Putting rights issues through the looking glass. Not seeking answers, just some food for thought to see whether things could be any different!

Thursday, September 08, 2005

The egomaniacal fraud that is......

Arundhati Roy.....
I really haven't been able to update my blog in the last few weeks but something that I read made me spring back into action. I donot know and I donot care, whether I have the locus standi to comment on people who irritate the daylights out of me but I cannot help it, when people say things they do not mean, much less act upon.
An award winning book (I did not like the book but I must admit, the description of Kerala was as genuine as it could get!) followed by a series of cheap publicity stunts. Where is this woman going?
I believe that all of us have a purpose in life and the concept of Karma applies unanimously. It is also true that when one becomes rich and famous, one may, if one wants to, use his/her fame to throw light on issues that concern them but doing it the Arundhati Roy way, is not doing it at all!
I work for human rights myself and I can give at least two examples, where at public meetings on serious human rights issues like the POTA and illegal migrants, she made statements totally out of context and made a total ass out of herself. At one meeting, thankfully, the proceedings were in Hindi, so we were spared the torture of having to listen to her views on the situation. In her hugely accented Hindi, she said, "gareebeo ko phir nishana banaya gaya". I thought to myself, thank God, she cannot speak fluent Hindi, this will be short! Thanks to generalists like her, the discussion moved from being very specific to over general.
When she first endorsed the cause of the people being affected by the construction of the Narmada Dam, I thought that this will give the movement, much needed publicity and momentum and people will sit up and take notice. I am sure, Medha Patkar thought so too but we, like many others, were harshly disappointed when she killed the cause with the overkill. Somewhere down the line, from being a people's movement, it became Arundhati Roy's pet cause and never did she try to change that impression because it always gave her free publicity! As liberated she might pretend to be, she is yet to get over the very old Indian habit of "muft ki roti". While there are very few free lunches in this world, we try to make the most of the little that we get. Nothing makes most of us (shall avoid the over generalisation) happier than a free offer!
This is what irritates me the most, about famous people lending their support or names to a movement. It always ends up becoming about them, which eventually destroys it all. There are so many people in this country, who fight for causes close to their hearts all their lives and die without an inch of publicity and there is an even greater number of people who hog all the limelight, without doing anthing at all! While publicity is something that famous people cannot avoid, they can definitely direct it elsewhere, especially when they do not deserve it! If they do this, every once in a while, albeit publicly, I donot mind their getting some publicity!
I donot mind if Arundhati Roy writes a book and holds press conferences and public meetings on the same. She is a writer and should continue doing so. While she can expand her horizons and become a social activist, she should know what she is getting into and it will not always be about her. This tendency to over generalise is a handicap in this age of super specialisation. While you can write fiction with a broad understanding of situations, you cannot deal with a serious real life situation in the same manner. Till then, I donot want to see her in meetings on serious issues, as a speaker on the panel, with little or no knowledge, on the situation. She is welcome to be a special guest, accept her bouquet, smile, express her support and leave it at that! This will show that she supports a given cause and will give that cause some media space that it requires!
I would like to thank Amulya Ganguli for writing an attacking piece on useful idiots, especially targetted at Ms. Roy. It is available at p.7 of Asian Age, 9th September 2005. His piece inspired me to write this post. Thank you!
P.S- There are many like Ms. Roy, mind you but I refer to her, especially, because of my personal experiences. I am just writing this, because I feel that the people for whom, celebrities, seemingly, fight, have a lot of hopes pinned on them. They truly think or are led to believe that these celebrities are one of them and are permanently committed to their cause. But if this is not so, which in most cases it is not, they are disappointed and feel cheated! While celebrities wil never fall short of causes to support, these poor people have only cause, to survive with respect and dignity! It is my request to these celebrities, to show some respect for the love, affection and trust that the poeple have in them.