Thursday, November 30, 2006

Salute to Arundhati Roy !

Earlier this year Arundhati Roy, a prolific writer and a political activist, famous for The God of Small Things has been awarded the Sahitya Akademi award by the Indian government. But Ms. Roy refused the prestigious award because of her very public disagreements with policies (both domestic and international) espoused by the Indian government. This is her letter of refusal to the Chairman of the Akademi:

"I thank the jury of the Sahitya Akademi for giving me this year's Sahitya Akademi Award for my book `The Algebra of Infinite Justice.' I am proud that the jury felt that a collection of political essays deserved to be given India's most prestigious literary prize.

These essays, written between 1998 and 2001, are deeply critical of some of the major policies of the Indian State — on big dams, nuclear weapons, increasing militarisation and on economic neo-liberalism. However, even today this incumbent government shows a continuing commitment to these policies and is clearly prepared to implement them ruthlessly and violently, whatever the cost.

In the last few months, apart from the growing numbers of farmers' suicides [now running into tens of thousands] and the forcible eviction of people from their lands and livelihoods [in the hundreds of thousands], we have witnessed the police brutalisation of industrial workers in Gurgaon, the killing of a dozen people protesting against a dam in Manipur, and the killing of another dozen people protesting their displacement by a steel plant in Orissa. Even as we call ourselves a democracy, Indian security forces control and administer Kashmir, Manipur and Nagaland — and the numbers of the dead and disappeared continue to mount.

The `Algebra of Infinite Justice' is also critical of U. S. foreign policy, particularly in the aftermath of the September 11, 2001 attacks in New York and Washington. This present Indian government too has seen it fit to declare itself an ally of the U. S. Government, thereby condoning the American invasion of Afghanistan and its illegal occupation of Iraq, which, under the Nuremburg principles, constitutes the supreme crime of a war of aggression.

I have a great deal of respect for the Sahitya Akademi, for the members of this year's Jury and for many of the writers who have received these awards in the past. But to register my protest and re-affirm my disagreement — indeed my absolute disgust — with these policies of the Indian Government, I must refuse to accept the 2005 Sahitya Akademi Award."
Arundhati Roy , as far as I am aware of, remains the only public voice against the unfair international and domestic policies of Indian government - something other Indians, I wish, should start to follow. Her refusal to accept the award only shows her strong moral character in a rather immoral and messy world. Salute to Arundhati Roy for rasing her voice and speaking out against the crimes of the Indian government !


Anonymous Anonymous said...

Salute to Arundhati for speaking out !

12:58 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Hey, there is a talk on Marxism and Religion, this wednesday (6th) in Cathays Community Centre, Cathays Terrace, Cardiff at 7.30 pm

7:45 PM  
Anonymous Kelly said...

I was turned on to Arundhati Roy through a great documentary at It uses one of her speeches and is brilliant I think. There should be more people in the world like her.

4:04 PM  
Blogger tanvir said...

just to say helllo

how r u dude?? just checking your place,,, cool to say the list.

Nice artical about Arundhuti Roy..

7:09 AM  
Blogger Diganta said...

I also am a fan of her, not only for her activities in India, but also her global voice for women in particuar, in Afghanistan (RAWA) and Iran. I don't know how will you take it - she's a supporter of Western style democracy and western values of human rights which you have bashed in your next article :).

10:57 AM  
Blogger Razib Rashedin said...

Hi Diganta,

How r u bro ? You really made me laugh this time. you mentioned - "she's a supporter of Western style democracy and western values of human rights which you have bashed in your next article" . First of all, If you are talking about secularism then I haven't bashed any 'system', if you read my article carefully you will understand. I have simply tried to eradicate the misconceptions about secularism that exist in Indian sub-continent.

Also I don't know where you got this information that Miss Roy is a supporter of Western style democracy and Western values. I have gone through most of her articles and the interviews, and nothing indicates that she is pro West. On the contrary she is branded as an anti-West activist. If you have time, please listen to her 'Come September' Speech. This amazing lecture will surely clear your misconceptions about the world and about her. Let me quote a line from that speech -
"Recently, those who have criticized the actions of the U.S. government (myself included) have been called "anti-American." Anti-Americanism is in the process of being consecrated into an ideology."

Anyway, If life were black and white as you predict all the time, it would have been good but it's not. I am very fond of various aspects of Western life but that doesn't mean I should not criticize the things that I don't like. Let me quote her again -

"But what does the term "anti-American" mean? Does it mean you are anti-jazz? Or that you're opposed to freedom of speech? That you don't delight in Toni Morrison or John Updike? That you have a quarrel with giant sequoias? Does it mean that you don't admire the hundreds of thousands of American citizens who marched against nuclear weapons, or the thousands of war resisters who forced their government to withdraw from Vietnam? Does it mean that you hate all Americans?

This sly conflation of America's culture, music, literature, the breathtaking physical beauty of the land, the ordinary pleasures of ordinary people with criticism of the U.S. government's foreign policy (about which, thanks to America's "free press", sadly most Americans know very little) is a deliberate and extremely effective strategy. It's like a retreating army taking cover in a heavily populated city, hoping that the prospect of hitting civilian targets will deter enemy fire.

But there are many Americans who would be mortified to be associated with their government's policies. The most scholarly, scathing, incisive, hilarious critiques of the hypocrisy and the contradictions in U.S. government policy come from American citizens. When the rest of the world wants to know what the U.S. government is up to, we turn to Noam Chomsky, Edward Said, Howard Zinn, Ed Herman, Amy Goodman, Michael Albert, Chalmers Johnson, William Blum and Anthony Amove to tell us what's really going on."

Finally I haven't made a single educated Muslim who dislike her rather there are many who completely adore her. That says a lot about her ! But that doesn't mean she will agree to all the Muslim ideology and the Muslims will accept all her philosophical stand. But in a broader context, an Arundhati Roy and many Muslims stand shoulder to shoulder. The same way George Galloway ( a liberal leftist) won the hearts and minds of all the Muslims. Her power of thinking goes beyond average commercial concepts and that I find very similar to Islamic philosophy. I will discuss that later but for the time being, if you have time please go through her speeches. Simply adorable she is !

3:25 AM  
Blogger Diganta said...

The Western values that are made popular (not invented) in West are secularism and democracy. She's not at all a supporter of what USA (Bush & his Govt) is doing, but how their systems works within their country.

Let me quote some of your writing in the next article -
"Secularism is the state of being without religious or spiritual qualities. A Godless state is a Secular state. Even in Europe (the liberal West), secularism is partially applicable since most people don't have a religion anymore.All the laws in a secular state should be based on human rights, freedom of expression, tourism, business profits etc."

She is a supporter of that kind of democracy and secularism - which you think might not be acceptable in Bangladesh case.

"Therefore, even in the West where religion is not 'so strong', secularism remains a far cry." - Still we are lagging faaaaaaaar behind them in terms of democracy or secularism (India/Bangladesh).

12:23 PM  
Blogger Diganta said...

"Some of the leaders were corrupt and others were insisting more on industrial development rather than moral development (Western approach towards life)." - why do you think West has not focussed on Moral Development? Is it us or them figure higher in 'most corrupt' list? I don't see anyway our countries invest more in 'moral development' but what we call as morality is quite different that what they call it. That's where I say, Arundhati Roy is in favour of Western style 'morality' and not the our style.

I am fine :). Hope you are doing well also.

12:29 PM  
Blogger Razib Rashedin said...

Hi diganta

I am not so sure that A.R. would be supporter of the kind of democracy or secularism that is mainly based on corporate business. Also can you call a system democratic when the state laws are mainly there to reflect business profits and not the need of the mass population. Also can you call a society democratic where only 20-30% bother to vote in elections. I live in Wales and there's not a single Childrens hospital in the whole Wales ! People in Wales, for a long long time, are asking for money through charities and Britain has recently spent 22 billion pounds for renewing its nuclear weapons. This is democracy, huh ?

However, Western Europe and USA are very rich and can easily feed the stomach of most of their people. When you have eliminated the problem of poverty and hunger, you have eliminated many of the problems associated with it and that includes the corruption as well. As we say - "thieves dont listen to religious stories" , on an empty stomach one hardly cares about morality/ethics. The rich and powerful are corrupted in every country ; but we do need to control the mass coruption which is closely related to economic situation.

However, state corruption, like state terrorism, is different from mass corruption and in the list of the countries that initiates corruption (i.e. through bribery) , many of the Western countries are in the top. When you go out to rob other people's house to feed your children, your children dont need to go out and rob, do they ?

You asked me why West has not focussed on Moral Development? I think you can find if you look at the history. They got out of the caves beacuse of Industrial revolution and not because of spiritual awakening. All the major religions originated in the East and not in the West. That gives you a clue. Also I don't think their sense of morality is very different from ours. Especially in terms of religious morality , the morality prescribed in Quran is more or less the same in Christian and in Jews religious texts. However, since many people in the West, are non-religious and also because the religious laws and practices have been successfully replaced by strict state laws the spirituality part is missing from most people's life (something they fully agree). Also the daily stress of modern life and the temptation of a wild life have all contributed to this factor.

5:34 PM  
Blogger Diganta said...

Also can you call a society democratic where only 20-30% bother to vote in elections. - If people knowingly do not vote, I can call it democratic, but if they don't vote because of compulsion - then it's lacking in that parameter.

When you go out to rob other people's house to feed your children, your children dont need to go out and rob, do they ? - Is that is a natural phenomenon in the West? It's not. And State sponsored terrorism inside the country is much less in West, the Human Rights activities are on higher side.

They got out of the caves beacuse of Industrial revolution and not because of spiritual awakening. - This is something I don't agree with at all. European History has three parts - first Greeks and Romans ruled the world. Then came Medival ages and small kings and barrons, also a powerful church. At the end came the Renaissance. The modern day European values are mostly dictated by values of Renaissance - not by Christianity. That's why I say their value system is quite opposed to what we have.pcaxy

5:51 AM  
Blogger Diganta said...

There were many value systems that were broken by the Renaissance. Many things that were regarded unquestionable (like religious books and authority of Pope) were proved to be wrong. You can take examples to virginity - which was considered as a virtue at before Renaissance (as suggested in New Testament) - but was is considered only a state of body afterwards (Read

There were many logical people from whom today's world benefitted of are like Socrates, Aristotle, Plato and many more.

You can read the Divine Comedy and you'll understand how different the projection of virtues are than what is believed in any religious books.

6:05 AM  
Blogger Razib Rashedin said...

You can call a system anything you like, it's really upto you. Here the opinion of the majority and the minority are constantly ignored for the sake of business profits. One good example is the Iraq war. That's why people have given up on political leaders.

When you go out to rob others house means other country. The robbing has been going on since colonization and it still continues today in Africa,Asia and Middle East. That's why I am talking about state corruption and terrosrosm outside the country and not inside. Human rights is defined and dictated by the West and inspite of having billions of Human Rights organisations, West hasn't stopped committing the worse forms of abuse of human rights.

Spiritual awakening is not the same as logical interpretations of virtues and laws. You said - The modern day European values are mostly dictated by values of Renaissance - not by Christianity. I completely disagree with this statement. This is the wildest myth about West in the East. The European countries are still very much dictated by christianity. The moral values are guided by Christianity and the rest by corporate business.

5:53 PM  
Anonymous cheap car hire said...

"Some of the leaders were corrupt and others were insisting more on industrial development rather than moral development (Western approach towards life)." - why do you think West has not focussed on Moral Development?

3:20 PM  
Anonymous viagra without prescription said...

Arundhati Roy is a good writer I've read some of his works and books, that's perfect because this man is so talented that's why I feel so glad reading about him.

9:47 PM  
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The emergence of the culture industry is indistinguishable from the sublimation of autonomous selfhood.

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