Wednesday, 27 April 2011

Arundhati Roy: "Stop the waste. Recapture the imagination. "

Interview with Indian author and activist

In 2011 India will likely grow faster than China. Yet not everything chapati and egg in the land of Tata, Infosys and Reliance. MO * talked about this in Delhi with world-renowned author and activist Arundhati Roy.
Arundhati Roy's only home when I call her, returned early from Japan, earthquake, tsunami and the growing nuclear disaster still in her voice. When I next day at her apartment for hours talking to her about the state of things in India, remains the violence of the universe clearly bouncing in her answers. The realization that they themselves could disappear into the spectacular nature of violence, is increasing its focus on the everyday details of life: the white lilies in a vase, a green beard bird suddenly to the window and believes the spring, the silence. That silence, looking them in the classical Indian music in which she was not so long engrossed.
Arundhati Roy is in a meditative mood. In Japan, she saw that "we build a civilization on the thin layer of ice on the constant availability of electricity. Her own life is at a turning point: "I feel that I, as a writer, did a full circle," she says. "I have a wide range of major social issues raised, and threatening to repeat myself as I continue on the path I have walked the last ten years. It is time for reflection, for a new phase in my life, for another letter. " But first she wants to answer my questions about the great social debates in India. We start at the Mahatma Gandhi National Rural Employment Guarantee Act, a major social programs that the poor of rural India a minimum employment and therefore a minimal income. India 2011, a 1233-page compendium of public sector, states that the program no less than in 2009 reached 45.1 million families. Impressive, right?
Arundhati Roy: That is indeed impressive as a collection action for the millions who fall by the wayside of economic growth. Meanwhile the government has continued with its economic policies, even if this leads to more and more people no longer own or maintain their income because they can take care of their land or driven from their forests, or as water and energy privatized. This injustice can not be rectified by giving them a handful of rupees for breaking rocks and digging wells. Moreover, there are increasing reports of corruption, of which the large flow of funds intended for the poorest prime purpose of the accounts of local politicians, contractors and brokers to marshmallows.
Economic growth is still well taken millions out of poverty?
Arundhati Roy: The economic liberalization, the Indian society in turmoil. The feudal society with its traditions rooted in inequality was the mixer of the neoliberal growth removed, creating a new consumer class-was given a very attractive global markets. You also have a massive underclass that is considered redundant because it has no means to consume. The only thing that underclass offered is the promise that they can later be part of the dream as they are today major consumer policy accepts that disowns them. The first thing to do is destroy that dream consumption, because it creates an intolerable rapid destruction of the earth and its natural resources.
You want the hundreds of millions of poor people do not return to a sober lifestyle "?
Arundhati Roy: Of course not, I just want the consuming class know they are talking about a different strategy to throw. I want to expose the lies of the middle class. Whenever there is a dammed river, a forest cut down or expropriated a village, one comes away with the argument that it is necessary to develop the country and fight poverty. In reality, this destructive development only in the short-term interests of those who consume more electricity and stuff. Who really wants to do something in the name of the poor, but should not consume the waste stop. That would create room for development by the poor themselves can be selected and managed. Such a radical change does not arise as an individual to eat organic or natural cotton wear. This obsession with personal correctness is a form of social anorexia: because you did not get control of the system outside yourself, you obsessively monitor your own behavior. There will always be contradictions in our lives. Gandhi was also supported by the industrialists of his day, the Birlas and the Tatas. It is never a pure matter of personal virtue, but of policy.
How would you describe the current economic policy of the Indian government to characterize?
Arundhati Roy: If internal colonization. Europe justified the colonization of the rest of the world with beautiful concepts of civilization and progress, while in reality was a way to get a handle on the natural resources of other nations. I must not tell you as a Belgian. India, which sees itself as a twenty first-century superpower, such a possibility has not, so colonizes itself. In places where the rich in the soil, colonize India's own population and territory. To justify the concepts of civilization are also here, happiness and progress redefined. Yet success is the poorest in recent years in projects of the largest companies in the world to stop when they are vulnerable to further undermined.
Those successes stop the companies, but also create any progress for the poor and tribal groups.
Arundhati Roy: For each megadam which was built, there were other options not chosen or realized. Progress is not a one way street, but a question of choosing between alternatives. This presupposes that the monopoly of the capitalist imagination is broken and that different representations requalify and space. The tribal imagination and worldview it crucial, but the Gandhian vision a sustainable perspective than the current consumerism. And I do not mean that all cotton woven to be. It often has more to do with self-affirmation than an economic alternative. But textile deserves a new approach, a synthetic alternative to the giant machine that has become today.
India is the world's largest democracy, but is increasingly faced with armed uprisings. Progress is not a one way street, but a choice between alternatives. 
How do you explain this contradiction?
Arundhati Roy: India is a democracy in the better neighborhoods of Delhi, Mumbai or Bangalore. But if you look at the interior of Manipur, Orissa or Chhattisghar, then it is unlikely that people will you talk about a democracy. Democracy, like development was synonymous with neoliberal free trade. In the fifties fought imperialism even democracy in Iran and the Arab countries, today they try to introduce democracy in arms because one has learned to manipulate her. In India it is almost impossible for a political campaign without the support of big business. A majority of the parliamentarians themselves have been a millionaire. Big business has all the democratic space, with its parties, media and legal institutions over-bought. Of course even this democracy preferable to dictatorships and authoritarian regimes, yet it is clear that the current form is not equal to the task of the current crises to address. Only when we face that problem and articulate, we can begin to formulate alternatives.
Which alternative is you have in mind?
Arundhati Roy: We should think not so much a blueprint for a future form of government, but a modified form of opposition to the dominant structures and stories of today. In recent months the Indian newspapers have been filled over the Radia Tapes [intercepted telephone conversations of an industrial lobbyist, showing how great the influence of big bosses on the composition of government and private offices, gg]. These recordings confirm what we have been saying for years: that the politics represents the people but the business interests of a small elite. Even the middle class no longer benefit from this way of working. There continue to talk about is a form of resistance.
Which brings us back to the armed resistance. Is that an "appropriate form" of resistance?
Arundhati Roy: We moralize quickly as marginalized people take up arms. Their lives and their environment is destroyed to make our lifestyle possible, but if they are armed resistance, we find it inappropriate. Is an economic policy that makes 820 million people survive on less than twenty rupees (thirty cents) per day may be no violence? Are the two hundred thousand farmers who committed suicide not an expression of structural violence? As long as I do not pick up arms, I will not preach the armed resistance. But I would ask what the adivasis (original inhabitants of India, gg) to do that live in a village that four-day march away from the nearest city, when their village is surrounded by a thousand soldiers who want them off their land drive so that industrial development can take place. Should they go on hunger strike? Nonviolent actions have an audience that can respond to the unjust violent confrontation between government and non-violent response. I think that adivasis themselves should decide how they react and what kind of resistance to them can be productive.
In Kashmir in recent years, elected to the armed struggle to omit because it only resulted in increasing militarization of the valley. You have firmly supported the requirement for a free ranged Kashmir, which was heavily against you.
Arundhati Roy: How the power elite so worried is that there are cracks in the wall of propaganda for years Kashmir was built. And the young Kashmiris themselves who have caused them through stories and images of their nonviolent resistance and the brutal military response thereto via Facebook and YouTube to spread. The youth of Kashmir have been three summers in a row held their own Tahrir rebellion, but the rest of the world remains blind to it. The hopeless conflict in Kashmir increasingly corrupts the whole political and social system of India. The permanent presence of more than half a million soldiers in Jammu & Kashmir has created enormous interest in continuing the conflict, and that comes at the expense of other priorities in India. The entire nation slips into a state where violence is acceptable as long as it provides a constant increase in the gross national product.
Are there ever times when you are glad to be Indian?
Arundhati Roy: I particularly appreciate the Indian heritage, the wilderness of the mind that this is real. For me, India is not a nation but a way of life that allows to color outside the lines, not all attempts to control disorder. I've never encountered women so free and powerful as here in India, though this time the country where babies are killed because they are female. The complexity of India is so large that you are all emotions and human capabilities need to understand it and made you one hundred percent live intensely. That leaves both admiration and disgust, and so I know.

From 'beautiful curls' to 'poison pen'

Arundhati Roy gained international stardom with her novel The God of Small Things. The Indian middle class wore on her hands because she thought her own ambitions Roy imagined and realized. In the nineties wanted to say two to three hundred million middle class Indians' status as a developing and join as soon as possible a full role to play globally. The love that the writer was translated into forty languages, ended with a loud bang when Arundhati Roy in 1998 the Indian nuclear weapons, by the same middle class with much show of national pride-received mercilessly condemned in her essay The End of the imagination.
Roy said since no novel, but many critical essays, on the Narmada dam, the violent Hindu nationalism, India's energy policy ... The love Arundhati-in-the pretty-curls hit into hatred for Arundhati-with-the-toxic pen. In 2010 published a long report that her week with the Maoist guerrilla's in Chhattisgarh described in a way that yielded very much sympathy for the armed uprising in the heart of India. And when they end 2010 in which she made two speeches in the cause of the Kashmiri separatists argued, was the final gate of the dam. If it is the Indian media had been lying, she was indicted for treason.

Courtesy: Gie Goris

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