Listening to Arundhati Roy’s grasshoppers

One may have a lot to quibble about Arundhati Roy’s political views, but there’s no escaping her power as a writer. What is democracy without dissent? What’s writing without some flair?

I recently re-read Roy’s “Listening to Grasshoppers”. It is opinion-based writing of a powerful sort.

Readers of Arundhati Roy’s “Listening to Grasshoppers, Field Notes on Democracy” should not be tricked by the book’s rather idyllic title – and subtitle, both smartly dressed in an Eliotesque smokescreen. Just as T.S. Eliot’s “The Love Song of J. Alfred Prufrock” is not a love song but a critical appraisal of spiritually exhausted people in a compassionless, impersonal modern mega-city, Roy’s Grasshoppers’ is not a sylvan song of pastoral pleasures but a mournful dirge on the ruthlessness of our system.

The “grasshoppers” are not happily singing hymns. Neither are the “fields” particularly lush.

Well, it goes like this. The largest democracy is now at best pretending to be one. Emptied of its meaning, its core is a crater now. Sucked dry by corruption, it is a dead horse that is still being flogged for that last lap of the race. It is now a seedy dungeon, a demon-crazy, where interests of rich and poor must clash, where aspirations must be crushed and where fragile estuarine ecologies must be made available on a platter for Free Market to devour.

Irreverent, as always, Roy achieves the near impossibility of giving us a view of ‘life after democracy’ and an India that is not what it is made out to be.

Aided by her sharp prose and nose, the book rings alarm bells from start to finish. It will deepen an appreciation of Roy’s rebellion for those who are convinced. Those who aren’t may end up being at odds with her even more but will be at least prompted to introspect. Hopefully.

If Roy is so alarmed by the state of affairs, then something must be wrong – either about the system or about her. Regardless of whether we agree or not, the conviction with which she writes should tempt us into a deeper probe of what ails India’s democracy.

She flags off some usual concerns over how a Rightist Hindu nationalism, neo-liberalism and Centrist-by-day and Rightist-by-night Indian National Congress are hurtling India towards an apocalypse.

The basic grain of Roy’s ideology, the fountainhead of many of her concerns, is simple and fairly well-known. Privatisation and globalisation seek to engage politics with the market. This blunts the very last weapon that democratic citizens have – their vote. It is this absence of the poor from negotiations that decide their fate that is at heart of Roy’s rebellion.

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  • Arshed Gulshan

    If you can work ship the unknown by giving it some name, then there is nothing wrong in workshipping cow.


  • Faulitics

    Roy’s grasshoppers is not actually a view of the future of India but more like a view of Roy’s fantasy about the destruction of India. Looks like Zia also shares that fantasy. This country will survive both of these worthies and their perverse fantasy about the destruction of the land which gave them all they have now.


  • Anonymous

    What is democracy without dissent?—– Say that to tasleema to rushdie


  • Anonymous

    How cleverly has Zia skipped Hyderabad blast? He is one of those people who support Islamic terror ideologically.


    Phati Chuddy Reply:

    The blasts in Hyderabad were engineered by the Congress to threaten states ruled by other political parties; they were a threat to them so that thy must fall in line and support NCTC. Resultantly, Mamata Banerjee has agreed; Narender Modi and Jayalalitha would be obliged to agree next. Moreover, Kiran Kumar Reddy is facing internal trouble; his bete noire Jagan too is notorious for exploding such crackers – like father, lke son. and then every blast is an open invitation to the Sangh Parivarist police to arrest and torture educated and well-placed muslim youth, in order to demoralize and demonize them.


  • Munir

    The fact is that socialism and Marxism did take India towards apocalypse. There are not signs that a fusion of socialism and capitalism will. It is her opinion based on her political and ideological inclination. She does not provide any factual concrete evidence to support her point.


  • Narendra modi

    This Zeehadi harmajada in disguise Zia haq’s favorite one line from lunatic Arndhati Roy’s prose is her mention of Hindu fanaticism. This is for which Zia , a taleban supporter who never bothered that 2 % Hindus in Paksitan are the story of worst human sufferings of rape, state sponsored terrorism to convert them to Isalm and thier women raped and converted. These does nor affect this Zehadi Harami who is never thought why since partion of Hindu majority India nd Isalmic Paksitan for which Zia’ ancestor voted 86% Muslim voted for Paksitan. Why the majority hindus should tolerate any Musslaman harami like Zia. He should go back to Paksitan liek all the Hindus were kicked out from paksitan to India. It is high time these traitors who are hell bent to destroy Hindu majority India should be identified and taught a lesson. I hope 2014 will bring Mr.Modi as PM and BJP in power and we then re-strat a dialouge for 1) EXCHANGE OF POPULATION WITH PAKISTANI HINDUS AND SIKHS, 2) DEPORTATION OF ALL ILLEGAL BANGLADESHI AND PAKISTANI MUSLIM AND UNIFORM CIVIL CODE.AND LASTLY IDENTIFY A TERROR MO9DULE OF ISLAMIC TERROR AND IT’S SYMPATHISER LIKE ZIA HAQ AND ARUNDHATI ROY.



    Zia and Roy are concerned about rightists but Muslims continue to massacre civilians in bomb blasts all over India. What about decimation of native Pandits from Kashmir? Are rightists or Muslims responsible for that?



    Democracy is the most comfortable and convenient vehicle for MUSLIMS to ride on for their DESTINATION of AN I5LAMIC STATE. with SHARIA. In a democracy they can breed like pigs to gain control by sheer numbers.


  • butter

    arundhati ka paaltu katua.


  • raj

    ok, the current system is bad. is there any alternative or corrective measures to fix the system, by these liberal lights ? we know what socialism & license raj has made us. what happend to nehurian utopia promised ?


  • srinivas

    Agree of this ,for the argument,sake what is the option. Do we go to the 24X7 hartal culture ,militant trade unionism that ruined the lifes of millions of indians. Support Naxals in preventing development. Give solutions dont preach ,if we want we can go to a Muth than reading such books


  • TheJoker

    ya, and Hindus of Pakistan, Bangladesh, Kashmir valley, Afghanistan get subsidies for trip to Kaillash Mansarovar.

    Hindus also rule the Karachi film industry like the Khans do in India. Hindu was also captain of Pakistani cricket team for many years.
    Hindus have their own pakistan govt funded Vidyalayas that are famous for teaching the Facist Vedas to Hindu kids and making Hindu Saffron Terrorists out of them,
    Hindus of POK have wiped out Kashmiri Sufi muslims from Kashmir Valley of Pakistan.

    Pakistan is bleeding because of AK 47 Carrying Hindus spreading terror, in that area.

    Hindus also get scholarship and free higher education in Pakistan like muslims of Andhra pradesh and UP get here in India.

    Hindus are always fighting with each other in India-.Brahmins killing thakurs killing Banias killing OBCs Killing SC-STs and vice versa et al.

    While SHIA-SUNNIS, wahaabbi -Sufis, Barelvis-Salafis, AShrafs-Aljafs-Arzals are showering each other WITH LOVE IN PAKISTAN.

    Hindus do terror attacks across pakistan.

    Recently 9 Hindu Saffron terrorists had carried out a terror attack in Karachi by randomly shooting 190 people and destroying 3 hotels and also killing a PARSEE family in Karachi’s Parsee house and the whole operation was being carried out by remote control from Famous international terrorist Praveen Togadia n party….including RAW.

    Hindu Dons rule Karachi’s underworld and film industry, the king of karachi’s underworld is SHri Dawoodesh Ibrahmin, a pundit who carried out the serial blasts of karachi and killed 700 innocent people to retaliate against muslims who had destroyed a Hindu temple in Islamyodhya(holy city of Pakistan and birthplace of Popat MohMAD ( that temple was built by Hindu Invader king Ram by destroying Islam’s most holy mosque in town of Islamyodhya, birthplace of popet MohMAD).

    1200 years of Hindu rule had destroyed lakhs of mosques inside pakistan, and converted/killed millions of innocent non-violent muslims forcibly to Hinduism.

    In 1947, fascist Hindus wiped out Non-violent muslims from India, while population of Hindus has never stopped increasing inside Pakistan since Independence due to overbreeding by Hindus and constant illegal infiltration of Hindu Indians into pakistan through the porous Punjab, Rajasthan Border.

    Even today Hindus inside India are abducting beautiful, young muslim girls and forcibly converting them into Hinduism and marrying them.

    Young Muslim boys are being converted LIVE in TV studios of India.

    Hindus inside India riot regularly against peaceful non-violent muslims, especially after Tuesday prayers in Temples, where the PUROHIT (priest) provokes Hindus to go and attack Muslim Adharmis…..

    this is because

    MUSLIM’s Holy Book Quran teaches Secularism and Love for all religions, while Hindu Holy books teach hatred and Violence against All Non-hindus and asks Hindus to establish RAAM RAJYA all over the world by hook or by crook.

    And all this while selfish corrupt muslim politicians of pakistan continue to Pamper Hindus for Hindu Vote-bank.

    Hindus have also doing terror attacks in NYC(9/11 was done by Hindus with Mossad and CIA help and total plan was hatched by Praveen Togadia), London bombings(british hindus trained in the terror camps of Badrinath, kedarnath in uttarakhand), Madrid bombings, Hindus also kiled Theodore vanGogh because he made an anti-hindu film, the hindus stabbed him to death in broad daylight in AMsterdam, Hindus also plotted to blow up the Danish Newspaper office in Copenhagen; the plot was hatched by Sahvi pragya, becoz the danish newspaper had published cartoons of Lord SHiva, hindus are terrorizing the world from Morocco to Libya to Egypt to Somalia (Al-saffron gang), to Algeria, Mali, Nigeria(Boko Paap Gang), Ethiopia, Kenya, Tanzania, Israel, Syria, Jordan, Lebanon, Iraq, Turkey, Bosnia, Serbia, Kosovo, ALbania, Dagestan, Chechnya, Moscow bombings, Uzbekistan, Xinjiang-China, Pakistan, Afghanistan(whole mountain range is called Muslim-Kush=Muslim $LAUGHTER), Pakistan, Bangladesh, kashmir valley(hindus have made 600,000 innocent muslims refugees in their own land), North Kerala, Arakan-burma(hindu rohingyas fighting with Buddhists there), SOuth Thailand, Indonesia(Bali bombing was done by Hindus), SOuth Phillipines(Abu-Saffron Terror Gang) etc…..all over the world Hindus are a menace.

    So u see, Hindus are very bad!! Muslims are very SEcular, Non-violent and SAD.
    Islam Zindabaad, Sanaatan Dharma Murdabaad.

    Note: popet MohMad learned Secularism, NON-VIolence and strict Vegetarianism from the JAINS of Saudi arabia…an extremely fanatically NON-VIOLENT people, who do not engage in Violence even when self defense is necessary….they prefer to die rathar then retaliate. thats why ISLAM is SO peaceful.



    Raj Reply:

    Dude, I just loved your post. Pl send it to Arundhati Roy. She needs some serious help!


  • Raghavendra

    Mr Zia haq you dont feel MUSLIM fanaticism hurt INDIA? who created PAKISTAN? that was not created by RSS or BJP. you people do all dirty things and blame RSS for all your sins?


  • Anon

    May be u agree with her point or not. That is not the issue we need to think ryt now. We need to introspect certain things. First of all, all the corruption that we see has a corporate hand in it right from 2g scam,coal scam etc are all related with politicians and corporates. Walmart has openly mentioned they ve lobbied for 125 or some crores for getting things wid india. So v need to think now. Is the money going to the ryt ppl? the divide between the rich n poor is increasing. You myt argue poverty line is decreasing but wen CMs and some ministers come out and talk about providing 600rs per month is sufficient for a family or 32rs/day is sufficient, u can decide the way in which v define poverty in our country.Obviously, the poverty number would decline. I do accept the middle class has come up but the rich poor divide is increasing.

    Besides that you can see many issues in the forests where corporates are trying to get the land displacing ppl not giving proper compensation. had v been living in a house n asked to vacate it since an industry is coming without good compensation,then v wud know the pain better..

    Thirdly, Its not about hindus or muslims. Whether she has a soft corner for a community or minority is secondary, Had there been a massacre by TERRORIST on hindus u need to target them and not the innocent ppl. Godhra riots is unpardonable. Though hindus were killed, a democratically elected state cannot promote or support it. Not even has he ever apologised for it. targeting some comunity coz they were the socalled enemies doesnt support ur cause. Both sides lost life and the state administration has to take responsibility which badly failed. Cant just name it MOB atack.

    BTW,Kashmir,manipur,etc have afspa.and if the army or policemen doesnt like u,he can jail u immediately and brand u as terrorist.There are unmarked graves. If u r in a state surrounded by police who actually dont have ryts at all.freedom at all. u ve seen children dying for no reason of theirs.and NOW u say u r in a democracy with free press and stop airing reports of afzal guru s death, and ban all newspaper publishing abt it or saying anything. WHERE IS DEMOCRACY HERE? when the Killer of PM is still in jail serving life sentence,why is there a hurry to kill afzal guru when a state(which is already tired of the military power) is doubtful if he was framed by the police or actually the terrorist.?Therez seriously some conspiracy.If he was really the terrorist no doubt he shud be treated the way he was,if he was an innocent person then he doesnt deserve this. when a state burns bcoz of his death,something needs to be done, like reopen the case n try to solve it.but they want the state to burn again

    FYI,I read that book.. I dont agree evry thing she says.. But therez always something to introspect.It raises doubts. Both the major parties have had their own corruption charges and looting,riots and everything. Its better v need to start finding solutions and look ahead of using our ryts.v r not a perfect democracy. v all know that.Wen FB comments can take u to jail.. so pls think and just dont deny and consider the things v live in is the best. Politicians n corporates are loting us daily in one scam or the other


  • serious

    Mushawarat writes to President about murder and threat to
    Mewatis by Mathura Police

    All India Muslim Majlis-e-Mushawarat / The Milli Gazette Online

    Published Online: Feb 27, 2013

    New Delhi, 27 February 2013: President of the All
    India Muslim Majlis-e Mushawarat, the umbrella body of India Muslim
    organisations and eminent personalities, Dr Zafarul-Islam Khan wrote today to
    the President of India, Prime Minister, Union Home Minister, chairmen of the
    National Human Rights and National Minorities commissions, U.P. chief minister
    and others about glaring Police lawlessness in Mathura where Mewati Muslims have
    been killed in fake encounters and threatened that they will be killed if they
    ventured into Mathura. AIMMM president took cognisance of a
    report published in yesterday’s Inquilab Urdu daily which is
    translated below.

    The AIMMM president has asked the President and
    other responsible leaders of the Union and U.P. state governments to take action
    against this lawlessness by people in uniform. Following is the full text of the
    letter and a translation of the Inquilab

    27 February 2013

    Shri Pranab Mukerjee

    Hon’ble President of India

    New Delhi

    Respected Sir,

    I am writing to you with a heavy heart. This is
    not an overstatement in the backdrop of the free-for-all race to kidnap, arrest,
    kill, incarcerate for years without trial, torture in secret safe houses, police
    stations and even inside jails. This rush to persecute and criminalize the
    Muslim community, especially the Muslim youth, has been going on since at least
    2001 when the BJP was in power and has continued unabated under the Congress
    rule at the Centre. Police, Intelligence, Special Cell, ATS, STF and umpteen
    other open and secret agencies are going about their unending persecution game
    as if there is no constitution or law or judiciary in the country. The latest
    blind arrests in Hyderabad and beyond are staring us in our disbelieving eyes at
    this point of time.

    Direct and unprovoked police attack on the Muslim
    community has been widely reported in recent years. Cases of Hashimpura &
    Maliana (22 May 1987), Beemmapalli (17 May 2009), Forbesganj (3 June 2011),
    Moradabad (6 July 2011), Gopalgarh (14 September 2011), Rudrapur (2 October
    2011) and more recently Dhule (6 January 2013) are only some glaring examples
    known to all but apart from lip service, nothing concrete has been done to stop
    and detoxify this menace of an utterly communalized and biased force.

    The immediate provocation that made me write this
    letter is a news item in a respectable Urdu newspaper which shows how our police
    has become an unbridled beast, killing innocents at will and behaving as if it
    is law unto itself. I am afraid this menace will not stop with the Muslim
    community. Instead, a day will come when no one’s life and honour will be safe
    in our country at the hands of these beasts in uniform. I have got this report
    translated in full for your convenience. The same is attached herewith alongwith
    the original Urdu report.

    The S.P. Mathura referred to in the report is
    Pradeep Yadav and Advocate Sher Muhammad referred to in the report may be
    contacted at 09812006792.

    Kindly take whatever action is possible under law
    at your end.

    Yours sincerely,

    Dr Zafarul-Islam Khan



    [Umbrella body of the Indian Muslim

    D-250, Abul Fazal Enclave, Jamia Nagar, New
    Delhi-110025 India

    Tel.: 011-26946780 Fax:

    Email: Web:

    “If anyone of you comes to Mathura, his
    fate will be similar to that of Shabbir”

    By Farzan Qureshi

    New Delhi: “Government has given us the licence
    to kill people. If any Mewati came to Mathura, he too will be killed”.

    Sarpanch Mumtaz Ali of Rethat village of Mewat
    district said this quoting Mathura Police. The background of this warning by
    Mathura Police is that at about 10 p.m. on 20 February, two real brothers, both
    truck drivers living in Rethat village of Mewat district, were driving their
    truck towards Mathura. On their way, they stopped at Chaudhari dhaba
    for taking their dinner. After dinner, the younger brother Shabbir went to
    the toilet. On his return, a police officer stopped him and questioned him. When
    he told his name and the district he came from, the police officer took him
    along and subsequently shot him dead. Police claimed that he was killed in a
    “encounter” while people of his village say that he was killed in a fake
    encounter. Sarpanch Mumtaz Ali accused that on 23 February the Mathura police
    had threatened us in front of all members of the Panchayet that “government has
    given us the licence to kill people and if anyone of you came to Mathura he too
    will meet the same fate as that of Shabbir”. The police officer also said that
    “so far I have killed 16 persons”.

    Mumtaz Ali further said that police did not
    register any FIR even five days after Shabbir’s murder, neither handed over his
    dead body to us nor allowed us to bury his body nor gave us his medical report”.
    He added that (in the absence of these things) on what ground can we file a
    case. He added that villagers are not much educated people and hence police
    keeps frightening and threatening them every now and then. He said that if we
    get his dead body, we would have got post-mortem done and initiate some action.
    He further said that Mewat’s S.P. has told Mathura police not to give Shabbir’s
    dead body to these people, otherwise they will sit on a dharna and
    indulge in disturbances. Mumtaz Ali alleged that when we went to the Mathura
    Police for taking Shabbir’s dead body, policemen told us that the S.P. very much
    hates the people of Mewat, so it is better if you do not meet him. Policemen
    even told us that you people are very lucky that we showed you Shabbir’s dead
    body, otherwise we do not show the dead bodies of persons whom we kill.

    Mumtaz Ali said that Mathura police has so far
    killed five-six youths of Mewat and after killing them they either burn them or
    bury them instead of giving the bodies to anyone. He also revealed that before
    actually murdering Shabbir, one grave was already dug and kept ready in Mathura
    city two days prior to the murder. This proves that police had deliberately
    killed Shabbir in an encounter. Mumtaz said, while describing the conditions in
    Shabbir’s house and village, that there is mourning in his house and his mother,
    wife and two daughters are totally broken down. A wave of fear prevails in the
    village and no one is taking care of us.

    Meanwhile, reacting to the police claim openly
    that government has given them the licence to kill, advocate Sher Muhammad said
    that we are trying to gather proofs and witnesses for filing a case in the High
    Court. He added that this was a fake encounter and even if police has got the
    post-mortem done, it will be according to its own liking. He said that we were
    not allowed to bury Shabbir’s dead body. Instead, the police buried it on its
    own and did not even allow his mother and wife to look at it.

    Inquilab Urdu daily, Delhi, 26 Feb 2013 [Translated from


    Clipping of report in Urdu:

    blog comments
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  • Javed

    the things Ms Roy wants to sell us aggressively in disguise – anarchy, communism, forever rebelling etc have all practically flopped big time – and have few misguided takers.

    So Roy’s understanding & grasp of this subject matter is dubious.

    Okay lets park her erudite prose & all that. Lets cut the **** & come to the point.

    Having read her book – what have you written about it. You have just made some fence-sitter analysis of it really. You have not swung one way or another. You are one of few people who read the book and were not moved to do something – not even write forget about doing something.

    That is the problem with Ms Roy – she fantasizes of change the course of world history through her cryptic misguided writing. And when pointed out she is really this failure she will take shelter in her bubble of “intellectualism”

    The brutal fact is that she is irrelevant, she doesn’t matter to a modern india and she will fade away unnoticed. Even her admirers dont have the courage to go beyong BAU parise her prose – praise her thoughts etc

    She herself has to blame – for true visionaries who have shaped this world – did it naturally – they didnt do it for intellectual brownie points – they did shocking things because they passionately believed in something. Ms Roy is artificial intellectual – she wants to feed her ego. The fodder is her writing. She is blessed with good english but doesnt know what to do with it apart from fulfilling narcissist orgies

    It sounds strange but through her cryptic irrational writing she has adulterous wild fcuk with her ego


  • Sukh Virk

    oh please


  • Sukh Virk

    you’re all full of hot air