinks India needs a revolution.
    The middle class has been growing in India and gradually more and more people will join this strata of society.
    We just cannot afford REVOLUTIONS at this stage.
    We do need to bridge the Rural Urban gap by having a new set of laws like people from all walks forced to work in villages for a year to improve rural amenities and
    to educate people there etc.
    That is how we will bring about "Sarvodaya".
    Not by a revolution which will wipe out India's greatest asset: Its Middle Class.
    Because these only serve to harm the country.


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