Booker Prize winning author and activist Arundhati Roy stunned an audience in New York on Sunday night when she told them pointblank that “India is not a democratic country”.
“The biggest PR myth of all times is that India is a democracy. In reality, it is not. There is no real democracy in India. Several States are on the verge of civil war,” Roy said at a book-reading session, with Latin American writer Eduardo Galeano in tow.
Roy was reading The God of Small Things when she suddenly stopped and said she wanted to speak on an issue, which had been bothering her for quite some time.
India, she said, was passing through a terrible time.
Challenging the views of New York Times columnist Tom Friedman praising India, a democracy of a billion population, for conducting peaceful elections year after year, she said, ‘‘He probably needs a new tour of India… Does Thomas know that in Kashmir Valley alone, some 80,000 people have been killed? In Iraq, there are 1,50,000 military personnel, whereas in Kashmir Valley there are some 7,00,000.’’
Referring to the visit of President George Bush to New Delhi in March, she said: ‘‘Bush’s visit was the most humiliating experience of my life.’’ As the venue for Bush’s address changed from Parliament to Vigyan Bhawan to Metro Park, he finally ended up addressing India from a Zoo. ‘‘I am not joking. This is reality and the giraffes were disappointed,’’ she said amidst laughter from the audience.
She did not agree with Prime Minister Manmohan Singh’s views in his lecture at Oxford University praising Britain for all the good things that India has, like its democracy, judiciary and bureaucracy. India, she said, was a free market meant to steal from the poor and subsidise the rich.
Do you agree or disagree with Arundhati Roy? Are we a show democracy or are we a genuine democracy? Or is Roy only saying what the white man likes to hear? Join the debate.
CHURUMURI POLL: Are we a dead democracy?