Indian Culture, Politics

Why don’t some people like Arundhati Roy?

Her sweeping generalization and oversimplification of the problems.  Here is a link to her interview with democracy now.

In her review of the recent conflict against Naxalits, She begun her narrative just before the MNCs started showing interest in the natural resources of the conflict region. She says MNC came in the region and start displacing local people. Local people are resisting this. So, Government is labeling them Maoist. This will give government an excuse to suppress the resistance with the military force. Her analysis strongly suggests a direct causal connection between MNC activities and the rise of Maoist resistance. Therefore, Globalization is bad. She didn’t mention the whole history of Moist resistance in India, which is a key point to understand the conflict. I guess not every problem is straight away reducible to ‘Globalization’.

This makes some people accuse her misrepresenting the reality. Sadly, I have to agree with them. Even though, I agree with general framework of her thought.


Justice or Civil War!!

The large game of geo-politics is hard to understand. When you listen long and hard enough, you start grasping the essence of arguments said all over the sources. The discourse over terrorism is like this.

Today, state powers all over the world fighting with terrorists. States attacks them with extreme brutality.  Such as recently, Sri Lanka wiped out LTTE, while killing 20000 people, allegedly. Israel tried to destroy Hamas in January, while killing 1300 people. You see two kinds of response of such state brutality.

First, the cheer leading response of destruction of terrorist organization. The cheer leaders celebrate end of an era of barbarism. They say now it is a new start. Lets finish off all the rest of them and we will live happily ever after.

Second, the angry response against the way in which these brutal anti-terror operations are conducted. The angry ones argue that terrorism doesn’t exist in the thin air. Its source lies in the injustice done against some people at some point of time by the state. Slowly, it fed anger in the  oppressed people and a terrorist organization was born. Terror groups do horrible atrocities on innocent people. No injustice can be justification of another injustice. So, these terrorist organizations need some dogmatic ideology from which they can draw moral justification of their terrorist acts. Islamic fundamentalism is one of those ideologies. When these terrorist groups become large enough, all one see is the epic fight between the ideologies of state and terrorists. Each one of them hiding behind their own moral justifications. The angry people say deliver justice instead of killing people. The terrorist problem will disappear. As Arundhati says, “Justice or Civil War!!”

The cheer leading group responds with the amazement of the naivety of above argument. They say, ” Do you mean we should not kill  these horrible criminals. Let them walk around and deliberately kill  our innocent civilians. Do you think these people are demanding some kind of justice?”

The members of cheer leading group are not lapdogs of the  state. They also say, ” Yes! injustice has been done in the past by the state but these terrorists have nothing to do with those injustice. They are driven by the dogmatic ideology such as Islamic fundamentalism. They want to impose those ideologies on you. Don’t be naive. Let the state first kill these terrorists then we will deal with the justice.”

Meanwhile, state powers keep killing 1000s of civilians in the process of killing bunch of terrorists.

Indian Culture

Call centers in India

But, you know, the thing is that it’s a good example of what’s going on. The call center is surely creating jobs for a whole lot of people in India. But it comes as part of a package, and that package, while it gives sort of an English-speaking middle or lower middle class young person a job for a while, they can never last, because it’s such a hard job. It actually is also part of the corporate culture, which is taking away land and resources and water from millions of rural people. But you’re giving the more vocal and the better off anyway — the people who speak even a little bit of English are the better off among the millions of people in India. So, to give these people jobs, you’re taking away the livelihoods of millions of others, and this is what globalization does.

-Arundhati Roy on Call Centres of India in this interview

I guess she touched this issue quite superficially. She missed quite more deep problems about the effects of call centers.

India is a huge country. It can be developed as a self sustaining economy. We can’t be a service country. A service economy can be conceivable for small sized countries. For example, economy of swiss mainly depends on baking services and tourism. I feel that service is highly unstable model for big countries like India. It has to develop base infrastructure to run itself. For that, We need a whole range of industry. So, we need people with skills to run this industry.

Call centers are producing a large number of jobs. These jobs are done by semi skilled workers. Recruits for these jabs are fresh grads to retired people without pension. These jobs are attracting a mass of youth who wants to start making money as soon as possible. Mostly this army of young people have migrated from smaller cities of India. They come to big cities for college studies but soon they end up doing call center jobs to raise money for themselves. The evolving culture among them is very characteristic. Most part of their income goes in buying fashion needs. For example, They buy best model of Mobile phone. They buy hottest brand of shirts. They make enough money to support this kind of life but they don’t have enough money to build long term infrastructure for their family.

On the other side, they don’t learn any complicated useful skills by doing call center jobs. This creates a mass of semi skilled people who don’t want to gain any complicated skills which needs study and a difficult job profile. This chunk of youth in future will not be able to support progress of country in stable direction. Many of them are actually studying skill creating courses along with their jobs, but this desire to spend time in understanding the content of their subject goes down as they start making money with call center jobs. They also observe that even if they put effort to be skilled, they will see not much rise in their pay slip. This scenario destroys any motivation of learning complicated skills.

I am an engineer and i know many engineers. I have found that India is producing a large number of engineers. Most of them have no desire to learn engineering. This is not a new thing . It was the case even before the call center culture. Now, it is getting worse. Many engineers are passing out without writing a single word of program. They just want a enough paying job. It might be a good approach for an individual but as a country we are producing a large mass of skill tagged but unskilled youth.

Somehow and someway we have to break this cycle?