NEW DELHI – On Saturday, renowned author and public intellectual Arundhati Roy addressed a women’s convention, where she criticized the Sangh Parivar for its intricate understanding of the caste system and its alleged efforts to perpetuate it. Speaking at a conference organized by the All India Progressive Women’s Association (AIPWA), Roy highlighted the divisive tactics employed by the government to emphasize “one country, one election, one vote, one language, one religion,” asserting that these tactics pit various communities against each other, not only Hindus and Muslims.
Quoting former Chinese leader Mao Zedong, who once said, “A single spark can start a prairie fire,” Roy pointed out that Indian society is more like a maze than a prairie, making it challenging for sparks of change to ignite. She argued that the caste system serves as this intricate maze, with the Sangh Parivar understanding its complex dynamics better than political parties that practice caste politics. According to Roy, the Sangh Parivar exploits this understanding to perpetuate the caste system.
Arundhati Roy has been a vocal critic of Hindutva, and her comments come in the wake of RSS chief Mohan Bhagwat’s recent speech in Nagpur, where he spoke against the caste system and supported the continuation of reservations. This shift in the RSS’s stance on reservations marked a departure from its earlier position calling for a review of reservation policies.
Roy’s remarks also follow Tamil Nadu minister Udhayanidhi Stalin’s call for the eradication of traditional forms of Hinduism based on caste, which the BJP has used to label the Opposition INDIA bloc as “anti-Hindu.”
Roy emphasized the prevalence of backward castes among the Muslim population, stating that many adopted Islam to escape the oppression of the caste system. However, she argued that these individuals are now being stigmatized and threatened, which she viewed as a grave injustice.
In her concluding remarks, Roy called for unity among different groups to confront these challenges. She noted that there is no alternative but to come together and resist the divisive forces at play in Indian society.
During its two-day conference, the AIPWA is expected to pass resolutions addressing various issues, including the immediate implementation of women’s reservation in legislatures, action against BJP parliamentarian Brij Bhushan Sharan Singh, who faces charges of sexual harassment, and justice for women affected by sexual assault and violence in Manipur. The conference is set to plan agitations related to several social and legal issues, such as inter-faith marriages, same-sex marriage, marital rape, the hijab ban in Karnataka, and the opposition to a uniform civil code. Large delegations from Bihar, Jharkhand, Bengal, and Tamil Nadu attended the conference.