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17. Arundhati Roy at the Aligarh Muslim University preaching hatred
There is little to distinguish between Arundhati Roy and Jinnah if one were to go by the substance and language of their talk. Jinnah incited the Muslims towards secession when he spoke of the Indian National Congress (INC) being Hindu and logically therefore anti-Muslim. Arundhati Roy is currently inciting the Muslim youth to violence and possibly secession when she speaks of the RSS and the BJP as being Hindutva-fascists and logically therefore anti-Muslim. Whether it is Jinnah´s depiction of the INC or Roy´s description of the RSS, their targets are, in reality, the Hindu people. Both Jinnah and Roy were pitting the Muslims against the Hindus, they were inciting the Muslims to rise against a ´state´ whose majority population was and continues to remain Hindu. But then these cowards will never dare to publicly accuse the Hindus of anything. They will imply and insinuate that the Hindus are ´majoritarian´ but they will peg all accusations - from killing Mahatma Gandhi, the two-nation theory, communal riots, to alienating the so-called minorities, on the INC of yore and the RSS and the BJP today.
When we vote in these elections we will be voting to choose which political party we would like to invest the coercive, repressive powers of the state in.
Right now in India we have to negotiate the dangerous cross- currents of neo-liberal capitalism and communal neo-fascism. While the word capitalism hasn´t completely lost its sheen yet, using the word fascism often causes offence. So we must ask ourselves, are we using the word loosely? Are we exaggerating our situation, does what we are experiencing on a daily basis qualify as fascism?
When a Government more or less openly supports a pogrom against members of a minority community in which up to 2,000 people are brutally killed, is it fascism? When women of that community are publicly raped and burned alive, is it fascism? When authorities see to it that nobody is punished for these crimes, is it fascism? When a 150,000 people are driven from their homes , ghettoised and economically and socially boycotted, is it fascism? When the cultural guild that runs hate camps across the country commands the respect and admiration of the Prime Minister, the Home Minister, the Law Minister, the Disinvestment Minister, is it fascism? When painters, writers, scholars and film-makers who protest are abused, threatened and have their work burned, banned and destroyed, is it fascism? When a Government issues an edict requiring the arbitrary alteration of school history textbooks, is it fascism? When mobs attack and burn archives of ancient historical documents, when every minor politician masquerades as a professional medieval historian and archaeologist, when painstaking scholarship is rubbished using baseless populist assertion, is it fascism? When murder, rape, arson and mob justice are condoned by the party in power and its stable of stock intellectuals as an appropriate response to a real or perceived historical wrong committed centuries ago, is it fascism? When the middle-class and the well-heeled pause a moment, tut-tut and then go on with their lives, is it fascism? When the Prime Minister who presides over all of this is hailed as a statesman and visionary, are we not laying the foundations for full-blown fascism?
Now that´s a pretty flighty description of fascism laced with a heavy dose of unbridled imagination and poetic license, including taking liberties with the numbers of the truth killed during the riots. As Krishen Kak states about Aruna Roy, Arundhati Roy´s fellow-pilgrim on the road to peddling Gujarat falsehoods, the two Ladies Roy and all bleeding-heart human rights and ´peace´ activists, made a killing out of peddling untruths about the Gujarat riots. For one, all of them, without exception, grossly exaggerated the numbers of Muslims killed in the riots.
Meanwhile, the ´secular´ Government that [Aruna] Roy officially advised and oversaw announced in Parliament that 254 Hindus and 790 Muslims were killed in Gujarat in the post-Godhra violence. These figures remain unquestioned (and note that ´post-Godhra´ reduces the count of Hindus killed). (Krishen Kak in the chapter titled ´Scoring against Paganism: Untangling the Manderweb´. The reference here is to the Congress-led UPA Government currently at the Centre). Roy, speaking to this Muslim audience, predictably does not have the courage to raise the issue of the vivisection of the nation in 1947 and the bloodbath that followed it nor of Kashmiri Hindus who were terrorised into fleeing the valley, not by Pakistani jihadis let us remember, but by Indian Kashmiri Sunni Muslims. Ms Roy has not been known to use this kind of language against the local Kashmiri Sunni Muslims of the Kashmir valley nor has Arundhati Roy ever made mention of the Kashmiri Hindus still living as refugees in our own land for more than 17 years. No clever talks abroad about the plight of the Kashmiri Hindus, no cute tricks with the language about Islamic jihadi terrorism which was homegrown and domestic in the 1980s. Pakistani- Punjabi terrorists and the fiction about ´Kashmiriyat´ emerged on the scene much later. The origins of jihadi terrorism against the Hindus and the Indian state in Jammu and Kashmir was entirely local Kashmiri Islamic terrorism, a little fact which ´secular´ India does not want to remember.
One of her own breed of ´peace´ activists does not seem too impressed with Roy´s flights of ´fascist´ fancy and gives Arundhati a well-deserved, contemporary variant of the Victorian set-down. Achin Vanaik has this to say about the flippant and simplistic use of the word ´fascist´:
Influential voices on the Indian Left have pointed to the authoritarian structure of the RSS, its exclusionary doctrine, its use of mass spectacle, and the shakas´ combination of ideological indoctrination with the cult of masculinity, to describe the Sangh as a fascist formation. The attempt to portray neo-liberal restructuring as such a crisis, and the Sangh as a fascism ´to fit our times´, ignores the obvious fact that Indian capital can hardly be said to confront a revolutionary challenge from below. Rather it faces, with the decline of Congress, a problem of political stability. The BJP, if it can provide the basis for a new political centre in India, may prove a useful instrument; it is not required as a solution of last resort. Today´s neo-liberal restructuring can be housed in a variety of political regimes: Centre-Left or Centre-Right in the West, more or less populist or authoritarian elsewhere. Although, ´fascist´ as a term of abuse will doubtless endure, the real nature of the Sangh is better grasped outside that paradigm. To characterise the BJP as a fascist threat not only grossly underestimates the true import of historical fascism, it encourages in the name of anti- fascism—strategic alliances by the Left with bourgeois forces no less committed to neo-liberalism. The ultimate defeat or retreat of fascism from state power signaled its dissolution. This is not so for the Sangh (´The New Indian Right´, Achin Vanaik, New Left Review, May/June, 2001).