The Karnataka Komu Souharda Vedike conducted a two-day workshop on “Communalism and the Media” in Mangalore over the weekend, and the star speaker on the concluding day was the Booker Prize winning author and activist, Arundhati Roy. Among other things, she said:
# “It’s all very well for us to talk about the crucible of Hindutva communalism called Gujarat. We talk of bad politicians, of good people, and of the media that is trying to be neutral. But Narendra Modi still won the election. Which means whatever he did was acceptable to a majority of the people of Gujarat. What are we becoming? What kind of monsters are we becoming?
# “As a society if we can tolerate what has happened in Kashmir, if we can tolerate the lies that have been told to us by the Indian press about Kashmir, then our tolerance levels of brutality and the absolute level of human rights violations, has already gone up to to a space where we are a brutal society. We are a people who don’t mind being lied to, as long as it makes us feel comfortable, as long as it satisfies in our own head what the nation should be,what its shape should be, what its ideology should be.
# “What is our role? I have seen 100,000 people march in New York against American troops in Iraq. I have never seen an Indian march against what our troops are doing in Kashmir. There are 125,000 American troops in Iraq; there are 700,000 Indian troops in Kashmir.
# “You have democracy, you have elections, you have an idea of majoritarianism that can easily become fascism… all these have a key to open each of these cupboards. It’s called nationalism. We are living at the moment through an era of unbearably vulgar nationalism… The national flag has become the biggest commercial commodity going, like wrapping paper.”
Also read: ‘India is not a democracy‘