Before you begin reading this small article, let me make it very clear that I am not a blind supporter of Anna Hazare’s fast and his demands for a Jan Lok Pal Bill. I do not completely support the tactics used by Team Anna be it his demand to have HIS rather than A Lok Pal Bill or the absolute lack of knowledge his ‘team ‘ members on what the bill is about or a lack of knowledge on the discourse around corruption, its roots and possible ways to solve it. Yet after having read Arundhati Roy’s article in one of the dailies, I thought it was appropriate to give a fitting answer to person who has by now made a decent living by giving a list of problems, using loaded adjectives to prove her point, display a hatred towards groups she calls ‘fascists’ and taking up for sections of society who need empowerment not her patronizing write ups on how the state has exploited them (which no doubt it has).
Among the principal arguments Arundhati Roy places is that there is a difference between the means of team Anna and their demands and modus operandi. Now coming from an individual who has in the past called the Maoists ‘Gandhians with Guns’ this is wishful thinking. For one, there is little need to place so much importance on the writings of a person who has got her definition of the word ‘Gandhian’ totally wrong. For Arundhati Roy, the Maoists are Gandhians with guns while Anna Hazare a representation of a bourgeoisie urban agitation with little or incorrect direction.
Any observer of contemporary India would know that there is a vast difference between the Maoists and the agitation behind the Jan Lok Pal Bill but Arundhati Roy has not been able to recognize this difference. She argues that the ‘common’ aim of these two teams is the overthrow of the Indian state. Now the fundamental question is where does she get her facts? Can she produce even one piece of evidence to suggest that Anna Hazare and his team of supporters have attempted to dislodge the Indian state and establish a parallel state with their own men and women as ministers? On the contrary Anna Hazare has repeatedly stated that his aim is not to cause political instability at any given point. Can this compare with the activities of her Maoist Gandhians who have explicitly killed, looted and shown no respect towards dialogue or democracy that we are and will remain proud of?
It is essential to call the bluff of ‘activists’ such as Arundhati Roy who have now made a handsome living by repeatedly abusing the Sangh Parivar and the RSS. For her to write that among the answers one will get would be ‘Vande Mataram’, ‘Bharat Mata Ki Jai’ and ‘Jai Hind’ and then use this as a means of ridicule is most unfortunate. If Ms. Roy can give the title of Gandhian on her Maoist friends she must also know what the Great Soul thought of Vande Mataram and that Jai Hind and Bharat Mata Ki Jai need not be interpreted as something that is majoritarian or against sections of Indian society. By planting such lies in the minds of people, Arundhati Roy and her ilk are going a great disservice not only to this country (towards whom Ms. Roy’s respect is also limited) but also displaying a very poor reading of the history of India and its culture.
Like any person belonging to her profession of deploring the Indian Right, she cites Anna Hazare’s support towards Raj Thackeray and Narendra Modi. Now if Ms. Roy can cause immense pain to sections of our society by unleashing her half baked views on India then why cant she tolerate people who hold views that are not in accordance with hers? And while she often accuses sections of India of being completely unaware of the ground realities where her Gandhians operate, let me also tell her that her views on Narendra Modi are completely out of sync with how the people of Gujarat be it Christian, Muslim or Hindu view it. She needs to be reminded that a predominantly Muslim seat has recently given its thumbs up to Narendra Modi’s work in Gujarat. If she was so concerned about free speech and truth why was she silent when Maulana Vastanvi was sacked in the nation of Gandhi for speaking the truth? Are her principles of free speech, honesty, and compassion for the poor selective? Does she only look at the truth the way she wants to? And why does she have to mention Narendra Modi in an issue that does not involve him? Does she not know that his is the only government to voluntarily set up investigation against the charges put by the Congress party?
Her calling the Jan Lok Pal ‘draconian’ and creating 2 oligarchies instead of one is fair enough but then the problem comes in when she goes on about the defects of Anna’s bill without actually giving a list of tangible solutions on how the problem can be solved. This again is typical Arundhati Roy- list out all the problems under the sun, use adjectives, smell a fascist hand but just fall short of giving any solution. What Roy also does is rightfully questions the failure of both the bills to identify what is the cause of corruption- is corruption only something that needs to be policed? Moreover can there be an all-encompassing definition on corruption? Agreed that the answer in both cases lies in the negative but then comes another question- why does Arundhati Roy assume that the mall opening and the hawkers being banned is mutually exclusive? Why cant we have a government or a set up where hawkers are given the opportunity to rise and finally set up shop in malls or dream big rather than the energies of the government only going to ensure that neither do the hawkers evict themselves nor do new innovative establishments spring up. It is this thinking of keeping the poor poorer so that people like Arundhati Roy find ‘objects’ to patronize that is painful and very cheapening.
Arundhati Roy may have issues with this issue being transformed into one on a right to protest rather than corruption but the issue is a very valid one. When one sees the same Ambica Soni who was as involved in 1975 as she is now, we do know there is something really wrong with how things are working today. Similarly, when she is charged of sedition or faces other charges she and her followers are very quick to invoke freedom of protest and dissent then why not now? Even beyond that, no part of the hunger strike has been devoted to protest the arrest. When the issue was to protest freedom to dissent it was done- now again the issue has shifted back to the prevention of corruption and having a strong Lok Pal Bill, irrespective of who authors it. And can anybody agree with Arundhati Roy that there exists an Afghanistan like situation in India? Again, adjectives are being used and hype created to illustrate a point and who does it better than Arundhati Roy?
Finally, let it be made absolutely clear to Arundhati Roy that anything to do with the RSS is neither vulgar nor criminal. The Sangh Parivar retains full right to protest or be a part of protest on issues they feel are lacking both inside and outside the country. She also conveniently forgets that her own Gandhians with Guns are supportive of an ideology or individuals such as Stalin and Mao, about whose evil deeds we still do not know. It becomes a crime to receive any money from the West or corporates but it is fair to invoke Mao, Stalin, kill innocent servicemen and receive money from elements that are working against atleast what we proudly call India. To conclude, Arundhati Roy argues why she would rather not be Anna- let us tell her we too are thankful she is not Anna Hazare or anybody of that eminence. We can showcase Arundhati Roy as an example of our speech (her dearer countries would have long silenced her) but to give her so much importance and respect as many have done for Anna Hazare or even elected governments would signify the real Kaliyug of Indian society.