Indian writing goes global

HARSH DESAI has very rightly observed in “Indian writing goes global” (Spectrum, Aug 19) that after Independence, it has been an eventful journey for Indian literature. Indian literature in English and in the vernacular languages has indeed become a separate identity, distinguished from the general run-of-the-mill novels of the West. Despite multiple identities, there is an all-pervasive sense of Indianness, that is ever present

From Khushwant Singh’s Train to Pakistan to Vikram Seth’s magnum opus A Suitable Boy, that is an unmatched portrait of India, the transformation of novelist into a social historian was complete. Nobel Laureate V.S Naipaul’s A House For Mr Biswas, perhaps the most authentic portrayal of Indian attitudes and customs, and lately, Kiran Desai’s Inheritance of Loss saw Indian writers asserting a plural identity to define themselves neither by birth nor by ethnicity.

Allan Sealey’s The Trotternama and Rohinton Mistry’s Such a Long Journey comes across as a chronicle of the grand family saga presented in the form of a historical novel. Amitav Ghosh’s Circle of Reason and Arundhati Roy’s The God of Small Things is the sublimation of fact and fiction. While Ruskin Bond’s stories are set amidst the mists and mellow magic of mountains and forests of the Terai region, R.K. Narayan immortalised the fictionalised town of Malgudi — a world of simplicity and innocence.

GAURAV JULKA, Ferozepore


March of Islam

Past Perfect, Future Tense” by Khushwant Singh (Aug 4, Saturday Extra) was thought-provoking. Religions are passing phases in the eternal life of mankind. They do not change the genetics of the adherents except for cosmetic terminal phenomenon. Cultural, economic, ethnic and geopolitical factors play a significant role in shaping the human mind. To view the era of Muslim rule from seventh century as a heap of injustice and tyranny, is fallacious. After all, Julius Caesar, Alexander, Genghis Khan, Halaku, Darius and other rulers were not Muslims.

Inhabiting the Afro-Asian landmass, south of the Mediterranean Sea, the Arabs, throughout history, have been victims of European aggression and colonisation from North of the sea. Islam (7th century) the youngest of the three Semitic religions — after Judaism and Christianity — is deemed to be the intellectual reaction of the Arabs to the Graeco-Roman civilisation of Europe. It galvanised the Arab fraternity into a cohesive, social and political entity. Earlier, the turbulent pagan Arab tribes of the desert used to be bribed and armed by the warring empires of Byzantine and Persia to plunder each others’ territory.

Once unified under the banner of Islam, they were transformed into a most powerful war-machine under the command of Khalid-bin-Walid, the best general of the Islamic world.

S.S. BENIWAL, Chandigarh

Mumbai riots

In his “Crime and punishment” (Saturday Extra, Aug 11), Khushwant Singh has tried to provide justification for Mumbai riots by linking them with the Babri Masjid incident. If this game of setting off one crime against another goes on, there will be no end to the tit-for-tat game.

In an orderly society, every crime has to be dealt with firmly. The observation in the write-up that there are different laws for the Hindus and the Muslims, is most obnoxious. This statement is not only false but also against the spirit of national unity.n



Let’s not find fault with nature

NO beauty in this beast” (Saturday Extra, Aug 18) by Khushwant Singh was a prejudiced write-up against some creatures of the animal kingdom. ‘Beauty lies in the eyes of the beholder’ stands true for ‘ugliness’ also. The hippopotamus or the river horse has been awarded the gold medal by the writer for ugliness. But this is far from true. Hippopota-mus is a large African artiodactyl ungulate of aquatic habits, with very thick skin, short legs, and a large head and muzzle. It is a herbivorous animal. Its gait is very graceful — we can call it — gaj gaamini.

Even H.W. Longfellow was impressed with this creature when he said:

And the river-horse as he crush’d the reeds,

Beside some hidden stream;

And it passed like a glorious roll of drums.

In English language some animals have been given shabby treatment. For instance, “What a beauty! What a voice!” is an indirect reference to the ugliness of the camel and the gruff voice of the donkey. Both the beasts are useful to human beings. Camel is called the Ship of the Desert and the donkey is a hardworking animal.

It is a strange paradox that both camel and donkey are depicted in poor light. Donkey work is used for a boring task. An Arabian proverb says: If the camel gets his nose in the tent, his body will soon follow.

In the Koran, the camel has been presented as a model of patience and unquestionable obedience for the believers because it goes in a straight line behind its leader with absolute obedience. It can remain without food and water for days in a dry, hot and sandy desert. God has not deliberately made things look ugly or beautiful. Instead of finding fault with nature, we should cultivate the faculty to see good in everything.




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