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Friday, October 29, 2010

Progrresive, Liberal Mask is torn as Ramchandra Guha exposes himself as the Defender of Manusmriti Rule so openly.Nine years after the Booker winner snubbed him, eminent historian Ramachandra Guha makes the most of the opportunity to get even with he

Progrresive, Liberal Mask is torn as Ramchandra Guha exposes himself as the Defender of Manusmriti Rule so openly.Nine years after the Booker winner snubbed him, eminent historian Ramachandra Guha makes the most of the opportunity to get even with her; says she's a publicity fiend!Doing this, Guha toes the RSS Nationalist Line contrary to the sensitivity of Kashmir Problem, Nationality Question hitherto Unaddressed, Miliatary option with Zero Intolerance, AFSPA, Continuous Persecution of Aboriginal indigenous Minority Landscape as well as Humanscape. He ends in supporting Economic Ethnic Cleansing, Continuous Holocaust and the Nationwide Fascist Imperialist Corporate war aginst which Arundhati raises her voice and the global Hindutva wants her head. Guha has joined the train!

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Palash Biswas

Progresive, Liberal Mask is torn as Ramchandra Guha exposes himself as the Defender of Manusmriti Rule so openly.Nine years after the Booker winner snubbed him, eminent historian Ramachandra Guha makes the most of the opportunity to get even with her; says she's a publicity fiend!Doing this, Guha toes the RSS Nationalist Line contrary to the sensitivity of Kashmir Problem, Nationality Question hitherto Unaddressed, Miliatary option with Zero Intolerance, AFSPA, Continuous Persecution of Aboriginal indigenous Minority Landscape as well as Humanscape. He ends in supporting Economic Ethnic Cleansing, Continuous Holocaust and the Nationwide Fascist Imperialist Corporate war aginst which Arundhati raises her voice and the global Hindutva wants her head. Guha has joined the train!

I have been an admirer of Historian Ramchandra Guha.In fact, landing in Kolkata in 1991, I knew only Guha as he had been associated with Pahar in Nainital.He pleads for Pluralism defending Gandhian Manusmriti line of Ideology and he is so popular with the Brahaminical ruling Hegemony. Penguine India published his latest book on Makers of India. Incidentally, Ananda Bazzar Group Owner Aveek Sarkar happens to be the Managing director of Penguine India which ensures Complete Brahaminical Monoploy on documentation. Though, Guha wrote a beautiful write up on Dr BR Ambedkar, I doubt his sympathy with the excluded Indigenous Aboriginal communities. Guha has NEVER voiced the cause of SC, ST,OBC and Refugees. Guha chose to be silent on every occasion of Genocide in Bengal and replicated Dr Amartya Sen`s posture of Global Intelligentsia,in fact, aligned with Global Zionist Fascist Imperialst Global Hindutva and post Modern Manusmriti rule.

Arundhati Roy has become a joke: Guha

Nine years after the Booker winner snubbed him, eminent historian Ramachandra Guha makes the most of the opportunity to get even with her; says she's a publicity fiend
Almost a decade after an intellectual controversy of V S Naipaul-Paul Theroux proportions, Ramachandra Guha claims that his stand against Arundhati Roy has been vindicated.


I'm inclined to put as great a distance as possible between the Guhas of the world and myself - Arundhati Roy had said in a 2001 interview

 "She's crazy. Arundhati Roy has become a joke, a publicity fiend," Guha told Bangalore Mirror. "She hops from cause to cause, and just look at the company she's keeping ... the likes of Syed Ali Shah Geelani, an ultimate bigot who wants to keep women in purdah and bring in an Islamic theocracy."

The central government is contemplating slapping sedition charges on Roy for saying that Kashmir is not an integral part of India, but Guha believes that far more basic issues are involved. There is a reason, Guha says, why as a historian he doesn't want to get too involved in Kashmir, the Maoist insurgency or, for that matter, even conservation movements. Apart from the obvious hubris of believing that an outsider can 'speak for' a community or a victim, Guha thinks it is far more challenging and nuanced from an intellectual standpoint to 'listen to' or 'speak to' victims as opposed to 'speak for' them.

Casting himself firmly on the side of traditional historiography as against postmodern ones, that celebrate dissent and flux for their own sake, Guha agreed with Edward Said's notion that scholarship has to always oppose the guild mentality that unquestioningly privileges notions like 'country', 'citizen', 'community' and the like above everything else. But it is also the scholar's task, Guha asserts, to discern when an attack on these notions are warranted and when not. The current 'seditious' charges on Kashmir, emanating from certain quarters, in his view, certainly aren't.

The highly acrimonious spat between the two writers started after Roy, basking in her Booker fame, became a zealot for the anti-big dam cause. Then followed her opposition to Pokhran II. At that point, Guha in a piece titled 'Arun Shourie of the Left' wrote about how celebrity endorsements of social or political protest movements were fraught with danger because sooner than later the celebrity would replace the cause but he offered a seeming olive branch by saying that Roy and he were 'objectively' on the same side.

Roy, in her riposte in the form of an exhaustive interview to a national fortnightly magazine in Jan 2001, was to dismiss this in no uncertain terms, criticising Guha's "suspect politics and slapdash scholarship" and concluding that, "We are worlds apart, our politics, our arguments. I'm inclined to put as great a distance as possible between the Guhas of the world and myself."

Later Guha explained to an interviewer: "There was the worry of someone long involved with the environmental debate that the simplifications and exaggerations of Roy would tend to polarize issues and make meaningful environmental reform that much more difficult ..."


She basks in the company of Syed Ali Shah Geelani, a bigot who wants to keep women in purdah - Ramachandra Guha

Guha, who is busy with the launch of his latest book Makers of Modern India - "a kind of bridge" between his magisterial India After Gandhi - which was voted by the Economist and Wall Street Journal as the best book of the year in 2007, and the two-volume biography of Mahatma Gandhi he's working on - said that "India has this habit of continuously surprising us." Often in a not-so-good way.

Talking of the three interlocutors for Kashmir, who got the job "just because they are close to the dynasty in Delhi", he said the fact that the Indian state was not just violent or callous but so incompetent too came as a surprise. "The one Muslim in the team has been appointed for no other reason than his surname. The other two don't even speak Urdu," he said. "Why couldn't they have appointed people who would have commanded respect from both sides, people who could act as genuine go-betweens. Right away I can name two - Rajmohan Gandhi and Swami Agnivesh."

In India After Gandhi, Guha claimed that Indian democracy was phifty-phifty, with an efficient 'hardware' but also with recurring 'software' problems. His implicit argument in that book, as well as in Makers of Modern India, is that despite troubled times, or perhaps especially in troubled times, it becomes necessary to harp on the strengths of Indian democracy.

He explained that India was an "unnatural nation", in that it defied many norms, particularly the one where nation states are founded on a 'wound'. India had Partition, as horrible and near-fatal a 'wound' as possible but it was "Gandhi and Nehru's genius to obscure that wound, to overcome it and not make India a Hindu Pakistan."

Denying that the Kashmir problem and other mutinies plaguing India were a result of our founding fathers' refusal to confront the 'wound' squarely, he said that it was presumptuous to ponder if Sardar Patel would have handled India's post-Independence destiny differently from Nehru. "We can always ask 'what if'. But there has to be plausibility also. Patel was a great man, but Nehru was always, always Gandhi's chosen successor," he said. "Moreover, Patel was someone who never appealed to women, south Indians and Muslims which would have made him a suspect 'national' leader. A more interesting 'what if' would be Subash Chandra Bose - what with the man's charisma, his visions, his whole unpredictability."
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  40. The social historian Ramachandra Guha does it no less trenchantly, no less controversially and no less eloquently; but he does it with a far greater ...

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  3. Arundhati, Geelani be tried under treason charges: Chouhan‎ - 1 hour ago

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  1. "Kashmir has never been an integral part of India - it is a historical fact. Even the Indian government has accepted this."
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  56. ... doesn't find any basis for registering a case under the extreme provision against author-activist Arundhati Roy for what she said about Kashmir. ...

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  59. At a seminar on Kashmir on Sunday, writer Arundhati Roy said, "Kashmir has never been an integral part of India - it is a historical fact. ...

  60. Video: BJP slams centre over 'azadi' meet

  61. Fit case to try Geelani, Roy for sedition: Cops‎ - Times of India

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      Kashmir Interlocutors indulging in sound byte unilateralism: BJP

      Economic Times - ‎Oct 28, 2010‎
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      Kashmir interlocutors to meet Omar

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      Gujjar and Bakerwal delegation meets Jammu & Kashmir interlocutors

      Daily News & Analysis - ‎Oct 24, 2010‎
      Place: Srinagar | Agency: PTI The Gujjar and Bakerwal community today met the Centre's interlocutors on Jammu & Kashmir and demanded a separate Pir Panchal ...
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      Gujjars demand separate region Rising Kashmir
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      The Hindu

      Geelani to boycott Kashmir interlocutors

      GulfNews - ‎Oct 25, 2010‎
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      The Hindu

      Kashmir interlocutors in Srinagar to assess ground situation - ‎Oct 23, 2010‎
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      J&K team runs into 'dispute' Calcutta Telegraph
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      Will boycott Kashmir interlocutors: Geelani

      Hindustan Times - ‎Oct 21, 2010‎
      Hardline Hurriyat leader Syed Ali Geelani on Thursday said he will not speak to the newly-appointed team of interlocutors and asked Kashmiri students and ...
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      Indian Express - The Hindu
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      No score by interlocutors in maiden round

      GroundReport - ‎1 hour ago‎
      by Chamankaul October 29, 2010 Jammu & Kashmir: Interlocutors appointed amidst collecting views and suggestions of all shades of people to resolve Kashmir ...












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      4. Sheikh Abdullah - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

      5. Sheikh Abdullah later changed the name of the Muslim Conference to National Conference, under the influence of Jawaharlal Nehru. ...

      6. - Cached - Similar

      7. Today is the day Lastupdate:- Wed, 27 Oct 2010 18:30:00 GMT ...

      8. 27 Oct 2010 ... The newly formed government of Independent India with Jawaharlal Nehru in the cockpit was not only aware ... On the political plan it had cast a role for Sheikh Abdullah, who at that time was in a jail in Bhadarwaha. ... In a secret letter on 27 September addressed to Sardar Patel Home Minister he, ...

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      10. The legacy of 1953

      11. 29 Aug 2008 ... The charge never figured in any of the secret letters that were .... 1949, justified the substantial change (Sardar Patel's Correspondence; page 310). .... Sheikh Abdullah turned a Becket to Jawaharlal Nehru's Henry II. ...

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      13. Merger and integration of J&K In the mirror - Scoop News

      14. 27 Oct 2010 ... Pt. Jawaharlal Nehru, for a change, rejected this Dixon Plan right ... Sheikh Abdullah's support to the Dixon Plan earned wrath of Pt. Nehru ...

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      16. ACCORD & DISCORD

      17. 26 Mar 2010 ... Jawaharlal Nehru, the Sheikh, Sardar Baldev Singh, N.V. Gadgil and other ... At the outset, on August 23, 1974, Sheikh Abdullah wrote to G. ...

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      19. Rightwing Rumblings: Untold stories of Motilal & Jawahar Lal Nehru

      20. 12 Feb 2007 ... Sheikh Abdullah was one and another was Syud Husain, .... Samar Sen was to look into the secret police files on S.P. ... Samar Sen could see the ins and outs of the devil that went by the name of Jawahar Lal Nehru, ...

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      22. For their eyes only: Nation : India Today

      23. 13 Jun 2010 ... Indira Gandhi's official correspondence, as prime minister, ... "The official papers of Jawaharlal Nehru remain in the control of his descendants. ... and the arrest of Sheikh Abdullah by Nehru in 1953 still classified. ...

      24. - Cached

      25. Definitive Story of Kashmir: Part II | Drishtikone

      26. 1 Aug 2010 ... He said, "Jawaharlal, do you want Kashmir, or do you want to give it away? .... Nehru couldn't let go of Sheikh Abdullah as Rajiv Gandhi couldn't ... gave detailed secret documents on Sheikh Abdullah that Nehru finally ...

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      28. Kashmir was never part of India and never will be « The Dawn

      29. 17 Sep 2010... on Central Asia with a Kashmir Observer correspondent. .... In a parallel development, Sheikh Abdullah met Indian Premier, Jawaharlal Nehru, ... claim of accession can be judged from the top-secret letter addressed ...

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      The US believes that given their rise as global powers, India and China are going to play a fundamental role on issues like Iran, non-proliferation, terrorism and nuclear security. Hoping that Barack Obama's landmark November visit to India would cement strategic ties between the two countries, top US experts have said the President should not only focus on bilateral trade relations, but also emphasise on defence cooperation.While, the Left parties on Friday said a countrywide protest would be held Nov 8 to coincide with US President Barack Obama's visit to India, for demanding justice for Bhopal gas tragedy victims and what they call US pressure on Indian foreign policy.

      Meanwhile,in the backdrop of concerns over stapled visas being given by China to Kashmiris, Prime Minister Manmohan Singh on Friday asked it to be sensitive to India's "core issues" as he met Premier Wen Jiabao in Hanoi, even as the two sides agreed to work their way to solutions to the "difficult" problems.

      At the same time, the two leaders agreed that there was enough space in the world for both the countries to grow and they should cooperate and collaborate. In this regard, Wen will visit India by the end of this year, possibly in December, a step that was immediately welcomed by Singh at the meeting.

      It was also decided at the 45-minute meeting that the Special Representatives of the two countries will meet by the end of this month to disc uss "difficult" issues, including the boundary question.

      "The Prime Minister raised the issue of all difficult questions and showing sensitivity to each other...The Prime Minister spoke of the need to show sensitivity to each other's core issues," National Security Adviser Shivshankar Menon told reporters while briefing on the meeting, the first top-level contact since the Sino-India defence exchanges were suspended in July.

      "The president of the US, Barack Obama , is visiting India. Being the first African American president and coming after the neo-conservative Bush regime, there were expectations of positive changes. These, however, have not materialised," said the statement.

      It was signed by Communist Party of India-Marxist (CPI-M) general secretary Prakash Karat, Forward Bloc's Debabrata Biwas, Communist Party of India's A.B. Bardhan and the Revolutionary Socialist Party's (RSP) Abani Roy.

      "As far as India is concerned, the US is aggressively pressurising the government to adopt economic policies which are detrimental to people in the name of a strategic alliance," said the statement.

      The Left parties highlighted the following issues to hold the protest Nov 8.

      - Justice for victims of the Bhopal gas accident; to make Dow Chemicals pay for the damages and for the clean-up of the factory site; US should extradite Warren Anderson to India to stand trial.

      - The US should stop pressurising India on foreign policy and open up agriculture, retail trade, education and other services for American capital and multinational companies.

      - Scrap the Indo-US Defence Framework Agreement which seeks to convert India into a military ally of the US. Stop pressurising India to give up liability claims on US nuclear suppliers.

      - Withdraw the remaining 50,000 US troops from Iraq forthwith; have a political settlement in Afghanistan to establish an independent and neutral state and withdraw US-NATO forces immediately.

      - End the US embargo on Cuba; stop all assistance to Israel till it vacates the occupied Palestinian and Arab territories.

      "It is my expectations that the President's forthcoming visit will be an extremely successful one. It is going to be successful where both symbols matter and where substance matters," said noted South Asia expert, Ashley Tellis, who was intimately involved in the negotiations on the civil nuclear deal with India during the Bush administration.

      "This President, like his predecessors understands clearly the strategic importance of the relationship with India," he said, adding Obama has reached the judgement that for America's own long-term interest in Asia, a "strong and robust partnership" with India is going to be indispensable.

      This is going to be very clearly manifested throughout the visit, Tellis asserted.

      Michael Krepon, co-founder of Stimson and director of the South Asia and Space Security programmes, said Obama's visit will reaffirm "a strategic partnership that began to flourish during President (Bill) Clinton's second term, which was strengthened during the Bush administration.

      "This visit clarifies that, regardless of the President or Prime Minister and the dominant political party in Washington and New Delhi, bilateral relations will remain strong."

      Christine Fair from the Georgetown University said that Obama's visit will likely augur a transition from a relationship that has enjoyed "high level nurturing" towards one that is more stable, institutionalised and mature and less demanding of constant attention.

      "The absence of sustained high-level governmental engagements does not and should not signal neglect; rather a fundamental transformation of the Indo-US relationship that has become more similar to other important countries that engage or even partner with the United States," Fair said.

      She said she does not expect a "new big idea;" rather a consolidation of numerous ongoing initiatives and a deepening of bilateral commitments to those efforts.

      With expectations running high in India ahead of Obama's visit, Robert Hathway, Director, Asia Programme of the Woodrow Wilson International Centre for Scholars, said it is time to quit looking for "breakthroughs" or "historic turning points" during this visit.

      "It's time we quit expecting that each and every meeting between the leaders of the two countries must evoke passion and loud declarations of undying love," he argued.

      Besides the broader Asia context that includes relations with China and India," the US also sees direct engagement with the 10 ASEAN countries on its own merit and not simply in the context of relationship with China, US deputy national security adviser for strategic communications Ben Rhodes said Thursday.

      "...when you look at the rise of India and China as global powers and you also look at the emergence of regional powers like Indonesia that are in the G20 , these countries are going to play a fundamental role" in all priority issues, "whether it's Iran, non-proliferation, terrorism, nuclear security," he said at a White House briefing on President Barack Obama's Asia trip.

      Rhodes, who Wednesday described India as the cornerstone of US foreign policy in Asia, noted that Obama's four-nation Asia swing "obviously begins with a fairly robust economic component of our India visit".

      The theme of US "efforts to expand our exports into India and deepen our engagement with India's economy, will proceed through the meetings and at the G20" summit in South Korea to put in context "our aggressive efforts to increase our economic engagement and our exports in Asia", he said.

      The US commitment to combat climate change will continue no matter what the results of the Nov 2 mid-term election are, Rhodes said in response to a question.

      The new framework for reducing emissions framework needs to include the US, "but it also needs to include emerging economies like China and India and Indonesia", he said.

      Asked about Obama's plans to visit a mosque in Indonesia, Rhodes said Obama would underscore the themes that he has made in terms of outreach to Muslim communities around the world.

      He would also speak about "Indonesia's rise as a democracy, Indonesia's rise as an emerging economy, and the pluralism that its story represents-similar to India's, in that respect."

      Besides the broader Asia context that includes relations with China and India," the US also sees direct engagement with the 10 ASEAN countries on its own merit and not simply in the context of relationship with China, US deputy national security adviser for strategic communications Ben Rhodes said Thursday.

      "...when you look at the rise of India and China as global powers and you also look at the emergence of regional powers like Indonesia that are in the G20, these countries are going to play a fundamental role" in all priority issues, "whether it's Iran, non-proliferation, terrorism, nuclear security," he said at a White House briefing on President Barack Obama's Asia trip.

      Rhodes, who Wednesday described India as the cornerstone of US foreign policy in Asia, noted that Obama's four-nation Asia swing "obviously begins with a fairly robust economic component of our India visit".

      The theme of US "efforts to expand our exports into India and deepen our engagement with India's economy, will proceed through the meetings and at the G20" summit in South Korea to put in context "our aggressive efforts to increase our economic engagement and our exports in Asia", he said.

      The US commitment to combat climate change will continue no matter what the results of the Nov 2 mid-term election are, Rhodes said in response to a question.

      The new framework for reducing emissions framework needs to include the US, "but it also needs to include emerging economies like China and India and Indonesia", he said.

      Asked about Obama's plans to visit a mosque in Indonesia, Rhodes said Obama would underscore the themes that he has made in terms of outreach to Muslim communities around the world.

      He would also speak about "Indonesia's rise as a democracy, Indonesia's rise as an emerging economy, and the pluralism that its story represents-similar to India's, in that respect."

      Menon refused to elaborate on the "core issues" but sources noted that this relates to anything connected to Jammu and Kashmir.

      China has been giving visas to people of Jammu and Kashmir on loose sheets of paper instead of passports, an action seen by India as questioning its sovereignty. (Read: China refuses to bend on J&K stapled visas)

      The matter snowballed into a major controversy in July this year when Beijing wanted to give such a visa to India's Northern Area Commander Lt Gen B S Jaswal.

      India responded by suspending high-level defence exchanges for which Lt Gen Jaswal was travelling to Beijing and has repeatedly made it clear that these will remain on "pause" till China reverts to its position on the issue.

      On whether the stapled visa issue was raised by Singh, Menon was evasive, saying "we were instructed, SRs and officials on both sides, to prepare for Wen Jiabao's visit and work our way to solutions to all the issues that are difficult in our relationship, including boundary question."

      "We will continue the process of engagement and continue to deal with issues that concern us," he said on the stapled visa issue.

      Asked to spell out India's "core issues," the NSA did not specify but said these have been indicated by the two countries to each other.

      While on the Indian side, the "core issues" are Jammu and Kashmir and Arunachal Pradesh, on the Chinese side, these relate to Tibetan spiritual leader the Dalai Lama.

      "This is an ongoing conversation. We will continue that discussion as we lead up to Premier Wen Jiabao's visit which I am sure will be a successful and productive visit," Menon said.

      The high-level defence exchanges, however, will remain suspended, with Menon saying, "we will continue to work on the issue."

      The two leaders, while going through the entire range of relationship taking the "larger strategic view," also discussed the economic aspect of the ties in the backdrop of concerns in India over the big trade imbalance in favour of China.

      In his initial remarks at the meeting, Wen referred to Singh's oft-repeated statement that there is enough space in the world for India and China to achieve common development.

      While agreeing with it, he said, "on top of our remarks, I add that there is enough space in the world for India and China to have cooperation."

      Noting that the two countries had "viewed and handled" their bilateral relations with a "strong sense of history," he said India and China have stayed in touch and worked together to build a stable and steady growth in ties.

      Wen said Singh had extended invitations to him a number of times to visit India and "my preliminary information indicates that I will pay a visit to your country by the end of this year."

      To make this visit a productive one, he suggested that "we discuss and reach a consensus on some major aspects so as to lay a foundation for the visit."

      Responding to this, Singh noted that the two were meeting for the 10th time in six years and welcomed Wen's decision to visit India.

      "You are the architect of Strategic Cooperative Partnership which both the countries signed during your first visit to India in 2005. Our relations have evolved satisfactorily. We are very satisfied with growth of trade and economic relations between India and China," he told Wen.

      On the boundary dispute, both the leaders said they looked forward to early resolution of the issue and asked their Special Representatives to deal with the subject with a sense of urgency.

      The Special Representatives will meet in Beijing by this month-end for the 14th round of talks. The last meeting was held in New Delhi in August last year.

      "Both mentioned the need to carry the process forward from Guiding Principles and Political Parameters signed in 2005. Both said they will ask Special Representatives to do so with a sense of urgency," Menon said.

      In the meantime, they agreed that pending the settlement, the two countries will maintain peace and tranquility on the border.

      "They have given new impetus to the process, between Special Representatives and officials, to work through the issues and have given clear direction on how they want this to be handled," the NSA said.

      From the Indian side, the delegation at the meeting included Commerce and Industry Minister Anand Sharma, Menon and Secretary (East) in Ministry of External Affairs Latha Reddy.

      Term of committee probing killings during J&K unrest extended

      The Jammu and Kashmir government today extended by one month the term of the two-member judicial commission probing 17 civilian killings during the unrest in the Kashmir Valley in June and July. "The term of the judicial commission has been extended by one month and we are hopeful that it will submit its report by the end of November," State Law Secretary Ghulam Hassan Tantray told PTI here.

      The extension was granted after the commission, headed by Justice (retired) Bashirduddin Ahmad and also comprising Justice (retired) Y P Nargotra, sought an extension to complete the probe as it had not received affidavits and police reports in all the 17 cases. The Commission was appointed by the state government on July 27 following an All Party Meeting convened by Chief Minister Omar Abdullah to probe the killings that took place between June 11 and July 19, the first five weeks of unrest in the Kashmir Valley.

      Its term expired on October 28. The Commission had received affidavits from families of only 13 of the 17 persons killed and was keen to extend the date for receiving information from the remaining families and eyewitnesses.

      It had issued a notification on August 31 seeking information on affidavits from the eyewitnesses within 15 days. However, the date for filing the affidavits was extended by a month after no one turned up at the expiry of the first deadline.

      The terms of reference of the Commission include to enquire into the circumstances leading to deaths by firing or otherwise into the 17 incidents, to fix responsibility wherever excessive force was used resulting in fatalities, to suggest measures to avert the recurrence of such incidents in future and to recommend action to be taken against the persons or authorities found responsible in any such incident.

      Allotted land for Nano could be used for other purpose: Tatas

      Tatas, whose small car project Nano, could not take off from Singur in West Bengal, today told the Supreme Court that the land allocated for the venture still belongs to its company which could be used for some other purpose. "Tata''s got lease.

      We are still there. We have spent crores of rupees and have our infrastructure there.

      It could be used for some other purpose", senior advocate Mukul Rohatgi, appearing for Tata Motors, submitted before a Bench comprising Justices R V Raveendran and A K Patnaik. He said that despite having a lease deed for 90 years in its favour for 646 acres of land, there was no activity and the company was paying a rent of Rs one crore every year.

      "We have lost Rs 500 crores. We have valid lease and are losing money," the senior advocate said.

      Tata''s submission came after those opposing the acquisition of fertile multi-crop agricultural land contended that since the company has moved the project outside Singur, the land should be returned to West Bengal government for giving it back to the farmers. The counsel, appearing for West Bengal Industrial Development Corporation, said the title of the land was still with the Corporation and if Tata Motor''s kept it unutilised then the land could be taken back.

      The Bench, which wanted to fix the final hearing in the matter for March next year, changed its mind after it was pointed out that West Bengal is likely go for assembly lections by May. At this point, the Bench said "let us decide whether the petition will survive by that time or not" and posted it hearing in May 2011.

      The Bench was hearing a bunch of petitions challenging the Calcutta High Court''s decision that upheld as legal the acquisition of fertile multi-crop agricultural land by the state government for Tata''s Nano project. Some civil right activists, lawyers and NGOs have appealed against the High Court verdict contending that acquisition of land was in violation of farmers rights guaranteed under the constitution.

      The project was moved to Gujarat in 2008 due to political protests led by Trinamool Congress.

      10,000 kids keep guard against littering in Himalayas
      Shimla, Oct 29 (IANS) They may be young, but don't get caught littering in front of them. Over 10,000 schoolchildren are virtually on the prowl in the hills of Himachal Pradesh, ready to teach a lesson or two on non-biodegradable waste.

      These children, designated as 'eco-monitors', keep an eye on areas around their school to catch people who dump polythene bags, sachets, empty liquor bottles and clothes in the open.

      'We have initially selected 76 schools - both private and government - where teams of students from Class 5-12 have been constituted. The teams visit the localities twice a week after school to check littering, especially of non-biodegradable items,' Madhu Soni, senior project consultant with the state pollution control board, told IANS.

      Each team fans out to spread awareness on proper disposal of non-biodegradable waste.

      'In case somebody is repeatedly found strewing waste in the open, the students even embarrass the violator. They have been trained to virtually force the violator to retrieve the waste and dump it at a proper place,' she said.

      'If the violation continues, then the students inform their school principal. The principal further informs the deputy commissioner for penal action against defaulters,' Soni added.

      All the identified schools are located in areas under 12 urban local agencies, including Shimla, Solan, Dharamsala, Una, Mandi and Nahan, where the problem of littering of non-biodegradable waste is acute.

      These places are frequented by a large number of tourists, who are among the major polluters.

      Ravi Sharma of the state council for science, technology and environment said the schools were roped in under phase three of the 'Polythene Hatao, Paryavaran Bachao' (remove polythene, save environment) campaign of the government launched Sep 25.

      He said the basic purpose of the campaign was to educate local people, vendors and tourists about the scientific disposal of waste.

      'Since the launch of the campaign, people have developed a proper waste disposal sense,' he added.

      Even in other government schools, students are being sensitised through eco-clubs on the need for environment protection and proper disposal of plastic waste.

      On Oct 2, 2009, Himachal Pradesh banned the production, storage, use, sale and distribution of all types of polythene bags made of non-biodegradable material.

      Neha Aggarwal, an 'eco-monitor' in Shimla, said: 'Our state is rich in nature, but sadly the people, especially the tourists, are destroying it by spreading trash. We will not allow it to happen.'

      To make the campaign a success, the government has decided to award a Green Trophy to every eco-monitor. 'The best performing school would be given a cash prize of Rs.25,000,' Soni said.

      'The second and the third best performers would get a prize of Rs.15,000 and Rs.10,000 respectively. These would be given annually.'

      In the first two stages of the campaign, 138,100 kg of plastic waste was collected from 1,757 'hotspots' in the state.

      Waste plastic, including carry bags, disposable cups, laminated plastics like pouches of chips, pan masala, aluminium foil and packaging material used for biscuits, chocolates, milk and grocery items is being used in road construction.

      Chief Minister Prem Kumar Dhumal, who also holds the environment portfolio, said initially people were persuaded to check the disposal of plastic waste in the open. Now the government has authorised its enforcing agencies to impose fines on offenders.

      'Our aim is to make the state plastic-free and carbon neutral (removing as much carbon dioxide from the atmosphere as is put in),' he told IANS.

      (Vishal Gulati can be contacted at

      Obama to downplay outsourcing concerns on visit to India
      Indian express

      US President Barack Obama is expected to downplay concerns on outsourcing during his India visit instead focusing on the larger story of getting more access to the Indian market. The US is keen to tap into the financial sector, in both insurance and banking where there are stiff sectoral caps for foreign investment. The other sectoral caps are in retail and in defence production. At a press briefing at the White House on Thursday, Mike Froman, deputy national security advisor for international economic affairs said the US government will push for "a level-playing field" where there is an open market for US companies.

      "There's a large potential market there..the President and the administration are active in promoting exports to ensure that there's level playing field there, there's open markets (USA) have an opportunity to penetrate that market and support jobs back here," he said. Obama's three day India visit from September 6 to 8, will be dominated by the economic agenda, his aides said.

      Froman's comments came as a response to questions on whether Obama will flag the outsourcing issue in his talks with Prime Minister Manmohan Singh. The Obama administration plans to cut back tax breaks for US-based companies that use India and other locations to do back office jobs, in favour of those located in the US. Froman said in the run up to the visit tare "a number of large contracts" between American and Indian companies, and "we hope to consummate some of these deals". US exports to India have quadrupled over the last seven years to $17 billion while export of services have tripled to $10 billion a year. Indian companies are now the second-fastest group of investors in the US, just after the UAE.

      Finmin looking at tax implications of large cross-border deals

      The Finance Ministry today said it is looking into tax implications of all large cross-border mergers and acquisitions, against the backdrop of the Supreme Court decision in the Vodafone case.

      "The Department of Revenue is looking at all large financial transactions. We are definitely looking at cross-border transactions," Revenue Secretary Sunil Mitra said on the sidelines of a FICCI event here.

      "Cross-border transactions are a recent phenomenon. They have started since 2006, so there is need to look into these and study these," he added.

      Responding to a query on whether the Ministry is looking into more companies after the Vodafone tax issue, which embroiled the tax office and the international cellular operator in a major court battle, Mitra said the department has been doing so even before Vodafone happened.

      "Vodafone happened in middle of 2007. We have been looking into a number of cases, acquisitions that have happened through overseas transactions," Mitra said.

      The government last week asked Vodafone to pay Rs 11,218 crore in taxes within a month for the acquisition of Hutchison's stake in the telecom joint venture in India in 2007.

      The notice was issued following the Supreme Court directive on September 27 to the IT assessing officer to determine and quantify the tax liability of Vodafone within four weeks. Vodafone Essar, however, contested the tax notice.

      The case relates to a deal in 2007 when Vodafone, through its group firm Vodafone International Holdings, bought Hutchison Telecommunications India's (HTIL) 67 per cent stake in Hutchison Essar for over USD 11 billion.

      "The tax demand has been raised in pursuance to the direction of the Supreme Court of India dated September 27 to the Income Tax Assessing officer to determine and quantify the tax liability of Vodafone within four weeks," an official has statement said.

      Last month, the Supreme Court had refused to stay a High Court order, which ruled that Indian income tax authorities have jurisdiction to tax Vodafone on its deal with Hutch.

      EU urges G20 to act to avoid currency war

      BRUSSELS: European Union leaders urged their Group of 20 counterparts Friday to avoid a damaging currency war so as to prevent any return of damaging 1930s style trade protectionism.

      Leaders adopted a declaration insisting that the G20 of major and emerging powers use their summit in South Korea next month to "avoid engaging in exchange rate moves aimed at gaining short-term competitive advantage."

      The text "stresses the necessity to avoid all forms of protectionism" so as not to endanger the global economic recovery.

      The call comes amid growing currency tensions, notably between the United States and China over the value of the yuan which Washington says is kept deliberately undervalued to boost Chinese exports at its expense.

      Europe has voiced similar fears while Japan, and other Asian countries, recently moved to weaken their currencies to protect exports, sparking concerns of a return to the 'beggar-thy-neighbour' policies at the heart of the 1930s Great Depression.

      Endorse India's quest for UNSC seat: US expert

      WASHINGTON: As US President Obama embarks on his first visit to India, a noted US scholar has suggested that he make a bold move to endorse India's quest for a permanent seat in the UN Security Council .

      Obama has a unique opportunity to cement a global partnership with a rapidly emerging power and "India has the potential to be America's most important strategic partner," wrote Ashley Tellis, a senior associate at the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace, in a new paper.

      A strong bilateral relationship with New Delhi will help Washington manage China's rise, promote democracy globally, and protect broader American interests, said Tellis who was intimately involved in negotiating the India-US civil nuclear deal as an adviser to the Bush administration.

      His key recommendations for the United States include paying greater attention to India, reaffirming US support and Integrating India into the global non-proliferation regime.

      "While Obama has understandably focused on competing priorities-including the troubled US economy and ongoing wars abroad-Washington must devote more resources to its relations with New Delhi," Tellis wrote.

      "India plays a critical role in Afghanistan, international economic recovery, and preserving a stable Asian order-all priority issues for the United States," he says.

      The White House should also endorse India's quest for a permanent seat in the United Nations Security Council, as "This bold move would reassure Indians of America's dedication to the relationship."

      Noting that the India-US civil nuclear agreement was the first step in bringing India out of its nuclear isolation, he writes, Washington should broaden its efforts to involve everything from aiding the expansion of nuclear power in India to improving collaboration on nuclear security.

      "By reaffirming the US commitment to aid India's growth in power and emphasising America's fellowship with India, Obama can help bring the two countries together on shared interests and move their relationship forward significantly," Tellis said.

      PM meets Wen Jiabao: Stapled visa issue to figure in talks
      HANOI: Prime Minister Manmohan Singh and his Chinese counterpart Wen Jiabao met here on Friday, marking the first top level contact between the two countries after defence exchanges were suspended in July following a row over stapled visas to Kashmiris.

      The controversial issue of stapled visas along with economic aspects of the relationship are expected to figure in the meeting.

      Ahead of the meeting taking place on the sidelines of ASEAN- India and East Asia Summit, the Indian government sources expressed hope that it would be good and "substantive."

      China started the practice of issuing the stapled visas to Kashmiris about two years back and the issue triggered a major row in July this year when Beijing wanted to give such a visa to India's Northern Area Commander Lt Gen B S Jaswal.

      India responded by suspending high-level defence exchanges for which Lt Gen Jaswal was travelling to Beijing and has repeatedly made it clear that these will remain on "pause" till China reverts to its earlier position on Jammu and Kashmir.

      China has, however, maintained that it will not change its stand.

      Sources said economic aspects of the relationship will come up during the talks amid India's concerns over trade imbalance in favour of China.

      Trade between the two fast-growing economies has been increasing and is targeted to be USD 60 billion. However, it is in favour of China to the tune of about 15 billion dollars, particularly because of lack of adequate access to India's pharmaceuticals and services in China.

      India has been pressing China to give more free access and has been assured that it would be considered, sources said.

      Retail investors lost $15 bn opportunity: Reliance Capital

      PANJIM: Retail investors could have gained over $15 billion by investing just 5 percent of their savings in Indian capital markets in the past 30 months -- an opportunity that was tapped better by foreign funds, says a top fund manager.

      "Conviction in our own economy is lacking. That is preventing people from investing in the capital markets market," said Sunil Singhania, head of equity investments with Anil Ambani Group's Reliance Capital Asset Management.

      "Foreign institutional investors are bullish on the market and have gained nearly $6 billion from the recent rally. But retail investors failed to derive benefits from the rally because of their conservative investment approach," Singhania told IANS here.

      "Retail investors lost an opportunity to earn $15 billion. Had they invested 10 percent of their savings in equity market they would have earned $30 billion," added Singhania, who has handled one of the largest corpus of funds in India worth $3.5 billion.

      Savings rate in India at over 25 percent is one of the highest in the world and amounted to nearly $700 million in the last 30 months. Over 90 percent household savings is lying in bank deposits and only 3 percent is invested in the capital market.

      "Indians have been very aggressive savers but conservative investors. Majority of money is lying in bank deposits. If you take into account inflation, return on this money is negligible," Singhania said.

      But Reliance Capital Asset Management , which manages over $32 billion assets, remain bullish on the market.

      "There are opportunities in all sectors," he said, adding the company was specifically looking at infrastructure with special interests.

      Group chairman Anil Ambani said earlier this month that Reliance Capital will offer specialised financial services for infrastructure projects with a target of Rs.50,000 crore ($11.1 billion) as asset base and 18-20 percent return.

      "Over the next few years, India is projected to spend over $1 trillion or Rs.50 lakh crore in infrastructure creation. As a group, we will continue to play a special role in this huge nation-building endeavour," Ambani told investors recently.

      "Reliance Capital will leverage this unmatched domain expertise of our group to offer customized financing solutions to vendors, suppliers and contractors, with targeted returns on equity of 18-20 percent," Ambani said.

      According to Singhania, the flow of foreign funds in the Indian equity market was likely to continue in the coming months as economic fundamentals remain strong.

      "There will be some short-term volatility. But in the longer run FIIs will continue to invest in Indian market because it offers very attractive returns."

      Foreign institutional investors have invested nearly $25 billion in the Indian equities market this year, leading the 15-percent-plus rally in the country's benchmark index Sensex. These funds have cumulatively pumped over $350 billion in the Indian market.

      "Indian economy is likely to quadruple in the next 10-12 years. Fundamentals are strong. There is no reason why foreign funds should pull money out of Indian markets," Singhania said, adding the Indian markets have the potential for 20-25 percebt returns

      29 Oct, 2010, 02.05PM IST,REUTERS
      US may face a Japanese style stagnation: Roubini

      LONDON: The US economy is a "fiscal train wreck" waiting to happen that risks ushering in a period of stagnation featuring by minimal growth, high unemployment and deflationary pressure, US economist Nouriel Roubini wrote on Friday.

      In a commentary for the Financial Times, Roubini -- one of the first economists to predict the housing crash in the United States and known as 'Dr Doom' for his pessimistic forecasts -- said fiscal and monetary stimulus had prevented another depression.

      But he said that further quantitative easing likely to be announced by the Federal Reserve next Wednesday will have little effect on US growth in 2011, "so fiscal policy should be doing some of the lifting to prevent a double dip recession ," he said.

      He said the US remains on an "unsustainable fiscal course" and the likely make-up of Congress after elections next Tuesday, in which the Republicans look set for strong gains, virtually takes fiscal reform off the agenda.

      "The risk ... is that something on the fiscal side will snap ... The trigger could be a debt rollover crisis in a major US state government," he wrote.

      "The worst of the coming fiscal train wreck will be prevented by the Fed's easing. But the risk is (Obama) ... will then preside over ... a Japanese style stagnation, where growth is barely positive, and deflationary pressures and high unemployment linger."

      22 Oct, 2010, 01.38AM IST,NYT News Service
      Post recession, three schools of thought on wealth management
      Slowdown has made people aware of the fact that money can be as easily lost as it is made during boom time. This has made advisors to develop new ways of presenting their services.

      NEW YORK: As portfolios tick up after the vast losses of two years ago, many investors remain wary. The latest whiz-bang product is more likely to inspire skepticism than desire. Promises of steady returns do not inspire confidence, either. While in boom times it seemed easy to make money, investors have learned that it is even easier to lose money. In this climate, advisors face a challenge, and, once again, they have had to develop new ways of presenting their services. Speaking broadly, three approaches seem to have emerged: the caring, the technical and the retirement-focussed.

      The emergence of different approaches also shows the resilience of the wealth-management industry – this is not the first time the industry has changed how it describes itself. Understanding the differences among the three approaches and choosing the right advisor may, at least, help investors sleep better at night.

      The caring approach: Advisors in this camp say they manage money as if it were their own. They go beyond the issue of fiduciary responsibility of registered investment advisors, they say. One large firm using this approach is Stephens Inc, a privately held bank run by Warren Stephens, founded by his uncle in 1933 and later run by his father. In the last three years, Stephens said, he has added 25 advisors, for a total of 107, and with them clients who fit the Stephens ethos: people who want stability with steady growth. "We're not immune to our clients' portfolios being down somewhat," Stephens said. "We've benefited from the real and perceived stability of our firm." The wealth management division now manages $7 billion, the same amount it managed before the recession .

      In a different approach to caring, Ben Marks, president and chief investment officer of Marks Group Wealth Management in Minnetonka, Minn, is investing clients' money more locally than globally, bucking the trend to look abroad. Investors "like the proximity of who is making the investment decisions – that's us – and secondly the proximity of the actual investments themselves", Marks said. In this strategy, Marks said, the qualitative side of investing is winning over the quantitative approach. This was not so important in 2006 when portfolios were rising, he said.

      At the Harbor Lights Financial Group, which manages $250 million from its base on the New Jersey shore, the notion of a small, caring firm goes a step further to include "lifestyle concierge services" for clients with $1 million or more. This includes help negotiating the price of a new car or securing hard-to-get theatre tickets or restaurant reservations. "We could only control so much of the performance with the markets, so we decided to create this programme," Doug Lockwood, a partner, said. "Our top clients are referring us all these people, so we try to over-impress them."

      The technical approach: Advisors in this category say it is a way to talk about returns and expectations without dwelling on the numbers themselves. Doing that requires them to ask different questions.

      Mitch Cox, head of global investments and research at Barclays Wealth, said the first question to ask clients should be: "How much am I financially and mentally prepared to lose?" While talking about potential losses, Cox said his firm speaks to clients about opportunities across nine asset classes that span the globe.

      The reasoning is that moving into cash and bonds may allow investors to sleep at night, but it may also let them fall behind the rate of inflation. Finding the right mix of investments depends on a person's emotional makeup, he said, but one thing is consistent: "They want returns that are unsurprising and sustainable."

      The other distinctive element of the technical approach is an emphasis on lower costs and fees, which translates to a higher return.

      The retirement-focussed approach: This approach educates clients about their portfolios and tries to persuade them to keep the long term in mind. By extension, this means trying to ignore the short-term peaks and valleys in their portfolios. For many people the timeline for retirement has changed, and that has altered the planning process, said Renee Brown, director of wealth, brokerage and retirement for Wells Fargo . "They're less concerned about getting to retirement; they think it's going to happen later," Brown said. "Their concern now is, will their money last through retirement?"

      It's essential to remember that the three thought schools are not broken down by wealth levels but by personality traits. Most important in choosing an advisor is for people to ask: What kind of investor am I?
    • by Narender Sehgal


      Chapter 17
      The Rise of Sheikh Abdullah as the British Agent

        In order to perpetuate their rule on vast India the Britishers made two matters as the foundation of their entire political activities. First was the "divide and rule" diplomacy which was given constitutional recognition. Secondly, an arrangement for able agents and stooges for implementing the same principle in the political setup conveniently. The principle of "divide" through caste-based political process and reservation received patronage from the Government and in the garb of social reforms an army of the British agents and sycophants was raised through establishment of many institutions.
        1. That Sheikh Mohammd Abdullah, M.Sc. (Aligarh) contacted sometime in 1953 Sir B.J.Giancy, then Political Secretary to the then Government of India and head of the British Intelligence Service, otherwise known as the Political Service, and offered his services to the British Raj.

         2. That the said Glancy, ICS, passed him on, after checking on his antecedents, to one Lt. colonel L.E. Lang, CIE, MC, a high ranking offioer of the British Intelligence, who was then posted as the British Political Agent in Srinagar.

         3. That the course of his work as a willing collaborator af the enslavers of India, Abdullah received and carried out orders, instructions and wishes of one Col. C.W. Calvin, another member of the British Intelligence, who then acted as the Prime Minister of Jammu and Kashmir.

         4. That Abdullah knowingly acted as an agent of the British Intelligence to rouse communal passions of Kashmiri Muslims with a view to fighting the rising tide of Indian nationalism.

      <<< Chapter 16
      Converted Kashmir
      Chapter 18 >>>

      © 2001 Kashmir Information Network. All Rights Reserved.


Ramachandra Guha

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Ramachandra Guha in Chennai

Ramachandra Guha (born 1958) is an Indian writer whose research interests have included environmental, social, political and cricket history. He is also a columnist for the newspapers The Telegraph, Khaleej Times, and The Hindustan Times. He is a fellow of Indian Institute of Management Calcutta.



[edit] Life and career

Sons and daughters of Mysore S. Ramaswamy Iyer and their families. Mysore S. Ramaswamy Iyer was the first Advocate-General of Mysore and great-grandfather of Ramachandra Guha

Born in Dehra Dun in 1958, Guha studied at The Doon School and St. Stephen's College, Delhi. He graduated in Economics with a BA in 1977 and then an MA from the Delhi School of Economics, and did a PhD in Sociology at the Indian Institute of Management Calcutta, with a dissertation on the social history of forestry in Uttaranchal, that focused on the Chipko movement. It was later published as The Unquiet Woods. Between 1985 and 2000, he taught at various universities in India, Europe and North America, including the University of California, Berkeley, Yale University, Stanford University and at Oslo University, and later at the Indian Institute of Science. During this period, he was also a fellow of Wissenschaftskolleg zu Berlin in Germany (1994-95).

Guha then moved to Bangalore, and began writing full time. He served as Sundaraja Visiting Professor in the Humanities at the Indian Institute of Science, Bangalore, in 2003. He is managing trustee of the New India Foundation, a nonprofit body that funds research on modern Indian history. Guha is married to the graphic designer Sujata Keshavan and has two children.

He is the author of "India after Gandhi", published by Macmillan and Ecco in 2007.

In 2000, Guha penned an essay critiquing an article[1] written by writer and activist Arundhati Roy opposing the Narmada Dam. Roy espoused the cause of the Narmada Bachao Andolan, a cause Guha is also a supporter of. However, he questioned her expertise in the relevant field and argued that her activities and writings undermined rather than helped the cause.[2] Roy responded in an interview, saying that Guha was a cricket historian who had missed the boat.[3]

In 2009, Guha joined several other well-known historians in signing a petition that criticized the functioning of the prestigious Nehru Memorial Museum and Library (NMML) in Delhi. The petition, also signed by such well-known academics as Sumit Sarkar, Nivedita Menon, Nayanjot Lahiri, Mushirul Hasan, Mukul Kesavan Mahesh Rangarajan and Krishna Kumar, alleged that the institution was being run in an inefficient and corrupt fashion. They point out that NMML has discontinued its publication programme, and that the acquisition of manuscripts and oral histories have all but come to a halt.[1]. In turn, writer and activist Madhu Kishwar, environmentalist Pradeep Kishen and well-known historians Irfan Habib and D.N. Jha have come out in support of NMML and it's director Mridula Mukherjee.[2] Subsequently, the government found that the transfer of funds was done "with the approval of the competent authority." Mridula Mukherjee and the NMML was given a clean chit by the Ministry of Culture, disconfirming Guha's allegations. [3]

[edit] Awards and recognition

[edit] Bibliography

  • The Unquiet Woods: Ecological Change and Peasant Resistance in the Himalaya (University of California, Berkeley press; Oxford University Press (OUP)) (1989)
  • This Fissured Land: An Ecological History of India (OUP) (with Madhav Gadgil, 1992)
  • Wickets in the East (OUP) (1992)
  • Social Ecology (OUP) (Editor, with T.N. Madan, 1994)
  • Spin and Other Turns (Penguin) (1994)
  • An Indian Cricket Omnibus (OUP) (Editor, with T.G. Vaidyanathan, 1994)
  • Ecology and Equity (with Madhav Gadgil, 1995) (Penguin)
  • Varieties of Environmentalism: Essays North and South (with Joan Martinez-Alier, 1997)
  • Savaging the Civilized — Verrier Elwin, his tribals and India (University of Chicago Press; OUP) (1999)
  • An Anthropologist Among the Marxists, and other essays (Permanent Black) (2000)
  • Environmentalism: A global history (OUP) (2000)
  • The Picador Book of Cricket (Picador) (Editor, 2001)
  • A Corner of a Foreign Field - An Indian history of a British sport (Picador) (2001)
  • An Indian cricket century (Editor, works of Sujit Mukherjee, 2002)
  • The Last Liberal and Other Essays (Permanent Black, 2004)
  • The States of Indian Cricket (Permanent Black) (2005)
  • How Much Should a Person Consume?: Thinking Through the Environment (University of California, Berkeley Press; Permanent Black) (2006)
  • India after Gandhi: The history of the world's largest democracy (Ecco) (2007)
  • Makers of Modern India (Viking/Penguin) (Editor, 2010)
  • Institutions and Inequalities: Essays in Honour of Andre Beteille (with Jonathan P. Parry)
  • Nature's Spokesman: M. Krishnan and Indian Wildlife (editor, works of M. Krishnan)
  • Nature, Culture, Imperialism: Essays on the Environmental History of South Asia (with David Arnold)

[edit] References

  1. ^ Roy, Arundhati. "The Greater Common Good". Retrieved 2006-09-18. 
  2. ^ Guha, Ramachandra. "The Arun Shourie of the left". Retrieved 2006-09-18. 
  3. ^ Ram, Narasimhan. "Scimitars in the Sun". Frontline. Retrieved 2006-09-18. 
  4. ^ Foreign Policy: Top 100 Intellectuals
  5. ^ "Padma Bhushan for Shekhar Gupta, Abhinav Bindra". Retrieved 2009-01-26. 

[edit] External links

Name Guha, Ramachandra
Alternative names
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Date of birth 1958
Place of birth
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Categories: Indian essayists | Indian historians | Living people | People from Dehradun | Dosco | 1958 births | Green thinkers | Recipients of the Padma Bhushan | Delhi School of Economics alumni | Alumni of St. Stephen's College, Delhi | Indian Institute of Management Calcutta alumni



N. RAM interviews ARUNDHATI ROY on a writer's place in politics.

Arundhati Roy's debut novel, The God of Small Things, published in 1997, took the literary world by storm, winning among other things the 1997 Booker Prize and accolades from leading writers and critics. It continues to be one of the best-loved an d best-read recent works of literary fiction round the world. It has sold six million copies in 40 languages.

Since then, the novelist has published (always, first in Indian publications) three major political essays - The End of Imagination, The Greater Common Good, and Power Politics. Each has addressed a big and critical issue, an issue that has mattered to millions of people and to the present and future of India. The first is a passionately argued, unilateralist, anti-chauvinist, uncompromising moral protest against nuclear weaponisation in India and Pakistan. The second is an extensively researched, but equally passionate description of what the Sardar Sarovar megadam being built on the Narmada River - and Big Dams generally - have meant to the lives and future of millions of people in India. The third essay argues against the privatisation and corporatisation of essential infrastructure, examining in particular the privatisation of the power sector, which is at the top of the Bharatiya Janata Party-led government's agenda today.

Each brilliantly written essay has represented a powerful - writerly and personal - intervention in a controversial arena. Frontline and Outlook magazines published, more or less simultaneously and as Cover Stories, the first and second essays (in August 1998 and June 1999); Frontline published (in February 2000) The Cost of Living, the text of the novelist's Nehru Lecture given at Cambridge University at the invitation of Amartya Sen; and Outlook published (in Novembe r 2000) Power Politics.

Interestingly, Roy has turned over the substantial royalties from the book publication of these essays to the movements they espouse. The Booker Prize money was also given to the Narmada Bachao Andolan (NBA) in 1999.

There has been a profound change of context since The Greater Common Good was published a year and a half ago. When Frontline and Outlook cover-featured Roy's indictment of Big Dams in India and the Narmada Valley in particular, it s eemed that the issue had attracted a whole new constituency, some of it international. The Sardar Sarovar dam was once again back on the front pages of Indian newspapers. Hope was raised among the activists, and the people of the Narmada Valley, that wit h their great resistance movement - the NBA - finding support from an internationally renowned writer and new allies and sympathisers, positive things could be achieved. The trend of some of the hearings in the Supreme Court appeared to bolster this hope .

However, in October 2000 the apex court - the movement's last 'institutional' resort - slammed the door in its face. The NBA has denounced the judgment but does not seem to have a new game plan. Recently, Roy has been sharply criticised, notably by the historian-cum-cricketologist Ramachandra Guha, for her writing as well as her personal support for the movement, and also for her intervention on the nuclear and privatisation issues. Guha, in fact, has publicly advised her to confine herself to fiction.

Roy has rarely given extended interviews on her writing or the subjects she writes about. She points out that what she wants to say is contained in the writing. She made an exception by giving this extended interview, in her New Delhi home, to Frontline's Editor, N. Ram. In this exclusive, which is our Cover Story, the writer speaks about the issues she espouses, her response to her critics, and her views on a writer's place in society. She also answers some questions relating to The God of Small Things, revealing why the novel has not been, and perhaps will never be, made into a film.

N. Ram: Arundhati Roy, the Supreme Court judgment is unambiguous in its support for the Sardar Sarovar dam. Is it all over? Are you, as the saying goes, running on empty?

Arundhati Roy: There are troubled times ahead, and yes, I think we - when I say 'we', I don't mean to speak on behalf of the NBA, I just generally mean people who share their point of view - yes, I think we are up against it. We do have our backs to the wall... but then, as another saying goes, 'It ain't over till the fat lady sings' [smiles]. Remember, there are a total of 30 Big Dams planned in the Narmada Valley. Upstream from the Sardar Sarovar, the people fighting the Maheshwar dam ar e winning victory after victory. Protests in the Nimad region have forced several foreign investors - Bayernwerk, Pacgen, Siemens - to pull out. Recently, they managed to make Ogden Energy Group, an American company, withdraw from the project. There's a full-blown civil disobedience movement on there.


But yes, the Supreme Court judgment on the Sardar Sarovar is a tremendous blow - the aftershocks will be felt not just in the Narmada Valley, but all over the country. Wise men - L.C. Jain, Ramaswamy Iyer - have done brilliant analyses of the judgment. T he worrying thing is not just that the Court has allowed construction of the dam to proceed, but the manner in which it disregarded the evidence placed before it. It ignored the fact that conditional environmental clearance for the project was given befo re a single comprehensive study of the project was done. It ignored the government of Madhya Pradesh's affidavit that it has no land to resettle the oustees, that in all these years M.P. has not produced a single hectare of agricultural lan d for its oustees. It ignored the fact that not one village has been resettled according to the directives of the Narmada Water Disputes Tribunal Award, the fact that 13 years after the project was given conditional clearance, not a single condition has been fulfilled, that there isn't even a rehabilitation Master Plan - let alone proper rehabilitation. Most importantly, most urgently, it allowed construction to proceed to 90 metres despite the fact that the Court was fully aware that families displaced at the current height of the dam have not yet been rehabilitated - some of them haven't even had their land acquired yet! It has, in effect, ordered the violation of the Tribunal Award, it has indirectly endorsed the violation of human rights to life and livelihood. There will be mayhem in the Narmada Valley this monsoon if it rains - and of course, mayhem if it doesn't, because then there'll be drought. Either way the people are trapped - between the Rain Gods and the Supre me Court Gods.

For the Supreme Court of India to sanction what amounts to submergence without rehabilitation is an extraordinary thing. Think of the implications - today, the India Country study done for the World Commission on Dams [WCD] says that Big Dams could have displaced up to 56 million people in this country in the last 50 years! So far there has been, if nothing else at least a pretence, that rehabilitation has been carried out, even though we know that lakhs of people displaced half a century ago by the famous Bhakra Nangal Dam have still not been resettled. But now it looks as though we're going to drop even the charade of rehabilitation.

Following the October 2000 Supreme Court judgment, construction resumes at the dam site in Gujarat.

But the most worrying thing in the Sardar Sarovar judgment is the part where it says that once government begins work on a project, after it has incurred costs, the Court ought to have no further role to play. This, after the very same Court found enough cause in 1994 to hold up construction work for six whole years... With this single statement, the Supreme Court of India is abdicating its supreme responsibility. If the Court has no role to play in arbitrating between the state and its citizens in the matter of violations of human rights, then what is it here for? If justice isn't a court's business, then what is?

Why do you think things have come to this pass? This figure you have spoken of several times - between 33 million and 56 million people displaced by big dams in the last 50 years - it is hard to imagine something of this magnitude happening in another country without it being somehow taken into serious account...

Without it being taken into account, without it giving pause for thought, without it affecting the nature of our country's decision-making process. The government doesn't even have a record of displaced people, they don't even count as statistics, it's c hilling. Terrifying. After everything that has been written, said and done, the Indian government continues to turn a deaf ear to the protests. 695 big dams - 40 per cent of all the big dams being built in the world - are being built in India as we speak . Yet India is the only country in the world that refused to allow the World Commission on Dams to hold a public hearing here. The Gujarat Government banned its entry into Gujarat and threatened its representatives with arrest! The World Commissio n on Dams was an independent commission set up to study the impact of large dams. There were twelve commissioners, some of them representatives of the international dam industry, some were middle-of-the-roaders and some were campaigners against da ms. It was the first comprehensive study of its kind ever done. The report was released in London in November by Nelson Mandela. It's valuable because it's a negotiated document, negotiated between two warring camps and signed by all the commissioners. I don't agree with everything that the WCD Report says, not by a long shot - but compared to the Supreme Court judgment that eulogises the virtues of big dams based on no evidence whatsoever, the WCD Report is positively enlightened. It's as though the two were written in different centuries. One in the Dark Ages, one now. But it makes no difference here. There was a tiny ripple of interest in the news for a couple of days. Even that's died down. We're back to business as usual. As they say in the army - 'Bash On Regardless'. Literally!

You must have an explanation, a personal theory perhaps, of why the government is so implacable, so unwilling to listen?

Part of the explanation - the relatively innocent part, I'd say - has to do with the fact that belief in Big Dams has become a reflex article of faith. Some people - particularly older planners and engineers - have internalised the Nehruvian thing about Big Dams being the Temples of Modern India. Dams have become India's secular gods - faith in them is impervious to argument. Another important part of the explanation has to do with the simple matter of corruption. Big Dams are gold mines for politicians , bureaucrats, the construction industry... But the really sad, ugly part has less to do with government than with the way our society is structured. More than 60 per cent of the millions of people displaced by dams are Dalit and Adivasi. But Adivasis ac count for only 8 per cent and Dalits about 15 per cent of our population. So you see what's happening here - a vast majority of displaced people don't even weigh in as real people.

Tin shacks for resettlement.

And another thing - what percentage of the people who plan these mammoth projects are Dalit, Adivasi or even rural? Zero. There is no egalitarian social contact whatsoever between the two worlds. Deep at the heart of the horror of what's going on, lies the caste system: this layered, horizontally divided society with no vertical bolts, no glue - no intermarriage, no social mingling, no human - humane - interaction that holds the layers together. So when the bottom half of society simply sh ears off and falls away, it happens silently. It doesn't create the torsion, the upheaval, the blowout, the sheer structural damage that it might, had there been the equivalent of vertical bolts. This works perfectly for the supporters of these projects.

But even those of us who do understand and sympathise with the issue, even if we feel concern, scholarly concern, writerly concern, journalistic concern - the press has done a reasonably persistent job of keeping it in the news - still, for the most part , there's no real empathy with those who pay the price. Empathy would lead to passion, to incandescent anger, to wild indignation, to action. Concern, on the other hand, leads to articles, books, Ph.Ds, fellowships. Of course, it is dispassionate enquiry that has created the pile-up of incriminating evidence against Big Dams. But now that the evidence is available and is in the public domain, it's time to do something about it.

Instead, what's happening now is that the relationship between concern and empathy is becoming oppositional, confrontational. When concern turns on empathy and says 'this town isn't big enough for the two of us,' then we're in trouble, big trouble. It me ans something ugly is afoot. It means concern has become a professional enterprise, a profitable business that's protecting its interests like any other. People have set up shop, they don't want the furniture disturbed. That's when this politics becomes murky, dangerous and manipulative. This is exactly what's happening now - any display of feeling, of sentiment, is being frowned upon by some worthy keepers of the flame. Every emotion must be stifled, must appear at the high table dressed for dinner. No body's allowed to violate the dress code or, god forbid, appear naked. The guests must not be embarrassed. The feast must go on...

But to come back to your question: as long as the protest remains civil and well-mannered, as long as we - the self-appointed opinion-makers - all continue to behave in respectable ways, as long as we continue to mindlessly defer to institutions that hav e themselves begun to cynically drop any pretence of being moral, just, or respectable - why should the government listen? It's doing just fine.

Speaking of embarrassment, you have been criticised for embarrassing the NBA, for being tactless in your comments about the Supreme Court, for calling India a Banana Republic, for comparing the Supreme Court judgment to the NATO bombing of Yugoslavia. ..

I'm being arraigned for bad behaviour [laughs]. I wear that criticism as a badge of honour. If 'tactless' was all I was about that judgment, then I'm guilty of an extreme form of moderation. As for embarrassing the NBA - the NBA has said and done far mor e radical things than I have... After the judgment, Baba Amte said - let me read this out - "the judiciary at times wearing the cloak of priesthood, suffocates the human rights of the poor. Corruption and capital are given legitimacy instead of adheri ng to the rule of law..." Its leader Medha Patkar was arrested for picketing the gates of the Supreme Court.

Medha Patkar leads a dharna outside the Supreme Court gates.

Anybody who thinks that I have been intemperate has their ear very far from the ground. They have no idea how people in the valley reacted to the judgment. Days after it came out, a spontaneous procession of youngsters buried it in a filthy public gutter in Badwani. I was there, I saw it happen - the rallying slogan was 'Supreme Court ne kya kiya? Nyaya ka satyanaash kiya' - (What has the Supreme Court done? It has destroyed Justice!)

But I want to make it quite clear that I am an independent citizen. I don't have a Party line. I stated my opinion. Not carelessly, I might add, I said what I thought. If that embarrassed anybody, it's a pity, but it's too bad. But perhaps my critics sho uld check back with the NBA before voicing their touching concern.

But in the time-honoured tradition of our worst politicians, may I clarify what I actually said? I was talking to the press about the fact that the Supreme Court judgment had made things worse for the NBA than they were before it went to court. Th e Court ordered that the final arbiter of any dispute would be the Prime Minister. This is so clearly in contravention of the directives laid down by the Narmada Water Disputes Tribunal Award. I said that a country in which it is left to the Prime Minist er to clear a large dam project without any scientific studies being done; in which it is left to the Prime Minister to decide the final height of a dam regardless of how much water there is in the river; in which it is left to the Prime Minister to deci de whether or not there is land available for resettlement - sounds very much like a Banana Republic to me. What's the point of committees and Ministries and authorities if it's all up to Big Daddy in the end?

Medha Patkar at the 'Rally for the Valley' in 1999.

As for the business about the NATO bombing - I was talking to a not-very-bright journalist, it turns out. I said that when the developed countries were industrialising, most of them had colonies which they cannibalised on their way up. We, on the other h and, have no colonies, so we turn upon ourselves and begin to gnaw at the edges of our own societies. I told him that it reminded me of the tiger in the Belgrade zoo which, driven insane with fear by the NATO bombing, began to eat its own limbs. This was twisted into the absurd statement that was eventually published. But it's my fault. I should have known better than to try and explain this to a disinterested journalist.

What next? Where does the struggle go from here?

I don't know, really. It has to move into a different gear. All our eyes are on the NBA, waiting for its next move. It will take some time to evolve a strategy. But they are extraordinary people - brilliant. I have never met a group of people with their range of skills - their mobilisation abilities, their intellectual rigour, their political acumen. Their ability to move effortlessly from a dharna in Jalsindhi to arguing a subtle legal point in the Supreme Court, to making a presentation about the situ ation in the valley which leaves the World Bank no option but to pull out. The monsoon will be a terrible time for them - if it rains, people will need help on an emergency footing. The whole Adivasi belt will go under.

You see, while the rest of us sit around arguing about how much we ought to respect the Supreme Court judgment, the people in the valley have no option. They can hardly be expected to respectfully accept their own dispossession . They will fight - How? is the question, and a very important one. The judgment, apart from what it says about the Sardar Sarovar, has sent out another very grave signal. After all, the 15-year-old struggle in the valley has so far been a spectacularly non-violent one. Now if that has come to naught, yielded nothing, I fear to think about what must be going through peoples' heads. They watch as the world around them gets more and more violent - as kidnappings, hijackings and the events that unfold in a nother valley further north grab the attention of the government and yield instant results. Already extremist groups have taken up position in parts of Madhya Pradesh. I'm sure they're watching the Narmada Valley with great interest. I don't know what wo uld happen if the NBA were to lose ground. I worry. I really do...

It's something the government must think very seriously about. A 15-year-old non-violent peoples' movement is an extraordinary, magnificent thing. If it is dismissed in this contemptuous fashion, if violence is the only thing that forces the government t o the negotiating table, then anarchy lurks around the corner.

Meanwhile in Gujarat, interesting, predictable things are happening. The false propaganda, the deliberate misinformation about the Sardar Sarovar is all coming home to roost. As long as the project was stalled, as long as it was a potential dam, i t was easy to sell to voters as a miracle dam - the Sardar Sarovar will mend your bad knee, will produce your daughter's dowry, will serve you breakfast in bed. But major disputes over the water have already begun. People in Kutch and Saurashtra are waki ng up to the Big Con. The Kutch and Saurashtra branch of the BJP boycotted the inauguration of construction ceremony at the dam site. You know what happened there - three BJP Ministers had their official Cielos burnt by an irate BJP mob, one Minister was hurt and had to be airlifted out. The Kutch Jal Sankat Nivaran Samiti has a case against the government in court asking for construction to be stayed until Kutch is given its fair share of water. But a most interesting development is that the spokespers on of the Sardar Sarovar dam, the public face of the pro-dam lobby - Narmada Minister Jai Narain Vyas - was unceremoniously sacked recently. In the long run, it's probably good for Vyas - he'll be associated with the 'victory', but not with the murky pol itics of who gets the water. You can see it happening before your eyes: consensus in Gujarat is quickly coming unstuck.

Pledging to save the river.

Still, the honest answer to your question is: I don't really know what next. The answer will come, should come, from the people of the Narmada Valley.

Have you read Ramachandra Guha's tirade against you in The Hindu?

[Smiles] Tirades. Plural. Yes, yes, of course I have. He's become like a stalker who shows up at my doorstep every other Sunday. Some days he comes alone. Some days he brings his friends and family, they all chant and stamp... It's an angry little cottag e industry that seems to have sprung up around me. Like a bunch of keening god-squadders, they link hands to keep their courage up and egg each other on - Aunt Slushy the novelist who's hated me for years, Uncle Defence Ministry who loves big dams, Little Miss Muffet who thinks I should watch my mouth. Actually, I've grown quite fond of them and I'll miss them when they're gone. It's funny, when I wrote The God of Small Things, I was attacked by the Left - when I wrote The End of Imagination, by the Right. Now I'm accused by Guha and his Ra-Ra club of being - simultaneously - extreme left, extreme right, extreme green, RSS, Swadeshi Jagran Manch and by some devilish sleight of hand, on Guha's side too! Goodness, he's skidding on hi s own tail!

I don't know what it is with me and these academics-cum-cricket statisticians - Guha's the third one that I seem to have sent into an incensed orbit. Could it be my bad bowling action?...[laughs]

Why have you chosen not to respond to Guha? Do you, as many others seem to, dismiss it as just a bad case of envy?

No, no, not at all. That would be too convenient, too easy. One could end up saying that about everybody who was critical. No, I think that would be unfair. I'd say it's far more complex and interesting than that. Guha's outburst is dressed up as an atta ck on my 'style' - but it's not really that at all. If you part the invective, you'll see that our differences are serious, and seriously political. Chittaroopa Palit of the NBA has done a wonderful dissection of Guha's politics in her article "The histo rian as gatekeeper" [Frontline, January 5, 2001].

My style, my language, is not something superficial, like a coat that I wear when I go out. My style is me - even when I'm at home. It's the way I think. My style is my politics. Guha claims that we - he and I - are 'objectively' on the sam e side. I completely disagree. We are worlds apart, our politics, our arguments. I'm inclined to put as great a distance as possible between the Guhas of the world and myself.

Roy's essay The End of Imagination is a passionate and powerful moral protest against nuclear weaponisation in India and Pakistan. In this 1998 photograph, Prime Minister Vajpayee and his entourage are seen in a jubilant mood at the site of the Pokhran nuclear tests.

Take his book - his biography of Verrier Elwin. It's competent and cleanly written. But our political differences begin with his choice of subject - personally, I think we've had enough, come on, enough stories about white men, however inte resting they are, and their adventures in the heart of darkness. As a subject for a biography, frankly, I'm much more interested in Kosi Elwin, his Gond wife.

And the title of his book! - Savaging the Civilized: Verrier Elwin, His Tribals, and India. His tribals! His tribals? For heaven's sake! Did he own them? Did he buy them? There's a bog, a marsh, a whole political swampland stretching betwee n us right here. But it's his other work, his history books - he calls himself an ecological historian, you know that, don't you?

Yes, I believe so...

Well, he's co-authored two books. One claims to be An Ecological History of India, nothing less, the other he calls Ecology and Equity. The sub-title is The Use and Abuse of Nature in Contemporary India and it was published as recent ly as 1995. In his ecological history, big dams don't merit so much as a mention. The other one has a thumbnail sketch of the struggle against big dams, and a cursory, superficial account of the struggle in the Narmada Valley. For someone who sets himself up as a chronicler of the ecological history of a country that is the third largest builder of big dams in the world, that has 3,600 big dams which have displaced maybe up to 56 million people, that have submerged millions of acres of pri me forest land, that have led to the waterlogging and salinisation of vast areas, that have destroyed estuarine ecosystems and drastically altered the ecology of almost every river in this country - wouldn't you say that the man has missed a wee thing or two! For goodness' sake - today, big dams are the staging ground for the most contentious debates on ecology, equity, social justice, bureaucratic and political intrigue, international finance and corruption on an unimaginable scale. Why does none of this merit attention from this ecological historian?

Prime Minister Jawaharlal Nehru at the Bhakra Nangal project site.

I'll tell you why: no amount of research, however painstaking, can make up for political vacuousness. If you don't ask the right questions, you don't get the right answers. If your politics is clear, if you had your ear to the ground, you wouldn't, you c ouldn't possibly, miss your mark so completely.

Look at the work of people like Ashish Kothari, Ramesh Billorey, Claude Alvarez, Himanshu Thakker, Shripad Dharmadhikary, and further afield, Edward Goldsmith, Nicholas Hildeyard, Patrick McCully - McCully's book, Silenced Rivers, is a dazzling an alysis of the ecology and politics of big dams. Even someone like Anil Agarwal, though his views on the subject differ from those of the NBA - at least he engages with the issue. Their work is out there, it's vital stuff, it occupies centre-stage in the debate - but let's face it, all of this puts Mr. Guha in an extremely embarrassing position. He's like one of the creatures that didn't make it onto the ark. An ecological historian who missed the boat completely.

Sublimating shame into anger, we all know, is a common human failing. So what does Guha do? He picks the most visible target from amongst those who he feels are embarrassing him, and lets fly. If he had disputed my facts, if he had taken apart my argumen t, I could have respected him. I look forward to that devastating, incisive, logical tearing apart of my argument... Actually, that's a complete lie, I'm quite grateful that Guha's made such a spectacle of himself. Does he have anything substantia l to say? Apart from insulting me personally, deliberately, wilfully, maliciously, Guha has no argument against my argument, nothing to say about my facts. So he tries to legislate on how I ought to feel about them. Never was there a more passiona te indictment of passion, a more hysterical denunciation of hysteria - he's right, I am hysterical. I'm screaming from the bloody rooftops. And he and his smug little club are going Shhhh... you'll wake the neighbours! But I want to wake the neighbours, that's my whole point. I want everybody to open their eyes.

September 21, 1999: As the Narmada rises, Medha Patkar and Samarpit Dal volunteers in the satyagraha hut at Dhomkhedi.

Anyway, as far as I am concerned, it's not his insults I find as corny as the rest of it - his pronouncements about what's good for the environmental movement and what's not - the quintessence of which is, that he's good for the movement and I'm n ot. His pronouncements on what constitutes good writing. His does, mine doesn't. His unsolicited advice - advice to the NBA to disengage from me, advice to me to stop writing political essays and go back to literature. I mean apart from being someone wit h the Jurassic notion that politics and literature are mutually exclusive, who is he - the headboy? Cupboard captain? What's next? Is he going to put me on a diet? Choose my wardrobe? Sentence me to mustard bellbottoms for a whole month?

Why have you not responded to Guha's charges?

Well, for one because I thought that four Sundays in a row (he's already used up three) discussing Arundhati Roy's work would be a bit much for readers... and anyway, how does one respond to a Punch and Judy show?

Guha hasn't really read my work - he's ransacked it, wearing lenses so thick with animus that they blur his vision. He's virtually imagined the essays he wishes I'd written in order for him to demolish with his piercing wit and intellect, while his frien ds and colleagues nod and grin. Any response from me would end up sounding like - oh, I didn't say this, I didn't mean that... But if he can't be bothered to read my work carefully, why bother with a response?

Let me give you an example of what I mean: Guha tries to ridicule me for comparing big dams to nuclear bombs. But I've never done that - my essay says ... here's exactly what it says - [reads]:

    "Big Dams are to a nation's 'development' what nuclear bombs are to its military arsenal. They are both weapons of mass destruction, both weapons governments use to control their own people, both twentieth century emblems that mark a point in time when h uman intelligence has outstripped its own instinct for survival..."

Surely Guha ought to know that this, in the English language, is what's called a relative analogy. In a relative analogy, one is comparing two relationships. I'm saying that big dams and nuclear bombs are both political instruments, extremely undemocrati c political instruments. But I'm not saying bombs are dams. I'm not saying that dams are radioactive when they explode or that nuclear bombs irrigate agricultural land. If I say Amitabh Bachchan is to film stars what Coke is to fizzy drinks, I'm not comp aring Amitabh Bachchan to a Coke or saying that film stars are fizzy drinks. In algebra, if I say x:y what w:r, it doesn't mean I'm saying x = w.

This is just one small example, there are other more sinister ones. For instance, he picks out one sentence from my new essay Power Politics that was published recently in Outlook. It says:

"When the history of India's miraculous leap to the forefront of the Information Revolution is written, let it be said that 56 million Indians (and their children and their children's children) paid for it with everything they ever had."

Medha Patkar and others being removed by the police from the site of the satyagraha.

Here's how Guha scores one of the more tragic 'own goals' since Escobar - you know what happened to Escobar! Guha isolates the sentence out of context and kicks it towards his own goal, then flies to the goal post to stage a spectacular save. He has to u se his instinct to decide whether to dive to his left or right. He dives - surprise surprise - to his extreme right. It's not the horror of 56 million displaced people that bothers him. It's my reference to the Information Revolution, which was used to c ompare the meteoric development of one sector of the Indian economy with the horrific dispossession of another. Guha gratuitously makes out that I'm attacking - not just attacking - being "grossly slanderous" to the IT giants, Tata, Wipro and I forget wh o else - he actually names particular companies... I don't! Having invented the insult, our intrepid knight in shining armour rallies to their defence. Is he real? Is he looking for friends in high places? Or has he just stunned himself on the goa lpost?

Talking about your essay The Greater Common Good, critics like Guha and B.G. Verghese say that it's sentimental without being factual, that it romanticises Adivasi life-styles...

That's pretty rich coming from the ecologist who missed the ark! I don't want to sound arrogant - this is the trouble about defending oneself, immodesty goes with the territory! Sentimental without being factual? Look, just because I don't wave my footno tes in peoples' faces and don't do the academic heavy breathing stuff, it doesn't mean I haven't studied the subject in depth. I don't believe that there's a single fact or argument - social, ecological, economic or political - about the Sardar Sarovar d am that's missing, or that has not been addressed, in my essay. For this I have to thank the NBA for making available to me every document at its disposal - and all the people who've published wonderful work on this issue over the years. I'm talking of H imanshu Thakker, L.C. Jain, the FMG Report, Ramaswamy Iyer, Shripad Dharmadhikary, the Morse Committee Report, Rahul Ram's booklet Muddy Waters, Ashish Kothari... I owe a lot to long, sparky conversations with brilliant people in the valley, to Kaise jeebo re - Jharana Jhaveri and Anurag Singh's documentary film, which first sent me on my travels in the Narmada Valley... It's a long, long list, and it's been more vital and insightful and instructive than doing years of research in a librar y.

As for the charge of romanticising Adivasi life-styles - I thought the time when that sort of thing sent a frisson of excitement through the academic community had come and gone. I mean, come on - even the good old Gujarat Government feeds at that foetid trough. When I was writing The Greater Common Good I was acutely aware of two things: One, that I was not going to write on 'behalf' of anyone but myself because I think that's the most honest thing to do - in our society particularly, the politi cs of 'representation' is complicated and fraught with danger and dishonesty. Two, I was not writing an anthropological account of the lifestyles of people that I knew very little about. I was writing about social justice, about the politics of involunta ry displacement, about what happens to people who are forcibly uprooted from an environment they know well and dumped in a world they know nothing about - a world in which, instead of a forest and a river and farmlands, they have unemployment and a tin s hack. It's an unfair, unequal bargain for anybody - Adivasi or Aggarwal. At no point in my essay have I even attempted to describe Adivasi lifestyle, let alone romanticise it. Here's an early passage from The Greater Common Good [reads]:

    "... Let me say at the outset that I'm not a city-basher. I've done my time in a village. I've had first-hand experience of the isolation, the inequity and the potential savagery of it. I'm not an anti-development junkie or a proselytiser for the eternal upholding of custom and tradition..."

'History House', now the Taj Garden Retreat, at Kumarakom in Kerala, photographed in December 2000 as it waited for Prime Minister Vajpayee.

Does that sound particularly romantic? The fact is I grew up in a village - not an Adivasi village, but a village nevertheless. As a child, all I ever dreamed of was escaping. I don't need to do 'research' or 'field-work' or write a Ph.D. to figure out w hat goes on. Anyone who's read The God of Small Things could work that out. If I do romanticise anything, it's the freedom, the anonymity of urban life...

I'm sorry to go on about this, but Guha also denounces your work as self-indulgent and unoriginal. A serious charge against a fiction writer, wouldn't you say?

Self-indulgence is not the kind of charge that one can refute. If I am self-indulgent then... what can I say? I'll stand in the corner and hang my head in shame! [laughs] But I think that the accusation has really to do with the fact that I often write in the first person. Like I said, I do that deliberately. I guess academics and journalists are trained to believe that saying "I" is somehow anathema - because they're supposed to come across as objective. Of course that's nonsense - a person who conceals his or her identity is no more objective than a person who reveals it. Any clued-in anthropologist should know that. For an artist, a painter, a writer, a singer, introspection - contemplating the self, placing yourself in the picture to see where you fit - is often what art is all about. For a writer, to use the first person is a common narrative device. It's not just crudity, it's a fallacy, to equate this with self-indulgence. Mind you, this is not the only time that Guha shows a reflexive hostility towards writers and an opacity to literature.

There's a fine but important difference between self-indulgence and self-awareness. Self-awareness, in this case, is being aware - when you write - that you are complicit, that you are a beneficiary of the terrible politics of the society in which you li ve. When you reveal who you are and how you have benefited. Self-indulgence is when, masquerading as a concerned academic, you fill the Sunday papers with personal invective against somebody you don't like, and follow that up by selectively publishing yo ur friends' personal letters of support, and then your rejoinder that supports their support... and so on.

As for the charge of being unoriginal - when one is writing to advocate a political position, or in support of a peoples' movement that has been yelling its lungs out for the last fifteen years, one is not trying to be original, one is adding one' s voice to theirs in order for them to be heard. Almost by definition, one is reiterating what they are saying. My essays are not about me or my brilliance or my originality or lack of it. They're not meant to be a career move - they're about re-s tating the issue, they're about saying the same things over and over again...

You actually do say something about this in your essays...

Yes, I'm flattered that you remember. Here, from The End of Imagination (Frontline, August 14, 1998) [reads]:

    "There can be nothing more humiliating for a writer of fiction to have to do than to re-state a case that has, over the years, already been made by other people... and made passionately, eloquently and knowledgeably. But I am prepared to grovel. To humil iate myself abjectly, because in the circumstances, silence would be indefensible..."

"She's the good one, I'm the bad one, and the bad news is that we're friends."

And again, in The Cost of Living [Frontline, February 18, 2000], my Nehru Lecture on Big Dams:

    "If you're a writer, you tend to keep those aching eyes open ... Every day you are reminded that there is no such thing as innocence. And every day you have to think of new ways of saying old and obvious things. Things about love and greed. Things about politics and governance. About power and powerlessness... things that must be said over and over again..."

You see, once again Guha is guilty of flabby conclusions drawn from sloppy reading. Frankly, between his suspect politics and slapdash scholarship, a woman's spoiled for choice. Does anyone have the right to defame someone in such careless, wanton fashio n? I think he owes me a public apology.

What about the charge that you simplify things, express them in black and white?

I don't simplify things. I try and explain complicated things in simple language. That's an entirely different enterprise. I find it offensive, this notion that things are too complicated to explain to an ordinary reader - again, this coter ie, this club-mentality. I write about things that vitally affect peoples' lives. To say that things are too complicated to explain is just not good enough. They must be explained. Experts love to hijack various aspects of an issue - displacement, rehabilitation, drainage, hydrology - and carry them off to their lairs where they guard them against the curiosity of the interested layperson. But eventually it's not rocket science. It's about our daily lives. All these things must be understood, con nected up and explained - simply and cogently. It's not enough to accuse me of simplifying things - how? what? where? Be specific. I can handle it. Everybody needs to know and understand what's going on. Not just the headboy and cupboard captain or the p eople who went to good schools. Not explaining something is a way of wresting power and holding onto it. It's a way of making yourself seem important, of trying to sound cleverer than you are. Of course I understand, there's jobs and money in that. But b eyond a point, it becomes vulgar...

As for my monochromatic vision, things are more black and white than we like to admit. The subtlety is seeping out of our lives at a pretty nifty pace.

One of the more persistent criticisms of the NBA and you is that you are Negativists, Nay sayers...

Ah yes, that's the "Has Medha Patkar ever made a gobar gas plant?" school of thought. I just don't understand it. Big Dams wreak havoc. They have displaced millions of people, destroyed rivers and estuaries, submerged forests. The Narmada Valley project alone will submerge 4,000 square kilometres of forest. How does the fight to save this count as negativity? If there's a forest fire raging and someone's trying to put it out, is it negativism or is it conservation? If everything is destroyed there'll be nothing left to conserve! The NBA has been an inspiration to peoples' movements all over the world - how can you knock this? Any one of its activists is worth more national pride than all the Miss Worlds and Miss Universes put together a thousand times over. There are amazing people doing the most wonderful work in water-harvesting and water management all over India. Premjibhai Patel of Upleta, Manubhai Mehta of Savarkundla, the Tarun Bharat Sangh in Alwar and hundreds of others dotted across t he country. But the fire-fighters and the water-harvesters are both part of the alternative solution. Neither would be much good without the other. One makes space for the other. The NBA is like an ice-breaker - a ship that clears the way t hrough cliffs of ice for other ships to sail through. There's no need for Medha Patkar to prove herself by designing a gobar gas plant, or for Rajinder Singh of the Tarun Bharat Sangh to prove himself by leading a dharna. They both do what they do wonderfully well. Pitting them against each other is small-minded, and it's destructive.

And while criticising the NBA, what does Mr. Guha hold up as his alternative vision? Dr. Pushpangadan, who collects rare medicinal plants - there won't be many of those around if the forests disappear. And JFM [Joint Forest Management] schemes in Bengal. I mean: what's he trying to say? That the World Bank and the Ford Foundation are the new radicals in town? The new peoples' movements? What's this? A wonky worldview? Or a grateful nudge and a wink to old friends?

In his attack on your new essay Power Politics published in Outlook (November 27, 2000), Guha says - and I quote: "...instead of turning on globalisation... we should come to terms with it, bend it as best we can to our interests - if we want to hold our own against foreign capital, we must encourage innovation by our technologists and entrepreneurs, not mock them as Roy does." Your comment?

I'm getting a bit tired of this bloke. You know, I think he must have read someone else's essay. Because I haven't yet - at least not that I'm aware of - written an essay on globalisation. Power Politics, for anyone who's prepared to read it and n ot just the blurb on the cover of Outlook, is an essay that argues specifically against the privatisation and corporatisation of essential infrastructure. The word 'globalisation' is not mentioned in the entire essay, not once. Howev er, if and when I do write about globalisation, I can assure you that my views on the subject will be very different from Guha's.

But to answer his charge that I have mocked our technologists - take a look at this, it's a passage from Power Politics:

    "The First World needs to sell, the Third World needs to buy - it ought to be a reasonable business proposition. But it isn't. For many years, India has been more or less self-sufficient in power equipment. The Indian public sector company, Bharat Heavy Electricals Ltd [BHEL], manufactured and even exported world-class power equipment. All that's changed now. Over the years, our own government has starved it of orders, cut off funds for research and development and more or less edged it out of a dignifi ed existence. Today BHEL is no more than a sweat shop. It is being forced into 'joint ventures' (one with GE, one with Siemens) where its only role is to provide cheap labour while they provide the equipment and the technology. Why? Why does more expensi ve, imported foreign equipment suit our bureaucrats and politicians better? We all know why. Because graft is factored into the deal. Buying equipment from your local store is just not the same thing."

Does this sound like I'm mocking our technologists? Seriously, are we talking about the same essay? Is there some other Arundhati Roy? Arundhati Rao? Aradhana Roy? Does she write essays for Outlook and Frontline? And this man lectures me about intellectual probity?

The globalisation debate has a very interesting spin on it - all its admirers, from Bill Clinton, Kofi Annan, A.B. Vajpayee to the cheering brokers in the stalls, all of them say the same lofty things: if we have the right institutions of governance in p lace - effective courts, good laws, honest politicians, participative democracy, a transparent administration that respects human rights and gives people a say in decisions that affect their lives - then the globalisation project will work for the poor as well.

My point is that if all this was in place, then almost anything would succeed: socialism, communism, you name it. Everything works in Paradise, even a poor old Banana Republic! But in an imperfect world, is it globalisation that's going to bring us all t his bounty? Is that what's happening here now that India is on the fast track to the free market? Does any one thing on that lofty list apply to the Narmada issue? Has the Supreme Court been just and accountable? State institutions transparent? Ha ve people had a say, have they even been informed of decisions that vitally affect their lives? The answer is no, no, no... And strange to say - in this beleaguered democracy, is it the votaries of globalisation who are out there on the streets de manding accountability and responsible government? Of course not! And when someone else does - the NBA, or another peoples' movement, or an unfortunate private citizen, and has to contend with the police or, worse, academics with dubious politics - do th ese guys spring to their defence?

People have said that your essay Power Politics is self-contradictory because it is an argument against the market and globalisation by one who is placed at the heart of the global market for celebrity-hood.

People have said? [chuckles] It's the old boy again, isn't it - what's his thesis this time? That all celebrities must support globalisation? Or that all writers who sell more than a certain number of copies of a book must support gl obalisation? What's the cut-off? Thirty thousand copies? Do language editions count? Audio books? Braille?

I learned that The God of Small Things has sold six million copies in some forty languages. Your agent, David Godwin, also tells me that you've turned down offers for film rights from all over the world, including Hollywood. Are you waiting for the right director? Can we ever expect to see a film version of your novel?

No... it's not about the right director. I don't think my book would make a good film. Besides, I don't think cinema has to be the last stop for literature, for novels. I had written two feature screenplays before I started writing The God of S mall Things. I was feeling a little confined by the 'externality' of cinema. I wanted to be free to write from within, from inside peoples' hearts and heads. I wanted to feel free to write a whole page describing the moon and the trees in the river, not just have to write Scene 21. Ext. Night. River.

Perhaps because I was a screenwriter, I set out to write a stubbornly visual but unfilmable book. And I did. The most visual thing about The God of Small Things are the feelings. How would you film lonely, frightened little Rahel com muning with a kangaroo-shaped waste bin in Cochin Airport? I don't see cinema capturing the magic whisper, the helicopter kisses, the secret breathing of a cement kangaroo. Not unless you were making the Walt Disney version.

Also, I think that each reader of The God of Small Things has his or her own version of the film running inside their heads - there are six million different versions of the film. It would be a pity, don't you think, to let a single film-maker ext inguish and appropriate all those versions, and force-fit them into a single, definitive one. This decentralised democracy is fine by me [smiles].

And this may sound silly, but I couldn't bear the idea of seeing actors play Estha, Rahel, Velutha, Ammu, Chacko... it would kill me. I love them too much. I always will.

It's interesting that Prime Minister Vajpayee has been vacationing in a resort in Kerala made internationally famous by The God of Small Things. The media have been full of this connection...

[smiles]... yes. "The History House. Whose doors were locked and windows open. With cool stone floors and dim walls and billowing ship-shaped shadows on the walls. Where plump, translucent lizards lived behind old pictures and waxy, crumbling ancestor s with tough toe-nails and breath that smelled of yellow maps gossiped in sibilant, papery whispers..." I know that bit by heart. When I was a child it was an old, abandoned, crumbling house that filled my imagination. It's odd, when the Prime Minist er goes vacationing in the setting of your worst, most private, childhood terrors. But wasn't it Toni Morrison who said something like "literature is a very private thing, fashioned for public consumption"? It's funny how my terrors have become a tourist paradise... but it's okay. I'm a big girl now [laughs].

Coming back to the issue of celebrity-hood - what's your relationship with it? How does it affect your writing? How do you deal with it?

Celebrity-hood - I hate that word. How do I deal with it? When Rock Hudson's career was on the skids, if he heard of a friend or colleague who was doing well, he'd say "Damn him, I hope he dies." That's a bit how I feel about my celebrity-hood. When I se e a picture of myself in the papers, I feel hostile towards my public self and say "Damn her, I hope she dies"...[smiles].

But actually, it's a very, very difficult thing for a person to come to terms with. For a while I thought it would drive me clean crazy. But I think I'm beginning to get the hang of it now. I worked it out from first principles - I'm a writer first and a celebrity next. I'm a writer who happens to have become, for the moment, a celebrity. As a matter of principle, I never do anything because I'm a celebrity. I don't inaugurate things, I don't appear as a chief guest anywhere, I don't 'grac e' occasions, I don't do chat shows, I don't do interviews - unless of course I'm rubbishing ecological historians! - or have something very specific to say.

But I also don't not do the things I want to do. I live, I love, I bum around, but above all, I write. And I support what I write. The celebrity part just trails along behind me making a heck of a noise - like a tin can attached to a cat's tail. I can't take it off - but it'll fall off on its own sooner or later. For now, I try to ignore it. Of course, it's not that simple. Every time I show up at an NBA dharna - and whether or not I show up is always a collective decision taken with them - the Press invariably reports that I 'led' it along with Medha. Now that's ridiculous! Ridiculous to equate us in any way, ridiculous to imply that I lead anything, leave alone the NBA. Fortunately, both Medha and I are aware of the double -edged nature of media attention. As I keep saying, she's the good one, I'm the bad one, and the bad news is that we're friends!

How does all this affect your writing? It's given you a lot of space to say what you want to say. Does that put any pressure on you? Do you run the risk of becoming a ragbag of good causes?

Make no mistake, it's not the tin can, not celebrity-hood, that's given me the space. It's my writing. I'm very clear on that one. I'm a celebrity because I'm a writer, not the other way around. After all, you or Vinod Mehta of Outlook - yo u're not running a soup kitchen, are you? You give me the space because it's worth it to you, because you know that I am read.

But if you're asking whether the fact that I know the space is available puts pressure on me - it does. At times. Because for me, to say nothing is as political an act as to say what I do say. There are these two voices virtually at war wit hin me - one that wants me to dive underground and work on another book, another that refuses to let me look away, that drags me deep into the heart of what's going on around me. As for becoming a ragbag of good causes - you're right, the pressure is tre mendous. Simply because horror lurks around every corner, and it's hard to listen to an account of it and then say that you can do nothing to help. But, you know, for me to become an ambassador of good causes would do injustice to the causes and a great violence to my writing self - and that's something that I will not sacrifice. At any cost. A singer sings, a painter paints, a writer writes. For some it's a profession. For others it's a calling. One does it because one must.

It sounds like a lonely place that you work from. What do you find most difficult about being who you are and doing what you do?

Well, every writer - good, bad, successful or not - who's sitting at a desk looking at a blank piece of paper, is lonely. It's probably the loneliest work in the world. But once the work is done, it's different. I'm not lonely at all - I'm the opposite o f lonely. How can I, of all people, complain? I like to think that if by chance I were to become completely destitute, I could spend the rest of my life walking into people's homes and saying, "I wrote The God of Small Things, will you give me lun ch?" It's a wonderful feeling. When I go to the Narmada Valley, I see my essay being read in Hindi, in Gujarati, in Marathi - even translated orally into Bhilali. I see parts of it being performed as a play. What more could a writer ask for? How much les s lonely can I be?

It's true that I write about contentious things. Closer to home, there's some hostility. Each time I step out I hear the snicker-snack of knives being sharpened, I catch the glint of scimitars in the sun. But that's good. It keeps me sharp - fit, alert, it focusses my thought, hones my argument, makes me very careful about what I say and how I say it. On the whole, it isn't a bad university to go to. I don't have the luxury of carelessness that some of my critics do.

Well, even Ramachandra Guha applauds you for your courage and the NBA for its loyalty to you.

Courage and loyalty? They sound like kind words for a good horse. D'you think that's what he meant when he called us 'neigh-sayers'? [laughs helplessly]... Sorry about that, Ram!

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