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Thursday, June 22, 2006 

Interview with Arundhati Roy- My 2cents

The interview reads more like paragraphs of an article published in
Puthiya Kalacharam or Puthiya Jananayagam or Visai or in any of
those leftist magazines .

Some of her observations are incorrect and as usual she has made many
sweeping statements. My problem with her views is much more than these.

I think Roy believes more in giving her target audience what they want to
hear than in making them to think or to understand. In many issues her
understanding is too shallow to be taken seriously. She gives a cocktail
that appeals to the left, left liberals, and those who are unhappy with
columnists like Thomas Friedman. In one sense she is the reverse of
Thomas Friedman. Both give a partial picture, filtered though their
biases and likes, and both offer a simplified picture. But globalization
is a more complicated issue than both would like us believe.

In case of Roy her biases prevent her to see the reality clearly. While the
Supreme Court has given verdicts that have been opposed by the
environmentalists, it has also given some important verdicts that have
gone a long way in protecting the environment and in shaping the
response of the policy makers.

In case of Naramada dam while the final judgment was not as expected
or desired by those who oppose the project, the stay helped them to
mobilize support for their cause. In that way the project was delayed by
about 5 or 6 years. It was a 2-1 verdict. But in many cases in the 80s and 90s
and even later the Supreme Court had given verdicts that had given relief to
those affected by pollution. The government would not have
taken many measures in environmental protection and pollution control
but for the verdicts given by the Court.

In case of New Delhi, (late) Anil Agarwal, alarmed by the increasing air
pollution, filed a petition in the Supreme Court. It is true that the decision
was controversial and some experts did not consider CNG as an ideal

But the problem would have got worse had there been no intervention
by the Court. The state was not doing what it should be doing. So the Court
had to step in and do something through the verdict. Similarly in cases of
pollution by tanneries in Tamil Nadu the Court gave a verdict that gave
some relief to the affected farmers.

One cannot assess the performance of the Court by taking into account one
or two judgments. It is true that not all judgments by the Court have been
pro-poor or pro-environment. But it is also true that the Court had to
intervene in many issues as the state either failed to do something or
did not bother to implement the laws and guidelines and turned a blind
eye to violations on a massive scale. In case of industries in residential
areas or building violations, in New Delhi, it was the failure of the state
that prompted the Court's intervention. The state does not have a proper
rehabilitation policy, nor has any solid plan to provide housing to the
urban poor. It cares more about the interests of the rich and the
political class than about the interests of citizens. Thus the poor
and marginalized sections pay a heavy price. So instead of depicting
the Court as a villain let us acknowledge that the root cause of most
problems are the failure of the state. I am not holding a brief for the
Court but I will not simplify the issues as she has done.

Similarly on other issues also my perceptions are different from her
even as I share her concern for the poor and farmers. Regarding
Maoists I would not give a romantic picture. In any case the origins
of the Naxal movement could be traced to the late 1960s. The
Maoists by and large still swear by Stalin and Mao. They still
have faith in proletarian dictatorship. It is one thing to oppose
state repression in the name of containing naxals, it is another
thing to romanticize the Naxal/Maoist movement. A liberal
would not share the romantic notions of the Naxals but would
not condone the repression and human rights violations of the

I can go on like this but I better stop here as this may become
a very long post. In any case the calls from the stomach are
becoming louder, so I better attend to them :).

I will read what Roy or Friedman says or writes but take them
with an ounce or half kilogram of salt as the need may be.

Yes. You are absolutely right.

Arundhati thinks too much of herself as a champion of the poor or shall we say the democracy and freedom whatever it means!

She blames the entire society, the media, the Court,the politicians whatnot..

She says tens of thousands of farmers are dying in her native State.. Is it every year or in her life time!

What a fake and shallow woman..

She deserves total condemnation..

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