I have just read Arundhati Roy’s lead piece attacking the India Against Corruption movement.
If we are to believe what she says then the India Against Corruption movement seeks to overthrow the Indian State much like the Maoists. But we, the mere mortals, are not immediately enlightened as to how Ms.Roy made the equation of mostly non-violent, lawful protests of a large group of citizens demanding the passage of a bill with Left wing extremism seeking to eliminate its opponents with indiscriminate violence. One has to patiently follow Ms.Roy’s reasoning, let her build the lengthy argument. Even as we are already bewildered by the seeming irrationality of such mindless equation Ms. Roy begins her argument by chastising the protesting citizenry for their past sins.
Here are their faults according to Ms.Roy: they have not sympathised the least with Irom Sharmila’s fast, they do not take cognizance of the relay fast of thousands of villages protesting against the building of a nuclear plant, they do not raise their voice against what she calls the mining mafia nor have the protesters lent a voice to the farmers struggling against land acquisition proceedings.
You begin to wonder as to why she makes agitating against every single excess of the State, real or imagined, as a pre-requisite in order to be able to take part in the India Against Corruption movement.
Never-mind the fact that the protests in Kudankulam against a nuclear plant being constructed there were fueled by mischievous ill-founded rumours about a fishing ban in the area. Never-mind the fact that the Armed Forces Special Powers Act allows the deployment of forces in disturbed areas without whom the scale of separatist violence would have killed a hundred times more civilians than those killed in excesses of our armed forces, a vast majority of which are investigated and the guilty punished. Never-mind the fact that local agitations against land acquisitions have brought many a projects to a stand-still until land holders concerns were addressed. Never-mind the fact that such agitations are usually accompanied by lengthy litigation’s where the rights and concerns of the ‘victims’ are duly addressed.
The impression one gets is that if you have not joined the fight that Ms.Roy fights then your protests against corruption are neither earnest nor legitimate.
By now one’s sense of bewilderment has reached the point where you sit up and desperately attempt to understand if Ms.Roy is really trying to get at something real. She rolls off a few obligatory mentions about the RSS, Gandhi and Baburam Hazare’s alleged acts of caste-ism. We move on hoping she gets at something more concrete but she dwells into conspiracies again – only a person of Ms.Roy’s stature could have the gall to link the national outcry against crony capitalism to wait for it – a grand conspiracy by corporate giants!
As evidence of this sinister design we are offered the startling fact that the proposed Lokpal bill/Jan Lokpal bill(she does not seem to make the differentiation) very cunningly leaves Corporations, media and NGO’s out of its jurisdiction. It is Ms.Roy’s case that the entire charade of anti-corruption agitation and the demand for a Lokpal institution is in reality designed to affect a more fuller withdrawal of State from public sphere. To facilitate more privatisation. It is her case that this entire drama is being enacted to push through a second round of reforms. Apparently it is this secret pact between corporations, media and a complicit ‘civil society’ that is the idea behind undermining the State. Rather smart of them you think!
I did finish with a naive hope that the bits about a second round of reforms would be true and that middle India has come close to attempting a sizing down of the State. In the real world it wouldn’t be so bad, Ms.Roy! I say lets encourage the protesters just a little bit more. Let us tell them ek dhakka aur do!