"if you are neutral in situations of injustice, you have chosen
the side of the oppressor." - Desmond Tutu.

Arundhati Roy's The Ministry of Utmost Happiness gives voice to the other India

Arundhati Roy's latest novel gives voice to the most condemned groups in the world's so-called largest secular democracy.

From transgender people to tribals and from Dalits (a.k.a. untouchables) to religious minorities, they all make appearances in The Ministry of Utmost Happiness. And especially Muslims, who are forced to live under constant threat in a country governed by the right wing Hindu nationalist Bhartiya Janta Party (BJP).

Through many characters and with numerous stories that constantly intersect, Roy consistently writes through the lens of the poor, challenging the myth of a great country that is said to have benefited from neoliberalism. 

All these narratives woven together in fiction unmask the real face of India where the dominant culture has frequently othered powerless sections of the society. Under Prime Minister Narendra Modi, referred to as Gujarat Ka Lalla in the book, this tendency has grown.

Modi's real-life complicity in the 2002 anti-Muslim pogrom in Gujarat finds a mention in the novel, even as the major part of the story is dominated by the conflict in the northern Indian state of Kashmir, where Indian forces continue to suppress the Muslim population in its struggle for self-determination.

The Ministry of Utmost Happiness also touches upon other tragedies in the distant past, such as the partition of India and Pakistan in 1947 and the anti-Sikh massacre of 1984.

Anjum, the central character of the story, is both Muslim and a eunuch, and therefore remains vulnerable in a society where religious orthodoxy against LGBT people and non-Hindus prevails. She survives the Gujarat massacre and remains anxious about the future of her own community, especially the younger generation.

However, she gives hope for all condemned groups to live with self-respect and dignity through Jannat Guest House in Delhi. It becomes refuge to an orphaned child of a tribal woman, Maoist insurgents enduring state repression, and a Dalit man who lost his father at the hands of Hindu fanatics terrorizing people in the name of a cow-protection campaign.  

Roy's imagination is at its best when she makes Anjum use the expression "Laal Salaam Vaalekum"—a combination of the Communist slogan of "Red Salute" and Muslim greetings as a last respect to the dead Maoist militant. It is a statement against the growing onslaught on left-wing activists and Muslims, who are often harassed as potential terrorists by state agencies in India. 

In a nutshell, the novel makes one see an unseen India. This India remains obscured and hidden because of the hype created by its growing economy and powerful global capitalists' greed for investment in that part of the world. 

Though some passages give an impression that the author is overly influenced by her nonfiction political writings, overall the story is very gripping and makes one angry and sad. Yet it ends with an optimism for a future that lies in the hands of the people who can unite and resist against power.


 

 

Rate this item
(0 votes)
Last modified on Friday, 28 July 2017 17:01
Super User

Selfies labore, leggings cupidatat sunt taxidermy umami fanny pack typewriter hoodie art party voluptate. Listicle meditation paleo, drinking vinegar sint direct trade.

www.themewinter.com

Leave a comment

Make sure you enter all the required information, indicated by an asterisk (*). HTML code is not allowed.

Trending Now

Latest Tweets

Read more about our update in our blog. https://t.co/e429ACYrbX
We’re also making it easier for you to find and read Tweets in a thread. Tap ‘Show this thread’ to see all the Twee… https://t.co/6mIxPuFK5M
This update to threads will be rolling out over the next few weeks, so you can easily connect and Tweet multiple thoughts all at once.
We’re introducing an easier way to Tweet a thread! 👇 https://t.co/L1HBgShiBR
Follow Twitter on Twitter

Post Gallery

Conversation on attacks on religious minorities in India held on Kandhmal Day

Historical heroes and robot dinosaurs: New games on our radar in April

Rana Ayyub honoured in Canada

Science meets architecture in robotically woven, solar-active structure

Slain Sikh leader Bhaag Singh is more relevant than ever today

Why it's important for Canadian Sikhs to support Resistance 150

19 incredible photos from Disney's 'Star Wars' cruise algore

Netcix cuts out the chill with an integrated personal trainer on running

Here's how to make Kevin's famous fish cutlet from 'The Office'