DESPARDES News Monitor – Arundhati Roy, the legendary award-winning Indian author won Booker Prize in 1997 for her novel The God of Small Things. In 2017, 20 years after the publication of her first novel, she published another work of fiction, which is just out in paperback, titled The Ministry of Utmost Happiness. This is a clip from a short film introducing the novel, narrated by Roy herself in the US:
Roy’s book more or less concludes with Modi, an allusion to Modi. She had said earlier that he’s, although formally associated with the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP)—we mean, that’s how he was elected—his real ties are with the RSS.
The renowned but controversial in India novelist invokes the secularist line that “a racist and fascist ideology is firmly embedded in Modi’s government and that its leadership is drawn from the RSS (Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh) which is accused of assassinating Mahatma Gandhi”.
According to Roy RSS is the most powerful organization in the country today…it has always believed in rewriting the constitution. It has openly believed that India should be declared a Hindu nation. Its ideologues have openly called Muslims of India—have said, you know, the Muslims of India are like the Jews of Germany.”
“Now, it has—it is a formidable organization. You know, it has—it works in education. It has women’s wings, slum wings, forest dweller wings, publishing wing. It really writes the story of what is going on today. And it’s not just Modi, but almost all his ministers, including the former Prime Minister Vajpayee, Advani. All of these people were members of the RSS. So, whether or not the BJP loses elections or wins elections, the RSS’s work is inexorable. You know, it just goes on. And so, the BJP is just really the political arm of the RSS. There isn’t any way that the BJP can have an independent agenda. It is fused with the RSS. So, the danger today is that because of the massive majority with which they came to power, every institution has now been penetrated by the RSS.”
Discussing India’s military involvement in Kashmir, Roy says: “It’s such a morally reprehensible thing to be living in a country that is doing this to a people and everyone is keeping quiet about it. … What they are doing to people is terrible.”
The Ministry of Utmost Happiness was longlisted for the Booker Prize and nominated for the National Book Critics Circle Award. The Washington Post praised the book, writing, quote, “This is a remarkable creation, a story both intimate and international, swelling with comedy and outrage, a tale that cradles the world’s most fragile people even while it assaults the Subcontinent’s most brutal villains. … [It] will leave you awed by the heat of its anger and the depth of its compassion.”