Wednesday, Aug 17, 2022
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Pretty Prose And Guns From Cloud Cuckoo Land

Arundhati’s diatribes against the Indian State ignore the freedom it offers

Pretty Prose And Guns From Cloud Cuckoo Land Illustration by Sorit

It’s difficult not to admire the perseverance and passion of Arundhati Roy, writer and born rebel. More so when she packages her attacks on the basics of the country—she projects the Indian State as an enemy of the people—in beautiful English prose. In her 18-page essay, The Trickledown Revolution (Sept 20), she wails: “Sometimes it seems very much as though those who have a radical vision for a newer, better world do not have the steel it takes to resist the military onslaught, and those who have the steel do not have the vision.” So, after denouncing corporations as the devil incarnate, the Indian State as a lackey of these capitalists, and describing the government’s operation to curb the violence in the Maoist-affected areas as “a war on the people”, and giving everyone else, including the Maoists, a dressing down, Arundhati plays god for all anti-nationals—from Kashmir to Manipur to Dantewada—who have waged war against civil society.

But she wears a distorted lens. Look at the descriptions she provides us. The policemen, she wants to convince us, are themselves at war with the government—for they got their jobs by paying heavy bribes—and the officers are making merry while sending the boys to die. You think even commandants have lost their lives leading the ranks against the Maoists or other extremist groups? Perish the thought. All she can discern in this spectrum is that police personnel are “poor khaki trash, cannon fodder in the Rich Man’s war”. And what does she think of the killings by the Maoists? Bad, but this is the Janus-faced morality of “revolutionary violence...that we can expect more of in a war zone in which tactics trump rectitude and make the world a worse place”. Bravo, Che Guevara of the 21st century! She has all the statistics on how well the security forces are armed. As for the Maoists, their resistance of this “war” is conducted using a few arms snatched from the police. Obviously, she has not heard or read about their links to arms-smuggling rings and terrorist groups in Pakistan and Nepal, and about their extortionist demands from local businessmen, industrialists and contractors.

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