Arundhati Roy

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Person.png Arundhati Roy   Facebook IMDBRdf-entity.pngRdf-icon.png
(author, activist)
Arundhati Roy W.jpg
Born23 November 1961
Shillong, Assam, India
Alma materDehli/School of Planning and Architecture
Member ofWEF/Global Leaders for Tomorrow/2000
Left-wing writer/activist with many dangerous enemies

Suzanna Arundhati Roy is an Indian author best known for her novel The God of Small Things (1997). She is also a political activist for the anti-globalization/alter-globalization movement and a vehement critic of neo-imperialism and U.S. foreign policy. [1]

The God of Small Things

The publication of The God of Small Things catapulted Roy to international fame. It received the 1997 Booker Prize for Fiction and was listed as one of The New York Times Notable Books of the Year. It reached fourth position on The New York Times Bestsellers list for Independent Fiction. From the beginning, the book was also a commercial success: Roy received half a million pounds as an advance.It was published in May, and the book had been sold in 18 countries by the end of June.


Since publishing The God of Small Things in 1997, Roy has spent most of her time on political activism and nonfiction (such as collections of essays about social causes). She is a spokesperson of the anti-globalization/alter-globalization movement and a vehement critic of neo-imperialism and U.S. foreign policy. She opposes India's policies toward nuclear weapons as well as industrialization and economic growth (which she describes as "encrypted with genocidal potential". [2] She has also questioned the conduct of Indian police and administration in the case of 2001 Indian Parliament attack and the Batla House encounter case contending that the country has had a "shadowy history of suspicious terror attacks, murky investigations, and fake encounters".[3]

Support for Kashmiri separatism

In an August 2008 interview with The Times of India, Roy expressed her support for the independence of Kashmir from India after the massive demonstrations in 2008 in favour of independence took place—some 500,000 separatists rallied in Srinagar in the Kashmir part of Jammu and Kashmir state of India for independence on 18 August 2008, following the Amarnath land transfer controversy.[4]

All India Congress Committee member and senior Congress party leader Satya Prakash Malaviya asked Roy to withdraw her "irresponsible" statement, saying it was "contrary to historical facts".[5]

Sardar Sarovar Project

Roy has campaigned along with activist Medha Patkar against the Narmada dam project, saying that the dam will displace half a million people with little or no compensation, and will not provide the projected irrigation, drinking water, and other benefits.[6] Roy donated her Booker prize money, as well as royalties from her books on the project, to the Narmada Bachao Andolan. Roy also appears in Franny Armstrong's Drowned Out, a 2002 documentary about the project. Roy's opposition to the Narmada Dam project was criticised as "maligning Gujarat" by Congress and BJP leaders in Gujarat.[7]

In 2002, Roy responded to a contempt notice issued against her by the Supreme Court of India with an affidavit saying the court's decision to initiate contempt proceedings based on an unsubstantiated and flawed petition, while refusing to inquire into allegations of corruption in military contracting deals pleading an overload of cases, indicated a "disquieting inclination" to silence criticism and dissent using the power of contempt.[8] The court found Roy's statement, which she refused to disavow or apologise for, constituted criminal contempt, sentenced her to a "symbolic" one day's imprisonment, and fined her Rs. 2500.[9]

US foreign policy, war in Afghanistan

In an opinion piece in The Guardian titled "The Algebra of Infinite Justice", Roy responded to the U.S. military invasion of Afghanistan, finding fault with the argument that this war would be a retaliation for the September 11 attacks: "The bombing of Afghanistan is not revenge for New York and Washington. It is yet another act of terror against the people of the world." According to her, U.S. president George W. Bush and UK prime minister Tony Blair were guilty of Orwellian doublethink:

When he announced the air strikes, President George Bush said: "We're a peaceful nation." America's favourite ambassador, Tony Blair, (who also holds the portfolio of prime minister of the UK), echoed him: "We're a peaceful people." So now we know. Pigs are horses. Girls are boys. War is peace.

She disputes U.S. claims of being a peaceful and freedom-loving nation, listing China and 19 Third World "countries that America has been at war with—and bombed—since World War II ", as well as previous U.S. support for the Taliban movement and the Northern Alliance (whose "track record is not very different from the Taliban's"). She does not spare the Taliban: "Now, as adults and rulers, the Taliban beat, stone, rape, and brutalise women, they don't seem to know what else to do with them."[10]

In the final analysis, Roy sees American-style capitalism as the culprit:

“In America, the arms industry, the oil industry, the major media networks, and, indeed, U.S. foreign policy, are all controlled by the same business combines.”
Arundhati Roy (29 September 2001)  [11]

In May 2003 she delivered a speech titled "Instant-Mix Imperial Democracy (Buy One, Get One Free)" at Riverside Church in New York City, in which she described the United States as a global empire that reserves the right to bomb any of its subjects at any time, deriving its legitimacy directly from God. The speech was an indictment of the U.S. actions relating to the Iraq War.[12][13] In June 2005 she took part in the World Tribunal on Iraq, and in March 2006, Roy criticised President George W. Bush's visit to India, calling him a "war criminal".[14]

India's nuclear weaponry

In response to India's testing of nuclear weapons in Pokhran, Rajasthan, Roy wrote The End of Imagination (1998), a critique of the Indian government's nuclear policies. It was published in her collection The Cost of Living (1999), in which she also crusaded against India's massive hydroelectric dam projects in the central and western states of Maharashtra, Madhya Pradesh, and Gujarat.


In August 2006, Roy, along with Noam Chomsky, Howard Zinn, and others, signed a letter in The Guardian calling the 2006 Lebanon War a "war crime" and accusing Israel of "state terror".[15] In 2007, Roy was one of more than 100 artists and writers who signed an open letter initiated by Queers Undermining Israeli Terrorism and the South West Asian, North African Bay Area Queers calling on the San Francisco International LGBT Film Festival "to honor calls for an international boycott of Israeli political and cultural institutions, by discontinuing Israeli consulate sponsorship of the LGBT film festival and not cosponsoring events with the Israeli consulate".[16]

2001 Indian parliament attack

Roy has raised questions about the investigation into the 2001 Indian Parliament attack and the trial of the accused. According to her, Mohammad Afzal Guru was being scapegoated pointing at irregularities in the judicial and investigative process in the case and maintains the stance that the case remains unsolved.[17][18] In her book about the hanging of Afzal Guru, she suggested that there was evidence of state complicity in the terrorist attack.[19]

The Muthanga incident

In 2003, the Adivasi Gothra Maha Sabha, a social movement for Adivasi land rights in Kerala, organised a major land occupation of a piece of land of a former Eucalyptus plantation in the Muthanga Wildlife Reserve, on the border of Kerala and Karnataka. After 48 days, a police force was sent into the area to evict the occupants. One participant of the movement and a policeman were killed, and the leaders of the movement were arrested. Roy travelled to the area, visited the movement's leaders in jail, and wrote an open letter to the then Chief Minister of Kerala, A. K. Antony, saying "You have blood on your hands."[20]

Comments on 2008 Mumbai attacks

In an opinion piece for The Guardian, Roy argued that the November 2008 Mumbai attacks cannot be seen in isolation, but must be understood in the context of wider issues in the region's history and society such as widespread poverty, the Partition of India ("Britain's final, parting kick to us"), the atrocities committed during the 2002 Gujarat violence, and the ongoing Kashmir conflict. Despite this call for context, Roy stated in the article that she believes "nothing can justify terrorism" and calls terrorism "a heartless ideology". Roy warned against war with Pakistan, arguing that it is hard to "pin down the provenance of a terrorist strike and isolate it within the borders of a single nation state", and that war could lead to the "descent of the whole region into chaos".[21]

Criticism of Sri Lankan government

In an opinion piece in The Guardian, Roy pled for international attention to what she called a possible government-sponsored genocide of Tamils in Sri Lanka. She cited reports of camps into which Tamils were being herded as part of what she described as "a brazen, openly racist war".[22] She also said that the "Government of Sri Lanka is on the verge of committing what could end up being genocide" and described the Sri Lankan IDP camps where Tamil civilians are being held as concentration camps.

Views on the Naxalites

Roy has criticised the Indian government's armed actions against the Naxalite-Maoist insurgency in India, calling it "war on the poorest people in the country". According to her, the government has "abdicated its responsibility to the people"[23] and launched the offensive against Naxals to aid the corporations with whom it has signed Memoranda of Understanding.[24]

Criticism of Anna Hazare

On 21 August 2011, at the height of Anna Hazare's anti-corruption campaign, Roy criticised Hazare and his movement in an opinion piece published in The Hindu.[25] In the article, she questioned Hazare's secular credentials, pointing out the campaign's corporate backing, its suspicious timing, Hazare's silence on private-sector corruption, expressing her fear that the Lokpal will only end up creating "two oligarchies, instead of just one". She stated that while "his means may be Gandhian, his demands are certainly not", and alleged that by "demonising only the Government they" are preparing to call for "more privatisation, more access to public infrastructure and India's natural resources", adding that it "may not be long before Corporate Corruption is made legal and renamed a Lobbying Fee".

Roy also accused the electronic media of blowing the campaign out of proportion. In an interview with Kindle Magazine, Roy pointed out the role of media hype and target audience in determining how well hunger strikes "work as a tool of political mobilization" by noting the disparity in the attention Hazare's fast has received in contrast to the decade-long fast of Irom Sharmila "to demand the repealing of a law that allows non-commissioned officers to kill on suspicion—a law that has led to so much suffering."[26]

Views on Narendra Modi

In 2013, Roy called Narendra Modi's nomination as prime minister a "tragedy". She said business houses were supporting his candidacy because he was the "most militaristic and aggressive" candidate.[27] She has argued that Modi has control over India to a degree unrecognized by most people in the Western world: "He is the system. He has the backing of the media. He has the backing of the army, the courts, a majoritarian popular vote ... Every institution has fallen in line." She has expressed deep despair for the future, calling Modi's long-term plans for a highly centralized Hindu state "suicidal" for the multicultural subcontinent.[28]


A Quote by Arundhati Roy

NGO“It’s almost as though the greater the devastation caused by neoliberalism, the greater the outbreak of NGOs. Nothing illustrates this more poignantly than the phenomenon of the US preparing to invade a country and simultaneously readying NGOs to go in and clean up the devastation.”16 August 2004Information Clearing House
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