Booker Prize-winning author Arundhati Roy last night expanded on her audacious claim that India is not a democracy in an interview with Amy Goodman on the syndicated radio show Democracy Now!
Read the edited transcript of the provocative interview here: http://www.alternet.org/story/36643/
Below is the relevant portion from the interview on why Roy thinks India is not a democracy.
Amy Goodman: I’m just looking at a newswire story from May 23 which says, “Human rights activist and prominent Indian writer, Arundhati Roy, has said India is not a democratic state.” Can you talk about that idea?
Arundhati Roy: Well, I do think that we are really suffering a crisis of democracy, you know? And the simplest way I can explain it is that in 2004, when the general elections took place in India, we were reeling from five years of rightwing communal BJP politics, the rightwing Hindu party.
AG: Would you make any parallels to political parties in the United States?
AR: Very, very much so. I mean, it was very similar to the Republicans versus the Democrats, and in fact —
AG: The Congress Party being the Democrats.
AR: The Congress Party being the Democrats, and the Republicans being the rightwing Hindu BJP. And, of course, in a country—like in America, their politics, apart from affecting Americans to a great deal, also affects the rest of the world. But in India, India not being a world power, however much it wants to claim it is, turns those energies on its own people.
So in Gujarat, you had in 2002 this mass killing of Muslims on the streets, a bloodbath where people were burnt alive, women were raped on the streets, dismembered, killed in full public view.
What happened after that, there were elections, and the man who engineered all this won the elections. So you’re thinking, “Is it better to have a fascist dictator or a fascist Democrat who has the approbation of all these people?” Continues to be in power in Gujarat. Nothing has happened.
It’s a Nazi type of society, where hundreds of thousands of people are still economically boycotted Muslims, something like 100,000 driven from their homes. Police won’t register cases. One or two important cases are looked at by the Supreme Court, but the mass of it is still completely unresolved.
That’s the situation, anyway, and while you’re orchestrating this communal killing, you’re also selling off to Enron and to all these private companies, and so on the one hand you’re talking about Indian-ness and all this, and this nationalism in this absurd way, and on the other, you’re just selling it off in bulk.
But during the elections, all of us were waiting with bated breath to see what would happen. And when the Congress came to power, supported by the left parties from the outside, obviously we allowed ourselves a huge gasp of relief, you know, walked on our hands in front of the TV for a bit. But the Congress campaigned against the neoliberal policies that it had brought in, actually.
But before even we knew whether Sonia Gandhi was going to be the prime minister or what was going to happen, there was an orchestrated drop in the stock market. The media’s own stocks began to drop. The cameras that had been in all these villages, saying look at this wonderful democracy, and the camels and the bullock carts and everyone that’s coming to vote was outside the stock market now.
And before the government was formed, both from the left and from the Congress, spokesmen had to come out and say, “We will not dismantle this neoliberal regime.” And today we have a prime minister who has not been elected. He is a technocrat who has been nominated. He is part of the Washington Consensus.
Also see: ARUNDHATI ROY: India is not a democracy