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Listening to Grass hoppers


By: Suba Subramaniam

Listening to grasshoppers - a book for one who would call a spade a spade . It also 'field' notes on democracy for the one who wants to know what’s happening.

Arundhati Roy’s indomitable spirit and quest for justice are reflected in her latest publication, 'Listening to Grass hoppers –field notes on democracy’. Listening to Grass hoppers is a collection of essays written in biting prose about the happenings in India’s underbelly.

The first episode that is spread out before the readers is the killings of Muslims in 2002 Gujarat riots. Roy talks about how progress and genocide have gone hand in hand through the ages. She traces the journey of Hindu Nationalism and economic reforms which were two combined forces in the early 1990’s, but today, they were slowly untangling themselves to go their separate and dangerous ways.

I am sure you remember the 2001 attack on the Indian Parliament that shocked the government and the people out of its wits – Roy moves on to write about the not so revealing investigations on the attack. At this juncture she talks about the dangers of a progressively powerful and entirely unaccountable judiciary; and about the collusion between large corporations, the government and the mainstream media.

To give you an idea of how she has used day to day trials and media in her writing here is an excerpt.

“News flash!

New Delhi, March 6: The Supreme Court on Wednesday sentenced Booker Prize winner Arundhati Roy to a one-day "symbolic imprisonment" and a fine of Rs 2,000 after convicting her on charges of contempt of court. The bench held that she had "scandalized and lowered the dignity" of the apex court”.

Roy in her essays accuses corporate India for its ravenousness and for its silence about human rights atrocities; she accuses the media for ignoring the crisis she sees unfolding in the country, and finally accuses the right-wing Hindus for channeling public anger into religious intolerance.

The collection of essays ends with an account of the August 2008 uprising in Kashmir and an analysis of the November 2008 attacks on Mumbai. 'The Briefing', that is added as an appendix, is an imaginary text that brings together many of the issues central to the collection.

Listening to Grasshoppers asks fundamental questions about the very fabric of democracy, the system of governance that has been considered 'the best available option'.

About The Author: Suzanna Arundhati Roy is an Indian writer and activist who won the Booker Prize in 1997 for her novel, The God of Small Things, and in 2002, the Lannan Cultural Freedom Prize. Roy is a well-known activist for social and economic justice. She was awarded the Sydney Peace Prize in May 2004 for her work in social campaigns and her advocacy of non-violence.

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