Please read

I dug up this from the rediff.com archives.

In a link that I will soon reveal, Amitava Kumar, in a column written in 1999, asserts that most Indian writers in English, are reporters to the west.

Barring Arundhati Roy, of course.

Now, I hope that you have read Arundhati Roy’s essay “The End of Imagination”.

An excerpt:

The jeering, hooting young men who battered down the Babri Masjid are the same ones whose pictures appeared in the papers in the days that followed the nuclear tests. They were on the streets, celebrating India’s nuclear bomb and simultaneously “condemning Western Culture” by emptying crates of Coke and Pepsi into public drains. I’m a little baffled by their logic: Coke is Western Culture, but the nuclear bomb is an old Indian tradition?

It is not anything else that I wish you read but this. Please take some time out and read it if you still haven’t. See for yourself, what you missed for 7 years.

And here, Amitava Kumar praises Roy’s stance and is also “slightly” critical of her.

If you shall need more matter on this subject, and something less emotional than Roy, please read about this book here.

4 thoughts on “Please read

  1. I had Roy’s essay when it had appeared seven years ago… but re-read it again now. The impact is still the same. Roy does make you think, and think deeply.

  2. I remember reading this piece by Arundhati Roy after the Pokhran blasts. She, no doubt has
    a wonderful way with her words. Her writing makes good reading. But that’s about it.

    Nuclear test is so much entwined in geopolitical and strategic matters. No one believes
    a nuclear bomb can win a war. Neither America nor India nor Russia nor India nor Pakistan.
    Like we are spending Rs 300 crore everyday to maintain our presence on Siachen glaciers,
    nuclear bomb is also one of those absurd things. It’s not made to be used.
    It’s made just to show that “I can also make it.”

    And remember how Vajpayee and Kalam did it, right under US spy satellites without even one
    of them noticing. I liked it hugely, like a kid. Not because I like the bomb, but I liked
    the way we did it.

    We scored with the bomb hugely. It was worth all the effort. Because to
    show a power like the US (who whether we like or not commands the world) our mettle,
    we needed to make the bomb. Proof of the victory is in the way how our stocks went
    up across the world.

    And we wouldn’t have made the bomb if the US itself didn’t glorify the bomb in the first
    place by reserving its exclusive right to have it. We just showed them that “Not just you,
    but we can also have it. No big deal. Okay?” Arunandhati Roy needn’t have got so
    emotional about the whole thing.

  3. [Saurabh, Emma and pradeep] The bomb is a global currency. It buys you power. 7 years after the bomb the US has amended laws for us. That, is power.

    Let’s assume no country wants to drop the bomb on another country. Let the “global currency” be the only reason why the bomb is made in the first place. Since it carries such power, every country would like to have it. When every country has a bomb, the probability of blowing one off, even by accident, increases. And assuming that the nuclear states have “a” bomb would be being naive. From what I know, the combined count stands to at least 400 nuclear bombs. So the probability of a nuclear accident increases further.

    Also, with this figure, the bomb becomes cheap. It could go in the hands of a rich businessman or a terrorist.

    So, in a way, and I like to believe so, Roy has a problem with the nuclear bomb- not just India’s bomb. [Emma, Pradeep] In the course of the article that she wrote, she becomes overly emotional. As a reader and a writer, I see that I can learn from her prose but at the same time, on this issue I may not agree with her to the full extent.

    [Pradeep] Yes, you reflect the Indian thought, the Indian point of view which is carried within, even by the Indian Government and the people who made the bomb. No one believes we will ever have to use it. I like to believe that too.

    What Vajpayeeji did was commendable in the sense that it showed India’s stand to US centric policies. But there are two things that could take away credit, even partly, from the-then PM [1] The bomb went off within a couple of months of BJP coming to power. I guess it takes more than two months of planning for a project of this magnitude to execute? So maybe all BJP did was sign documents and take credit? and [2] If point [1] does not stand true, then was the bomb BJP centric? Was it purely the Hindu bomb? Something BJP wanted to do for its own sake? I hope I am not sounding too harsh on the BJP but that is what comes to my mind when I think about it.

    I have said this before, I once belonged to a school of thought that made me believe going out dancing on the street is the right thing to do after your country tests a bomb. But, frankly, now I do not know. I am just hearing right now. I am constantly reading on this issue. I do not think I will be able to conclude on this. No, at least not now. But one thing is for sure- this thing frightens me.

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