Punjabi Antenna

Nip this evil in the bud
Randeep Wadehra

A clarification first: Contrary to what some have concluded, I had not digressed from the WikiLeaks issue by dwelling upon raw flesh-eaters (8th January). The point was that the unprocessed WikiLeaks disclosures (attracting the "raw-flesh" metaphor) would eventually result in healthier international diplomacy. Saffron terrorism is in the news again, thanks to Swami Aseemanand’s reported confession. Masle (PTC News) discussed the issue’s political and legal aspects. A panellist wondered whether the terror act reflected on the Hindu community at large, or was it an aberration, thanks to the lunatic fringe’s political shenanigans. History tells us that it is dangerous to ignore the lunatic fringe. Within no time it becomes a mainstream monster that devours all that is sane and humane; witness the rise of Nazism in the early 20th century, or the present Islamist fundamentalism.

Fundamentalists in Pakistan have lionised the murderer of Punjab Governor Salman Taseer
Fundamentalists in Pakistan have lionised the murderer of Punjab Governor Salman Taseer Photo: AFP

Today, in Pakistan, its liberal majority is fast conceding ground to fundamentalists; witness the manner in which Taseer’s murderer has been lionised. The media should help nip the fundamentalist menace in the bud. India can ill-afford to go the Pakistan way.

Literary translation is a challenging task, especially when the original work comes from an alien culture. It wouldn’t be that tough to translate from, say, Punjabi to Hindi and vice versa; but to translate from Punjabi to English, or the other way around, becomes intellectually demanding because one has to keep the cultural connotations in perspective. In Talking Books (Day and Night News ), a discussion examined the issue. How much liberty can a translator take while translating certain expressions/descriptions that are typical to a particular culture? One of the translators on the show pointed out that there was no English equivalent for the term baiee used while addressing, or talking to someone.

It really is an untranslatable colloquialism, he asserted. Other Hindi and Punjabi writers/translators, too, dwelt upon various difficulties in preserving cultural nuances while translating from English and other European languages like Russian etc. However, a Punjabi translator’s assertion, that the word khabchoo has no corresponding expression in English, was erroneous; in English "southpaw" and "lefty" are at least two words that can be used.

During this absorbing discussion, however, the readability factor was ignored. The very purpose of translation is to showpiece the works of an author in other languages, which makes it essential that the targeted readers get interested in the translated works. For example, Leo Tolstoy’s works have been translated into English by several persons. Among these, Constance Garnett’s works (Modern Library) are considered dull, whereas those by Rosemary Edmonds (Penguin) are deemed readable, but the translations by Aylmer Maude and Louise Maude (Everyman’s Library) are judged the best.

In Fair & Square (D&N News) Kanwar Sandhu had a wide-ranging talk with Justice Mukul Mudgal (not "Modgil," as addressed in the interview; Mudgals are Maharashtrians, Modgils are from Haryana-Punjab). The issues were varied, like lawyers practicing in the courts that come under their judge-kins’ jurisdiction, appointing "outsiders" as Chief Justices of High Courts, rights of the poor vis-`E0-vis legal aid, allowing/facilitating the functioning of the informal sector like food streets and flea markets etc.

The talk was interesting. However, should Justice Mudgal have declined to comment on the extant procedure of appointing judges through a collegium of judges, on the grounds that he himself was a beneficiary of such a system? One would have felt enlightened if the honourable outgoing Chief Justice of the Punjab and Haryana High Court had opined on the fairness and efficacy of the appointment procedure.