What is Arundhati Roy’s problem, “truth”?

Colin Todhunter writes in column titled ” Looking In The Mirror, Living In Denial: The Arundhati Roy Effect” in Countercurrents.org about problems with Arundhati Roy, that her critics acknowledges the fact that what she says and writes the true motives and intent underlying official policies. That, she is a Malayali/Bengali and it has always been fashionable to take an opposing view and that she is merely playing to a western media that are always looking to paint the India in a poor light.

Arundhati Roy holds up the mirror and forces people to look. Picture by Richard Avedon

Arundhati Roy’s recent 6,000 word article in India’s Outlook magazine in March contained a wide ranging critique of US foreign policy, capitalism, imperialism, globalisation, India’s industrialisation and the nation’s various internal conflicts and numerous other matters. All the things she has become noted for. Predictably, it provoked the kind of personal attacks that Roy has become accustomed to.

You either agree with Roy’s overall analysis, or at least parts of it, or you do not, and it’s always interesting to read critiques of Roy’s stance based on logical argument. Those who try to counter Roy in this way at least respect her views enough to spend time critiquing them. There are many, however, who like to leave logic aside and concentrate on Roy the person, stridently attacking her motives, psychology and personality.

What is it about Roy that elicits such bitter reactions, especially from within India and particularly in upper middle class circles? Such responses confuse personal prejudice, character assassination and sniping with critical analysis. Notwithstanding that no one can ever be right all of the time, it could well be that there is nevertheless a good deal of truth in what Roy says on various matters, and perhaps that’s the problem.

If her arguments are too black and white then show it. If she leaves little room for nuance then discuss it. If she is playing fast and loose with facts, challenge her. Instead, what we too often have are outbursts that have little to do with the issues themselves, but with Roy and what some consider her to be.

There are the accusations that say she merely plays to a western audience that buys her books, she is a self publicist or that her writings display some sort of personality deficit in terms of her constant attention seeking. While it may well be the case that there is a certain underlying misogyny inherent in some of the personal attacks, the question remains as to why do so many ordinary people in middle class households get so fired up over her.

Anti-establishment figures in all countries have always been vilified by newspapers, TV channels, politicians and opinion leaders. And ordinary folk often follow suit. Noam Chomsky experiences it in the US and journalist John Pilger has also had to bear similar establishment backed wrath in the UK. Roy is as terribly anti-India as Chomsky is as single-mindedly anti-US, so the warped line of reasoning from officialdom and its cheer leaders goes.

Most of the time, the writings of such figures delve beneath the rhetoric and propaganda to highlight the true motives and intent underlying official policies. Their arguments, however, too often become buried beneath personal criticisms and smear campaigns which set out to undermine them as people and by proxy their analyses. Why deal with uncomplicated truths that challenge officialdom when they can be brushed aside or attention can be diverted from them with abuse?

As far as Roy is concerned, the smears against her take many forms. She has writer’s block, so she seeks the limelight by jumping on the latest cause celebre. She’s not an expert – others in a given field have been working for a cause for decades and never get the column inches she gets. She is Malayali/Bengali and it has always been fashionable to take an opposing view. She is merely playing to a western media that are always looking to paint the India in a poor light.

And don’t forget that she doesn’t really understand the plight of the poor or oppressed. How could she choke on the stench of poverty or oppression with such a big silver spoon filling her mouth?

India doesn’t need Roy to tell us what we already know, does it? We don’t need such a celebrity activist with prosaic writing to tell us how to put things right? India has thousands of hands on community activists and workers who are making a real difference every day.

Such is logic of the anti-Roy brigade.

Looking at onself in the mirror can be a painful process, especially when the mirror is, like India, not as shiny as you were led to believe. Roy holds up the mirror and forces people to look. It is then that the gap between the poor and violently oppressed and the self congratulatory ‘new’ India of AC shopping malls, gated communities and all manner of conspicuous displays of luxury which the Indian upper middle classes cherish so much becomes too unbearable to accept. So what better response than denial? What better reaction than to vilify the messenger?

Could it be that Roy makes many feel too insecure? Could it possibly be that living in denial helps suppress the guilt that would gush forth if people were to acknowledge that a terrible price is being paid for an urban-chic lifestyle built on squeezing the life out of much of India via population displacement, land grabs, highly exploited labour, environmental degradation and state backed violence?

You don’t have to be living in the gutter before you are allowed to express a valid opinion on poverty or oppression. And if you have a message, it would be foolish not to use your talent to reach out to as wide an audience as possible. But maybe that’s part of the problem. For some, holding up a mirror to Indian society is bad enough, but Roy has the ability to project a realistic yet unpalatable image of India across the globe. With all their new found wealth, that’s what seems to annoy her critics most. When you strike at a raw nerve, unthinking, knee jerk reactions usually follow.

Colin Todhunter : Originally from the northwest of England, writer Colin Todhunter has spent many years in India. He has written extensively for the Deccan Herald (the Bangalore-based broadsheet), New Indian Express and Morning Star (Britain). His articles have on occasion also appeared in the Kathmandu Post, Rising Nepal, Gulf News, North East Times (India), State Times (India), Meghalaya Guardian, Indian Express and Southern Times (Africa). Various other publications have carried his work too, including the London Progressive Journal and Kisan Ki Awaaz (India’s national farmers’ magazine). A former social policy researcher, Colin has been published in the peer-reviewed journals Disability and Society and Social Research Update, and one of his articles appears in the book The A-Z of Social Research (Sage, 2003).

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Time: This is normal, I want people to see it

The more people see it, the more it'll become normal in our culture.

The more people see it, the more it’ll become normal in our culture.

Time‘s editor Rick Stengel has defended the magazine’s latest cover featuring a mother breastfeeding her 3-year-old child.

The May 21 issue includes a profile of Dr Bill Sears and leads with a shot of 26-year-old Jamie Lynne Grumet feding her son Aram.

Grumet told the magazine that she was breastfed until she was 6 years old, and added: “I grew up this way and never thought about raising my kids differently.

“People have to realise this is biologically normal. The more people see it, the more it’ll become normal in our culture. That’s what I’m hoping. I want people to see it.”

Broadcasters MSNBC and ABC chose to censor the image when discussing it during some programming.

Following the controversy surrounding the image, Time editor Stengel said: “It’s certainly an arresting image. It’s an image to get people’s attention about a serious subject.

“Some people think it’s great and some people are revolted by it. That’s what you want, you want people talking.”

Nevanta for urban & NRI women

Nevanta.com will focus on fashion, celebrities and entertainment for Indian women, captured in brief two-minute videos.

Nevanta Media Technologies has launched www.nevanta.com, a video web-magazine targeted at women. The website will host high definition videos on fashion, celebrities and entertainment, offering women fashion trends, heads up on stores and designers in brief two-minute video format.

The content is targeted at urban and NRI women in the age group of 18-34 years.

According to the company, the idea of the website came from what was found to be little available information online for young Indian women on fashion, shopping and trends.

Nevanta.com looks to bridge the gap between designers, celebrities and their audiences.

“Nevanta offers a carefully screened collection from today’s top and also the emerging Indian designers, showcasing their very individual and distinctive styles. It’s never been easier to discover your favourite local designers, latest trends, your favourite celebrities and their personal style statements, all on one platform,” says Sunija Rishi, founder, Nevanta Media.

“We aim to be the online destination for the modern Indian woman to discover her very own style statement,” she adds.

Nevanta is an all-women‘s organisation; the content for Nevanta.com will be produced by young women taking on the role of producers and journalists, thereby better addressing the TG.

“We take great pride in being an all-women company and each woman on board embodies the perfect prototype of a ‘Nevanta woman’ – sharp, successful, confident and fabulously feminine,” quips Atasi Chatterjee, co-founder, Nevanta.

Identifying potential in online video, Nevanta sees high-speed mobile internet connectivity driving the convergence between mobile and internet platforms and also looks to leverage the opportunities offered by the growing mobile device market. With social media also growing as a platform for online video consumption, the short length videos on Nevanta.com will further help them to be shared extensively on social platforms.

On the revenue generation model, Nevanta.com will stay clear of traditional online advertisement formats. The company is looking at non-intrusive advertising, sponsorship and product placement. It is also in the process of developing an e-commerce plan based on Nevanta’s association with Indian designers and luxury brands.

Go Green With Your Beauty Regime !!!

Get an insight into all-organic skin and hair care treatments to spare yourself of health problems. These simple natural beauty remedies provide you with easy alternatives on how to go green with your beauty regime.

Pamper your strands and complexion with the healing power of organic ingredients. Take a tour at the local market or in your kitchen to pile up a myriad of nutritive veggies, fruits and seeds rich in vitamins and minerals.

Restore the shiny and happy state of your skin cells with these simple natural beauty remedies. Learn more about the danger of loading your organism with chemicals and free radicals. Opt for the safest and most budget-friendly treatments for glossy locks and a radiant skin condition.

Banana for Glossy Locks

  • There’s no need to spend a fortune on hair conditioning formulas if you decide to use natural treatments. Bananas are super-rich in potassium and boost the elasticity of the locks. Grab a medium bowl and use a simple fork to mash a banana. Apply the paste to your tresses covering all the delicate spots. Leave the treatment on for 15-20 minutes. Finally rinse it off with tepid water and wash your locks with shampoo.
Olive Oil for Soft Skin

  • Quit using harsh soaps and chemical formulas to cleanse your complexion. Olive oil does magic with your skin. Start rubbing a small amount of this vegetable oil into your pores.

    Massage the skin for a few minutes using circular motions. The next step is to soak a washcloth into warm water and position it on your face.

    Leave the washcloth on until it starts to cool down. Then wipe off the dirt and oil excess from the surface of your skin until you have removed all the signs of the treatment. Your skin will radiate health.

Garlic for Strong Nails

  • Acrylic nails look hot, however if you wish to boost the strength of your natural nails, you can use this simple organic remedy.

    Chopped garlic added to various nail polish formulas is a secret used by women from all over the world in order to provide nails with a natural shield. Leave the garlic in the bottle for 7-9 days and then apply a thin line of the varnish on your nails. You’ll notice the difference right away! Don’t be afraid of the smell, it will disappear.

Cornstarch for Oily Skin

  • Face powder is a must have makeup product for those who struggle with an oily complexion. However, you can also replace the chemical formula with a natural substitute. Cornstarch is the magical remedy to get rid of greasy spots. Use a brush or simply your hands to apply a tiny layer of cornstarch on your face or body. This organic ingredient works as a translucent powder. Its greatest advantage is that it can immediately absorb the oil excess from the surface of your complexion.
Baking Soda for Natural Microdermabrasion
  • Have you heard about the most expensive and revitalizing microdermabrasion treatments? This time it’s not necessary to empty your pockets for a refreshing beauty session. You can use baking soda from your own kitchen to obtain the same fabulous results. Apply some baking soda on your hands and start massaging your wet face with it. Do this for 3-5 minutes and don’t be afraid of the uncomfortable feeling it can give you, it’s the normal reaction of the skin to this treatment. Finally wash off the treatment with tepid water.