Critique Essay

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Arundhati Roy has dedicated her writing career to politics and social causes and is a vehement critic of neo-imperialism and globalization. Her essay, “How Deep Shall We Dig?” was published in a national Indian newspaper ‘The Hindu’ on 25 April, 2004 against the backdrop of the 14th General Lok Sabha Elections in India. In her essay she attempts to portray the harsh conditions prevalent in the entire India due to unjust laws and an increasingly fascist approach towards governance by the ruling parties and stresses upon the need to bring about a revolutionary change in the country. Roy presents her argument effectively with the use of sarcasm, irony and rhetorical questions complimented by a well supported and organized progression of ideas. However, her occasional arrogant tone and fallacious reasoning make the reader question the credibility of her case.

Roy links the violent situation of Kashmir to the entire Indian state by highlighting unjust laws, adverse impacts of privatization, violence in various states and insensitivity of the ruling parties. She presents strategies of resistance and civil disobedience as the only way forward to a radical change in the country.

Roy’s mastery over sarcasm and irony helps to depict the true picture of India’s stability and politics in the current era. Her use of sarcasm at various instances in the essay plays a pivotal role in helping the reader to identify the reality juxtaposed against the false picture of India presented by the government. For example, “Of course there is a difference between an overtly communal party with fascist leanings and an opportunistically communal party” (5) captivates the reader’s interest and helps to emphasize her point that there is no difference between the mandates of the two current ruling parties of India and neither will be successful in bringing a change to the country. Similarly in the line, “There'll be no more criminals then. Only terrorists. It's kind of neat.” (2), the writer effectively conveys her disapproval of the POTA (Prevention of Terrorism Act) through sarcasm and enlightens the reader with the devastating consequences that could take place by the integration of this Act into criminal law. Along with sarcasm, the author makes effective use of irony and refers to the oppressed as “gangsters” (1) and their killing by the police as “eliminated on orders” (1) in order to illuminate the reader about the reality of violence and ruthless killings taking place across the country. The use of words in quotation marks such as “free press” (3) and “Creating a Good Investment Climate” (3) highlight the various instances of irony used by Roy to criticize the misleading image presented by the ruling parties of democracy and privatization in the country. Efficient use of sarcasm and irony throughout the essay allow the reader to critically analyze the image of the ‘Shinning India’ presented in the international community and agree to the author’s point of view in this context.

Along with irony, the strategic placement of rhetorical questions through the course of the essay plays an essential role in the effective communication of the writer’s ideas and arguments. The topic ‘How deep shall we dig?’ itself is a manifestation of a rhetorical question put forward by the writer to make the reader reflect upon the stance taken by many Hindus over the Muslim invasion of the subcontinent, more than a millennium ago. With this single question the writer conveys the importance of the Muslim community to India and makes the reader analyze the oppressions faced by them in states like Kashmir and Gujarat. The clever placement of questions such as “So how can ordinary people counter the assault of an increasingly violent state?” (5) make the reader stop and reflect upon the arguments presented by the writer and unconsciously agree to them. Similarly the use of repetitive questions and epiphora during the discussion of fascism in the essay lay...