[Reader-list] Reg: The problem with Arundhati Roy

Rakesh Iyer rakesh.rnbdj at gmail.com
Sun Nov 7 05:37:43 IST 2010

Dear Pheeta

Thanks for the reply. My response is put below.

According to me, you have stated two things regarding facts. Firstly, you
believe that facts for you contain moral or ethical positions also. For me
they are separate. Here we differ. But we can agree to differ.

The other disagreement is that facts can be manipulated or generated. This
is more an issue of research than anything else. According to me, to say
that because facts can be manipulated or generated, we should only indulge
in ethical or moral positions is a complete nonsense.

As per this argument, I should believe that globalization is always bad or
that nuclear bombs are always bad just because someone has some ethical
position. But holding such a position according to me, without any facts, is
a complete nonsense. Nuclear bombs must be bad based on certain things they
do to human beings. Otherwise it will be a case of every human being
becoming a khap panchayat in herself or himself.

Hence, a total agreement with you on the idea that facts must be combined
with ethics, but then for you facts are the same as ethical positions (or
personal ethics). For me, they are different.

The second point you make is that Arundhati need not take positions. Fair
enough. More than that, I am interested in knowing her actual position on
things, at least what she does oppose. What is her position on Azadi or even
Naxalism? And seriously speaking, what does she want to achieve in those
areas? It's one thing advocating the fact that tribals become Naxalites due
to an attack on their dignity, and another stating that the Adivasi way of
life is the best compared to how we live.

That is exactly what Gandhi said, and also why Dalits today prefer Ambedkar
over Gandhi (not strange indeed that Ambedkar statues with him in a suit and
tie are common across villages where Dalits don't have enough clothes to
cover their bodies). If I am appalled at the so-called movement to fight
Naxals (Salwa Judum), I am equally appalled at the romanticization of the
tribal way of life. (They need education and health please).

Moreover, I think we have now passed that time when we can just raise
concerns and get away with it. We, all of us, have to start looking for some
or the other way to solve our problems, our crisis which confounds us. Just
knowing about it and doing nothing is not going to help. This is not the
search for 'God', dear Pheeta, it's the search for our lives.

If we need to solve the problem of education for all, we will have to work
out possible solutions. If we need to ensure health for all, we have to do
the same. If we need to ensure good food for all, we have to do the same.
And the same continues for other areas also. I don't say you need to know
the answer for each and every thing now or at this moment of time, but there
is no harm spending our lives in the search for those possible answers so
that our future generations don't have to live in trouble.

And finally a point or two on ethics of engagement. Of course it bothers me,
for people to to think they can get away from their duties (both
constitutionally and more importantly, of a human being) by declaring
themselves 'mobile republics'.

The better way is to fight the system. She doesn't do research, nor does she
lead ground movements or participate in them. All the time she has is to
make speeches or debate. It's all great for forums like Sarai, but when it
comes to doing something, it has nothing. Seriously. In fact, one of the
reasons why I have mostly stopped putting posts in Sarai is because most of
the posts which I have put (including this one) are just that: the so called
debate without either any research or any fight on the ground. What good
will this do anyway? (except exhibiting our linguistic and typing skills)

My time in Araria, conducting social audit for NREGA, seemed in fact one of
the best times simply because I was indeed doing something. Before that, I
thought Sarai is doing something great, but slowly I have realized that
world is more beyond typing emails.

It would be much better if people start putting their time on research and
start putting it on Sarai, including Mrs. Roy of course. Or if that were too
much, at least let us fight on the ground the movements which can cause a
change and write about them simultaneously. Mere words are just like
garbage, that's all.


P.S: Roy making me bother about her mobile republic is only because I am
willing to listen, and so are you, and are bothered. For many in the middle
class, she is just a trash. And for the BJP, they would just burn her and
throw her ashes into the ocean to signify the victory of nationalism (for
her views on secession).

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