Arundhati Roy has come out with a compilation of her essays in the past seven years in a book titled Listening To Grasshoppers, published recently by Penguin.
She will talk about the book at the Homi J.H. Taleyarkan Memorial Hall (next to Asiatic Library) on Thursday at 6 pm, with art critic Ranjit Hoskote.
In the book, Roy marks the erosion of the democratic process and how it has fused with the Free Market, to create a social imagination driven purely by profit. Excerpts from an interview:
Why have you chosen to come out with the book now?
Initially the idea was to compile this collection of essays before starting work on my novel. But these essays also point towards a process, which is culminating now in the assault on the forests of Orissa and Chhattisgarh. The tragedy is that I would rather be wrong about what I am saying.
You talk about the political system laying the ground for genocide.
I talk about the ways in which democracy has fused with the idea of the Free Market. You can’t separate the two. Look at the amount of money corporations stand to make from bauxite in Orissa, for instance. The scale of the profit is enormous. How do you value that? We’re looking at the devastation of an entire ecosystem.
The beginning of genocidal activities has to do with preparing a population for its end. That involves cutting off communication and food supply, which has happened in places like Chhattisgarh.
Today, even if there is a massacre there, how much will it matter in Bombay? Some people will say it’s terrible, some will say it had to happen for India to progress.
The landscape of resistance is primarily in the mind?
The idea of resistance, whether in the mind of an adivasi in Chhattisgarh, or in the middle class, starts off as an idea. But in Dantewada, they are taking it on their bodies. Villages and food stocks are burnt, the women raped, and 3 lakh people are pushed to the forests.
If you place their incendiary anger here (in the city), people would say you are a terrorist. Some will point out what’s happening, but there’s always something else going on — Team India will win somewhere. So often the noise of information hides a more serious silence.