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‘Amidst the confusion, chaos and cacophony of Indian politics, what sort of country are we becoming?’
Booker Prize-winning author and essayist Arundhati Roy says Hindu nationalism could break India into little pieces, as has happened earlier with Yugoslavia and Russia, but adds that ultimately the Indian people will resist what she calls Narendra Modi and the BJP’s fascism.
In an interview to Karan Thapar for The Wire, Arundhati Roy says the present situation in the country is “extremely depressing” but she believes there are signs that the Indian people are climbing out of the hole they’ve fallen into.
She said she has faith in the Indian people and believes the country will emerge out of the dark tunnel its presently within.
Roy compared the impact of Hindu nationalism on India with an attempt to squeeze an ocean into a Bisleri bottle.
She raised two sets of critical questions. First, she asked:
“What have we done to democracy? What have we turned it into? What happens…when it has been hollowed out and emptied of meaning? What happens when each of its institutions has metastasised into something dangerous?”
The second set of questions are to do with the sort of country we’ve become.
“Over the last five years, India has distinguished itself as a lynching nation. Muslims and Dalits have been publicly flogged and beaten to death by vigilante Hindu mobs in broad-daylight, and the ‘lynch videos’ then gleefully uploaded to YouTube.”
Even more importantly she says, “The infrastructure of fascism is staring us in the face…and yet we hesitate to call it by its name”.
Her answers to these questions and the discussion that evolves around them is the heart of this interview.
In the interview to The Wire, Roy also spoke about Kashmir. She explains what she meant when in her recent Jonathan Schell Memorial Lecture she says of the Kashmiri people: “Why should they want to be a part of India? For what earthly reason? If freedom is what they want, freedom is what they should have.”
Roy also explains the way she sees the relationship between Kashmir and the rest of India when she says: “Kashmir may not defeat India, but it will consume India”. This opinion is also echoed by one of the characters in her book The Ministry of Utmost Happiness, Musa Yeswi, who says something very similar. “One day Kashmir will make India self-destruct in the same way…You’re not destroying us, you are constructing us. It’s yourselves that you are destroying.”
When asked by The Wire if her point is that the bell that tolls in Kashmir is actually tolling for India, Arundhati Roy clearly agreed and explains why. She says the way India’s values, principles, constitutional commitments are being undermined by its behaviour in Kashmir will eventually corrode and consume the rest of the country.
Watch the full interview here.