Blunt invectives


In Gorakhpur

Arundhati Roy ‘invited censure’ by calling Gandhi the “first corporate sponsored NGO of this country” at the opening of the tenth Gorakhpur film festival where she spoke as chief guest. Ironically, this year’s festival commemorated Govind Pansarey and Avijit Roy amongst others—examples of what ‘inviting censure’ entails today.

She went a step further to add: “It was one of the greatest falsehoods in this country to worship him (Gandhi) who wrote horrible things about dalits, women and the poor.” This led to Congress workers burning effigies of her while the other favourite saint of the BJP, Yogi Adityanath, called her a traitor-worshipper of Yasin Malik. She has, of course, said this and much more in “The Doctor and The Saint”, her introduction to the annotated Annihilation of Caste

At the Gorakhpur event that has now run “ten marvellous years without any sponsorship,” she quipped: “There was much talk of free speech at the Jaipur literary festival. Writers like Salman Rushdie advocate free speech there but the corporate houses that fund the event are opposed to the idea of free speech.”

Turns out, Arundhati Roy is also number six this year in the top ten of Prospect magazine’s list of ‘World Thinkers 2015’. In this linear hierarchical silliness, she is a spot ahead of Jürgen Habermas. Based on votes channelled through Twitter and Facebook and then represented in a pithy graph, the list “rewards impact over the past twelve months”. For Roy, the past year included almost being booked for sedition on delivering the Mahatma Ayyankali lecture at Kerala University where she outlined Gandhi’s views on Blacks and “bhangis” (dalits).

Being the only other woman to make the cut, and one in the five picked for the long list, seems to convey to the Prospect editors that “a feminist critique of various kinds is experiencing a resurgence.” Now whatever that may mean.

It looks like Roy-bashing and inane top ten lists are both thoughtless annual rituals.


  • videh kumar says:

    What Arundhati said is factual, logical and correct description of Gandhi. He was ardent supporter of caste system. He was against empowering of dalits. He was literally forced to change himself due to persistent attack on caste abuses and discrimination against socially marginalized castes, by Dr BR Ambedkar. Congress of Gandhi did every thing to ignore the contributions of Dr BR Ambedkar and the books we studied during our school days his contributions were totally ignored. We were made to learn Manu, shankaracharya, dronacharya, etc most of them in today’s world would deserve to be put in jail for their criminal acts. Dr Ambedkar was totally out of any kind of discussion in academic circles. It was in discussion only due to the love and respect Dr Ambedkar had commanded among dalit population. That is why the 14th April was celebrated with so much enthusiasm. Dr Ambedkar was brought to centre stage by ex-PM Shri VP Singh.

  • Rajratna says:

    Thanks for the post. Thankfully there is some healthy criticism of Gandhi that might help create a more realistic picture of him. Such critiques need to be done of many of our “holy cows” that the present government seems to avoid in their efforts to Hindu-ize the country. Further, such critiques need to reach the common man regularly so that there is a culture of healthy debate in our country. Of course, we need to somehow get rid of the culture of violence as a form of protest and accept that not everyone considers the heroes of the dominant culture as their heroes. A monolithic belief system, especially that which is sought to be imposed on all Indians without space for dissent will, quite naturally, result in social unrest, a real possibility in the near future with the marginalization of minorities and imposition of values that are contrary to the more libertarian values that our country has lived with so far. I hope the present government recognizes this impending reality.

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