[Reader-list] In Defence Of The Bitch…

Wali Arifi waliarifi3 at gmail.com
Tue Mar 30 11:39:42 IST 2010


In Defence Of The Bitch…

*By Trevor Selvam*

28 March, 2010

For the past few years, I have seen the hate that has been spewed out at
Arundhuti Roy. There are various categories of Indian men and women who do
not like her. Let us deal with the men first, as their hatred (camouflaged
or obvious) for an intelligent female writer is nearly reflexive. Women on
the other hand do not seem to have their hate mongering so mordant and
merciless and generally do not spew out sexist hatred.

So, by all accounts she is a bitch, a cunt, a Muslim arse-licker and so much
more. Who are these people who have such wonderful things to say about her?
In the beginning I would not bother to read the responses and letters to
various articles on the web. Now, I do scan through them, unpalatable as
most of them are. Because they reflect on the psyche of the nation. They
mirror the incredible mental descent and cultural depravity of a
post-Bollywood, web-savvy class, cut off from historical precedent, unaware
of India’s socio-economic past, unaware of rational, sensible discourse and
debate, ignorant about India’s own philosophical traditions, let alone world
history-- about colonization and the genocide against aboriginal people.
What vitriol, filth and misogyny runs through the veins of these Indians!
When Sarojini Naidu, Aruna Asaf Ali, Mridula Sarabhai and other women spoke
and wrote essays about their feelings about the people of India not a single
misogynist invective was hurled at them. Today, when Medha Patkar, Vandana
Shiva, Arundhuti Roy, Nandini Haksar and even Sania Mirza reflect on their
experiences, Indian men of the above variety unleash their religious,
sexual, tribal, super-nationalist, obscurantist prejudices immediately.

So, first there are the flag waivers and false-pride upholders of the Bharat
Shining Bajrang Brigade. No matter what, for these people, there are certain
aspects about their notion of India that immediately induces a knee-jerk
response. And they have been toilet trained from birth to have this
Pavlovian response. They must defecate on intelligent, conscious, articulate
women who bring the facts out bluntly. With them you don’t bring up issues
like India’s miserable record after 62 years of independence in literacy,
social hygiene, health, body mass index of 80% of the population, female
survival rate, diarrheal deaths, farmer suicides, mass deforestation (except
in Maoist areas as agreed upon by the GOI) human development index (in the
sub Sahara category), mass increase in poverty, (please do not compare with
China or Brazil—because China doctors the numbers, no matter what and Brazil
is a flash in the pan!! Even though the UN and the Economist have praised
their performance in these areas in the last five years). So for them,
Arundhuti Roy is a bitch. And they say so in responses to blogs, websites,
newsline sites etc. They have no use for her. Rather than deal with the
irrefutable facts and the content of what she raises, they end up fermenting
in an anti-intellectualist bog. Responses sprinkled with undertones of
religious and communalist hatred are rolled out. Like Barack Obama had to
deal with his middle name of Hussein, Arundhuti has to deal with Suzanna.
Like the USA has its pot bellied, red-necked, tea party activists shouting
“nigger socialist” at Obama, India’s pan-chewing inarticulate Modi-men call
her a Christian-Commie bitch.

Then there are the other men and some women, who say they have a problem
with her politics! They write the blogs. They are guest columnists. They say
she is “sleepwalking”, “moonwalking”, that she is romanticizing tribals,
that she is exploiting her Booker fame and going where she does not have
acumen and others do! She is pushing the boundaries of journalism, rushing
to immature conclusions, raising issues that should not be discussed or have
been thrashed out in the annals of deconstructionist academic journals or
need to be understood in the terminology of Eurocentric terminology from a
hundred years gone by. They talk about the “rumours of Maoism,” the
discourse of counter-terrorism, warning about not being influenced by the
discourse of insurgency and substitutionalist rhetoric, because it has
become sophisticated and unlike the times of Birsa Munda and Sidhu Kanu. In
those times when the Brits called anyone “badmash” they were really meaning
peasant militants and “dacoit village” meant a community that was in a mood
of resistance. Today, they warn, there is a Maoist discourse that
overshadows the tribal voice. So, whatever you hear, even if you have been
there and talked to ground level tribal activists and villagers, it is still
coloured by Maoist rhetoric. Who is whitewashing whom? The Adivasis have
become automatons in the hands of the Maoists! Like the blue skinned avatars
with long tails, they need urban-skinned, wheel chair bound (many skirmishes
in many journals!) what-nuts to show the way! Because, there is no
unfiltered tribal discourse anymore. It is all elite discourse. And all this
is expertly analyzed and blogged-out from Delhi and Mumbai (without
venturing out once to Maoist guerrilla zones) while holding on dearly to
obscurantist and pedantic rhetoric from the time of Leon Trotsky. If there
is any group or cult that latches on to a Marxist nameplate and lobs stones
and pebbles from collapsing rooftops at the masses below, it is this
variant. They have a handful of disconnected souls, desperately seeking a
space on the “negotiating table with PCC” through statements of disunity,
discovering the theory of “sandwiches”, appearing regal-like on TV panels
with the nutjob circus of Arnab and Barkha and through their hobbit-like

And for these folks, suddenly, unconditional non-violence has become gospel.
It is somewhat pedestrian, is it not, to suggest that violence must be a
last resort? Do these folks really believe that the Maoist organizers have a
pathological need to initiate violence? Do they really think that the last
few years of active and physical dispossession instituted by the state and
police forces, have been carried out with benign persuasion? Do these folks
really comprehend the nature of the sadness and deprivation that Adivasis
have had to contend with for decades, before there was some sort of
organized resistance which led to some minimum gains, which they now want to
defend? Sometimes, if it were not for the complicated academic language they
use, their logic is no different from that in the mainstream media, whose
definitions of violence, “caught in-between”, democracy, upholding the
recourse to legal institutions seem paranormally identical. It is like there
is no difference between the rant of the Times of India and the refined
sardonic comments of those who want to cut down Arundhuti Roy in their
fussy, chintzy blogs. They want to call her a bitch too. But they won’t. So
they say she moonwalks and sleepwalks; like an imbecile, like a whiny errant
spoilt girl, like a non-academic truant who has not studied their gospels on
Permanent Revolution.

In the beginning they said, that Naxalites have not given up the tactics of
annihilation, although if they bothered to read carefully through the
documents of the Maoists, the old annihilation politics had long ago been
dispensed with. In those days, small groups of individuals, invariably with
college cadre forming a sizable section would swoop down on a local jotedar
or landlord without initiating any mass movement or mass activity in the
region. The idea was that “action” would create mass initiative and
interest. Today, the Maoists reportedly use execution only after there has
been a verdict passed in the Local government (Janathan Sarkar). Of course,
one could be totally cynical about such exercises, but would that not be a
flagrant case of urban elitism? Sometimes, the tribal community has been far
more insistent on instituting violent retribution than the guerrilla units
themselves. Whenever an informer is executed, especially those who have been
responsible for killing Maoists and tribal sympathizers by bringing in the
police and the COBRA/EFR/CRPF, the media and their “left” wing democratic
proselytizers have ridiculed the process of arriving at such “peoples’
court” decisions, without investigating on the ground. The incident becomes
the politics, and the perfunctory analysis of the incident becomes the
planted discourse. No effort is made to find out what was behind the
incident. That cadres and leaders of the CPI(M) operate as police informers
and “dalals” is not a major mystery for the people in these areas. But, for
these “left” wing bloggers, who until yesterday denied the existence of
aboriginal people ,(only 8% of the population thanks to centuries of
genocide against them), “now tribals are killing tribals.” Then they started
writing articles that said “It will be hard to find a single Bhattacharya,
Banerjee, Mukherjee, Basu or such like among the dead.” Well, that has also
started happening. As of yesterday a top Maoist squad leader Bikram alias
Abhisek Mukherjee — a former Jadavpur University student—was killed along
with three other rebels in an encounter with COBRA commandos in Hathilot
forest of Jangalmahal’s Lakhanpur on Thursday night. Either way you are
damned. Whether it is Adivasis or non-Adivasis. Even crocodiles, if they
could, would sue for the usage of their non-existent tears by such

In the beginning they said, that these Maoists do not seem to build any mass
movements. It is all secretive and militarist. Then articles started
appearing about twenty years of sustained land distribution, cooperative
farming, tax collection and distribution, medical clinics, irrigation
programs, alternative energy and environmental programs, literacy campaigns,
mobile health clinics and the participation of ten of thousands of people.
Pictures started appearing of mass gatherings (never mind Arundhuti Roy’s
pictures of the Bhumkal celebrations). Do mass movements have to be urban
trade union organizations, petition campaigns and “Maidan Chullo”
processions only?

In the beginning they said Maoists do not have any urban presence, they do
not have any support amongst city intellectuals. They even ruefully said,
it’s not like the old Naxalite days! Belatedly they have started a campaign
to attack those intellectuals who have stated their clear cut opposition to
the policies of the Indian government and in support of the Maoists. They
are discovering that more and more city intellectuals and academics find
that it is more important to oppose the government’s proto-fascist tactics
than to criticize the Maoists for their failings. So they have started
attacking these progressive intellectuals through their blogs, writings and
attempted caricatures of the Maoists.

In the beginning they also said the Maoists had no tribal and women leaders
and when the State started killing Maoist commanders who were women and
tribals, and there were more and more spokespersons of tribal origins
speaking through mass organizations, they started saying that they do not
have any women in their Politburo!

What Arundhuti Roy has been saying for the past several years is nothing new
to the Maoists. For years they have been trying to bring to the forefront
(their media consciousness and ability to engage the interest of mainstream
journalists, domestic and international, is relatively new) ---is the
collapse of the possibilities of bringing about social change in India
though regular mechanisms. India does not have the organs to promote social
equity anymore. They have collapsed completely since the neo-liberalist
drive to convert the entire Indian economy into a “do it or otherwise”
coercive entity subservient to a handful of large anti-environmentalist
business houses. India’s parliament is a sty, full of criminal millionaires.
The Congress Party has been running the Salwa Judum and their new avatar,
the SPO force. Who is going to negotiate with those who have knives to the
throats of the Adivasis? Who is kidding who about exhausting legal channels
for change? Where is the scope for challenging national laws that permit
USA-like detention without trial systems? Even the Supreme Court’s verdict
to produce missing Adivasis within 24 hours has gone completely ignored.
Where is the mechanism for implementing seriously the various commissions on
minority status and women’s status? Everyone knows that passing bills in
Assembly and Parliament are symbolic gestures.

One can dispute many of the tactics of the Maoists and one can critique many
of their actions, but it is time for India’s intellectuals to comprehend
that diminishing and ridiculing the stand taken by Arundhuti Roy will be a
permanent scar on the evolving history of this nation. She is merely stating
that the regular channels for genuine change in India are exhausted. Someone
has to state this very clearly. That those who are attempting alternate
methods are being violently suppressed. And it is their story that she wants
to tell. It is time for all the alternative left and democratic opposition
to come together on a common platform (even if they disagree on many issues)
and jointly oppose this horrendous Green Hunt that is in full swing now,
before full scale massacres start happening.

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