An Ordinary Person’s Guide to an Empire

An Ordinary Person’s Guide to an Empire is the work of famous writer Arundhati Roy in her known fearless, straight perfect pitch. She has discussed about how governments overlook the basic rights of poor people and how they mould their policies to benefit the richer ones. She has won the Booker Prize in 1997 for her novel, The God of Small Things, and in 2002, the Lannan Cultural Freedom Prize.

Big dams built to generate megawatt of electricity become a star in eyes of government but not for the people affected by its construction. Narmada Bachao Andolan (NBA) discussed deals with fate of people displaced due to dam’s construction on narmada river which ruined their lives due to government’s negligence. Cash for land has been always opposed by the farmers and yet remains famous among government policies despite huge opposition. Opposition to making huge land available for corporate to develop SEZ while denying land for rehabilitation of displaced is about NBA movement. NBA is not just about fight for rights, it is fight for ahimsa non-violent act over violent acts is portrayed beautifully to start with the book.

Who is an anti-national? A person who is against her nation by some or other means or a person who criticizes the government policies and brings out the truth out of them is to be termed. Is simply turning away the eyes makes someone patriotic? Arundhati Roy asks these questions to everybody and asks why governments instead of rectifying its policies, always try to curb the voices which criticizes it. Protocols and treaties deigned by rich nations are barely followed by them. Why? Kyoto protocol which deals with cutting carbon emissions is rarely implemented by any developed country while developing nations are pressurized to control their emissions. Why this dual nature?

Independent Palestine nation demand is being crushed by Israel for so long and yet U.S. government doesn’t seems to be interested in resolving the conflicts while it bombed the Iraq in the name of chemical weapons just to acquire the vast oil fields. Author raises its concern about dual policies of countries as they bomb the nation which acts like a nail in the couch while favoring countries which provides them means irrespective of what’s happening in that country. U.S. targeted Afghanistan to catch Osama-Bin-Laden and when it seems not possible, goalposts were changed to bring afghan feminine out of curtain and to topple taliban power. Does the subcontinent nations should also be bombed out to bring bigotry out? Author also asks whether in today’s language does war means peace? Whenever government can’t control the situations in a portion, the group creating menace is declared as terrorists and power is used against them without doing research what lead them to become this. In most cases it’s the outcome of ill policies and wrong decisions made by governments.

Arundhati Roy has greeted Noam Chomsky regularly by illustrating his writing and ideas. Noam has questioned U.S. government over various issues and continues to be a loyal criticizer. He questioned why U.S. should not be hated abroad where it had caused or helped the nations to ruin the lives of common man and who real enemy of freedom are. Author has raised several serious questions in this book which remains unanswered and don’t come in limelight. She has discussed is “war on terror” a reality practiced by America or it’s just a mask to show over America’s wrong ambitions. Indian government which talks about making India a super-power, giving food to poor, equality still believes in caste system and uses reservations as a mean to increase its vote bank. This world won’t become a peaceful place to live till the person in power will start regarding the poor as a person who also has rights to enjoy living on earth is message conveyed in the book.

Saurabh Agarwal

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An Ordinary Person’s Guide to an Empire