Monday, August 22, 2005

The Brave New Rules of Indian Writing

Huree Babu reacts to Siddhartha Deb's Mapping India and outlines the "brave new rules of Indian writing:"
1) Killing the Salman: If you meet the Rushdie on the road, kill him.
2) The sufferings of the Barsati Elite, even when undertaken in Genuine Barsati with Genuine Suffering will always be Less Genuine than the sufferings of the Small Town Boy.
3) Logical corollary to law number 1: Rushdie is good; Naipaul is God.
4) The IWE (Indian Writers in English) versus the Writers Who Write In Other Languages is getting old, and besides, we got them all together at the Neemrana fort and no one threw anyone else off the battlements. This makes for bad television, so we will start a new fire: Arrack versus Scotch, the desi IWE versus the Indian Made Foreign Exported WE.
5) There's more, but we need to go off to find a suitable set of battlements for Law Number 4 to prove itself.
Read the rest here.

Can't agree more with the Babu. Especially rule 4.

Students of literature in Indian colleges and universities have to listen to /read/write about this Native Vs Indian English debate over and over again. Most universties in India, that have Departments of English Literature, have their own camps amongst the academics -- each trying to get the students to subscribe to the viewpoint of their clique. Battle lines between the the two are clearly drawn and exchanges between the sides will put even the firing along LOC look benign. Students have to take care to see that they don't appear to belong to either group lest they get caught in the crossfire.

The debate is not only old and outdated, it is also very irrelevant. Students know that at the end of the year all that they have to do is produce an answer that will state both the points of view without committing to either -- effectively taking care of both the camps. And most (if not all) are intelligent and mature enough to recognize a good book and a good writer -- and realize that these qualities will hold true irrespective of the language of the book and the writer.

As Amit Varma says in his post on the same topic, " A good book is a good book, and a good writer is a good writer. Leave 'Indian' out of it. . . These are silly, pointless debates."

Footnote: On a related issue, the Babu also posts on the resident Indian versus Indian from Diaspora debate. Read it here.

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