Thursday, 27 October 2011

Arundhati Roy on the academic inability to grasp popular agency

The tenacity, the wisdom and the courage of those who have been fighting for years, for decades, to bring change, or even the whisper of justice to their lives, is something extraordinary. Whether people are fighting to overthrow the Indian State, or fighting against Big Dams, or only fighting a particular steel plant or mine or SEZ, the bottomline is that they are fighting for their dignity, for the right to live and smell like human beings. They are fighting because, as far as they are concerned, “the fruits of modern development” stink like dead cattle on the highway….

Implicit in a lot of the debate around Maoists is the old, patronising tendency to cast “the masses”, the adivasi people in this case, in the role of the dim-witted horde, completely controlled by a handful of wicked “outsiders”. One university professor, a well-known Maoist-baiter, accused the leaders of the party of being parasites preying on poor adivasis...There is something very disturbing about this inability to credit ordinary people with being capable of weighing the odds and making their own decisions.

Arundhati Roy, The Trickledown Revolution, 2010