Booker prize winner and renowned writer Arundhati Roy has called Hindu radical organisation Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh (RSS) "an anti-national group" far from nationalism.
She was speaking as chief guest on Sunday at the birth anniversary function here of Punjabi revolutionary poet Paash. Paash Yaadgari Kaumantri Trust had organised the event at Desh Bhagat Yaadgar Hall.
Roy, whose globally acclaimed novel 'God of Small Things' won the prestigious Booker prize in 1997, said people in the other countries knew India for her rich heritage and legacy, and people such as (Constitution's architect) Dr Bhim Rao Ambedkar, not the RSS, as her true nationalists.
"Television and films also promote Hindutva and ignore the interests of poor people who struggle for their rights across the country. Before the demolition of Babri Masjid, the government ran an unscheduled telecast of Mahabharata to create a public mood in favour of Hindutva. In the past, people didn't introduce self as a Hindu but now our education system is also getting saffronised. We are being studied wrongly," said Roy.
Giving an example from Salman Khan movie "Bajrangi Bhaijaan", in which the hero assumes that the lost speech-impaired girl must be a Brahmin or a Kshatiyra because she is fair, Roy asked if all poor people had dark skin and if the message was that they should all leave.
Referring to the filmmaker's portraying a Kashmiri character as speech-impaired, she said: "Art is being used to oppress people, since it's not the government but corporate baniyas such as Ambanis and Tatas who run the country. They control everything from big media houses to small companies making salt, cosmetics and other things."
She decried Bollywood for not making enough films on the lives of the labour class, saying Amitabh Bachchan's old "Coolie" was one odd hit that upheld the dignity of labour.
She once again said Mahatma Gandhi supported the caste system and he was anti-Dalit, anti-women, and anti-poor. Asked about the Patel agitation for reservation in Gujarat, she said the privileged Patels had opposed it in 1980.