With the world's largest democracy currently heading to the poll booths, here's an interesting definition of the word "Democracy" atleast in its Indian context:
"Off the people, Buy the people, Fool the people"
Here is a post from Shantanu B's blog that I'm reproducing below in full; its long but worth the read till the end.
"A Coffin for Dimitrios by Eric Ambler has the following quote: "In a dying civilization, political diagnosis is done by strange bedside manners. Awards and rewards are decoration of mediocrity by ignorance."Amitav Ghosh wrote the Sea of Poppies which was nominated for the Booker Prize along with Adiga's novel. The literary content, the language etc was far superior to Adigas novel. Ghosh highlighted on the sins of the Raj about how Opium trade was used to make money and how India and China (Hong Kong) were exploited. This was precisely why this novel was turned down for a Booker as it exposed the cunningness of the Brits."
“At a time, when India is going through great changes and, with China, is likely to inherit the world from the West, it is important that writers like me try to highlight the brutal injustices of society”, he said, adding that the criticism by writers like Flaubert, Balzac & Dickens in the 19th century helped England and France become better societies.1In a single breath, Adiga takes upon his young self, the huge responsibility of highlighting all the ‘brutal injustices’ of India, while feeling proud enough to compare himself with Flaubert, Balzac and Dickens.
I don’t think a novelist should just write about his own experience. Yes, I am the son of a doctor. Yes, I had a rigorous formal education, but for me the challenge as a novelist is to write about people who aren’t anything like me.2Dickens’ works are not a judgment on the English society. His worldview evolves in his works. If we put them one over other, chronologically, we can see the intellectual development of Dickens, an observant mind becoming mature.
How quickly do you think you could kiss 36,000,004 arses?16Balram is called as the ‘sidekick’ of Krishna.17 The hero goes on to murder his employers, who are earlier called as Ram & Sita! Lord Krishna is called as a ‘chauffeur’.18 About, Kali, the Hindu goddess:
…I looked at the magnetic stickers of goddess Kali with her skulls and her long red tongue – I stuck my tongue out at the old witch. I yawned.19Hanuman is called as the slave god of Hindus, an imposition which still makes the low‐caste slaves of the upper‐caste.
Do you know about Hanuman, sir? He was the faithful servant of the god Rama, and we worship him in our temples because he is a shining example of how to serve your masters with absolute fidelity, love and devotion…. These are the kinds of gods they have foisted on us, Mr. Jiabao. Understand, now, how hard it is for a man to win his freedom in India. 20In 1994 Christian missionary, father Augustine Kanjamala of Pune wrote an article in Deccan Chronicle titled, ‘Replies to Arun Shourie’. In the article he wrote, “Harijans worship deities of lower rank, while caste Hindus worship deities of higher rank. For instance, Hanuman is worshipped by Harijans and Rama is worshipped by upper caste in the same village…. Hanuman was the servant of Rama; Harijans are servants of higher caste Hindus. A close affinity between their hierarchy of gods and the hierarchy of society.”21
The guilt pervades further, permeating the public debate, infecting the body‐politic, dominating the minds and hearts of those who matter… 29 In India, more than half a century of guilt‐mongering and other Leftist tricks have created a climate of opinion in which Marxist lies pass of as gospel truth.30This is what Nobel Laureate, V S Naipaul resents when he comments about Indian writing.
Sixty years after Independence that problem is still there. India has no autonomous intellectual life.31His words ring quite true in the context of Indian writers in general and Adiga in particular. There is no autonomous intellectual life in India. The literary concepts are dictated by the secular establishment.
… no national literature has been created like this at such a remove, where the books are published by people outside, judged by people outside, and read to a large extent by people outside.32Yes! No national literature has ever been created in a foreign language. In spite of tall claims and revolutionary agenda, the paradox of Indian English writing remains. The paradox of a literature divorced from its native language. Indian writers rarely speak and never read or write in any of the Indian languages.
In the nineteenth century, Dostoyevsky and Turgenev and Gogol and Herzen lived for some time outside their native Russia; but they wrote in Russian for Russian readers and (for all of them except Herzen) Russia was where they were published and had their readers. Russia was where their ideas fermented.So true and so fitting on a writer like Adiga. The establishment prefers imitation which is safe over innovation which can be dangerous, ideology over reality, slogans and clichés over facts and truth. An ideological world‐view makes up for the ignorance of history. A concern for the ‘brutal injustices’ of India, makes up for the lack of creative writing. Of course the ‘brutal injustices’ exclude Islamic terrorism and missionary activities.
Nineteenth‐century Russian writing created an idea of the Russian character and the Russian soul. There is no equivalent creation, or the beginning of one, in Indian writing. India remains hidden. Indian writers, to speak generally, seem to know only about their own families, and their places of work. It is the Indian way of living and consequently the Indian way of seeing. The rest of the country is taken for granted, and seen superficially, as it was even by the young Nehru…33
There is a new kind of coming and going in the world these days. Arabia, lucky again, has spread beyond its deserts. And India is again at the periphery of this new Arabian world, as much as it had been in the eight century, when the new religion of Islam spread in all directions and the Arabs – led, it is said, by a seventeen year‐old boy – overran the Indian kingdom of Sind. That was only an episode, the historians say. But Sind is not a part of India today; India has shrunk since that Arab incursion. No civilization was so little equipped to cope with the outside world; no country was so easily raided and plundered, and learned so little from its disasters.34Naipaul goes beyond the immediate and the superficial. He goes beyond poverty, unemployment and other clichés and finds the root of the present Indian misery in its Islamic defeat during the middle ages.
… its [India’s] independence has meant more than the going away of the British; that the India to which Independence came was a land of far older defeat; that the purely Indian past died a long time ago.35He thinks it is necessary to go beyond these secondary causes:
An inquiry about India, even an inquiry about the Emergency has quickly to go beyond the political. It has to be an inquiry about Indian attitudes: it has to be an inquiry about the civilization itself, as it is.36But these are untouchable subjects in the Rooster Coop of India. With every new addition in the Secular Indian tradition, the writers become even more confident of their worn‐out formula. Not surprisingly, Naipaul has this to say about Indian writers:
The education of the new Indian writers – and nowadays some of them have even been to writing schools – also gets in the way. It seems to them they have the most enormous choice when, in imitation of the successful people who have gone before, they settle down to do their own book. They are not bursting with a wish to say anything. Nothing is going to force itself out in its own way; they are guided in the main by imitation…. This is where India begins to get lost…37Imitation is the hallmark of Indian formula‐writing. Adiga is an imitation of his predecessors like Arundhati Roy, who were an imitation of writers like Mulk Raj Anand & Nirad Chaudhary, who in turn were an imitation of yet others… a tradition of imitation going back to the times of Lord Macaulay. In fact, he inaugurated this tradition in India in his famous note to Lord Bentinck, the then Governor‐General of India ‐ Minute of Education on India in February 1835:
We must at present do our best to form a class who maybe interpreters between us and the millions whom we govern; the class of persons, Indian in blood and colour, but English in taste, in opinions, in morals and in intellect.38This defines Adiga’s intellectual ancestry. In many ways, Adiga’s book is not different from ‘Untouchable’ of Mulk Raj Anand, as artificial, as superficial, as far from reality, as incapable of asking questions, as faithful in following the intellectually bankrupt tradition of Secularism.
…I began to wonder about the intellectual depletion that must have come to India with the invasions and conquests of the last thousand years. What happened in Vijaynagar happened, in varying degrees, in other parts of the country. In the north, ruin lies on ruin: Moslem ruin on Hindu ruin… In the history books, in the accounts of wars and conquests and plunder, the intellectual depletion passes unnoticed… India absorbs and outlasts its conquerors, Indians say. But at Vijaynagar, among the pilgrims, I wondered whether intellectually for a thousand years India hadn’t always retreated before its conquerors and whether, in its periods of apparent revival, Indian hadn’t only been making itself archaic again, intellectually smaller, always vulnerable.
The crisis of India is not only political or economic. The larger crisis is of a wounded old civilization that has at last become aware of its inadequacies and is without the intellectual means to move ahead.39The imitation has seeped into the sub‐conscious of Indian psyche, and Indians are no longer aware of it. Thus Adiga thinks of himself as pioneer in bringing out the problems of India, but he is just parroting the secular slogans:
The middle classes think of themselves still as victims of colonial rule. But there is no point anymore in someone like me thinking of myself as a victim of a colonial oppressor.40Commenting on India’s inability to judge, Naipaul says:
India has no means of judging. India is hard and materialist. What it knows best about Indian writers and books are their advances and their prizes. There is little discussion about the substance of a book or its literary quality or the point of view of the writer. Much keeps on being said in the Indian press about Indian writing as an aspect of the larger modern Indian success, but literary criticism is still hardly known as an art. The most important judgments of an Indian book continue to be imported.41Nothing else can be more representative of the intellectual bankruptcy of rootless Indian writers, than the fact that they do not even realize it. India is full of parrots, green, red, white, black, brown… but none of them are conscious that they are actually parrots. Some even think that they are tigers…even white tigers!