Arifa Akbar writes in the Independent that Kashmir is full of 'urgent truths' about the disputed region and its struggle for independence, praising Arundhati Roy for a particularly 'powerful' contribution. Paris Review recently published a short interview with Roy about her other recent book, Walking with the Comrades, in which she argues that in her opinion there is more hope to be found among the oppressed than their oppressors:
I always find it interesting that when you’re with people who are really at the receiving end of oppression, you find a lot less despair than you do in middle-class drawing rooms. In these situations, despair is not an option. I wonder if the amount of information that is hammered into our heads day and night leads people to think that the world’s problems are so huge they’re insurmountable. Whereas people who are fighting against something in a more or less localized way are far clearer about what they have to do and how they have to do it.
Arundhati Roy spoke at the People's University in Washington Square Park, New York on 16th November.
What you have achieved since 17 September, when the Occupy movement began in the United States, is to introduce a new imagination, a new political language into the heart of empire. You have reintroduced the right to dream into a system that tried to turn everybody into zombies mesmerised into equating mindless consumerism with happiness and fulfilment.
She went on to outline some possible demands for the Occupy movement:
Arundhati Roy, interviewed for the Independent, speaks about the 'Maoist rebels' fighting India's internal colonization, and why their resistance is legitimate:
Today India is going down the same path travelled centuries back by the European colonial powers: identifying sources of strategic minerals, driving off the people living on top of them, extracting the iron ore, the bauxite and so on, and using it to industrialise and grow rich. The difference is that India has no Australia or Latin America it can plunder. Instead, as Roy says, "It is colonising itself, turning upon its own poor to extract raw materials."
Centuries after the plunder of mineral resources began, some people living in countries like ours began to understand the horrors that had been committed along the way: the indigenous peoples massacred, their traditions erased, the survivors reduced to penury. But by then, remorse came cheap: the damage had been done, the great fortunes made.
But in India all this is happening now, in real time. As a result, remorse is far more expensive: if sincerely meant, it could really throw a spanner in the happiness machine...
Next Saturday, October the 15th, the Anthropology students at the California Institute of Integral Studies (CIIS) will protest demanding the immediate re-instatement of two academics, Professor Angana P. Chatterij, the co-convener of the International People's Tribunal on Human Rights and Justice in Kashmir and Professor Richard Shapiro, the Department Chair and co-founder of the Jewish-Muslim Friendship Circle in Kashmir.
According to the petition established in their defence, Chatterij and Shapiro were a vocal political force, also known for their advocacy of student rights and faculty empowerment. The two faculty members were suspended in July and have been banned from teaching since that time. The petition also states that, in August, the American Association of University Professors urged the reinstatement of Chatterji and Shapiro. The university have not publicly stated the reasons for the suspension and the case is currently under discussion by a Faculty Hearing Board.