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Azadi: Freedom. Fascism. Fiction.

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FROM THE BEST-SELLING AUTHOR OF MY SEDITIOUS HEART AND THE MINISTRY OF UTMOST HAPPINESS, A NEW AND PRESSING DISPATCH FROM THE HEART OF THE CROWD AND THE SOLITUDE OF A WRITER'S DESK Azadi-Urdu for Freedom-is the refrain in the iconic chant of the Kashmiri freedom struggle. And now, while Kashmir's streets have been silenced, the irony is that its people's anthem, with simila FROM THE BEST-SELLING AUTHOR OF MY SEDITIOUS HEART AND THE MINISTRY OF UTMOST HAPPINESS, A NEW AND PRESSING DISPATCH FROM THE HEART OF THE CROWD AND THE SOLITUDE OF A WRITER'S DESK Azadi-Urdu for Freedom-is the refrain in the iconic chant of the Kashmiri freedom struggle. And now, while Kashmir's streets have been silenced, the irony is that its people's anthem, with similar lyrics, rhythm and cadence, echoes on the streets of the country that most Kashmiris view as their coloniser. What lies between the silence of one street and the sound of the other? Is it a chasm, or could it become a bridge? In this series of penetrating essays on politics and literature, Arundhati Roy examines this question and challenges us to reflect on the meaning of freedom in a world of growing authoritarianism. Roy writes of the existential threat posed to Indian democracy by an emboldened Hindu nationalism, of the internet shutdown and information siege in Kashmir-the most densely militarized zone in the world-and India's new citizenship laws that discriminate against Muslims and marginalized communities and could create a crisis of statelessness on a scale previously unknown. The essays include mediations on language, public as well as private, and the role of fiction and alternative imaginations in these disturbing times. Azadi, she warns, hangs in the balance for us all.


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FROM THE BEST-SELLING AUTHOR OF MY SEDITIOUS HEART AND THE MINISTRY OF UTMOST HAPPINESS, A NEW AND PRESSING DISPATCH FROM THE HEART OF THE CROWD AND THE SOLITUDE OF A WRITER'S DESK Azadi-Urdu for Freedom-is the refrain in the iconic chant of the Kashmiri freedom struggle. And now, while Kashmir's streets have been silenced, the irony is that its people's anthem, with simila FROM THE BEST-SELLING AUTHOR OF MY SEDITIOUS HEART AND THE MINISTRY OF UTMOST HAPPINESS, A NEW AND PRESSING DISPATCH FROM THE HEART OF THE CROWD AND THE SOLITUDE OF A WRITER'S DESK Azadi-Urdu for Freedom-is the refrain in the iconic chant of the Kashmiri freedom struggle. And now, while Kashmir's streets have been silenced, the irony is that its people's anthem, with similar lyrics, rhythm and cadence, echoes on the streets of the country that most Kashmiris view as their coloniser. What lies between the silence of one street and the sound of the other? Is it a chasm, or could it become a bridge? In this series of penetrating essays on politics and literature, Arundhati Roy examines this question and challenges us to reflect on the meaning of freedom in a world of growing authoritarianism. Roy writes of the existential threat posed to Indian democracy by an emboldened Hindu nationalism, of the internet shutdown and information siege in Kashmir-the most densely militarized zone in the world-and India's new citizenship laws that discriminate against Muslims and marginalized communities and could create a crisis of statelessness on a scale previously unknown. The essays include mediations on language, public as well as private, and the role of fiction and alternative imaginations in these disturbing times. Azadi, she warns, hangs in the balance for us all.

30 review for Azadi: Freedom. Fascism. Fiction.

  1. 4 out of 5

    Siddhartha Kumar

    I don't have a lot of friends who are supporters of the ruling BJP (well at least the ones who have disclosed it publicly), and consequently whenever the conversation shifts towards the ongoings in India, more often than not, we find ourselves agreeing with each other. Although this is perfectly alright for me on most days, on few ocaasions, I find a shadow of a doubt slowly creeping up inside - what if I'm living inside a bubble, an echo-chamber where I only get exposed to the ideas which I alr I don't have a lot of friends who are supporters of the ruling BJP (well at least the ones who have disclosed it publicly), and consequently whenever the conversation shifts towards the ongoings in India, more often than not, we find ourselves agreeing with each other. Although this is perfectly alright for me on most days, on few ocaasions, I find a shadow of a doubt slowly creeping up inside - what if I'm living inside a bubble, an echo-chamber where I only get exposed to the ideas which I already hold to be true, especially relevant now that everything in our lives are getting regulated by algorithms. Whenever this confirmation bias hits me, I long to read something contrarian, to engage with the other side and to try to put myself in their shoes. So it was with a pleasant surprise that I found out one day, one of my friends "coming out of the closet" and to declare him(her)self to be a supporter of the ruling party. I grabbed the chance to finally be able to hear the arguments from the other side and so, I broke my cardinal rule of not engaging in political debates on social media and contacted him/her. The result was devastating. We passionately debated our views and had heated discussions throughout the day, in the end agreeing that maybe we shouldn't have bothered to hit each other up after all. I was visibly distressed for a few days after this incident, as if a small flicker of hope had died in that encounter. If two educated and privileged youths in their early twenties were unable to agree on something as basic as whether Muslims deserve to live in India, or whether India should really become a "Hindu Rashtra" or not, what hope could I have from the millions of others who didn't have the same privileges as us? Reading this book brought that hopelessness to the front once again. There are hard-hitting truths written here, things that we would sooner like to forget lest they cause us pain and make vivid the grim reality of our times. But like a festering wound which devours our body if unattended, ignorance is not bliss but a vicious disease which paralyzes us faster than we might think. My appeal to whoever is reading this would be - reach out to others, engage in conversations, don't dismiss the whole debate as "unnecessary politics" - your mere existence is political. Politics is not about discussing who should be the next PM, it's about discussing ideas and how you view others who are different than yourself, to engage with empathy and to embrace the differences, and to speak out against wrongs. I'll leave you with a powerful passage from the book itself, where Arundhati Roy laments about the role each of us plays in how the future shapes itself: After twenty years of writing fiction and nonfiction that tracks the rise of Hindu nationalism, after years of reading about the rise and fall of European fascism, I have begun to wonder why fascism—although it is by no means the same everywhere—is so recognizable across histories and cultures. It’s not just the fascists that are recognizable—the strong man, the ideological army, the squalid dreams of Aryan superiority, the dehumanization and ghettoization of the “internal enemy,” the massive and utterly ruthless propaganda machine, the false-flag attacks and assassinations, the fawning businessmen and film stars, the attacks on universities, the fear of intellectuals, the specter of detention camps, and the hate-fueled zombie population that chants the Eastern equivalent of “Heil! Heil! Heil!” It’s also the rest of us—the exhausted, quarreling opposition, the vain, nit-picking Left, the equivocating liberals who spent years building the road that has led to the situation we find ourselves in, and are now behaving like shocked, righteous rabbits who never imagined that rabbits were an important ingredient of the rabbit stew that was always on the menu. And, of course, the wolves who ignored the decent folks’ counsel of moderation and sloped off into the wilderness to howl unceasingly, futilely—and, if they were female, then “shrilly” and “hysterically”—at the terrifying, misshapen moon. All of us are recognizable. ------------------------------- This is also available on my website here.

  2. 4 out of 5

    Michael

    great: a few of the essays reflect on the role of (fiction) writing in the wake of fascism’s resurgence across the world, others analyze the rise of Hindu nationalism and the atrocities of the Modi administration, the rest do both.

  3. 4 out of 5

    Maxine

    Indian writer Arundhati Roy is probably best known for her literary fiction including The God of Small Things for which she won the Man Booker prize. But she is also known for her essays and Azadi: Freedom. Fascism. Fiction. contains several in which Roy gives us a powerful and clear look at the situation in India and Kashmir Azadi is Urdu for Freedom! and has become the rallying cry both for the Kashmiris against the Indian occupation as well as of millions in India against the rise of Hindu na Indian writer Arundhati Roy is probably best known for her literary fiction including The God of Small Things for which she won the Man Booker prize. But she is also known for her essays and Azadi: Freedom. Fascism. Fiction. contains several in which Roy gives us a powerful and clear look at the situation in India and Kashmir Azadi is Urdu for Freedom! and has become the rallying cry both for the Kashmiris against the Indian occupation as well as of millions in India against the rise of Hindu nationalism and the authoritarianism of the Modi government. She discusses the importance as well as the abuses of language in Indian politics; the attacks on Muslims and the way the government has not only disenfranchised them but encouraged physical attacks against them; the situation in Kashmir and how the government has tried to shut down any communication with the rest of the world; the caste and class systems; and, in the last essay, the pandemic and how it is being handled by the Modi government. She also explains how so many of these issues have influenced her fiction. I will admit my knowledge of these issues was slight - when the Canadian Prime Minister visited India, the news was more about his clothes than what he discussed with Modi and what it meant in terms of Canadian complicity and silence about the situation in both India and Kashmir. I will also admit that, lacking much in the way of education or understanding about the history, culture, or politics, it was easy to ignore, especially as much of the information available was couched in pedantry. But, despite being well-documented, Roy writes cogently and passionately, making the information accessible to those, like me, who have little background but want to understand because, in this global world, it affects us all. Thanks to Edelweiss+ and Haymarket for the opportunity to read this book in exchange for an honest review

  4. 5 out of 5

    Kevin

    Catching up with Roy… --Having been recently disappointed with a sample of Ursula K. Le Guin’s nonfiction musings, I knew I had to return to Roy. I finished Roy's 20-year collection of nonfiction My Seditious Heart: Collected Nonfiction last year; this collection (2018-2020) bridges the gap to the present. --Highlights: 1) Language, fiction, and nonfiction: --I find fiction frustrating. …Besides escapism, I just think of readers with widely-contrasting views on politics/economics/history who all s Catching up with Roy… --Having been recently disappointed with a sample of Ursula K. Le Guin’s nonfiction musings, I knew I had to return to Roy. I finished Roy's 20-year collection of nonfiction My Seditious Heart: Collected Nonfiction last year; this collection (2018-2020) bridges the gap to the present. --Highlights: 1) Language, fiction, and nonfiction: --I find fiction frustrating. …Besides escapism, I just think of readers with widely-contrasting views on politics/economics/history who all somehow have Orwell’s 1984 on their favorites shelf. Fiction seems so malleable by the reader; I treat them as thought experiments and sometimes I go against the author’s intent (ex. Lord of the Flies). If I want to learn what you think about the world, I would not start with fiction. …However, I cannot deny fiction’s reach. So, it was interesting seeing Roy unpack her sociopolitical use of fiction in The Ministry of Utmost Happiness, even though I still struggle with this: Translation is daily life, it is street activity, and it’s increasingly a necessary part of ordinary folk’s survival kit. And so, in this novel of many languages, it is not only the author but also the characters themselves who swim around in an ocean of exquisite imperfection, who constantly translate for and to each other, who constantly speak across languages, and who constantly realize that people who speak the same language are not necessarily the ones who understand each other best.--Now, bringing fiction-writing skills to nonfiction is something I can instantly appreciate! (blessed to have read nonfiction writes with amazing writing skills: David Graeber, Yanis Varoufakis)“The End of Imagination” was the first of what would turn out to be twenty years’ worth of nonfiction essays. They were years during which India was changing at lightning speed. For each essay, I searched for a form, for language, for structure and narrative. Could I write as compellingly about irrigation as I could about love and loss and childhood? About the salinization of soil? About drainage? Dams? Crops? About structural adjustment and privatization? About the per unit cost of electricity? About things that affect ordinary people’s lives? Not as reportage, but as a form of storytelling? Was it possible to turn these topics into literature? Literature for everybody—including for people who couldn’t read and write, but who had taught me how to think, and could be read to? [Emphasis added]--Roy’s take on “mother tongue” was interesting too, in considering why she writes in English, how Annihilation of Caste was written in English, etc. (compared to, say, Ngũgĩ wa Thiong'o). 2) Fascism: on this topic, I’m always reminded of Roy’s essay “Listening to Grasshoppers: Genocide, Denial, and Celebration” in Field Notes on Democracy: Listening to Grasshoppers. Wish there were more on her critique of India’s “vain, nit-picking Left” and their supposed failings distinguishing caste vs. class. Even better, I'd love to hear her discuss this with Vijay Prashad! 3) "The Pandemic is a Portal": Nothing could be worse than a return to normality. Historically, pandemics have forced humans to break with the past and imagine their world anew. This one is no different. It is a portal, a gateway between one world and the next. We can choose to walk through it, dragging the carcasses of our prejudice and hatred, our avarice, our data banks and dead ideas, our dead rivers and smoky skies behind us. Or we can walk through lightly, with little luggage, ready to imagine another world. And ready to fight for it.

  5. 5 out of 5

    Sonam Mahajan

    Pure propaganda and hate filled drivel

  6. 4 out of 5

    Polina

    Sensationalism and propaganda wrapped up with pretty words

  7. 4 out of 5

    Guillermo Fernandez

    I could say that some of the essays and lectures talk about the same issues and therefore reading the book can be repetitive at times but Arundhati's voice is so essential and awareness of the current situation in India is so important that erase everything else. I could say that some of the essays and lectures talk about the same issues and therefore reading the book can be repetitive at times but Arundhati's voice is so essential and awareness of the current situation in India is so important that erase everything else.

  8. 5 out of 5

    Abhilash

    If you follow what happens in India these days, there is nothing in this book for you - the decision to collect speeches in this book was a mistake, the content looks dated already and there are no new insights or anything. Book's still relevant for those who are trying to understand the "utmost happiness" of certain ppl while rest of the country burns. If you follow what happens in India these days, there is nothing in this book for you - the decision to collect speeches in this book was a mistake, the content looks dated already and there are no new insights or anything. Book's still relevant for those who are trying to understand the "utmost happiness" of certain ppl while rest of the country burns.

  9. 5 out of 5

    Amanda Youngs

    OMG, what an education! If you don't care about the world, then move along because there's nothing to see here. If you have an iota of concern for what people are doing to other people in a massive continent where hundreds of different languages are spoken, and Muslims are being relentlessly tormented and othered by Hindus and the far right, this is a book that should be on your To Read list and somewhere towards the top. What an education this set of essays by Arundhati Roy has turned out to be OMG, what an education! If you don't care about the world, then move along because there's nothing to see here. If you have an iota of concern for what people are doing to other people in a massive continent where hundreds of different languages are spoken, and Muslims are being relentlessly tormented and othered by Hindus and the far right, this is a book that should be on your To Read list and somewhere towards the top. What an education this set of essays by Arundhati Roy has turned out to be for me! I don't know where to begin. I didn't choose to read this book, although I had read "The God of Small Things" a few years ago so I was acquainted somewhat with her writing, which is such very high quality in every respect. She uses language with such subtlety and finesse, whether she's writing fiction or non-fiction. I was obliged to read this for my work, and occasionally that system brings into my life something that changes everything. This book is one of those things. I shall be watching the news every time I hear reports of Kashmir and Jammu, of India and Pakistan, and of the actions of Hindus in respect of Muslims. Inevitably this review is oversimplifying everything, but I had no idea what is going on in Kashmir, even today on the day I am writing this review from my comfortable developed world home. If you have a deep hunger to learn something really meaningful, then read this book. One individual may not usually be able to affect things very much, but when she has the talent of Arundhati Roy, she can make the world sit up and listen. Brava! And thank you, Ms Roy. Namaste to both you, and to Anjum. I will make sure to read "The Ministry of Utmost Happiness" very soon.

  10. 4 out of 5

    Bala

    This book reeks of bias, prejudice and preconceived notions against Hindus with a pro Islamist stand nicely packaged as being a crusader of humanity. The author is known to be a pro-islamist and anti Hindu crusader. While Kashmir witnessed ethnic cleansing against Kashmiri Brahmins, she never had the compassion to speak up for them? Here, she is blatantly advocating 'freedom' for the separatists forces. She is one of the gang that think Indian Nationalism is antithesis to freedom. Nationalism is This book reeks of bias, prejudice and preconceived notions against Hindus with a pro Islamist stand nicely packaged as being a crusader of humanity. The author is known to be a pro-islamist and anti Hindu crusader. While Kashmir witnessed ethnic cleansing against Kashmiri Brahmins, she never had the compassion to speak up for them? Here, she is blatantly advocating 'freedom' for the separatists forces. She is one of the gang that think Indian Nationalism is antithesis to freedom. Nationalism is a basic fundamental character of every citizen of any country. Anyone with a sense of patriotism would align with the country and its ethos. Arundhati is an anti-Indian, anti-Hindu, pro-Islamist, pro-separatists masquerading as a savvy pro humanist crusader.

  11. 5 out of 5

    Bindesh Dahal

    Repetitive. Left-liberal cribbing presented in a literary language. Narcissistically keeps on explaining her novels. Sympathy for the downtrodden in Kashmir and Assam as well as Delhi is good but blaming the ruling dispensation for all the ills bedeviling India is biasness. Her dear comrades are no angels.

  12. 5 out of 5

    Sanjana

    Recommended for : - anyone who voted for Modi - anyone who did not vote for Modi - anyone who did not vote Essays about the state of political affairs in India, in the past 6 years. Everything from CAA, NRC, Covid, Abrogation of article 370 to UAPA.

  13. 5 out of 5

    Farhana

    I have been cherishing fiction throughout this year. Now, it's time for some facts (of people who choose to speak and write). I place books as bookmarks down the memory lane and Aru's work have impacted me in so many ways. 1. A few months ago while finalizing a manuscript one of my co-authors called me up late at night and asked if I was out of my mind? I said, "These are what people posted on social media and I just randomly picked it as an example post!" Then after a tense conversation with oth I have been cherishing fiction throughout this year. Now, it's time for some facts (of people who choose to speak and write). I place books as bookmarks down the memory lane and Aru's work have impacted me in so many ways. 1. A few months ago while finalizing a manuscript one of my co-authors called me up late at night and asked if I was out of my mind? I said, "These are what people posted on social media and I just randomly picked it as an example post!" Then after a tense conversation with other co-authors we decided to tone down and remove even though it was NOTHING! I was feeling so disheartened and silenced. Then I just accepted because it might have some implication for my co-author who is affiliated with a public university. And I don't want to cause anyone any trouble! This event impacted me so much that after some time I excluded myself from another project where I was looking at the intersection of social media and movement! 2. After a boy was brutally beaten to death over a Facebook post in the student dormitory of my alma mater by student political bodies, my mom repeatedly warned me not to write anything on social media. I assured her that I am not writing anything anywhere. 3. Last year we had to visit Korail bosti (slum) to collect data for some research purpose. But none would talk to us without approval from local political leaders. The male co-author who was accompanying me had to leave for some work. We were in a rush, so I decided to talk to them and returned to slum alone. I went to the local tea stall in slum where the tea seller knew the whereabouts of the local political leader. Then they took me to the office of the local political party. It went well but later everyone scolded me for going there alone! Now, if I look back yeah I was really feeling a little bit afraid all the time alone. I was covering my head with a long scarf and were wearing glasses to cover my face and tried to sound unaffected so that they could not read my expression! ... We live in such an unsettling time. When it comes to countries or nations, my optimisim and pessimism are entertwined and are akin to the life and death of the Schrodinger's cat. So, when it comes to pin down my hope on any society/ country/ nation, I am just equally skeptical about being served the same old wine in a new bottle! In this piece of work, Aru unwinds herself and the country. I treasure her work as she speaks out for the vulnerable, provides them a ground, and draws us into the whirlpool of vunerability! Two things that absolutely resonated with me: 1. Political power of words and languages. I used to write and translate poems for some five years. Then one day I came to sense the political dimension of words, how people and things can be mobilized using words and the complex power dynamics of words and intentions. It was such a strong revealation that transformed my world. 2. How the present age transitioned into "Divert-Attention-and-Conquer" from the classic "Divide-and-Conquer". How media facilitate this. It's like a ramp where stories come and stories go and we longer know where to allocate our time, attention, and concern most.

  14. 4 out of 5

    Ashwin

    Actual rating: 3.5 *some of the essays felt repetitive*

  15. 4 out of 5

    Pankaj

    G-A-R-B-A-G-E

  16. 5 out of 5

    Shailin

    Absolutely pathetic thinking. Blind and convenient allegation without any data or facts. Such books are irrelevant to read as they don’t add to anything.

  17. 5 out of 5

    Naddy

    “Whatever it is, coronavirus has made the mighty kneel and brought the world to a halt like nothing else could. Our minds are still racing back and forth, longing for a return to “normality,” trying to stitch our future to our past and refusing to acknowledge the rupture. But the rupture exists. And in the midst of this terrible despair, it offers us a chance to rethink the doomsday machine we have built for ourselves. Nothing could be worse than a return to normality. “Historically, pandemics h “Whatever it is, coronavirus has made the mighty kneel and brought the world to a halt like nothing else could. Our minds are still racing back and forth, longing for a return to “normality,” trying to stitch our future to our past and refusing to acknowledge the rupture. But the rupture exists. And in the midst of this terrible despair, it offers us a chance to rethink the doomsday machine we have built for ourselves. Nothing could be worse than a return to normality. “Historically, pandemics have forced humans to break with the past and imagine their world anew. This one is no different. It is a portal, a gateway between one world and the next. We can choose to walk through it, dragging the carcasses of our prejudice and hatred, our avarice, our data banks and dead ideas, our dead rivers and smoky skies behind us. Or we can walk through lightly, with little luggage, ready to imagine another world and ready to fight for it... “Kashmir, the land of the living dead and the talking graves— city graveyards, village graveyards, mass graves, unmarked graves, double-decker graves. Kashmir, whose truth can only be told in fiction—because only fiction can tell about air that is so thick with fear and loss, with pride and mad courage, and with unimaginable cruelty. Only fiction can try to describe the transactions that take place in such a climate. Because the story of Kashmir is not only a story about war and torture and rigged elections and human rights violations. It’s a story about love and poetry, too. It cannot be flattened to news” Some of the essays does make some sense, though there were endless references to The Ministry of Utmost happiness at times I feel like it forward back to revision of The Ministry of utmost happiness which was quite boring at times. Whatever she writes, she writes well and hatred towards Modi is clearly shown and she doesn’t mince words when it comes to Modi.

  18. 5 out of 5

    Sandeep

    Arundhati Roy's slim collection of essays will evoke different emotions in you, depending on your political beliefs. Ranging from shock, awe and shaking your head in approval or disapproval, Roy's writing will keep you hooked. Followers of Indian politics will not find this collection particularly illuminating but it is an important collection which will definitely be quoted in the future. Arundhati Roy's slim collection of essays will evoke different emotions in you, depending on your political beliefs. Ranging from shock, awe and shaking your head in approval or disapproval, Roy's writing will keep you hooked. Followers of Indian politics will not find this collection particularly illuminating but it is an important collection which will definitely be quoted in the future.

  19. 4 out of 5

    Ojaswi Sharma

    I’m learning how to think with and because of Roy.

  20. 5 out of 5

    Shuvam

    There is no denying to Roy's talent when it comes to writing, and despite my difference of opinions with her, I do enjoy reading her books. It was the same overnight when I finished Capitalism: A Ghost Story, that I chose to read Azadi, only on the sheer cause of having enjoyed the previous one. But unfortunately, here talent has been used under the false pretence to mislead the ignorants on the following topic. Roy has made a deliberate attempt to portay us, the Indians, as the sole conspirators There is no denying to Roy's talent when it comes to writing, and despite my difference of opinions with her, I do enjoy reading her books. It was the same overnight when I finished Capitalism: A Ghost Story, that I chose to read Azadi, only on the sheer cause of having enjoyed the previous one. But unfortunately, here talent has been used under the false pretence to mislead the ignorants on the following topic. Roy has made a deliberate attempt to portay us, the Indians, as the sole conspirators of the Kashmir dispute. The very title here is misleading from the start. Azadi. It does mean freedom. But exactly freedom from what ? Having read it from start to finish, it is clear that Roy holds us ( more likely the BJP) responsible for all that has happened in Kashmir. In 1846, after the Sikh defeat in the First Anglo-Sikh War, and upon the purchase of the region from the British under the Treaty of Amritsar, the Raja of Jammu, Gulab Singh, became the new ruler of Kashmir. The rule of his descendants, under the paramountcy (or tutelage) of the British Crown, lasted until the partition of India in 1947, when the former princely state of the British Indian Empire became a disputed territory, now administered by three countries: India, Pakistan, and China. India controls approximately 55% of the land area of the region that includes Jammu, the Kashmir Valley, most of Ladakh, the Siachen Glacier[4] and 70% of its population, Pakistan controls approximately 30% of the land area that includes Azad Kashmir and Gilgit-Baltistan while China controls the remaining 15% of the land area that includes the Aksai Chin region, the mostly uninhabited Trans-Karakoram Tract, and part of the Demchok sector. Roy, most likely aware of all this, clearly doesn't acknowledge it's significance, otherwise the title of the book would have contradicted the idea that Roy wants to portay. Certainty of this book is most likely true to some extent but a larger portions remains to be untrue and has been used with a malafied intent. One such instance that I have found is that of her claims on the Indian Army's illicit doings in the disputed area. In modern India, internet coverage has reached every household and with the presence of opposition parties, not even a minor news goes unnoticed, so as to besmirch each other. While certain media has a strong inclination towards the BJP goverment, there do exists media houses who work in the favor of opposition parties and leaves no stone unturned when it's to debunk any kind of fabricated news, as an act to malign the ruling party. Every death is a tragedy to us. Many innocents have lost their lives in the cross firing of the Indian army as an act of retaliation against the insurgency, aided by Pakistan, and Roy have used this pretext as an intentional doing from our side. Former Pakistan President General Pervez Musharraf in Oct 2014 said during TV interview, "We have source (in Kashmir) besides the (Pakistan) army…People in Kashmir are fighting against (India). We just need to incite them." The Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI), in their first ever open acknowledgement in 2011 in US Court, said that the Inter-Services Intelligence (ISI) sponsors terrorism in Kashmir and it oversees terrorist separatist groups in Kashmir. It is now almost to a daily basis, that a news of a terrorist attack in Kashmir reaches our ears and many of our soldiers have been martyed trying to defend our country. To my best knowledge, certain acusations on human rights violations have indeed turned out to be true and all the accused have been duly punished in the matter. Former Indian Army Chief General V. K. Singh rejected the accusations that the action was not taken in the cases of human rights violations by Army personnel. On 24 October 2010, he has said that 104 Army personnel had been punished in Jammu and Kashmir in this regard, including 39 officers. Roy, in her book, also has made an attempt to not mention about the terror groups that still functions in Kashmir, and are believed to be the main cause of the insurgency. These groups have also been responsible on brainwashing the Kashmiri citizens into believing that India is ultimately the bad person here. It is only due to their doings that the internet has to be restricted so as to prevent further insurgency in the area. These groups also encourages the people of Kashmir so as to pick arms and rebel against India and unfortunately, someone like Roy seems to have been a victim of such persuasion. I am adding the list of all active and inactive terrorist groups which have haunted Kashmir, and my long list of names will only show you the extent of how bad the situation really is. Proscribed Terrorist/Extremist Groups. Hizb-ul-Mujahideen (HM) Harkat-ul-Ansar (HuA, presently known as Harkat-ul Mujahideen) Lashkar-e-Toiba (LeT) Jaish-e-Mohammed (JeM) Harkat-ul Mujahideen (HuM, previously known as Harkat-ul-Ansar) Al Badr Jamiat-ul-Mujahideen (JUM) Harkat-ul-Jehad-al-Islami (HuJI) Al Umar Mujahideen Dukhtaran-e-Millat (DeM) Front Organisations of Terrorist Groups Active in Jammu and Kashmir Active Terrorist/Insurgent Groups Lashkar-e-Omar (LeO) Lashkar-e-Jabbar (LeJ) Tehrik-ul-Mujahideen Jammu & Kashmir Liberation Front (JKLF) All Parties Hurriyat Conference (APHC) Mutahida Jehad Council (MJC) Inactive Terrorist/Insurgent Groups Al Barq Al Jehad Jammu & Kashir National Liberation Army Muslim Janbaz Force Kashmir Jehad Force Al Jehad Force (combines Muslim Janbaz Force and Kashmir Jehad Force) Mahaz-e-Azadi Islami Jamaat-e-Tulba Jammu & Kashmir Students Liberation Front Ikhwan-ul-Mujahideen Islamic Students League Tehrik-e-Hurriat-e-Kashmir Al Mustafa Liberation Fighters Tehrik-e-Jehad-e-Islami Muslim Mujahideen Al Mujahid Force Tehrik-e-Jehad Islami Inquilabi Mahaz Notable attacks in J&K. July and August 1989 – 3 CRPF personnel and politician Mohd. Yusuf Halwai of NC/F were killed. 1989 kidnapping of Rubaiya Sayeed daughter of the then Home Minister of India Mufti Sayeed. Gawkadal massacre-Central Reserve Police Force opened fire on a group of Kashmiri protestors, killing 160. Sopore massacre- Killing of 55 Kashmiri civilians by Border security force(BSF) Bijbehara massacre-Massacre of 51 protestors by BSF. 1995 kidnapping of western tourists in Jammu and Kashmir – Six foreign trekkers from Anantnag district were kidnapped by Al Faran. One was beheaded later, one escaped, and the other four remain missing, presumably killed. 1997 Sangrampora massacre – On 22 March 1997, seven Kashmiri Pandits were killed in Sangrampora village in the Budgam district. Wandhama massacre – In January 1998, 24 Kashmiri Pandits living in the village of Wandhama were massacred by Pakistani militants. According to the testimony of one of the survivors, the militants dressed themselves as officers of the Indian Army, entered their houses and then started firing blindly. The incident was significant because it coincided with former US president Bill Clinton's visit to India and New Delhi highlighted the massacre to prove Pakistan-supported terrorism in Kashmir. 1998 Prankote massacre – 26 Hindu villagers of Udhampur district were killed by militants. 1998 Champanari massacre – 25 Hindu villagers killed on 19 June 1998 by Islamic militants. 2000 Amarnath pilgrimage massacre – 30 Hindu pilgrims massacred by militants. Chittisinghpura massacre – 36 Sikhs massacred by LET militants. 2001 terrorist attack on Jammu and Kashmir legislative assembly – On 1 October 2001, a bombing at the Legislative Assembly in Srinagar killed 38. 2002 Raghunath temple attacks – First attack occurred on 30 March 2002 when two suicide bombers attacked the temple. Eleven persons including three security forces personnel were killed and 20 were injured. In second attack, the fidayeen suicide squad attacked the temple second time on 24 November 2002 when two suicide bombers stormed the temple and killed fourteen devotees and injured 45 others. 2002 Qasim Nagar massacre – On 13 July 2002, armed militants believed to be a part of the Lashkar-e-Toiba threw hand grenades at the Qasim Nagar market in Srinagar and then fired on civilians standing nearby killing 27 and injuring many more. 2003 Nadimarg Massacre – 24 Hindus killed in Nadimarg, Kashmir on 23 March 2003 by Lashkar-e-Taiba militants. 20 July 2005 Srinagar bombing – A car bomb exploded near an armoured Indian Army vehicle in the famous Church Lane area in Srinagar killing 4 Indian Army personnel, one civilian and the suicide bomber. Militant group Hizbul Mujahideen, claimed responsibility for the attack. Budshah Chowk attack – A militant attack on 29 July 2005 at Srinigar's city centre, Budshah Chowk, killed 2 and left more than 17 people injured. Most of those injured were media journalists. Assassination of Ghulam Nabi Lone – On 18 October 2005, suspected Kashmiri militants killed Jammu and Kashmir's then education minister Ghulam Nabi Lone. Militant group called Al Mansurin claimed responsibility for the attack. Abdul Ghani Lone, a prominent All Party Hurriyat Conference leader, was assassinated by unidentified gunmen during a memorial rally in Srinagar. The assassination resulted in wide-scale demonstrations against the Indian forces for failing to provide enough security cover for Lone. 2006 Doda massacre – On 3 May 2006, militants massacred 35 Hindus in Doda and Udhampur districts in Jammu and Kashmir. On 12 June 2006, one person was killed and 31 were wounded when terrorists hurled three grenades on Vaishnodevi shrine-bound buses at the general bus stand. 2014 Kashmir Valley attacks – There were four attacks on 5 December 2014 on army, police and civilians resulted in 21 deaths and several injured. Their motive was to disrupt the ongoing assembly elections. 2016 Uri attack – Four armed terrorists sneaked into an army camp and lobbed grenades onto tents causing massive fire culminating in the death of 19 military personnel. 2018 Sunjuwan attack - On 10 February 2018, Jaish-e-Mohammad terrorists attacked Sunjuwan Army Camp in Jammu and Kashmir. 6 Indian army soldiers, 4 terrorists, 1 civilian died and 11 were injured. 2019 Pulwama attack - On 14 February 2019, Jaish-e-Mohammad terrorists attacked a convoy of CRPF men killing 46 soldiers and injuring 20. I say this again, that while certain aspects of the book is true, a larger portion of this book remains to be untrue. Any Indian citizen can comprehend between the lies and truth told here, but seeing that this book has reached the hands of people, who are not Indian citizens, I was compelled to write such a review. I do believe there would be people who are much more experienced here and can give you out a much more broader explanation of the life in Kashmir. The spread of deceptive news is a new technique adopted the the opposition in order to besmirch each other. I respect Roy for her talent and she could certainly do better than this. The Azadi propaganda has been fuelled by Pakistan and Roy seems to have been highly influenced by it. Resorting to one sided history telling wouldn't change anything. In a generation where the internet belongs to almost everyone, lies told would only be debunked by somene or other. What is our rightfully ours, will always be ours. Delusion under influence and without any valid reasoning will not be tolerated. | Source | Source |. Source | Source |

  21. 4 out of 5

    Gargi

    there is so much repetition in the chapters, which i understand given that this is a collation of speeches, but the words are verbatim from one chapter to the other. can be a good read for anyone who's not versed about the current fascist indian government. there is so much repetition in the chapters, which i understand given that this is a collation of speeches, but the words are verbatim from one chapter to the other. can be a good read for anyone who's not versed about the current fascist indian government.

  22. 4 out of 5

    Kai

    This book was kindly gifted to me after I enjoyed reading Roy's fiction novels last year. I love how it gives background to those stories I wouldn't have known! I've also learned a bit more about Indian politics, reminding me how little I know about Kashmir especially. This book was kindly gifted to me after I enjoyed reading Roy's fiction novels last year. I love how it gives background to those stories I wouldn't have known! I've also learned a bit more about Indian politics, reminding me how little I know about Kashmir especially.

  23. 4 out of 5

    Manu

    As always, I must admit a bias for Arundhati Roy. For being an author who has consistently been vocal about rampant capitalistic greed, class prejudices, and more recently, the conversion of India from a democracy to a fascist state. And in doing all this, she holds an uncompromising mirror to those of us whose privilege affords us the luxury of living in bubbles whose walls are impermeable. For now. The book has 9 essays that contain the above, and also touch upon the role of fiction in imagini As always, I must admit a bias for Arundhati Roy. For being an author who has consistently been vocal about rampant capitalistic greed, class prejudices, and more recently, the conversion of India from a democracy to a fascist state. And in doing all this, she holds an uncompromising mirror to those of us whose privilege affords us the luxury of living in bubbles whose walls are impermeable. For now. The book has 9 essays that contain the above, and also touch upon the role of fiction in imagining, processing, and communicating it. Lal Salaam Aleikum, says Anjum, in The Ministry of Utmost Happiness. The book has recurring themes - Kashmir, NRC, CAA, RSS - but I think repeating them is worthwhile, so that the gravity is understood. Kashmir, whose special status, or limited autonomy, granted under Article 370 of the Indian Constitution, was revoked on 5th August by the Indian government. Followed by Narendra Modi appearing on television on 8th August to announce a lockdown of 7 million people so that they could enjoy Indian democracy and progress while living under military occupation. Google Trends surges showed a repeat of plunder patterns from history - "marry a Kashmiri girl" and "buy land in Kashmir". Women and land. But that's only the larger population. The nation has higher ambitions. For instance, access to rivers and other natural resources. And so does the ruling party - "One Nation. One Constitution". Enforced not just with the might of the state machinery, but the 600000 members of the RSS. NRC, the seeds of which were sown in 1837 when the British made Bengali Assam's official language. Though revoked in the 1870s, it set the stage. In the late 1890's the British encouraged Bengali Muslims to become workers in the tea plantations, causing an influx that was first met with affection by the natives, but soon turned to discord. Borders were redrawn regularly, and 1947 and 1971 caused a further inflow of populations, and after decades of violence and antagonism, we now have the NRC, whose updated list was published on 31 August 2019. With 1.9 million missing. It didn't really make the rulers happy because almost half of them are non-Muslims. Predictably, Justice Gogoi ordered the transfer of the chief co-ordinator of NRC, giving no reasons. And then there is the Citizenship Amendment Bill, passed on 11 Dec 2019 as the CAA. Students of Aligarh Muslim University and Jamia Millia Islamia University reacted first. Shaheen Bagh followed. The larger agenda of both NRC and CAA - controlling citizenship. After all, as Hannah Arendt said, "Citizenship is the right to have rights." And what we are seeing is the systematic disenfranchisement of Muslims and making them second class citizens. All of the essays lay out how the RSS and BJP keep things on boil at all times- NRC, Pakistani Jihadis, Kashmiri terrorists, Bangladeshi 'infiltrators", Ram temple, and always, Muslims. Ready to be poured gasoline on, and lit. And backed by a propaganda team - from Bollywood A-listers to sportspersons to media. All components of the fascism playbook, and the regime has the checklist - strong man, ideological army, Aryan superiority, dehumanising of the "internal enemy" and mob justice (113 deaths by mob violence since 2015 - The Quint), propaganda machine, the attacks on academia and assassinations when required, the coteries of businessmen and film stars. And the systematic takeover of democratic institutions, as the police get communalised, judiciary abdicate their duty, and the media just want to be lapdogs. Case in point -"Desh ke gaddaron ko, Goli maaro saalon ko", said Kapil Mishra, who is back in the streets after a very brief interlude. Meanwhile, Justice Muralidhar who was furious with the Delhi Police for not taking action against Mishra, got midnight orders to move to his new assignment in the Punjab High Court. The pandemic is an opportunity to set many things right. But it doesn't seem to be going in that direction. For instance, the early days saw vast populations being forced back to their villages and small towns just so they could have some dignity. A reminder of the days of partition - class being the driver instead of religion. There is a high likelihood that reading this book and reviewing it will soon be deemed anti-national. As a college lecturer pointed out to Arundhati Roy, among the items recovered from alleged couriers for the Maoists were books she had written. "They're laying a trail - building a case against you." Meanwhile, with plans for Nepal and Sri Lanka, the RSS seems to be seeking its version of the German Lebensraum (living space), which the Nazis used to formulate their Generalplan Ost policy - genocide, ethnic cleansing, and colonisation of Central and Eastern Europe . The world can pay heed now, or pay the price again for letting a fascist regime pursue its will. The voices in Kashmir and against NRC and CAA is the same - Azadi. And as Kanhaiya Kumar stated, not from India, but in India.

  24. 5 out of 5

    Stefanie

    I haven't read any of Roy's essays in what seems like ages and after reading this I am asking myself why? She is a brilliant writer and thinker, and she says the things people know but won't admit or are afraid to say out loud. This collection is mainly from talks she gave at lectures or awards, some are from articles she published in newspapers or magazines. One of the lectures talking about her fiction, she discusses why 20 years passed before she wrote another novel. She explained that she wa I haven't read any of Roy's essays in what seems like ages and after reading this I am asking myself why? She is a brilliant writer and thinker, and she says the things people know but won't admit or are afraid to say out loud. This collection is mainly from talks she gave at lectures or awards, some are from articles she published in newspapers or magazines. One of the lectures talking about her fiction, she discusses why 20 years passed before she wrote another novel. She explained that she was still telling stories, only they were a different kind of story that required a different kind of telling. But eventually she needed to tell a story--The Ministry of Utmost Happiness--that could only be told in fiction. A slim volume, it still packs a punch.

  25. 4 out of 5

    Manasvi Karanam

    It's difficult to give a rating to this collection of essays. The writing of course, is brilliant and has her signature style where political essays are also written as stories and are more literary than what we usually find in other works of non-fiction. However, if you follow Roy's work closely, most of the essays were either published in various newspapers in the past couple of years or the talks are available on YouTube. Also, you wouldn't get any new insights on Roy's political ideologies. I It's difficult to give a rating to this collection of essays. The writing of course, is brilliant and has her signature style where political essays are also written as stories and are more literary than what we usually find in other works of non-fiction. However, if you follow Roy's work closely, most of the essays were either published in various newspapers in the past couple of years or the talks are available on YouTube. Also, you wouldn't get any new insights on Roy's political ideologies. I loved the first essay "In which language does rain fall over tormented cities" where she shares what language really means to her. Personally, I can never get enough of Roy's writing and I enjoyed re-reading these essays.

  26. 4 out of 5

    Ravi Prakash

    I finished reading this almost fifteen days ago and I liked it. It's repetitive oftentimes, but there are some things that must be said repeatedly. I wanted to write a long review, but I couldn't get enough time. Overall, it's a good book on the present political affairs of India. Roy has written on Coronavirus also and that piece is worth of reading. Don't go to the negative reviews, they are mostly by the cult followers of Right wing ideology, and most of them in India, abhor Roy. I finished reading this almost fifteen days ago and I liked it. It's repetitive oftentimes, but there are some things that must be said repeatedly. I wanted to write a long review, but I couldn't get enough time. Overall, it's a good book on the present political affairs of India. Roy has written on Coronavirus also and that piece is worth of reading. Don't go to the negative reviews, they are mostly by the cult followers of Right wing ideology, and most of them in India, abhor Roy.

  27. 4 out of 5

    Murtaza Hasan

    Arundhati Roy's essay elucidates on the socio-political events of the recent past covering 2018 to 2020. Her writing makes you retrospect with you wondering about how you felt during the time and what your expectations were. She writes about the failure of BJP's national policies which had rattled their support in 2018 and how subsequently the attack on Pulwama was used as a political pawn to inject nationalism to a failing support base which paid great dividends politically in 2019. By the end of Arundhati Roy's essay elucidates on the socio-political events of the recent past covering 2018 to 2020. Her writing makes you retrospect with you wondering about how you felt during the time and what your expectations were. She writes about the failure of BJP's national policies which had rattled their support in 2018 and how subsequently the attack on Pulwama was used as a political pawn to inject nationalism to a failing support base which paid great dividends politically in 2019. By the end of 2019, the hyper-patriotic individuals calling anyone against the Government 'Anti National' were out on the open stage. The 100 year old dream of RSS, The mothership of BJP coming to fruition; Muslim minority being regressed to second class citizen with the introduction of CAA & NRC and Dalits being targeted for not being subservient to the caste system. Her last essay end on the state of affair that has been wrought with the poor implementation of a nationwide lockdown without consulting states and the havoc of a scenery we all saw in form of daily wage earners walking a thousand miles. There is a touch of fiction sprinkled here and there which adds to the charm. We must read and reflect on what has been happening around us and her essays do just that so that one day when India becomes unrecognizable you can always trace out the steps.

  28. 4 out of 5

    Kim Stallwood

    I can’t pretend to be an expert in Arundhati Roy. Or to be widely read in her work. I’m struggling to read her novels, The God of Small Things and The Ministry of Happiness. But there’s something about her political writings and her presence in interviews that I find compelling, provocative, and transformative. Azadi is a collection of her most recent political writings mostly about India but not exclusively. “And what of my country, my poor-rich country, India,” she writes in the essay ‘The Pan I can’t pretend to be an expert in Arundhati Roy. Or to be widely read in her work. I’m struggling to read her novels, The God of Small Things and The Ministry of Happiness. But there’s something about her political writings and her presence in interviews that I find compelling, provocative, and transformative. Azadi is a collection of her most recent political writings mostly about India but not exclusively. “And what of my country, my poor-rich country, India,” she writes in the essay ‘The Pandemic is a Portal’, “suspended somewhere between feudalism and religious fundamentalism, caste and capitalism, ruled by far-right Hindu nationalists?” Indeed, what of India a fascinating but terrifying country that Roy writes so profoundly about. “We can choose to walk through it [the pandemic portal], dragging the carcasses of our prejudice and hatred, our avarice, our data banks and dead ideas, our dead rivers and smoky skies behind us. Or we can walk through lightly, with little luggage, ready to imagine another world. And ready to fight for it.”

  29. 4 out of 5

    Abhay

    "In India today, a shadow world is creeping up on us in broad daylight. It is becoming more and more difficult to communicate the scale of the crisis even to ourselves—its size and changing shape, its depth and diversity. An accurate description runs the risk of sounding like hyperbole. And so, for the sake of credibility and good manners, we groom the creature that has sunk its teeth into us—we comb out its hair and wipe its dripping jaw to make it more personable in polite company. India isn’t "In India today, a shadow world is creeping up on us in broad daylight. It is becoming more and more difficult to communicate the scale of the crisis even to ourselves—its size and changing shape, its depth and diversity. An accurate description runs the risk of sounding like hyperbole. And so, for the sake of credibility and good manners, we groom the creature that has sunk its teeth into us—we comb out its hair and wipe its dripping jaw to make it more personable in polite company. India isn’t by any means the worst, or most dangerous, place in the world, at least not yet, but perhaps the divergence between what it could have been and what it has become makes it the most tragic." this really put the last two years in perspective for me. has essays about place of fiction in times of fascism, the CAA, NRC, Kashmir, hindu fundamentism and Covid-19 and how the govt has failed all of us. (there's spoilers for her fiction novels though, but that's mostly on me for not reading them yet considering they've been out for years)

  30. 5 out of 5

    Ishan Daya

    Really great primer on the movement of the BJP/RSS in India over the last few years // oppression of Indian Muslims, destabilization of the region through Hindu Nationalism / Fascism rhetoric // historical roots of the fight against the caste system, as well as on the ties of global fascism. Though this was compiled during the pandemic, a majority of the book is focused on how nationalism / fascism has taken rise, and less on the destabilizing effects of covid. Also a really great (brief) 101 hi Really great primer on the movement of the BJP/RSS in India over the last few years // oppression of Indian Muslims, destabilization of the region through Hindu Nationalism / Fascism rhetoric // historical roots of the fight against the caste system, as well as on the ties of global fascism. Though this was compiled during the pandemic, a majority of the book is focused on how nationalism / fascism has taken rise, and less on the destabilizing effects of covid. Also a really great (brief) 101 history lesson on Ambhedkar and his counter to Gandhi for folks unfamiliar.

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