ARUNDHATI ROY: Why we must listen to her

Ideally, this should have been a simple response to some of the comments to the two pieces that Churumuri has carried on Arundhati Roy in the last few days, the first arguing that India is not a democracy and the second expanding on it and calling Gujarat a Nazi type of society.

It is a post because one gets the feeling that some of the comments (not just to her piece but to many others) end up validating what Roy is trying to say. Which is that we think we are a democracy because there is so much noise, but that actually we are shy, wary if not plain afraid of addressing the big issues, especially if they contest our own views, beliefs, dogmas and ideologies on them.

If we take out the childish personal insinuations as to what is probably motivating her or why Churumuri is giving her so much play, we must listen to her for the following six reasons:

6) Because our newspapers and magazines and TV channels who have bought into the ‘India Shining’ story do not give views like these any play, even if she is wrong.

5) Because she is probably the world’s most sought-after speaker, if not certainly the most sought-after woman speaker, and if the world is listerning to her, we must too, even if she is wrong.

4) Because she has something interesting and provocative to say, even if it is unpalatable to ears trained to receive pseudo-nationalism and good news and page 3 pap, even if she is wrong.

3) Because good journalism is not journalism that reassures us that the sun rose in the east this morning and that is well with the world but journalism that wrestles with our firmly held thoughts and beliefs, even if she is wrong.

2) Because she articulates her thoughts better than most of our “intellectuals”, because her voice carries weight, and because she has the stamina to explain in a few thousand words, not in a soundbyte, even if she is wrong.

1) Because we need to learn that ours are not the only right views and that there may be several more compelling ones on the opposite side, even if she is wrong.