While walking through the isles of a city library in England, I found myself staring at a name that sounded very familiar. I guess living in foreign countries for a long time does this to you, every time you see a brown person, or hear something in Hindi, or see an Indian name, you stop for a fraction of a second.
Arundhati Roy was the name I found myself staring at. My hand as if out of my control, just rose on its own and grabbed the book: Capitalism, a ghost story.
Her left leaning thoughts and communist background already gives a lot as to how the book would end up; the evil Ambani, Adani or Tata, Birla! However, as soon as I saw the table of contents, my mind raced through a bevy of questions. The table of contents looked like this:
What has Kashmir to do with Capitalism (Chapter 4 of the Book)? Perhaps, she would be talking about the time after article 370 and 35A were abrogated in 2019. Because with these articles in place Ambani, Adani or Tata, Birla or anyone else for that matter couldn’t have done anything, literally they couldn’t have moved a stone on their own. Could they? So it would make a lot of sense to hold evil capitalism accountable for the misery of Kashmir at least 2019 onwards.
Having said that, the book was actually written and published in April of 2014. Before the evil fascist, dictator Modi took over the crown, let alone abrogation of 3170/35A. Moreover, what does saint Afzal Guru have to do with Capitalism(Chapter 6 of the Book)? Now it became even more interesting for me.
With these questions in my, and hoping to get some good answers to these questions I wasted no time, found a peaceful corner in the library and started reading.
The book started exactly as I had expected, bashing Mukesh Ambani in an artistic way; “Pay respect to our new Ruler” while standing in front of Antilla on Altamount Road in Mumbai and wondering “Is it a house or a home?” In no time the author touched upon the prevailing corruption and scams, Spectrum, 2G, 3G, Coal, Mining etc. The book ended exactly as one would assume, with typical communist demands like no privatization for natural resources and essential infrastructure or more interesting that children of rich cannot inherit their parent’s wealth. I guess the author used corrupt government and big corporations interchangeably or thinks they are the same. But this is a topic for a different post. I don’t wish to get carried away from my original intent. What do the issues in Kashmir have to do with Capitalism?
So I kept on reading, the author then moved on to Anna Hazare in Chapter 2 and then to Maoists in Chapter 3. Till this point, the text was still in line with Capitalism, big corporations and corrupt government (by the way the corrupt government is Indian National Congress, its important to mention the time frame, the book was published before the evil BJP came to power and changed everything).
And then came Chapter 4, Kashmir’s fruits of Discord. I was eagerly waiting for this, as it was the sole reason why I was reading the book in the first place. Turning pages, one by one, I read the various “facts” about Kashmir that she came to know after her visit to various places in Kashmir like Shopian and after talking to the locals there. I read about the atrocities Army and Military had caused in Kashmir; human rights violation; how police removed fingernails from all the fingers for somebody; how many innocent teenagers were arrested, killed and wounded; I read about the street protests that occurred back to back in 2008, 2009 and 2010, stone pelting, the curfews and the complete lockdowns including discontinued internet services. I thought Curfew and discontinued internet services in 2019 for several months was for the first time and of course for the longest time. Its good that I read Ms. Roy’s book. I came to know that with more than 500,000 Indian Army soldiers Kashmir was the most highly militarized zone in the world. And in no time, the chapter ended.
However, where was the link to Capitalism? I thought may be in the next chapters. Chapter 5 and Chapter 6 were dedicated to saint Afzal Guru. How the Judicial process was flawed; How his execution was illegal; how his family was deprived of their rights; what were the technical errors in the legal process; who said what during the trial; how did LK Advani know 2001 parliament attack was orchestrated by Pakistanis?; there was a mention of Gujrat Pogrom; and so on and so forth. There was indeed a lot mentioned and referred to. But why? Where is the link to Capitalism? The book is titled “Capitalism A Ghost Story”. It is roughly a 100 page book and out of which more than 50 pages are dedicated to Kashmir and Afzal Guru (3 complete chapters). Why not make the name that reflects that it would be talking about Kashmir and terrorism?
This is the subtle art of propaganda : keep mentioning bits and pieces of your own narrative in a subtle way everywhere till the time it reaches the subconscious level of the consumer with the consumer being completely unaware of the fact that they are being fed with a propaganda. I chose the book only because I wanted to know about what the author thinks about Capitalism and Kashmir Period. I was not at all interested in her views on Kashmir and Afzal Guru or her interactions with Local Kashmiris. Even the people who are not inclined towards politics will by default form an opinion on Kashmir and Afzal Guru after reading this book on Capitalism. And those are the people who were shocked and shattered after watching the movie The Kashmir Files. Now, you can imagine why a big section in India even though apolitical, neutral, rational and well read have some biases and prejudices for or against something in similar issues. Not only a big section in India, but even a larger International community has a prejudice against Kashmir.
The book does not give any, I mean literally any insight into Capitalism. But it definitely gives a lot of fabricated information on Kashmir. It makes sure the readers who when hear about Kashmir, react with their
Make a movie, a brilliant one, just add a few things, make a Pandit a villain, a Dalit or a Muslim a victim or Rahim chacha a saint that helps everyone. It need not be a movie or a book, it could be an advertisement, an essay or anything, you have to drop a hint of your narrative again and again and again. You don’t have to write a complete blog or a write a 100 page book or make a movie to flush your narrative down the audience’s throat; just a tiny capsule a day will reap all the benefits and much more than you ask for.
Major Gaurav Arya keeps asking this question on TV why do Pakistan and some other countries think that half a million Indian soldiers are patrolling a teeny tiny Kashmir Valley. He should ask Authors like Arundhati Roy, why?
To be frank, Arundhati Roy is not the only author who is doing things like this, its just that I happened to find one of her books the other week and wrote this blog. There are many other so called intellectuals doing to same.