Roy views India!

As a rambler I hesitated to take on the subject of Terror for my blog. Then I see that the editor of Guru Magazine (Bangkok Post) has written to Santa asking for many things for Christmas and eighth on the wish list is for a definition of the word 'terrorism'. While he has written this in a lighter vein, I am still relieved that I am not the only one who is confused.

There is so much written about the Mumbai Terror that I still keep getting fws. on the subject. I admired the one written by Payoshi Roy, Class XI, Bishop Cottons Girls School, Bangalore and forwarded it to others. (I know most of you abhor Fws.) Her purpose: 'We are here to figure out what exactly is wrong with us, because it is evident that there is something horribly amiss in this country and it's people'.

She is very clear about our faults. 'Discrimination is sadly practiced in every nook and corner of our country. We think it's insignificant, we think that it's just the way people are. It is discrimination when the age-old story of Hindu parents refusing to marry their daughter into a Muslim family repeats itself. It is discrimination when parents of Muslim children refuse to sing Hindu bhajans. It is discrimination when Christians refuse to participate in Hindu and Muslim festivals. All of this is discrimination. And every form of terrorism and extremism finds it's roots in this kind of discrimination, which is practiced in each and every one of our homes. That is why we need to look at our homes and our thinking before we cry out in rage and protest against the government and security forces'.

She has made some dire predictions: In another 60 years we'll have Bihari terrorists attacking Maharashtra and Maharashtrian terrorist retaliating. Next we'll have border security squadrons for our state borders.

And she is very clear about the reason for our sorry state: You want to know what the problem with India is? We're cowards. We don't think as a single nation and we can't stand up for what's right. Pretty hard stuff coming from a Kid. (Sorry I called her a boy when I sent out her article and got a lot of flak for that!). She also adds: 'We have enough and more to say about Manmohan Singh and Advani and every other useless politician and rightly so. But the fact is that in all honesty we couldn't care less. The best of us don't vote, don't contest in elections and don't even help out N.G.O.s When we can't do anything for our country how dare we, I repeat, how dare we expect anyone else to do anything.We can go on talking about stepping up security, straightening out our coast guards and eradicating terrorism. But the problem lies not in our security system but in us. It lies in our madrassas, in our temples, in our schools in our homes and in our minds. And until we realize our role, until we open our eyes to this truth, not a thing will change.
Finally her clarion call warmed my heart and many others who reacted to her article, she says: 'Everyone talks about this new India, a shining progressive and young India. Well it's time for Young, New and Shining India to prove herself. Stand up and prove your worth. This so- called liberal and progressive thinking generation needs to root out those weeds that grow in the oldest corners our gardens. We need to start thinking and start talking. Talking to ourselves and to others. We need to start doing. This has to be a national youth movement. We have to make it the beginning of a revolution. Every historic movement starts like this. Vague, uncertain and hesitant but moving towards a common calling motivated by the same inspiration and dream. This is our chance.'
All power to her and those who think like her and act. She is fervent in her appeal. 'Well we've bled. Now it's time to get our freedom. Freedom from our own mindsets. Freedom from shackles we've placed on ourselves.'
Many were impressed with her passion, clarity of thinking and ability to connect. There were some who did not agree with her reaction to those who wanted action against Pakistan. She thought they were mad! Some wanted retribution for all the indignities Hindus have suffered throughout our history. (I was surprised to read that we did not think of ourselves as Hindus, it was others who gave us this title!
While my heart warmed to her, the reality may be different. There are speculations that India would attack. Times of India, on 19 Dec 2008, quotes Global intelligence service Stratfor, 'It explained that India knew strikes in Pakistan would not eliminate the terrorist threat, "but that would not be the aim of any such operation". It added, "Instead, India has to communicate firmly that it will no longer tolerate attacks from Pakistan-based militants — whether they are rogue or approved by the state. Failure to do so risks emboldening the Islamists and their enablers, as well as a domestic political backlash. The Indian government could not live with either of those outcomes.'"
I was talking to Jogesh, my niece Lakshmi's husband about the Mumbai Terror. Their apartment building is just behind the Taj Hotel. They were on a holiday and missed all the action! Anyway I asked him whether he had read my fw. written by Roy, a school girl. He said not yet and then asked me if I had the read article on the same subject by A. Roy in outlook.
So now there were two Roys viewing our predicament and voicing their opinions. While one is an young idealist the other is a seasoned campaigner. It is important to read this long article and all the comments to obtain a perspective.
Here are some excerpts: "On one side (let's call it Side A) are those who see terrorism, especially 'Islamist' terrorism, as a hateful, insane scourge that spins on its own axis, in its own orbit and has nothing to do with the world around it, nothing to do with history, geography or economics. Therefore, Side A says, to try and place it in a political context, or even try to understand it, amounts to justifying it and is a crime in itself.
Side B believes that though nothing can ever excuse or justify terrorism, it exists in a particular time, place and political context, and to refuse to see that will only aggravate the problem and put more and more people in harm's way. Which is a crime in itself.
The only way to contain (it would be naive to say end) terrorism is to look at the monster in the mirror. We're standing at a fork in the road. One sign says 'Justice', the other 'Civil War'. There's no third sign and there's no going back. Choose."
Quite dramatic, but that is how our Goddess of Issues probably thinks is the way to get attention. She is right and we Indians really believe this is the only way.
I have also a link in contrast to my rambler blog for 'Arunabha FOCUS '. He is also an young idealist. At the same time, he has also the ability to be a part of that group of Indians who could craft a way out for India. He has the credentials and I am sure in time he will have the opportunity.
I should also mention Jogesh's comment also an idealist: 'What can you expect with millions (of youth) unemployed in both countries?' I think I agree with him. It has been our failure. Both with the largely democratic(?) India and the mostly dictator run country of Pakistan.
It is how you view statistics on our exploded population. We have around 300 million who are all alright! That is nearly equal to the population of India at the time of our Independence. On the other hand we have double that number who barely subsist and I read that we have around 300 million who are in total poverty.
I can continue in this train of thought, but I suppose it is not right to spoil your Christmas and hopefully a happy new year! God bless India and our Neighbours as well!


Varsha Nair said…
Yes, much soul searching needed. I have always maintained that the rampant discrimination in our own minds and backyards goes down as a thick background coat of paint on the large canvas that is India, and never quite dries enough thus seeping into various aspects of the land and mind scapes.
There is little comfort to be had as the year comes to an end but it is heartwarming to read and so become somewhat acquainted with such analytical thinkers, whether it is a young school girl - Payoshi Roy, a seasoned campaigner and activist - Arundhati Roy, or a scholar - Arunabha.
More power to them, and to you! I really appreciate your quest here. Yours, also searching for answers.

Arunabha said…
Interesting how you drew the contrast between the two Roys. I don't like the term 'idealist' though. I know lot of us use it, but I think it tends to imply that there are some who are idealists and others who aren't. I think all of us have some ideal vision. The difference lies in two respects: our visions need not converge; and some of us might believe that our visions are impossible to achieve.

Clearly Payoshi believes her vision of India is achievable. Clearly Arundhati believes so too, but, having been in the public sphere for a long time, there are many who disagree with her vision.

The struggle for our society is not the absence of idealists, but the challenge in bringing about a convergence of our individual ideal visions. That implies we will not always get everything we want, but we have to try to get something for everyone. So, let me state my vision: education, healthcare, jobs, and justice for all.
Prakash Kamath said…

While Payoshi Roy's 'essay' was awesome considering she is studying in Grade XI I do not feel the same about Arundati Roy's article.

My personal feeling is that after winning the Booker Prize she has abandoned literature and gone on to be a campaigner on various issues whether it is the 'Narmada' Andolan or whatever. She has deliberately positioned herself to go against the general consensus on any issue. Her take on the Mumbai terror strike suggests that it is more due to India's fault rather than an act perpetrated by the LeT.

There is the old saying - "Two look through the same bars, One sees mud and one sees Stars". Arundati unfortunately seems to look at things only as a pessimist. Her article, therefore, seems lacking in objectivity or a genuine effort to understand the issues involved and offer a solution which at least appears to be achievable.
Ashima said…
Dear Tara and Srinidhi,

Sad to know that you are leaving Bangkok. I was very much surprised about this news from your mails as I didnt hear anything from you whenever we met. But I think it has been great knowing both of you.Many thanks for the excellent dinner which I had at your place along with Asha and her daughter. Lets meet up before you leave for India. Thanks for sharing your experiences in Luang Prabang.

Regards and best wishes,

Ashima said…
Dear Tara and Srinidhi,

Sad to know that you are leaving Bangkok. I was very much surprised about this news from your mails as I didnt hear anything from you whenever we met. But I think it has been great knowing both of you.Many thanks for the excellent dinner which I had at your place along with Asha and her daughter. Lets meet up before you leave for India. Thanks for sharing your experiences in Luang Prabang.

Regards and best wishes,

Shivangi Dharne said…
I'm Shivangi Dharne from Bishop Cottons Girls' School. Payoshi was an amazing school captain a few years back... Reading this article made me have more respect for her. She is a great role model and I'm glad I found this article.....
srinidhi said…
Dear Shivangi
Nice to read your comment. I am equally glad that you found my blog and commented on it.

All the best to you!

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