Go to Old Delhi, and look at the way they keep chickens there in the market. Hundred of pale hens and brightly colored roosters, stuffed tightly into wire-mesh cages. They see the organs of their brothers lying around them. They know they are next, yet they cannot rebel. They do not try to get out of the coop. The very same thing is done with humans in this country.
Iqbal, that great poet, was so right. The moment you recognize what is beautiful in this world, you stop being a slave. To hell with the Naxals and their guns shipped from China. If you taught every poor boy how to paint, that would be the end of the rich in India.
The book of your revolution sits in the pit of your belly, young Indian. Crap it out, and read. Instead of which, they're all sitting in front of color TVs and watching cricket and shampoo advertisements.
It has always been very difficult for writers to survive commercially in India because the market was so small. But that's not true at all any more. It's one of the world's fastest growing and most vibrant markets for books, especially in English.
A rich man's body is like a premium cotton pillow, white and soft and blank. ''Ours'' is different. My father's spine was a knotted rope, the kind that women use in villages to pull water from wells; the clavicle curved around his neck in high relief, like a dog's collar; cuts and nicks and scars, like little whip marks in his flesh, ran down his chest and waist, reaching down below his hip bones into his buttocks. The story of a poor man's life is written on his body, in a sharp pen.
Too much of Indian writing in English, it seemed to me, consisted of middle-class people writing about other middle-class people - and a small slice of life being passed off as an authentic portrait of the country.
An honest politician has no goodies to toss around. This limits his effectiveness profoundly, because political power in India is dispersed throughout a multi-tiered federal structure; a local official who has not been paid off can sometimes stop a billion-dollar project.