: Writer Arundhati Roy on Friday observed, citing various instances including the Spectrum scam, that the institutions of democracy had all been hollowed out. If India was a real democracy, would people approach the Maoists for justice, she asked.

She was speaking at a media conference held in connection with the International Book Fair organised by DC Books here.

To a question on women's rights, Ms. Roy said feminist politics in India had become an NGO activity, with them raising certain issues for which they received funding. “I am not saying that those issues aren't important, but it is something that suits the NGOs,” she said, adding that women's issues were not only those related to sexual assault.

“There are hundreds of thousands of women in the Narmada valley and Chhattisgarh losing their rights. About 90,000 women working for the Krantikari Adivasi Mahila Sangathan can be wiped out by the Government of India any moment. These women are actively linked to issues of politics and displacement and for me, these are feminist issues,” she said.

Asked about the caste divide within Maoists, she said in India everything was breaking down to identity struggle. “We all know that caste is the engine that drives Indian society. But the Marxists and the Maoists have not been able to grapple with it,” she said.

Ms. Roy said most successful writers today had nothing to do with the terrible reality of our time. “All they want is to win prizes, make money and become famous. They move from festival to festival. If you call yourself a writer, the journey is to find an identity.

“It's a writer's duty to record the injustice and think more ways of addressing it. Writing, for me, is not an expression of whimsical individuality as in the West. We need to think of communities and collectives,” she said.