Arundhati Roy 3-pack
The India of its current prime minister Narender Modi is a far cry from the India of Gandhi and Nehru. Tolerance and secularism are being replaced by Hindutva, a Hindu nationalist ideology which seeks to establish Hindu dominance in a country where there are hundreds of millions of religious minorities. Modi is the head of the Bharatiya Janata Party, the BJP. It is the political arm of the Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh, the RSS. One scholar says the RSS "was explicitly influenced by European fascist movements, its leading politicians regularly praised Hitler and Mussolini.” India’s Muslim population of 200 million has been singled out by Modi. Islamophobia has resulted in murders, massacres, and lynchings of Muslims. There have been demonstrations all over India protesting Modi’s policies. Muslim majority Kashmir continues to remain under military rule.
States have their iconic heroes. Founding Fathers. Jinnah in Pakistan, Ataturk in Turkey, George Washington in the U.S., Gandhi in India. To criticize them is risky business as they have been elevated to god-like status. Gandhi is no exception. He is revered and honored. His portrait hangs in many buildings and homes. His statue graces many public squares. And he is on the rupee note. The adulation extends outside of India. The British government recently announced that his statue would be placed in Parliament Square. But all people have cracks in their armor. Gandhi supported the highly elaborate Hindu caste system of social segmentation and stratification, and hereditary class division. While deploring discrimination and oppression of Dalits, formerly known as untouchables, Gandhi did not see the hierarchical caste system as morally wrong and undemocratic.
During the worst years of the dirty war in Argentina, thousands of people were disappeared by the junta. In response, Mothers of the Plaza de Mayo was formed. Their weekly vigils demanding answers brought global attention to the situation in Argentina. In some instances a modicum of justice was achieved. Half a world away in parts of India, such as Chhattisgarh, poor indigenous women have taken up arms to defend their communities and land against predatory corporations. In Kashmir, state security forces picked up a teenage boy. His mother, Parveena Ahanger, an illiterate woman,never heard from him again. She founded the Association of Parents of the Disappeared Persons bringing together those who have lost loved ones. They hold demonstrations and insist on accountability. In these, and other cases, women are moving from being passive victims to active agents. It’s not easy. Sexual and other forms of violence are used as weapons to terrorize women. Interview by David Barsamian.
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.