Not even a fake news article had attracted so much of traffic and reaction in a single day as my open letter to Arundhati Roy did (I’m not patting my back but mere stating a fact that might be insignificant for you). While most of the reactions were on expected lines (I knew many people were hell irritated with Roy calling India “bhookha nanga”, and they would lap it up), some of the reactions amused, shocked and disgusted me.
There were comments, again on expected lines, on both the facebook page as well as here on this blog, which were abusive (towards Ms. Arundhati Roy, me, or to fellow readers); that was disgusting, but as a rule, I would ignore them and not comment upon their “merits”.
The other reaction, rather criticism, was that the language I used was unfair, unkind and uncouth (?). Hello! This article was published and categorized in “Rants” to begin with. When I shared it on twitter and facebook i.e. when I “solicited” readership, I put that “rants” and “strong language” disclaimers upfront. If you were not comfortable with “rants”, you should never have bothered to read it. If you click a link with NSFW disclaimer at your workplace, only you are to be blamed if you lose your job.
The third reaction, which was the most important for me and because of which I’m writing this follow up article, was the confusion whether the article was just on Arundhati Roy or about the wider Kashmir issue. I replied to a couple of comments, but I thought I should make that clear to each and every one, and hence this article.
Well, my open letter to Arundhati Roy was “only” about her ubiquitous claims of being a rights activist and NOT at all any commentary on the Kashmir issue. It was a “rant” against her, and not against the Kashmiris, not even against the “separatist” Kashmiris.
But why, you may ask, why this rant?
I would ask you, why does anyone rant? When one is upset, angry, irritated or hurt. I was hurt. And I was hurt by a “truth”.
Yeah, it might appear as if I’m making a U-turn, but of course, the issues that Arundhati Roy regurgitated (not “raised”, mind you) surely has tinges of truth that hurts one’s “national pride”.
And that “truth” is that there are thousands in this country, some would claim millions, living in that state called Jammu & Kashmir, who simply don’t feel like “Indians”, even as rest of us scratch our heads and feel clueless over what so horrible have we done to them to make them feel that way (I know many of you activists types are itching to recite the list of “atrocities” performed by the Indian state over Kashmiri people, but just hold on for a few minutes).
So Arundhati Roy deserved that “rant” for speaking the “truth”? Not really. As she herself wrote in her statement, “I said what I, as well as other commentators, have written and said for years.”
One is inclined to ask, why no rant against those “other commentators”, why pick on Arundhati?
Because Arundhati Roy is a charlatan. She “pretends” to be what she is not. And this is exactly why I don’t like India TV, which pretends to be a “news channel” but is not, or Arindam Chaudhuri, who pretends to be “an educator” but is not; those who had been following Faking News would know that these two have often been at the receiving ends of my “rants”.
And that’s why I don’t “dislike” Chetan Bhagat, because he doesn’t pretend to be a “literary writer”, which he is not, and calls himself an “entertainment writer”. A couple of his interviews that I have read, he has candidly admitted that he writes “for the masses”. And hence I was not being too sarcastic in my open letter, when I said, “Today I’m proud of Chetan Bhagat, seriously.” Yeah, but I hate his ToI editorials; he should stop “pretending” there.
Anyway, coming back to Arundhati, I don’t like her (and ranted against her) because she is intellectually dishonest and an attention seeker. My rant was more an attempt to show the hollowness of her “support” to a cause than the “cause” itself. Maybe if you read it ignoring the swear words, if you are not comfortable with them, you’d come to know what I mean.
e.g. when I ask her why she didn’t care to visit the house of any Kashmiri Pandit in Delhi even as her “statement” makes a claim that she was fighting for their cause, I am attempting to show her “intellectual dishonesty”, and when I say, “Absolutely, you have NEVER said or written anything NEW. You just pick up issues, after reading the morning newspapers, and join the bandwagon”, I am hinting at her “attention seeking” character. I am neither commenting on the plight of Kashmiri Pandits nor am dismissing the “bandwagons” she jumps over as being frivolous ones.
Now some of you may argue that even if she was intellectually dishonest or attention seeking, at least she “raises” some issues and makes people and the establishment take notice of them.
Seriously, you believe that?
What great help has she done to any “movement” or “cause” she has supported till date? In fact, she weakens the arguments and causes of those with whom she sides, thanks to her hyper-exaggerated and ridiculous statements.
Don’t’ believe me? Because I call myself “Pagal Patrakar” (and not “pretend” like Madam Arundhati to be sane)? Fine, I’d quote others, who are not “pagal” and make you see the point:
Roy’s early essays were written in a voice that some progressive Americans would call “prophetic,” but like many prophets she tended to overstate her case. There are no small things anymore. This stridency tended to make her writing less agreeable, too. What came next was predictable: September 11, which deranged many things, had the effect of turning her into a zealot.
This is not written by some agent of Brahminical India, this is the opinion of Isaac Chotiner, one of the executive editors of The New Republic, an American magazine of politics and the arts, which is acknowledged to be supporting “liberal social and social democratic economic policies”. Isaac makes these comments while reviewing one of her books/essays, and further notes:
But this book is not a plea for a more humane capitalism (something we urgently need). Instead, it is an attack on many of the good and democratic aspects of modern Indian life. Even worse, it is an assault on democracy itself. Roy’s status as a famous woman of the far left has obscured the fact that she is an outright reactionary.
Precisely! Arundhati Roy doesn’t attack any “capitalist” “corporate” or “Brahminical” establishment through her ridiculous statements, but she attacks “democracy” itself, and that makes her a text-book case of a “reactionary”. You can read the full article here.
That was a “liberal” and “progressive” American calling her a “zealot” and “reactionary”, and that American is not “pagal”, unless Arundhati fans choose to call him that (and they may, for they love her so much and hate America so much!). Fine, if poor Isaac is termed “pagal”, I’d now quote someone who calls himself “great” – The Greatbong.
For the religious fundamentalist the villain is anyone who does not accept his God(s) as their savior(s). For Roy, the principal evil agents are the “oppressors”—— USA, UK, Israel ,India, and corporations (not specifically in that order) with her animus being directed specifically towards upper-class so-called “Brahminical” Hindus.
That’s Arnab Ray, a famous blogger and author, who blogs with a penname Greatbong. Unfortunately he calls his blog as “Random Thoughts of a Demented Mind”, but in this article, he clearly betrays the “demented mind” of Arundhati Roy (before the guardians of good language and civilized behavior pounce on me, I’d like to clarify that I have used “demented” as a synonym for “irrational” or “unreasonable” for Ms. Roy, not “crazy”, which I have kept for myself, not sure what Arnab means for himself).
One of the sermons I received for ranting and using “bad language” against Arundhati from the pro-Arundhati gang was those famous lines by the German anti-Nazi activist, Pastor Martin Niemöller: then they came for me — and by that time no one was left to speak up.
Niemöller talks about Communists, Jews, Unionists and Catholics in his famous statement, but he doesn’t call upon people to speak up for the rights of “zealots”, “reactionaries” or “fundamentalists”.
And seriously, I’m dismayed that people think that Arundhati Roy can make any difference to the Kashmir issue. She raised a stink over the tribal/Naxal issue, and when the government asked her to be a part of the solution, she backed off. That’s her contribution to one of her pet-causes.
Here in Kashmir, more than 100 people were killed in the last couple of months, and the government was forced to appoint “interlocutors” to solve the problem. Geelani might dismiss the appointment of interlocutors as an eyewash, but when did you hear a nation appointing “interlocutors” to talk to its own citizens? This term is usually used to refer to people helping nations talk to each other. Remember Shashi Tharoor had got in some “controversy” over its use?
Was the government pushed to take that step due to the assays or essays of Arundhati Roy? In fact, once she came into the picture, poor Geelani faced the threat of being arrested over sedition charges! That’s her “Midas touch” to a problem she espouses, or “pretends” to espouse.
Nonetheless, Arundhati has EVERY right to say what she told, and NO WAY should sedition charges be initiated against her. She has been “ranting” against the Indian state for long and daring them to arrest her. She shouldn’t be arrested, for “ranting” is no crime.
And fans of Arundhati, please give me some rights to “rant” against her, especially when I don’t “pretend” to be indulging in anything else but in a rant.
And you know, fans of Arundhati, you were not hurt by my “rant” or “bad language”, you were hurt because truth hurts. The truth about your dear Arundhati hurts, I know. I’m sorry to have hurt you.
Now I wonder if I should “clarify” what my take is on the Kashmir issue, because a couple of those who commented on the article asked me to do so. I feel like putting my two cents here, but I won’t do it due to two reasons – it merits a different article in itself, and secondly, unlike Arundhati, I don’t want to poke my nose in something that is poised at a very delicate stage (as if my views would change anything, still, maybe someday later).
PS: (added at 10.40 AM on October 28, 2010) No way this follow up article should be taken as any reversal of points I earlier made in my open letter to Arundhati Roy. I stand by each and every word I wrote, including the swear words! I’d not have normally “clarified”, had some people who matter, e.g. a few good friends, not failed to see the point, and this explanation was more for them than to the fans of Arundhati.