Title: Walking with the Comrades
Author: Arundhati Roy
Release Date: October 25, 2011
Genre: Non-Fiction, History, South Asia
Rating: 4 out of 5
In this account, Booker Prize-winning author Arundhati Roy goes into the jungles with the Maoists of India. She discusses the secret war the Indian government is fighting against these citizens, exposes their plight, and discusses the corruption inherent within India’s system.
In Walking with the Comrades, Arundhati Roy discusses the corporations that want to strip mine India. It’s a debate that happens in any industrialized economy – the struggle between maintaining natural resources and using them to fuel growth. However, India faces an added problem: that of the native population that lives in these areas. Roy’s main issue is that these corporations are willing (and able) to commit genocide against these tribes in order to accomplish their goals. The government is standing by and letting it happen. The only ones fighting for these tribal people? The Communists.
Roy’s account is by no means unbiased. It’s clear from the beginning that she sides with the Maoists, and that she has multiple issues with the current Indian government that go beyond the scope of this book. But the Maoists need an advocate, someone to tell their story on an international scale, and Roy is the perfect person for that. She describes the war – “Operation Green Hunt” – that India is fighting against its own citizens. It’s barbaric and frightening that this is happening in a democracy.
It’s horrible, yet fascinating, how India has launched a disinformation campaign against the Maoists. They’ve convinced Indian citizens that these people are bloodthirsty rebels seeking vengeance and destruction. Roy, who spent time in the jungles with the Maoists, delivers a different story. She shows people who have no food, no basic medical care, no access to clean water, no education – desperate people who have nothing but what they’re fighting for. It’s completely heartbreaking, but also very eye opening.
Walking with the Comrades is a short book, but it packs a punch. It’s not always the easiest book to read, but Roy writes with beautiful prose about the plight facing these people. It’s a book that will provoke questions and debate, which is what it’s meant to do. If you’re at all interested in Indian issues, or problems facing countries that are rapidly industrializing, definitely seek out this book.