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?
Yes, I agree with Arundhati Roy. If India were a real democracy, there would have all round social economic development of all classes and we would not have to confront the Mandal time and again. Just look at Anti reservation protest and how media shows as if every one in India is against reservation. India is essentially governed by two-three communities, who constitute less than 8% of the population. They corner all the benefits be it subsidised higher education, civil services, media—just about who’s who of india.
Please don’t give your attention to the likes of Arundhati Roy. While I agree with her disagreement with Manmohan Singh during his doctorate acceptance speech, I disagree with almost all of what she said in this article. Has she ever been through a civil war to know what it’s like? That statement about India in a state of civil war is total hokum. It may be true in Kashmir’s case – but again, you don’t call a war funded by an external entity a civil war, right?
Ever since she stopped writing books and started mouthing shrill left inanities, India has appeared to be in terrible times.
Ms. Roy has made big money with her “The God of Small Things”. She opposes every thing for the sake of opposition, whether it’s Sardar Sarovar or Indian democracy. There’s a Sanskrit saying – “Break the pot, tear the flag, ride a donkey… Be famous, by hook or by crook.” Her celeb status makes her mad and rude…
Ms. Roy was i limelight hogger. She try to do the same in Narmada Bachao andolan now since no one was on hunger strike some people with zero balance on the top called her to the function the article mentioned.
Just Ignore her, don’t give her spotlight guys.
One should know that the Kashmir was totally different issue than Iraq.
JUST IGNORE HER…………….SHE DESRVES IT FULLY.
Aaah Arundathi Roy the consummate “Armchair Communist”. Always wants to be anti establishment.
Only question I have for her is “What have you done lately?”.. other than pay lip service to the Narmada Bachao people by fasting from Breakfast till Lunchtime.
VK is correct… Ignore her…
I think there are glaring Similarities between Roy and George Bush! I mean the amount of wind energy they spend on talking about protecting democracy or the lack of it, if utilised could actually solve all our power problems!
Genuine Democracy …I disagree .
Without Money and Power ( Muscle ) .. Can someone from CHURUMURI
win a corporate election from a constituency in Mysore ??
Even in GP polls people are spending upto a lakh ( in my village ) . The ZP
Chairman post is usually fought in streets .
Money and Power makes the elected representatives .
Can the people who elected the MLA’s or MP’s petition their local representative and get something done either in State and central ??
If it was a REAL democracy why isnt the Government listening to the
protesting students . if you see the recent interview of Arjun Singh in CNN-IBN ..how adamant he was to support reservation? is he listening??
Has anyone gone to the LH ( legislative home ) and seen .There is rampant corruption and lobbying . You can see people paying huge amounts to get work done or get a minute( Letter from MLA ) ??
So is the elected representative really WORKING if he is working then does he represent the people who elected him??
The Above post is not about Arundhati Roy or XYZ ..it is about the issue whether TRUE democracy prevails .If it prevails does it represent the people who partcipated in the democracy process. Please ponder over the above issues?
No doubt democracy is a global myth. Just a vehicle to grab power and power corrupts absolutely. Otherwise how will you answer the Nehru/Gandhi family piccadillo with Indian politics? Despite two gruesome assassinations they continue to play with the lives of Indians.
However Ms. Roy’s denouement of Indian democracy is an insult to all Indians who religiously trudge to the nearest polling booth year after year. It is a very abhorrent parody by god given gift of the gab. Persons who cannot accept the verdict of the system and think they are right cannot be democratic. If she and Medha cannot accept SC verdict on Narmada Project it only exposes their autocratic nature however benign their intention are. She should be declared a pariah.
My personal opinion is to disregard Roy’s opinion as it has not come from a constitutional expert, high government expert or even an India expert.
Also I think there is nothing such as a genuine or perfect democracy. Democracy is just the system of governance that has been constitutionally adopted by us as a country. How we make it function is up to us. Certainly democracy is not the perfect system but best among other evils.
With all the pulls and pressures in the county, decision making and rule of law are compromised severely. In situations like J&K it is harder to have any governance. But in spite of all these, I believe there is a better chance of having the peoples’ say in governance than any other system.
Having corruption has nothing to do with the system of governance
In fact democratic as well as other systems are known to be equally liberal about corruption. All major democratic countries have lobbying for issues as an accepted practice using all means including money-power. Of course we can hope for more say by the people and try to encourage democratic institutions at the lowest level.
If strict rule of law is required, probably an authoritarian/dictatorial system may be better suited sometimes but then it will severely curb all liberties. I personally would not subscribe to that.
Also with so much diversity & contrasts in every sphere of life mechanisms that work in smaller democracies would not work in India.
Democracy is a system of trial and error. Over time we can hope it gets better with time.
Good Discussion. enjoyed reading Prasad and jeevarathna
India as a democracy is very much alive and kicking. It’s the pseudo-Indian fibbers like Ms. Roy who’re dead and gone…
India is democracy, but the meaning of democracy in India is entirely different.
The word implies:
D- demonstration- of power, wealth and omnipresent inefficiency.
E- Elitist rule- however the basic idea of the Indian democratic constitution is, government of the people for the people and by the people. How far the definition stands true in practice we know better. I don’t know to what extent the people of India are sovereign.
M- militancy- on the name of secessionism, separatism, independence and above all democratic rights.
O- oligarchy- power in the hands of few and transfer of power among the family.
C- Castism- one word that ensures political gains in the so-called secular country like India.
R- reservation – incompetent people at work.
A- authority without responsibility.
C- corruption- part of everyone’s life.
Y- yearning eyes for equality and justice.
India is definitely a democracy. Why are we debating it just because that stupid woman said it’s not?
Let’s ask her a simple question. If India was as bad as she portrays, would she be able to insult India in the west and still come back and have fun on our money? Could she say all that kind of crap about her country if she was a Chinese, or Iraqi, or Pakistani? Taslima Nasreen could never return to Bangladesh… Probably we should kick her out the next time she tries to come back and devour our resources. There’s another thing we can do… the next time she goes on a fast unto death, we could let her go all the way. :)
There are many instances that remind me that India is a fake democracy. Democracy and secularism does hand in hand. If India is a secular country why did it allow demolition of Babri Masjid by hostile extremists Hindu activists in a riot on December 6, 1992. Why are Muslims in India targeted like in Hyderabad and Kashmir . Why are people killed in Kashmir for a genuine claim for the exercise of right to self- determination. Till date 8,000 people have disappeared and around 100,000 have been killed in Kashmir. The question arises should India being a democracy perpetrate such grave atrocities on Kashmiri people, is not that a stigma on democracy? What has India done to stop these killings apart from employing around 700,00 troops in Kashmir to kill people. Look at Montenegro where plebiscite was conducted and people were allowed to exercise their will. It is a far cry in India and if so how could India be a democracy!
I agree that India in not democracy and with all who say so!
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Ms.Roy has lost her credibility by her partisan views. She knows she will get cheap publicity if she opposes majority(read Hindus) and supports minority. Does she have the courage to point out the flaws in other religions or Muslim states? She is like many other pseudo secularists …is a betrayer of India. Ms. Roy we are ashamed of you. You are alive coz you are in India. If you were to be in a muslim country and oppose your motherland on any issue—you would have been history.
So happy bla ..bla…bla
Mrs.Roy is right – no democracy in India. Indian politics is operated by Religious nationalism and funding either by International Business or National/Local business.
In many states local govt. are coming into power just as states has local Gods. But above all they play with crucial Muslim votes.
Above all – money – muscle – playing with emotions are the factors for parties to come in POWER.
For that matter no country actually is a democracy.Except on paper.A civil war between states? Crap.
This is simply a reaction to w a NY times writer,who,in Roy’s defense,is completely clueless to reality.However her alarmist propaganda is not any more acceptable than Friedman’s rubbish.
Thanks Churumuri for highlighting this blog again for late comers like me.
Yes democracy is not a perfect system, but it gives everyone under it a feeling that ‘it is mine’.
To paraphrase GBS: ‘once in five years or so the balloon of democracy goes up packed with all the successful candidates. The voters stand around clapping their successful candidates in the balloon while their pockets get picked.’
Well, it is not different either in the land of the birth-place of democracy, in the richest democracy or in the land of the largest democracy.
There is nothing called a perfect system. So, shouldn’t we be open to criticism? Because only through such criticisms that we can hope to improve on th system, and not by shutting out or shouting at the critics.
Arundhati Roy is best counted among the pseudo intellectuals who are so starving for attention, they will say anything to make people sit up and notice. She never wrote another book after that debut thing which brought her to be a status of “Writer”, Activist and intellectual that she claims to be. She will create issues where there are none. Will make most outrageous statements on most controversial things.
About democracy, India is as much a democracy as any developing country can ever be. Yes, things can improve(with primary education) and they eventually will. Its happening already. People should stop finding their identity in creating non-issues.
Yes, India is NOT A DEMOCRACY, it is a MOBOCRACY.
However I dont ascribe with the far left views of Miss Roy. She is one of the prime reasons why India is a Mobocracy.
– Firstly, with the number of languages, religions, castes and states in india, DEMOCRACY CAN NEVER WORK….I will tell you why
The Muslims of India care only about themselves and their religion and to hell with the country. They care only about spreading their religion and making India another dar – ul -islam. Nationalism is negative among them. (they cant even sing the national song?….)
The linguistic regionalistic states like TamilNadu, west bengal have their own agenda. No political party can be strong in the center since these 2 states have 30% of the seats. In these states , LOCAL ISSUES DECIDE THE NATIONAL ISSUE.
To hell with the nation and to hell with the country, For the case of Tamil Nadu , Tamil issues are more important and same is the case with West bengal.
2. SECONDLY, Democracy has disastrously denigrated the morality of the country.
Discipline is something which is NON EXISTENT. The so called leader of moral (MK Gandhi – well he wasnt a moral guy either?)…is not followed by anyone. There is hardly NO ONE you can trust in India.
A fine example: You goto report a police case saying your father is dead, and the police man counter files a CASE AGAINST you saying you have raped an underage women. (Basically he is pushing a deed of a wealthy guy into your head).
Police/govt/buereocracy/government are so corrupt you have to hang your head in Shame saying that Human being can be so immoral?..
Rules in Democracy are made to govern , IN INDIA RULES ARE MADE TO BREAK OR STEPBY ANOTHER RULE.
3. Thirdly, the over population, people are falling over like rats and hardly does anyone care.
In other words, IF YOU WANT TO HAVE A RULE WHICH IS worse than Monkeys/Donkeys/Ants PUT TOGETHER = YOU GET INDIAS DEMOCRACY.
INDIAS DEMOCRACY is the WORST FORM of government ever in any coutnry.
God forbid no country should be like Indias democracy.
Believe me, Dictatorship is MUCH MUCH better than Indias democracy and a LOT OF INDIANS IN INDIA will agree with this.
I can understand and sympathize with Arundathi Roy’s frustrated views! Yes when compared to the most successful democracy just to the West of India led by a man called ‘Mr. 10 Percent’, we look very jaded and out of touch with reality:)
We have tried without success electing ‘democratic’ governments after governments. Now we must all keep an open mind and request Ms Roy to deliver us the correct democratic government. Where is URA and Hassan Nelson Mandela? Perhaps they can guide us in thie endeavour?
IMHO Indian democracy is vibrant! It should start ‘kicking’ all these non-state actors into some democratic corrective methods like no Internet access, passport confiscation, restricted access to foreign liquor, house arrest with meetings limited to fellow travellers and Taliban types…you get the picture…then we will see a different Kerala canary singing Mathrubhoomi tunes:)
Firstly democracy in whatever form that exists in India is far better than any other form of govt. Atleast all of us are still entitled to our freedom of speech and expression ( this is the reason we are having this dicussion rite here).
well democracy is smthing that is centred around us – the ppl of india if we dont believe in it who will? Its is up to us atleast us individuals to try and live everyday as a better more responsible ppl. Only when we decide we can change something , will that change occur.
So let us believe that we can…we can be resposible citizens.. we can make the best choices we can set up a democracy that will work.
To reform the indian democracy is in our hands and our hands alone.
Lets not be ignorant here. India is not a democracy. When a politician was asked about the condition in Gujrat. He said that Gujrat was 95% normal, well guess what? the 5% minority is what determines whether it is a democratic country or not
India was never a democratic country.
Today India is ruled by Thugs.
India is FASCIST,CAPITALIST and also MONARCH Country.
There is lot of Racism carried out legally in India.
Importance is given to profit making and not to social welfare.
Since Independence only GANDHI Family has ruled INDIA, just like queen elizabeth of England.
Thats why, INDIA is not a democratic country.
May god save our country from bunch of thugs.
i completely agree with Arunthathi Roy’s view about India… as the elections have now become a competition for the power but it should be for the welfare of people.
secondly the name of partiality are again on , some leaders partial to some religion. where is secularism?????
believe people now the importance have been gave to profit making nor than social welfare…………………………………….
And would that make her cousin a fake psephologist ?
Chidambaram and her would make nice cell mates.
Alright Ms Roy, tell us which is the leading democracy in the world?
UPA has 7% Indian Voters represented in parliament.We have a monarchy-a sham democracy……india is a land of idiots,by idiots and for idiots…..cheers to our stupidity…..argue endlessly on religion,caste….what ab humanity and protecting animals,environment,humans irrespective of caste religion etc…..idiots….
Roy is smart enough not to let herself be troubled by the adhominem attacks I see here. I wish more of us saw that democracy is not the real issue here. We have a question for us: How long will it be before our country is sold to MNC’s and other disreputable money, landgrabbers? India as an industrialised country with nothing but pollution and poverty for the majority of its population cannot be a democracy.
Democratic governance is based on a sound understanding of the principles of the system on the part of the governed. For most of us, however, the Constitution is an empty phrase because we don’t know how to think, read, or write. Anybody who sign his name is considered literate among us. An illiterate populace is the greatest gift of God to charlatan, criminal politicians who manage to keep their unwitting supporters that way as long as they need to, which is forever.
Irrespective of Arundhathi Roy’s and many others OPINIONS, there are some FACTS for fair and rational persons:
1. Democracy is not a very efficient form of gov’t; Indian democracy is especially very inefficient. Benevolent autocracy is considered a very efficient form of gov’t – but it is very difficult to find a benevolent autocrat form selfish and egoistic leaders! Australia, Bangladesh, Canada, Denmark, England, France, Germany, India, Italy, Malaysia, Indonesia, Norway, Pakistan, Singapore, Spain, Sweden, USA etc are all some sort of democracy – but they differ in details.
2. Currently, Sweden is perhaps the best democracy in the world, based on the fact that it has the lowest gap between the rich and poor and a very transparent administration. Now the best democracies are in the coldest countries – Norway, Denmark, Switzerland etc. This is most probably because of the lower emotionality of the majority of people in such countries. This feature is reflected in the orderly behaviour pattern of their parliaments. Italy is not far away from Germany and has boarder with Switzerland. But it has a much warmer climate. Italy’s politics, parliament and roads are rude, lawless and in utter disorder! The worst democracies and countries without any law and order are hot African countries.
3. Singapore city-state (area: 700 sq. km, and population density: 7000/sq. km in 2009) is probably the most successful city of the 20th century. It was rated world’s cleanest city many times, has one of the world’s best airlines, best airport and a super-efficient transportation system without traffic jams. It is one of the world’s most attractive tourist and shopping destinations with about 8 million tourist arrivals in 2008 – about double its population. It had more foreign currency reserves than India in 2006, and it made double the volume of exports of India in 2008, where India is 5000 times the size of Singapore. Mr. Lee Kuan Yew is a double first class law graduate from Cambridge and the founder of Peoples Action Party (PAP) of Singapore in 1954. He became the first PM of independent Singapore in 1959. Mr. Lee is the chief architect of modern Singapore, and also of the political system there, called ‘Meritocracy’, dominated by highly talented technocrats.
4. When Mr. Lee Kuan Yew was alleged of very authoritarian rule in the city-state, he explained that European style liberal democracy is not suitable for the nature of the people of Singapore and Asia in general. Singapore has very strict rules; 500 S$ fine for throwing paper of cigarette butts in specified public places and death penalty for drug trafficking and kidnapping. Singapore has 55 wards, and a very decentralised admin with ward wise population based, minority representation. PAP always had more than 75% of seats in the parliament and currently 82 of 84 seats. Mr. Lee Kuan Yew who has been in the Singapore cabinet since 1959, is currently ‘Minister Mentor’ – probably world’s only Minister Mentor!
5. Hard work with a calm and quite, concentrated mind is essential to understand complex situations and processes and to plan and execute effective and complex plans and projects to achieve great results. Highly emotional persons hurriedly look for results and start fights, causing confusion and disorder leading to small and big disasters. This is especially so in the very complex, dynamic and fast changing world today.
6. It is very strange and sad that India, the land of Upanishads, Yoga, Ayurveda and the highly spiritual and humane religions of Hinduism, Buddhism, Jainism etc has such moral degradation now!
7. Today, for almost 95% of the problems in the world, there are several solutions available. Naturally, they are not readily available where the problems are; intelligent and efficient persons should search for good solutions, and apply them carefully to problems and problem situations. In this age of information and communication, it is easy to search and find solutions for any problem.
8. The Brazilian city of Porto Alegre initiated a Participatory Budgeting (PB) Process in 1989. It was introduced to resolve the city’s financial bankruptcy of spending 96% of its revenue for salaries and routine expenses. It was done on the pressure and popular demand of local NGOs for people’s participation in budget matters and the process was devised and executed with the cooperation of the local NGOs. Within 6 years, that PB evolved into a very efficient, systematic and yearly cyclic process and resolved almost all the problems of the city. That PB process became famous as ‘Porto Alegre Innovation’ in Participatory Budgeting. The city became Brazils city with the best quality of life based on 15 relevant factors such as housing, sanitation, healthcare, school enrolment, job availability, infant mortality, highways, criminality, climate etc.
9. Porto Alegre Innovation in PB is a very efficient, highly flexible, locally decentralized process for FAST, equitable and sustainable socio-economic development. It is suitable for any village town or city in any country. Because of its great merits, this process is now adapted in about 40 countries all over the world including developing countries like Argentina, Chile, Ecuador, Paraguay, Uruguay etc, and developed countries like England, Canada, France, Germany, Italy, Spain, USA etc.
10. If India adapts the Porto Alegre Innovation in PB in all its villages, towns and cities, she can be a great democracy, a well-developed nation and a great cultural power, within 25 years! But, if it follows the current highly corrupt, inefficient representative democracy, it will not be a developed country even after 100 years!
Mainz, Germany (A retired NRI with 35 years overseas experience)
To me India is as good or as bad a democracy as US. All the big talk about human rights, free speech and the humbug that they talk about democracy goes out of the widow the moment, the so called democracy is tested. Guantanamo Bay and the complete lack of justice in dealing with perceived cases pertaining to terrorism as is the case with Dr. Afia Siddiqui together with mass bombings and calling the killings of the innocents as “collateral damage” are but a few examples of American democracy and so too in India, where even the judiciary has become suspect after it chose to dispense justice in the name of faith and not evidence as has been the verdict on the title suit of Babri Masjid.
i see the arundhati roy as a mahathma. all humans are wanted such a honest person, indian court and police must wanted to arrest those who are killed the innocent kashmeerees. nor to lodge case against mother arundhati roy.
jaihoo jaihoo mother arundhati roy, and we always pray to god, you live long. thank you mother, you are one of the Aung San Suu Kyi and nelson mandela and mahathma gandeji.
mr ks chandrakanth may be indiistoocoward to harm ms royfor her comment or just ashamed of being exposed by their own citizen
India Is Hindustaan Now I Mean Hindu Kingdom .every 18 mint rape ,, own citizen kiling with own police and Miltery ,,,,,,,,,,
India is a land of Rapist now. How an India can proud of his land by saying we are the land of GITTA, UPONIXOD. The Indian kind of spirituality fails to teach her people about democracy.
arundathi roy is being rational to accept india as it is!!!! she truely is a great personality… She deserves to be counted among personalities lyk mahatma n nelson mandella!!!
ONLY cowards wud deny to the fact that india is not fit to b a democracy…………..///
How have so many Pakroaches descended on this page? Their nauseating stink has pervaded the whole blog.