You Should Be Reading Arundhati Roy’s Essay, Find Why?

The Opinion |The Opinion| Image Credits- The Indian Express
The Opinion |The Opinion| Image Credits- The Indian Express

Arundhati Roy, famous as the Booker Prize-winning author of the God of Small Things, with her powerful books and essays, has given India the true picture of what we call dissent. Roy’s recent fiction book “The ministry of utmost happiness” has brought the everlasting critiques of socialization culture within our society with other genders and castes of civil society.

Roy’s essay “The end of imagination” is the most critically analysed, scanned, and scrutinized tale of the event held in May 1998 at Pokhran. Roy’s essay is the detailed narrative of the test of a nuclear weapon conducted at Pokhran. She fetches the basic fundamental needs and wants of the people in her essay, which the government has ignored in light of gaining political action and power to call itself the power and developing country. Where the government has blatantly ignored the education, nutrition, shelter, poverty of 400 million people, Roy’s essay has come up with some of the vital and crucial questions with the government in her essay.

If only, if the only nuclear war was just another kind of war. If only it was about

the usual things – nations and territories, gods and histories. If only those of us

who dread it are worthless moral cowards who are not prepared to die in defence

of our beliefs. If only nuclear war was the kind of war in which countries battle

countries and men battle men. But it isn’t. If there is a nuclear war, our foes will

not be China or America or even each other. Our foe will be the earth herself.

Our cities and forests, our fields and villages will burn for days. Rivers will turn

to poison. The air will become fire. The wind will spread the flames. When

everything there is to burn has burned and the fires die, smoke will rise and shut

out the sun. The earth will be enveloped in darkness. There will be no day – only

interminable night.

What shall we do then, those of us who are still alive? Burned and blind and

bald and ill, carrying the cancerous carcasses of our children in our arms, where

shall we go? What shall we eat? What shall we drink? What shall we breathe?

The Head of the Health, Environment and Safety Group of the Bhabha Atomic

The Research Center in Bombay has a plan. He declared that India could survive

a nuclear war. His advice is that in the event of nuclear war we take the same safety

measures like the ones that scientists have recommended in the event of accidents

at nuclear plants.

Take iodine pills, he suggests. And other steps such as remaining indoors,

consuming only stored water and food and avoiding milk. Infants should be

given powdered milk. ‘People in the danger zone should immediately go to the

ground floor and if possible to the basement.’

What do you do with these levels of lunacy? What do you do if you’re trapped

in an asylum and the doctors are all dangerously deranged?

Roy’s essay completely unmasks the government needs of power may it be any country in the world. There are no countries in the world, where people wanted war and massacre of their life. They only want peace and harmony with a subject to the development and progress of the nation, but not at the cost of innocent deaths and massacring of innocent women and children’s lives. she in her essay writes

In any case who’s the ‘you’ and who’s the ‘enemy’? Both are only

governments. Governments change. They wear masks within masks. They molt

and re-invent themselves all the time. The one we have at the moment, for

instance, does not even have enough seats to last a full term in office, but

demands that we trust it to do pirouettes and party tricks with nuclear bombs

even as it scrabbles around for a foothold to maintain a simple majority in


Roy is arguing with very far-sighted consequences, the nations of the world will suffer when weapon creations will be justified to save the boundaries and territories of the nation, and then there will be a market which will sell ammunition, powerful chemical weapons to justify the policy of international relations and foreign policy amongst the countries. The irony will be the ignorance of the interest of the common citizens. And then our planet will bristle with beautiful missiles. There will be a new world order. The dictatorship and their hypocritical policies to establish the fact, saving the nation with war but only for peace.

Roy gives the credit for the creation of this horrific fear and traumatized policy of waging war to build its economy to the United States of America. She quotes in her essay

But let us pause to give credit where it’s due. Who must we thank for all this?

The men who made it happen. The Masters of the Universe. Ladies and

gentlemen, the United States of America! Come on up here folks, stand up and

take a bow. Thank you for doing this to the world. Thank you for making a

difference. Thank you for showing us the way. Thank you for altering the very

meaning of life.

From now on it is not dying we must fear, but living.

All I can say to every man, woman and sentient child in India, and over there,

just a little way away in Pakistan, is: take it personally. Whoever you are –

Hindu, Muslim, urban, agrarian – it doesn’t matter. The only good thing about

nuclear war is that it is the single most egalitarian idea that man has ever had. On

the day of reckoning, you will not be asked to present your credentials. The

devastation will be indiscriminate. The bomb isn’t in your backyard. It’s in your

body. And mine. Nobody, no nation, no government, no man, no god has the right

to put it there. We’re radioactive already, and the war hasn’t even begun. So stand

up and say something. Never mind if it’s been said before. Speak up on your own

behalf. Take it very personally.

When the test was successful the news channels and the newspapers said it loud and clear the phenomenal job was done in the history of India to add one more strongest pillar to safeguarding its defence system was the nuclear bomb. Even some went repeatedly calling this as ” They are nationalism tests, not just nuclear “. Roy quotes this situation in her essay as

This has been hammered home, over and over again. The bomb is India. India

is the bomb. Not just India, Hindu India. Therefore, be warned, any criticism of

it is not just anti-national but anti-Hindu. (Of course in Pakistan the bomb is

Islamic. Other than that, politically, the same physics applies.) This is one of the

unexpected perks of having a nuclear bomb. Not only can the government use it

to threaten the Enemy, they can use it to declare war on their own people. Us.

When I told my friends that I was writing this piece, they cautioned me. ‘Go

ahead,’ they said, ‘but first make sure you’re not vulnerable. Make sure your

papers are in order. Make sure your taxes are paid.’ My papers are in order. My taxes are paid. But how can one not be vulnerable

in a climate like this? Everyone is vulnerable. Accidents happen. There’s safety

only in acquiescence. As I write, I am filled with foreboding. In this country, I

have truly known what it means for a writer to feel loved (and, to some degree,

hated too). Last year I was one of the items being paraded in the media’s end-ofthe-

year National Pride Parade. Among the others, much to my mortification,

were a bomb-maker and an international beauty queen. Each time a beaming

person stopped me on the street and said ‘You have made India proud’ (referring

to the prize I won, not the book I wrote), I felt a little uneasy. It frightened me

then and it terrifies me now, because I know how easily that swell, that tide of

emotion, can turn against me. Perhaps the time for that has come. I’m going to

step out from under the fairy lights and say what’s on my mind.

It’s this:

If protesting against having a nuclear bomb implanted in my brain is anti-

Hindu and anti-national, then I secede. I hereby declare myself an independent,

mobile republic. I am a citizen of the earth. I own no territory. I have no flag. I’m

female but have nothing against eunuchs. My policies are simple. I’m willing to

sign any nuclear non-proliferation treaty or nuclear test ban treaty that’s going.

Immigrants are welcome. You can help me design our flag. My world has died.

And I write to mourn its passing.

India’s nuclear tests, the manner in which they were conducted, the euphoria

with which they have been greeted (by us) is indefensible. To me, it signifies

dreadful things. The end of imagination.

Terming Politics and taking the political gain.

Roy opens up in her essay saying the major steps taken in the functioning of government in India was the need for politics and its later form the political gain. She in her essay critically put forward the immediate need of the political class which triggered two major political steps of devastation in the country. The nuclear bomb and the demolition of the Babri Masjid in Ayodhya. She explains the whole theory of the use of power and politics. Is this why it becomes an important essay to be read?

“The nuclear bomb is the most anti-democratic, anti-national, anti-human,

outright evil thing that man has ever made. If you are religious, then remember

that this bomb is Man’s challenge to God. It’s worded quite simply: We have the

power to destroy everything that You have created. If you’re not religious, then

look at it this way. This world of ours is four billion, six hundred million years


It could end in an afternoon,” says Roy in her essay.

(Views expressed are strictly personal of the author)


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