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Indian middle class leading a selfish life: Aruna Roy

By Sabi Hussain in New Delhi
April 02, 2008 14:33 IST
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She felt disempowered by the 'selfish' and 'worthless' ways of India's burgeoning urban middle class. It were the rural and urban poor, who taught her the true meaning of life.

Unlike the upwardly mobile upper middle class, the much neglected Indian backward class which struggles for a daily living knows better how to lead an enriched and harmonious life, believes Magsaysay awardee and eminent RTI activist Aruna Roy.

"India is today running on two different tracks followed by the backward class and the middle class. The former made me understood how to make your life better enriched and harmonised, while the latter only taught me how to make life worthless and selfish," Roy told PTI.

"India's backward class, which has always been neglected and considered as socially irrelevant has empowered me and taught me how to struggle in life, while the middle class disempowered me with its urbanised thoughts," she adds.

Roy, who is known as one of the pioneer figures to have advocated that RTI and NREGA be made a law, reiterated her view that women in India have always been subjudicated and urged the government to immediately bring in the "Women's Reservation Bill".

"In our country, women have always been devoid of rights. All political parties should make a consensus to pass the 'Women's Reservation Bill' in the parliament so as to strengthen women power and to redefine democracy in India," she says.

She also added that society needs to change its perspective on women, which is still under the grip of gender discrimination and considers woman as a liability.

Roy has recently been conferred with National 'Panna Dhai Award' by Maharana Mewar Charitable Foundation for her noted efforts as a social activist.

Roy, who left elite job of IAS in 1974 to join the Social Work and Research Center in Tilonia, Rajasthan, set up by her husband Sanjit Roy strongly, opposes government's policy in dealing with the Naxal violence.

"Naxal violence is not one, which we have imported from some other country but it is home made. It is all due to government's failure, not been able to make developments reach out to the people," she says adding that failure in enforcing law and order also added fuel to extremist violence.

Roy also lashes out on the government's SEZ policies, which she considers totally unacceptable.

"Our SEZ policy is totally wrong, which needs to be reviewed. Government should convene an all party meeting and reconsider evils of this act," she says.

"Corporate houses want SEZ zones, which is totally unacceptable and against democracy. Orissa, Chattisgarh and Nandigram had earlier witnessed violence on the issue and now even the people of Goa have set aside SEZs," she adds.

Roy these days is actively working in Rajasmund district of Rajasthan with the rural poors.

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Sabi Hussain in New Delhi
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