Roy rejoinder: No gun intended

Arundhati's delayed “what-I-meant-was” leaves much to be clarified

ashishm

Ashish Mehta | June 4, 2010



Arundhati Roy, our leading public intellectual, has made a rare clarification. She says she never wrote the phrase “Gandhians with a gun”, used to describe Maoists in an essay she wrote for the Outlook in March. The phrase appeared in the sub-headline and Roy says it was written by the magazine. The British newspaper Guardian also carried the  same article, under the headline “Gandhi, But With Gun.” Roy could be issuing a similar clarification for the Guardian too.

Addressing a public meeting in Mumbai on Wednesday, Roy reiterated: "I never called them Gandhians with guns. It was a blurb carried by a magazine. What I meant was that they (Naxals) are more Gandhian than any other Gandhian in their consumption pattern...their lifestyle, which is in stark contrast to their violent means of resistance."

We need to react to the clarification since we too had joined the debate (“Arundhati, propagandist with a fat dictionary”). In short:

(1) The Outlook article was published in the March 29 edition, on stands March 22. Roy's clarification, disowning the phrase, comes more than two months later. If she disagreed with the three words, she could have pointed it out much earlier.

(2) It is not exactly clear why she is on the defensive. She has, after all, not disowned that she has termed “the superiority of ‘the non-violent way’” as “ Gandhi’s pious humbug”. Or, making fun of the nonviolent means of resistance like hunger strikes which she had supported and advocated in the past.

(3) Roy is yet to explain what made her change her mind on non-violence. In her several essays (particularly on the Narmada Bachao Andolan), she was all for non-violence, all for Gandhian ways. Once can certainly evolve one's ideology, support Gandhi one day and (say) Narendra Modi the next day, but as a public intellectual, you are expected to explain. You can't be preaching non-violence one day and exhorting them to take up arms the next – without an explanation. That's the one explanation she should have given, instead of blaming her ideological confusion on the Outlook.

In her Mumbai lecture, she explained this much: “Gandhian way of opposition needs an audience, which is absent here.” Violence, on the other hand, has a ready audience, which according to Roy is the sole decider in things like this. Sad.

Comments

 

Other News

Budget creates the ground – now it’s time for these steps

On February 1, finance minister Nirmala Sitharaman announced the Union Budget. As Dr. Rajiv Kumar, the Pahle India Foundation chairman and former NITI Aayog vice chairman, succinctly summed up, “Budget 2023 is a consolidation of the gains over the years, and a positive step towards sustained economic

Should India look for another capital?

The Indian Metropolis: Deconstructing India’s Urban Spaces By Feroze Varun Gandhi Rupa, 840 pages, Rs 1,500 Feroze Varun Gandhi, a Member of Parliament from the BJP, has been a published poet. He is also a policy expert – he had published &

Railways’ freight earnings up by 16%

On mission mode, Indian Railways` Freight loading for first ten months of this financial year 2022-23 has crossed last year’s loading and earnings for the same month. On cumulative basis from April 2022 to January 2023, freight loading of 1243.46 MT was achieved against last year&rsquo

BMC announces Rs 52,619.07 crore budget

Mumbai’s municipal commissioner and administrator Iqbal Singh Chahal on Saturday announced a Budget of Rs 52,619.07 crore for 2023-2024, an increase of 20.67% over a revised budget estimate of Rs 43607.10 crore for 2022-23. The overall budget size has doubled in five years. In 2017-18

Making sense of the ‘crisis of political representation’

Imprints of the Populist Time By Ranabir Samaddar Orient BlackSwan, 352 pages, Rs. 1105 The crisis of liberal democracy in the neoliberal world—marked by massive l

Budget: Highlights

Union minister of finance and corporate affairs Nirmala Sitharaman presented the Union Budget 2023-24 in Parliament on Wednesday. The highlights of the Budget are as follows: PART A     Per capita income has more than doubled to Rs 1.97 lakh in around

Visionary Talk: Amitabh Gupta, Pune Police Commissioner with Kailashnath Adhikari, MD, Governance Now



Archives

Current Issue

Opinion

Facebook    Twitter    Google Plus    Linkedin    Subscribe Newsletter

Twitter