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Joyce & Tagore: No meeting ground

While reproducing a passage from James Joyce’s (1882-1941) comparatively short novel, A Portrait of the Artist as a Young Man, Khushwant Singh in his weekly column, This Above All (Saturday Extra, Sept 11), has observed that Joyce wrote a few lines which Tagore (1861-1941) did in his poem, Ekla Chalo.

The hero of the novel, Stepehn Dedalus, representing Joyce himself, is an intelligent, but frail child. His individuality is stifled at many levels of conventions dictated by family, Catholicism and Irish nationalism. Later, at the University College, Dublin, he asserts his individuality. The novel traces his intellectual, moral and artistic development from boyhood onwards (Ekla Chalo).

Joyce believed that time and space are artificial and that all is related. He held the view that art should be a symbol of that relationship.

Tagore, on the other hand, preaches the gospel of universal harmony between man and man and nature and man and the divine. Thus, the worlds of Joyce and Tagore are a world apart.


Beating a bone

Usha Rai’s article, Spare the rod, save the child (Spectrum, Oct 24) is thought-provoking.As every child is unique by nature and must be respected individually, for a school teacher, it is very much essential to understand the basic principle of child psychology. Corporal punishment is banned in almost all countries but still the physical violence is resorted to by some impatient teachers as a tool to discipline children.

It rather leaves the psychic impressions on a child’s dignity that leads to fear, aggression and behavioural changes. Children also need to be treated respectfully.

So the deviant behaviour of certain arrogant teachers should not be taken lightly. They should be rather encouraged and rewarded to adopt some positive methods to discipline children.


Of Maharaja’s firangis

I read the full-page extract from Bobby Singh Bansal’s book The Europeans at the Court of Lahore (Spectrum, Nov 7). The author’s statement that the firangis played a vital role in expanding the kingdom of Ranjit Singh is historically incorrect because by 1822, when the European adventurers landed in Lahore, the Maharaja had already completed his main conquests, i.e. Attock (1813), Multan (1818), Peshawar (1818), Kashmir (1819), Jammu and Kangra even earlier (1809).

None of the 52 firangis had any administrative experience or judicial training. Yet, the Maharaja appointed them as Governors, which was strongly resented by General Mohkam Chand, General Hari Singh Nalwa, General Ilahi Baksh and Phoola Singh. Bobby Singh Bansal has not answered this question. The European drill, which these Gora officers introduced, became a laughing stock, described by Phoola Singh Akalia Nihang as an old woman’s dance and their uniform as a fancy dress.

Allard and Ventura, the two most important foreign officers had very cordial relations with General Wade, the British political agent at Ludhiana. Ventura even supplied information and data to Wade and exchanged Christmas gifts. Ranjit Singh knew about it all, yet he kept them. Why Bobby Singh has not touched this issue at all?

K.K. KHULLAR, New Delhi



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