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Yann
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« on: May 19, 2004, 02:23:26 PM »

Arundhati Roy On Indian Elections, Her Support for the Iraqi Resitance & the Privatization of War

Wednesday, May 19th, 2004

As India's Congress party leader Sonia Gandhi stuns the country by deciding to turn down the post of prime minister we go to India to speak with acclaimed Indian author and activist about elections in the world's largest democracy and occupation in the Middle East.

India's Congress party leader Sonia Gandhi stunned her supporters yesterday by deciding to turn down the post of prime minister.

Speaking before Congress party members in India's parliament yesterday she said, "The post of prime minister has not been my aim. I was always certain that if ever I found myself in the position I am in today, I would follow my inner voice. I humbly decline the post."

Her announcement sparked uproar among Congress MPs who shouted and pleaded with her to reconsider. One man stood on the roof of a car outside Gandhi's home, held a home-made gun to his head and said he would kill himself if Ghandi didn't accept the post. Gandhi had widely been expected to become prime minister after her Congress party and its allies recorded a surprise victory over the Hindu-nationalist Bharatiya Janata party (BJP) in national elections that ended last week.

Following the win, Gandhi became the target of a campaign led by the BJP to criticize her foreign origins and it has been reported that her son and daughter were against their mother taking up the position for safety reasons. Gandhi was born in Italy and became an Indian citizen 21 years ago when she married former Prime Minister Rajiv Gandhi. He was assassinated by a suicide bomber in 1991.

Gandhi has not publicly proposed an alternative candidate but reports indicate former Finance Minister Manmohan Singh is tipped to be next leader of the world's largest democracy. After initial reports emerged that Gandhi was reconsidering the post, the Indian stock market bounced back from the worst losses in its history.


Arundhati Roy, acclaimed Indian author and activist. Her most recent book is The Checkbook and the Cruise Missile a collection of interviews by David Barsamian. This summer South End Press wil publish a new collection of essays titled The Ordinary Person's Guide to Empire.

------------------------------------------------------------


AMY GOODMAN: Welcome to Democracy Now!, Arundhati.

ARUNDHATI ROY: Thank you, Amy.

AMY GOODMAN: It's very good to have you with us. Can you explain what is happening right now in India? Were you surprised by the victory of the Congress party, and then the rejection by Sonia Gandhi of the prime ministership?

ARUNDHATI ROY: I think many people were surprised by the victory of the Congress, because it was really hard to see beyond the sort of haze of hatred that the Hindu nationalists had been spreading. One wasn't sure whether the people would be blinded by that -- and they had been just a few months ago in a local assembly elections in Gujarat -- or whether the real issues of absolute poverty and absolute [separation] from the land and water resources would be the big issues. A lot of us, when the results came out were -- leaving aside one's cynicism about mainstream politics -- thought it couldn't have been a better result. The Congress party sort of shackled to the left parties in a coalition which would make them a pretty formidable opposition to the BJP. But subsequently, what has happened has been actually fascinating because you can just see the forces at play, both internationally and nationally, so blatantly, just so blatantly that, you know, just in order to understand what's going on, it's been a fascinating few days.

AMY GOODMAN: Can you talk about the differences between the BJP, which has been defeated, and the Congress party? I understand that you have just returned from the house of the man who we believe will replace Sonia Gandhi since she has turned down the prime ministership.

ARUNDHATI ROY: No, no, no not returned, but I was in the market and to come back home I had to drive past all of the politicians' houses, and I could see all the crowds outside and the television cameras and so on. I have no access to them in that sense, but, well the fundamental difference between the Congress and the BJP is that one is an overtly fascist party, proudly fascist. It doesn't feel bad if you call it that. The culture to which the BJP's big leaders subscribe to, which is the RSS, openly admires Hitler.

The Congress -- I mean, obviously, the way it has happened is that the Congress has historically played covert communal politics in order to create what in India we call vote banks where you pit one community against another and so on in order to secure votes. So, somehow the BJP is the horrible specter that has emerged from the legacy of the Congress party. You know, you begin to realize that hypocrisy is not a terrible thing when you see what overt fascism is compared to sort of covert, you know, communal politics which the Congress has never been shy of indulging in.

Economically, again, it's the same thing. You know, the Congress really was the party that opened India up to the whole neo-liberal regime. But the BJP has come in and taken it much further, to absurd levels. Today, we have a situation in which 40% of rural India has food absorption levels lower than sub-Saharan Africa. You have the biggest rural income divide ever seen in history. You have millions of tons of food grain rotting in government pogroms while starvation deaths are announced all over. You have the W.T.O. regime making it possible for the government to import food grain and milk and sugar and all of these things while Indian farmers are committing suicide not in the hundreds now, but the figures have moved into the thousands. And you have a middle class which is glittering, which is happy... I just wrote a piece about how corporate globalization and this kind of Hindu nationalism, communal fascism are so linked. If you see what has happened after the elections, after the people of India made it clear that their mandate was against communalism, their mandate was against economic reforms. Even in state governments where the Congress party had instituted these reforms, the Congress was also overthrown. It wasn't a vote for Sonia Gandhi or a vote for the congress, it was a vote against very serious issues.

What has happened is that as soon as the election results were announced, the BJP., the hard-right wing members of the B.J.P. and its goon squads started saying we'll shave our heads. We'll eat green gram and make a revolution in this country against this foreign woman on the one hand, and on the other hand, equally hard core corporate groups were acting -- they were out on the streets. They were yelling like fundamentalists would, and all of these corporate television channels had split screens where on the one hand, you saw what is happening in Sonia Gandhi's house and on the other half, you just had what the stockbrokers are saying. And the whole of the one billion people who had voted had just been forgotten. They had been given their photo opportunity, their journeys on elephant back and camel and whatever it was to the election booth. Now they were just forgotten. The only comments you get are what the industrialists think... and what the centrists think about Sonia Gandhi. It is an absolutely absurd kind of blackmail by fascists on the one hand and corporate fascists on the other.

Read the rest of this article here:

http://www.democracynow.org/article.pl?sid=04/05/19/1449239
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iyah360
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« Reply #1 on: May 20, 2004, 06:50:08 AM »

I thought that this recent election was an excellent example of how "democracy" is perhaps one of the most corrupt political systems to ever exist. How better to skirt the decisions of the people than having someone elected and then have them step down and appoint someone else.

It is absolutely ridiculous.
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iyah360
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« Reply #2 on: May 20, 2004, 06:59:20 AM »

Marcus Garvey on Ideal Government:

". . . Government should be absolute, and the head should be thoroughly responsible for himself and the acts of his subordinates.

When we elect a President of a nation, he should be endowed with absolute authority to appoint all his lieutenants from cabinet ministers, governors of States and Territories, administrators and judges to minor officers. He should swear his life as a guarantee to the State and people, and he should be made to pay the price of such a life if he deceives, grafts, bows to special privilege or interest, or in any way undermines the sacred honor and trust imposed upon him by acts of favoritism, injustice or friendly or self interests. He should be the soul of honor, and when he is legally or properly found to the contrary, he should be publicly disgraced, and put to death as an outcast and an unworthy representative of the righteous will of the people.

A President should, by proper provisions made by the State, be removed from all pecuniary obligations and desires of a material nature. He should be voted a salary and other accommodations so large and sufficient as to make it reasonably impossible for him, or those dependent upon him, to desire more during his administration. He and his family should be permanently and substantially provided for after the close of his administration, and all this and possibly more should be done for the purpose of removing him from the slightest possible material temptations or want. He, in turn, should devote his entire time to the sovereign needs and desires of the people. He should, for all the period of his administration, remove himself from obligatory, direct and fraternal contact with any and all special friends. His only friends outside of his immediate family should be the State. He should exact by law from all his responsible and administrative appointees a similar obligation, and he should enforce the law by penalty of death.

His administrators and judges should be held to strict accountability, and on the committing of any act of injustice, unfairness, favoritism or malfeasance, should be taken before the public, disgraced and then stoned to death.

This system would tend to attract to the sacred function of Government and judicial administration, only men and women of the highest and best characters, whom the public would learn to honor and respect with such satisfaction as to obliterate and prevent the factional party fights of Socialism, Communism, Anarchism, etc., for the control of Government, because of the belief that Government is controlled in the interest of classes, and not for the good of all the people. It would also discourage the self-seekers, grafters, demagogues and charlatans from seeking public offices, as the penalty of discovery of crime would be public disgrace and death for them and their families.". . .
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Oshun_Auset
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« Reply #3 on: May 20, 2004, 09:21:06 AM »

 Grin I always like that piece from "The Philosophy and opinions of Marcus Garvey". Grin  Thanks for posting it Iyah 360.  
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Forward to a united Africa!
emmanuel
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« Reply #4 on: May 20, 2004, 09:57:11 AM »

Quote
I thought that this recent election was an excellent example of how "democracy" is perhaps one of the most corrupt political systems to ever exist. How better to skirt the decisions of the people than having someone elected and then have them step down and appoint someone else.

It is absolutely ridiculous.


Amerikkka opened the doors to this method of SELECTION...open intrigue...and this in the land of the untouchables...the most terrible forms of black oppression possible...reguards for human life?...not much...Amerikkka through this decietful action..now has more say in the region...(CHINA MUST ALSO BE CONTAINED AT ALL COST)...as the beast spreads it wings.[/b]
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Yann
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« Reply #5 on: May 20, 2004, 11:18:56 AM »

Well there are several things about this post that struck me, least of which was Sonia Ghandi's decision to not accept the post of Prime Minister. I think it is important to remember the kind of society that India has emerged as. Under the shadow of Hindu nationalism, racism and a concerted effort to emaciate and destroy the voices of the poor, a semi socialist, foreign, catholic female could be in a great deal of trouble. While I do not want to hastily proclaim a judgment on that, for now I am inclined to agree with Roy that Ghandi is being overly cautious and maybe a bit intimidated by the position she has been faced with.

What is frightening is the role of the former government in the oppression of the Muslims and darker skinned poorer Indians in the state of Gujarat. Roy has been on that for a while now. A massacre went on right under the noses of the police, the government and the international community. Who will be held accountable for that? Certainly not the outgoing BJP that perpetrated it.  And if you look all over India you will see that same actions in varying degrees.

What occurred with this election is historic. The majority Indian population, the poor the powerless, the trod upon, made their voices heard and rejected the capitalism, the ugly notion of economic success, the progress that the Western world has sold to us all. The BJP ran on a platform proclaiming that India was moving forward! That economically, all was well. This is when the stark reality of millions of people living on under a dollar a day while in Bollywood dreams and glitter, the elite rode around in Benz's and talked on cell phones. Imagine that. Well that is the idea of progress that we in the third world are supposed to accept. That success means free trade, globalization and free markets. Well we know that the only thing 'free' about all that is the freedom of the white rich to exploit the black poor.

It remains to be seen how the policies of the Congress Party, with or without Ghandi at the helm, will play out; whether they really have any intentions of reforming the exploitative economic system and diverting some wealth to India's poor. However, no matter what way the media has tried to sell this one, it sure as hell scared them. And I say the better for it. They should be scared, because the more the leadership of third world countries makes a stand and decides that it wants to set its own economic and political agendas, the faster we will all be on a better road to dismantling this corrupt system.

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