As the most populous democracy in the world, India has been gaining attention and accolades in the West for quite some time due to its “progress.” Much is made of the rise of the business community there, with celebration from those with a lot to gain and heartbreak from those with nothing left to lose. India is truly a land of contrast clutched in both dreadful poverty and tremendous wealth, so it stands to reason that what lurks beneath the glittering surface of Bollywood and Mumbai is a dark mechanism of politics and shattered democracy that will stop at nothing to keep the process moving at all costs.
Arundhati Roy, in her blistering new book Field Notes on Democracy: Listening to Grasshoppers, sheds light on that very dark mechanism of democracy in India.
The book is a collection of essays holding on to the common thread of “life after democracy.” Roy wonders what has happened to democracy and whether India actually does know true democracy. She rails against the government’s demonic thirst for short-term, immediate gain at the expense of human rights and rallies against the cruel justice meted out in the courts.
There are many similarities between the blossoming India and the exploding China. Both countries are gripped with governments hellbent on arranging a system that works best for business and leaves the rest in the dust. Stability is the name of the game and much, if not everything, is to be sacrificed in the name of development.
Roy, the Booker Prize-winning author of the brilliant The God of Small Things, tears into each issue with awesome precision. Hers is an attack that leaves no stone unturned, blasting through the media spin and government doublespeak to draw out the truth about the deep wounds development and Western influence have cut into the skin of her country.