Mulk Raj: A legend in his lifetime

Mulk Raj Anand’s death brings to an end an era that was witness to an eventful encounter between an enterprising Britain and a stagnant and chaotic India, slowly opening its eyes in the dawn of freedom and democracy.

Anand’s autobiography, “Apology for Heroism” is a valuable aid to the understanding of his fiction, his indignant criticism of the deadwood of the hoary Indian traditions and the intuitive understanding of the Indian peasant-mind, his fervent socialist faith and his vision of a modern egalitarian society. His novels form a fictional chronicle in which his eclectic humanism and compassion for the suffering humanity are persistent themes.

The strength of his fiction lies in its vast range, its wealth of living characters, its ruthless realism, its deeply felt indignation at social wrongs, and its strong humanitarian compassion. His style is redolent of the Indian soil, as a result of his bold importation into English of words, phrases and proverbs drawn from his native Punjabi and Hindi.

His characters command dignity and have the courage to protect against religious sanctions, oppression, dogmas and inhuman prejudices. All this has made Mulk Raj Anand a legend, a phenomenon in his own life.





The editorial “Death of a social crusader” (Sept 29) rightly states that most works of Mulk Raj Anand have been consigned to the oblivion. If his works are not popular with today’s generation, it is not because of any shortcomings but due to the changing mood of the readers.

Mulk Raj Anand’s contribution to literature and arts is unique. He rose from the dust and reached lyrical brilliance as a novelist, short story writer and art critic. Coming from a poor family, he had high aspirations. When he was to go to England for higher study, poet Iqbal gave him Rs 500 to enable him to buy a ticket. Keeping one foot in India’s freedom movement, he fought with the Republicans in the Spanish Civil War.

In all his works, he projected the earthy Indian character and exposed the social humbug of society with his sharp insight into the human mind.

V.P. MEHTA, Chandigarh

Double standards

The editorial ‘Left’s duplicity’ (Sept 23) rightly exposes the double standards adopted by Leftists with respect to West Bengal on the one hand and the UPA government on the other. Their opposition to foreign experts (of Indian origin!) in the Planning Commission committees in the name of national sovereignty is all the more laughable. The very philosophy and ideology to which the Left professes its commitment is itself an imported one, ill-suited to the ethos of this nation.

In West Bengal, their government closed down 16 public sector units after accepting the recommendations of McKinsey’s report, but their leadership raised a hue and cry on the issue of disinvestment and FDI at the national level.

The vituperative “bark and bite” language used by the likes of Sitaram Yechury does not auger well for the image and efficiency of the UPA government.


Area of darkness?

Looking out of my window very recently, I saw a squatter doing his morning business in the adjacent plot. It brought to my mind the book I had read in the late 60s by Sir V. S. Naipul called the “Area of darkness”. Yes he alludes to no less than our fair country. He has given a very simple suggestion to carry a Khurpa and cover up the mess to save it from the flies and people stepping on it. Any takers to spread this education? I am too old myself.


Trees to the rescue

Trees are very effective in combating global warming. One single tree can remove about a tonne of carbon dioxide from the air during its lifetime. Some large industrial companies, aware of their public image, are major sponsors of tree-plantation programmes.

An American electric power company has recently purchased a jungle in Bolivia with a view to eliminating 58 millions tonnes of carbon dioxide over the next 30 years. The US government is also looking into ways of creating a carbon trading system, whereby companies that plant trees will earn credits which they can then ‘sell’ to companies that continue to pollute the atmosphere, boasting their profits in the process.


Grand Trauma Road

On Oct 4, 2004, the Executive Director of Arpana Charity, a trustee, a volunteer and a trusted driver died in an accident on the Grand Trunk Road near Sonepat. The highway should be renamed the Grand Trauma Road. This busy dual carriageway has very mixed traffic, being used by animals, pedestrians, cyclists, rickshaws, cattle-driven vehicles, tractors, trucks and fast moving cars. There is no discipline amongst its users.

Serious accidents and fatalities happen not only daily but hourly. It is not the first time that my charity has lost its key workers in such a senseless slaughter. Through you, I ask the state governments of Haryana and Punjab, the Central Government, the highways authorities and the traffic police what they intend to do to stop this wanton carnage.

I would like to specifically ask the authorities concerned as to how we can improve the driving conditions and discipline on this highway.

Dr RAGHU GAIND, Chairman, The Arpana, 7, Acacia Road, London (UK)


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