Mr. Deb correctly observes that it is the same social layer--upper-caste, Hindu, middle- and upper-class--that reaps most of the spoils of Indian democracy, whether these are filtered through the state or through capital. What he fails to point out is that every single one of the critics whose work he recommends, Pankaj Mishra, Suketu Mehta, Arundhati Roy, and Amitava Kumar, are also upper-caste, Hindu, middle- and upper-class, as is Mr. Deb himself.
Gandhi's Hind Swaraj was written and published in Gujarati, and was banned by the British soon after it was published. Gandhi then published a translation in English, which was not banned for the simple reason that the British knew that they faced no threat from the Anglicized Indians. The English press, and the opinions and concerns of the Anglicized Indians, including those of critics like Siddhartha Deb, Pankaj Mishra, Suketu Mehta, Arundhati Roy and Amitava Kumar, are no more relevant to the rest of India than they were almost a century ago when Gandhi published Hind Swaraj.
Nov 24 2007 - 4:49pm