Sunday January 15, 2006
SAHITYA AKADEMI AWARD
Arundhati Roy rejects honour
at the World Tribunal on Iraq, Istanbul, June 26 2005
New Delhi, uni:
Celebrated writer Arundhati Roy on Saturday refused to accept the prestigious Sahitya Akademi Award in protest against the Indian Government toeing the US line by “violently and ruthlessly pursuing policies of brutalisation of industrial workers, increasing militarisation and economic neo-liberalisation”.
The jury of Sahitya Akademi last week chose her book, The Algebra of Infinite Justice, a collection of political essays, for the 2005 literary award.
“I have a great deal of respect for the Sahitya Akademi, for the members of this year's Jury and for many of the writers who have received these awards in the past. But to register my protest and reaffirm my disagreement indeed my absolute disgust with these policies of the Indian Government, I must refuse to accept the 2005 Sahtiya Akademi Award”, Arundhati said in a statement here.
“These essays written between 1998 and 2001 are deeply critical of some of the major policies of the Indian State”, she said. The main area of her disgreement included the government policies of constructing big dams, pursuing nuclear weapons, increasing militarisation and economic liberalisation.
Even today this government “shows a continuing commitment to these polices and is clearly prepared to implement them ruthlessly and violently,” whatever the cost, she said.
Further she noted that in the last few months, apart from the growing number of farmers' suicide and the forcible eviction of people from their lands, the country had witnessed the police brutalisation of industrial workers in Gurgaon, killing 12 protesting against a dam in Manipur and the killing of another dozen people protesting their displacement by a steel plant in Orissa.
“Even as we call ourselves a democracy, Indian security forces control and administer Kashmir, Manipur and Nagaland and the numbers of the dead and disappeared continue to mount”, she said.
The Algebra of Infinite Justice is also critical of US foreign policy, particularly in the aftermath of the September 11, 2001, attacks in New York and Washington.
“This present government, too, has seen it fit to declare itself an ally of the US, thereby condoning the American invasion of Afghanistan and the illegal occupation of Iraq, which, under the Nuremburg principles, constitutes the supreme crime of a war of agression”, Arundhati added.