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Brilliant essay! I hope for the sake of integrity and true values of diversity that the government of India gives alternate models of development a real chance (The Trickledown Revolution, Sep 20). Time and again, history has proved the failure of the market mechanism to achieve sustainable development for all, that is a development defined by the people and not by ivory-tower economists, and definitely not by corporates or international aid agencies like the World Bank.
Arundhati Roy is to be commended for her powerful and thought-provoking piece. It reminded me of what Indian journalism used to be: informative, engaging and uncompromising on the truth. Whether or not one agrees with her rather complex stance on the Maoists, she has backed her position admirably and eloquently.
Meenakshi Venkat, Bangalore
Perhaps you could publish a summary of the article too.
Dinesh Kumar, Chandigarh
My biggest grouse with Arundhati’s essay—apart from its tiringly pontificatory tone—is the cursory manner in which it deals with the families of slain crpf personnel. Is their indigence and suffering not real? Are they not faced with extreme compulsions and constraints? Why be blind to them? Because it’s not a hot topic among your cerebral clique? Oh wait, they are employees of the Big Bad State, and probably have fangs!
Veena Apsara, New Delhi
Yours is a fine publication, but you insist on enraging your readership by publishing Arundhati Roy’s putrid garbage. Her intentions may be fine, but her understanding of economics leaves much to be desired. And this latest attempt at explaining herself comes across as the work of a slovenly hack.
And you’ll ask: why doesn’t his poetry
Speak of dreams and leaves
And the great volcanoes of his native land? Come and see the blood in the streets.
Come and see
The blood in the streets
Come and see the blood
In the streets!—Pablo Neruda
Much as I liked Arundhati’s piece, I’d like to list a few factual inaccuracies in it. Laxmanananda Saraswati, “leader of the vhp, a fascist outfit of proselytisers” (I wonder how she would describe those who have, with their ‘missionary zeal’, have brought up the number of Christians in Kandhamal district from 2 per cent in 1961 to over 18 per cent in the 2001 census!), was killed not in 2006 but in 2008, August 23, to be precise. She further betrays her ignorance when she says that “after the murder, enraged Kandha tribals, who had been recently converted to Hinduism, were encouraged to go on a rampage”. It was not just Kandhas who had converted to Hinduism who went on a rampage, but all Kandha tribals. Saraswati’s killing was just the spark; it was essentially a periodic flare-up of tensions between the tribal Kandhas and the Dalit Panas (who Arundhati misspells as Pannas), rooted in economic and cultural factors, which goes back a century. As for the murder itself, the Maoists have officially claimed that they killed Saraswati because he was “spreading communal hatred”. But in an interview to a group of select journalists from Bhubaneswar somewhere deep inside the forests on the Ganjam-Kandhamal border shortly after the killing (it was aired on two local channels and at least one national channel), the head of the Maoist State Committee, Comrade Sunil, had candidly admitted that there was ‘pressure’ from the Christian Maoist cadres, “who constitute the majority of the Maoist strike force in southern Orissa”, to ‘eliminate’ Saraswati. And a final factual inaccuracy. Narayanpatna is not a district, but a block in Koraput district. I belong to Orissa and can therefore point out the inaccuracies relating to the state. I wonder how many other inaccuracies the article has about places and events I’m not familiar with!
Sandeep Sahu, Bhubaneswar
Arundhati may sound like the worst kind of party-pooper for the 9 per cent growth rate story, but who benefits from that growth? The 20 per cent or so urban hypocrites that we all are? We are fine with mncs, politicians and mining mafia making their billions because we can’t do anything about them. But we do not want the other 700 million or so Indians demanding a share of the country’s wealth which allegedly trickles down after the rich have chewed the bulk of the juice. We are seeing the philosophy of capitalism burning in the bastion of greed, the US. Yet it remains our role model. Every kid worth his or her salt wants to chase the American dream. It might last another few decades or so, but it won’t last forever. Can 100 million of us stop the 800 million from burning down the palace? They have nothing to lose. Whereas we stand to lose the most—our middle class dreams and mortgages.
Nizar A. Baig, Chennai
It is extremely discouraging to learn that though pesa confers huge powers on the governors of the states, none of them has had the courage to use it in favour of the tribals in India. This, of course, reveals the quality and strength of their character. We take pride in the UN declaring October 2 as Non-Violence Day but feel no shame in selling our bauxite to corporations that make use of it to convert that into aluminium and produce weapons.
Fr William Macwan, Ahmedabad
Arundhati stands accused of demagoguery by those who have never known how to engage with intelligent rhetoric. For those who have known better, it’s time to recall Swift’s A Modest Proposal or Dickens’s Hard Times, examples of embedded ways of asking questions. Do we have answers to the questions Arundhati poses?
Saikat Ghosh, New Delhi
Looks like Arundhati has seen Avatar at last!
As always, Arundhati has done remarkable research on some aspects and thrown stones blindly at a lot of complicated issues, a prominent example being equating class struggle with religious fundamentalism in Kashmir. Again, her dissection of Chidambaram’s speech and pesa are brilliant, but she undoes her good work by quoting noted CPI(M) member Ashok Mitra to vilify Manmohan Singh.
Arpan Banerjee, Durgapur
Arundhati’s piece is nothing but just another Prattler’s Tale, like that of the forgotten Marxist, Ashok Mitra.
Nirmalya Mukherjee, Calcutta
I found the initial part of Arundhati’s article superb but I was aghast when she berates the mainstream Communists for “postponing the revolution to afterlife”. Also, if the vhp is “a fascist outfit of proselytisers”, then what about the Christian missionaries who deliver Jesus to the heathen?
Perhaps Arundhati would like India to return to her glorious past, where it took 10 years to get a phone line that never worked, or 15 years for a WWII relic car.
Robin Sathaye, on e-mail
Outlook’s creative juices, like A.R. Rahman’s, seem to have been squeezed to the last drop. Which is why it has nothing to offer but Arundhati Roy with painstaking regularity.
Ramon Terence, on e-mail
Seems like there are two kinds of people who post comments on Arundhati’s pieces: those who agree with her views and sympathise with the affected people, and those who proclaim themselves patriots, oppose her, and won’t discuss any of the issues involved. While I’m unable to decide immediately where I stand, I wouldn't trust any corporation that claims it cares for people.
Santhosh, Aachen, Germany
Roy writes: “The first step towards reimagining a world gone terribly wrong would be to stop the annihilation of those who have a different imagination—an imagination that is outside of capitalism as well as communism. An imagination which has an altogether different understanding of what constitutes happiness and fulfilment.” However, I’m not sure this philosophical space is necessarily utopian, though it is indeed in the long line from Thoreau to Ruskin to Gandhi, Schumacher and Fukuoka. It seems fairly obvious, even to a non-economist like me, that “Buddhist economics” works very well on a modest scale. Even if we ignore abstract concepts like Gross National Happiness, I wonder if it’s really possible to apply such benign economic policies to whole countries? I hope Roy takes up these matters in her next essay.
Sajan Venniyoor, New Delhi
An illness can be treated only if it is properly diagnosed. Ms Roy has taken care of the diagnosis. We know where the treatment must come from: us. If we don’t come up with solutions, it’s a national shame.
Laikhuram Thoreau, Shillong
The several million poor in India are being kept poor only to serve the rich few. If you read Roy’s article (in English, that is) you are likely to be among the rich few, and hence, chances are you may not believe anything she has written because you have no desire to clean your own filth—whether it’s the filth in your bathroom or in your country.
Lakshmi, New York
Part of my admiration for Outlook came from its short articles—one, two or three pages maximum—which you kept short whatever the rest of the media might be doing with those topics. Ms Roy has proved a spoiler. Maybe you have a commitment to promote her views, but that leaves readers like me with only a 70 per cent magazine.
R.K. Sundaram, Mumbai
Ms Roy has spoken her mind and I applaud her for her fearless writing, which will surely earn her insults from those opposed to her views. But my problem with her writing is that she never discusses solutions to the problems she presents. Revolution is not a feasible solution.
Arvind Kurian Abraham, Kottayam
Why do people bay for Arundhati’s blood? Why don’t they ask the government why there are no schools and hospitals in some parts of our country and if it is any surprise that revolutionary ideologies have found fertile ground here?
Ms Roy’s article is straight from the heart, but full of contradictions. Does she have to be reminded that development came to states like Mizoram and others only after separatist groups finally lay down arms, and that too, because they were part of a nation called India?
Lt Col (retd) A.E. Charles, Coimbatore
The economic policies India has adopted are only creating a wide rift between the rich and the poor. These policies, and the neglect of large swathes of tribal land across the country, are to blame for the rise of Maoism.
N. Pandy, Tuticorin
Roy’s article has laid bare the false pride of India: in its nakedness, Indian democracy and even its ‘booming’ economy remain a place where the rich get richer and the poor poorer.
K.C. Kumar, Bangalore
Ms Roy’s articles should be converted into 52 columns, one for each week of the year.
Gaurab Banerjee, Calcutta
I wish all the writers of hate-mail meant for Ms Roy find something inconsequential to read so that they are not provoked.
I fail to understand why Ms Roy is allowed to hog the limelight through your magazine. High time Mr Vinod Mehta gives thought to this, unless he wants readership to drop.
Krishna K. Kacker, on e-mail
We must realise that India’s growth cannot be modelled on capitalism or communism. But we must also remember jfk’s saying: “Those who make peaceful revolution impossible make violent revolution inevitable.”
Rahul Mudholkar, Pune