Friday, 16 November 2012

Critique on “How Deep Shall We Dig?”

Nationalism is a political doctrine that involves a strong identification of a group of individuals with a political entity defined in national terms, i.e. a nation. Nationalism goes hand in hand with democracy as democracy takes into account the opinion of the whole nation rather than an individual. Neo-Liberalism, on the other hand, advocates change on a global scale. It promotes self-centeredness and individualism, which is against the ideology of democracy and nationalism as Noam Chomsky, said “The very design of neoliberal principles is a direct attack on democracy.” (“Quotes About Neoliberalism (3 Quotes).”). Arundhati Roy’s “How deep shall we dig?”, published in The Hindu on 25th April 2004, is an essay on a country (India) that is caught in the cross-currents of neo-liberalism and Hindu nationalism. The article is directed towards the whole Indian society, particularly the lower classes of society. The purpose of the article is to urge the poor and the minorities, i.e. the most affected by the dual assault of communal fascism and neo-liberalism, to take the lead in opposing the growing influence of Empire in India. Although the article is coherent, well structured, uses various literary tools and makes valid points regarding the inhumane nature of POTA and AFSPA and the inappropriateness of elections as a solution to India’s problems, however, the article does not effectively persuade the reader as it has a complex sentence structure with a lot of learned words, lacks citation of statistics, is overly critical concerning privatization of State Owned industries and economic growth and gives unrealistic and general solutions. “How deep shall we dig” is written by the author to highlight the problems faced by Indians due to various government policies and to urge the most affected to stand up to these problems. The intended audience for the article is the whole Indian society, particularly the lower classes. The author starts the article by comparing India with Kashmir in terms of uncertainty and chaos, as scores of civilians are killed and tortured and their treatment is justified by labeling them as terrorists. India is facing the cross currents of neo liberalism and neo fascism. Although, economists are celebrating India’s exceptional economic growth, grave problems such as starvation and malnutrition exist throughout the country. In order to counter the violent State, the author suggests developing the courage to dream, uniting all non-violent resistance movements across the country under a common cause, urgently discussing strategies of resistance, redefining the meaning of politics and creating a shadow parliament. Change is inevitable, it depends on the people whether they want it to be sanguinary or peaceful. In this article, Miss Roy uses the point by point style of development for her article. The author starts by comparing and contrasting Kashmir with India and then goes on to give several points explaining the problems and in the final part of the article, solutions for these problems are given. As the article is published in a national newspaper, clarity is crucial and this style of development is appropriate for this article as it makes the arguments clear and easy to identify. The author has mentioned various problems, transitioning from problem to problem throughout the article. The article is split into several paragraphs and each paragraph has a controlling idea. Each problem has been divided into more than one paragraph, with each paragraph highlighting a unique aspect of the same problem. For instance, Paragraph 7 and 8 are about Prevention of Terrorism Act, however, Paragraph 7 discusses the effects of POTA while Paragraph 8 is a description of the author’s personal experience while being a member of a people’s tribunal on POTA. The author has managed to link unconnected events and problem to the central theme of the article. The author has used various transitional devices throughout the article, such as “Juxtaposed” (Paragraph 12), “Meanwhile” (Paragraph 13) to ensure a smooth flow. In conclusion, the author has succeeded in maintaining unity and coherence throughout the text. In the article, the author has used various literary tools to convey her meaning more effectively. The author has used rhetorical questions in Paragraph 22 and Paragraph 24 to create a dramatic effect. Some metaphors are used in the article e.g. “It’s a poisonous ‘brew’ which is stirred and simmered and put to the most ugly, destructive, political purpose” (Paragraph 2), to explain the meaning of the author more clearly. The author has used sarcasm e.g. “It would be naive to imagine POTA is being ‘misused’.” (Paragraph 9).In the article, comparison is used by the author e.g. she compares the situation of Kashmir with the whole of India in Paragraph 1 and 2, and she compares the food absorption level of India to hat of Sub-Saharan Africa in Paragraph 14. The use of all these literary devices makes the meaning of the author clearer and helps in attracting the attention of the reader. The author has written the article in a formal tone, using a lot of learned words such as “osmotic”, “inchoate” (Paragraph 1), “schism” (Paragraph 2), “proclivity”, “draconian”, “ubiquitous” (Paragraph 7), “dictum” (Paragraph 9), “Juxtaposed” (Paragraph 12), “connivance” (Paragraph 20), “atrophied”(Paragraph 34), “semblance” (Paragraph 46), etc. The usage of advanced vocabulary is inappropriate for this article as it makes it difficult for the target audience (i.e. the common man) to understand the article completely. This renders the article ineffective in conveying the complete message of the author to the target audience. The author should have written the article in popular tone, i.e. use lesser complex words such as “tendency” instead of “proclivity” (Paragraph 7) and “declined” instead of “atrophied” (Paragraph 34) In addition, the article contains a considerable amount of complex sentences. For example, Paragraph 1,6,7,8 and 9 contain long and complex sentences, which is inappropriate for the purpose of this article as its intended audience is the whole Indian society. The author could have divided the longer, complex sentences into shorter, simpler sentences so that the reader can understand them easily. The author has embedded several facts into the article to support her points but has failed to provide sources for these statistics. For instance in paragraph 13, the author claims that 63 million tonnes of grain was allowed to be rotted by the government and 12 million tonnes of grain was exported at a subsidised price. In paragraph 14, the author states that 47 percent of India’s children below three suffer from malnutrition. In order to substantiate these claims the source of such information needs to be identified by the author and only after evaluating the source can the information be deemed credible. The author has failed to cite the source which makes the statistics included in the article unreliable. In her article Arundhati Roy declares Prevention of Terrorism Act as “draconian and ubiquitous” (Paragraph 7) and also criticizes the Armed Forces Special Powers Act (Paragraph 10 and 11). Under the POTA “you cannot get bail until you are proven innocent” (Paragraph 9), which is opposite to the dictum of criminal law and is against basic human rights .POTA can be applied to almost anyone from an Al-Qaeda operative to an innocent ordinary man. If a law has such a bound spectrum of application it is bound to be misused such as POTA has been used by Indian authorities to specifically target Muslims as mentioned by the author in Paragraph 7 and has resulted in the torture and killings of several people. Armed Forces Special Powers Act is another harsh ordinance which allows army personnel to use force on anyone they suspect of disturbing public order. Similar to POTA, AFSPA has also produced negative results. Both POTA and AFSPA are ordinances which over extend the powers of the law enforcing authorities. The negative results of such ordinances are not only limited to India only. There have been several instances in the recent history of the world where excess power has resulted in injustice. This claimed is substantiated by analyzing the actions of United States of America in the aftermath of the 9/11 Washington bombings. They used their position as a global super power to invade Iraq and Afghanistan, which resulted in the loss of countless innocent lives. Thus, ordinances such as POTA and AFSPA are unjust and harsh. The author argues in Paragraph 41 “Personally, I don't believe that entering the electoral fray is a path to alternative politics...................because I believe that strategically battles must be waged from positions of strength, not weakness.” The reader is inclined to agree with the author’s argument as elections are dependent and are influenced by various factors such as the fairness of the controlling body, the vote bank registered, etc. In addition, elections are a long term process and cannot bring immediate results. It can be established by studying world history change came as a result of revolution rather than elections. For example, both the French and American Revolution (two of the most significant revolutions in world history) were brought about by violence and protests rather than elections. In the article, the author states “Meanwhile, economists cheering from the pages of corporate newspapers inform us that the GDP growth rate is phenomenal, unprecedented. Shops are overflowing with consumer goods.............Outside this circle of light, farmers steeped in debt are committing suicide in their hundreds. Reports of starvation and malnutrition come in from across the country” (Paragraph 13). The reader is inclined to believe that author is trying to imply that the growth in GDP has not benefited the poor. Such an assumption holds in the short run only. GDP is Gross Domestic Product and an increase in GDP would mean an increase in output which is a result of increased employment meaning there has been an increase in National Income. The effect of GDP growth can be seen in the long run. The span of long run will be determined by the efficiency of the State machinery but the positive effects of a high GDP growth rate will gradually surface. In addition, the author criticizes massive privatisation of state owned industries. She refers to the process of privatization as a “secessionist movement” (Paragraph 16). The author argues that “It's the kind of secession in which public infrastructure, productive public assets ...................are sold by the state to private corporations...............To snatch these away and sell them as stock to private companies is beginning to result in dispossession and impoverishment on a barbaric scale” (Paragraph 17). The reader is inclined to think that the author means to imply that privatization is disastrous for the country. The author has only highlighted the negative aspect of privatization. Privatization can be highly beneficial for a country as it results in the industries functioning more efficiently due to profit motive of the private sector. In addition the author says “India Pvt. Ltd. is on its way to being owned by a few corporations and of course major multinationals. The CEOs of these companies will control this country....................but will owe nothing to its people” (Paragraph 18).This claim is inaccurate as the author fails to provide any evidence to substantiate her claim. On the contrary if the private sector is owned by a few firms the size of these firms would be large and they would be able to achieve Economies of Scale and thus be more competitive in the international market resulting in greater exports for India. Thus, privatization is not only negative but it also has positive aspects and can greatly benefit India. The author has provided unrealistic solutions to the problem. The author suggests joining the grass root resistance movements under a single cause in paragraph 46.These movements would have different causes and involve people with different beliefs and backgrounds. This solution is unrealistic as it is near to impossible to unite these movements that are scattered throughout the country in a short span of time. Also, the author suggests creation of a Shadow Parliament. The creation of such a body is difficult as the existing parliament would not be willing to give up their powers and as they are the controllers of the State, they would not create a new parliament that could over ride the existing one. Miss Arundhati Roy, the author has written the article in a coherent, well structured manner. She has used various literary tools to make the article more interesting for the reader. In the article, she makes valid points regarding the inhumane nature of Prevention Of Terrorism Act and Armed Forces Special Powers Act and the inappropriateness of elections as a solution to India’s problems. However, the article contains several flaws. It has a complex sentence structure with a lot of learned words. The author has failed to cite the sources of the statistics she has used in the article. In addition, the author is overly critical concerning privatization of State Owned industries and economic growth and gives unrealistic and general solutions. In conclusion, Miss Roy’s article “How deep shall we dig” has failed to achieve her purpose effectively.   Work Cited “Quotes About Neoliberalism (3 Quotes)." Web. 08 Dec. 2011. .

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