India: Field Notes on Democracy
The ads on TV whisper “Incredible India.” And then you see images of temples, colorful textiles, yogis, tigers, and the Taj. It’s almost a cliche: India, with 1.2 billion people is the world’s largest democracy. However democracy is more than just elections. When you examine the actual policies of the Indian state you find a country with acute inequalities. Alongside its IT billionaires, Bollywood and cricket stars and industrial magnates there are more hungry people in India than in all of sub-Saharan Africa. A juggernaut of injustices has sparked a wave of rebellions. In addition to long-standing resistance in Kashmir and the northeast region there are armed insurgencies in a large swath of the country. Predatory corporations are pushing people, largely indigenous, off their land to gain access to resources. It’s all done in the name of progress and democracy.
Arundhati Roy is a world-renowned writer and global justice activist. The New York Times calls her, “India’s most impassioned critic of globalization and American influence.” She is the author of the novels The God of Small Things, for which she received the Booker Prize, and The Ministry of Utmost Happiness. Her book of interviews with David Barsamian is The Checkbook & the Cruise Missile. A collection of her essays My Seditious Heart is published by Haymarket.