Jul 312017
 

C O N T E N T S

Sr.No.

Author

Title of the Paper

Pg.No.

Download

Indian Literature

01 Ajaz Mugloo The Conflict between Human Nature and the Human Culture in Arundhati Roy’s The God of Small Things 01-07 Download
02 Dr. Suraj Sawant Translation Study of the Abuses and Swears in the Selected Dalit Autobiographies 08-13 Download
03 Dr. Shyam Babu De-orientalizing the ‘Self’ in the South Asian (Con) texts: A Study of Divakaruni’s The Palace of Illusions 14-25 Download
04 Harajit Goswami Lesbian Consciousness and the Subaltern’s Voice: Reading Janice Pariat’s Boats on Land 26-36 Download
05 Ishani Ipsita Patel Literary Representation of Bondo Culture and Women in Pratibha Ray’s Select Stories 37-44 Download
06 Dr. Sohan Lal Different Perspectives of Mother-in-Law and Daughter-in-Law Relationship in Githa Hariharan’s The Thousand Faces of Night 45-53 Download
07 Pratibha Patel An Inner Voyage for Existence: An Introspection of Manju Kapur’s A Married Woman and The Immigrant 54-60 Download
08 Dr. Prajna Manjari Badajena Imagination to Imagine the ‘End of Imagination’: A Critical Study of The End of Imagination by Arundhati Roy 61-68 Download
09 Vinita Kumawat Different Shades of Indian Widowhood in the Selected Short Stories of Ruth Prawer Jhabvala 69-76 Download
10 Abha Tiwari Suman’s Dilemma in Premchand’s Sevasadan: A Crisis of Identity 77-84 Download
11 Mamta Paswan

From Exploitation to Exploration: Gender Study in Baby Kamble’s The Prisons We Broke

85-91 Download
12 Poorva Trikha

Capturing Conflict from Below and Within: A Profile of Photojournalism and Photojournalists in Kashmir

92-102 Download
13 Shaily Identity Crisis, Displacement and Rootlessness in Migrant Literature with Special Reference to Jhumpa Lahiri’s The Namesake 103-108 Download
14 Sandhya Suresh V. Recreation and Representation of History in Subhash Chandran’s A Preface to Man 109-117 Download
15 Parvaiz Ahmad Bhat Women Plight and Exploitation of the Outcaste Groups in Meira Chand’s The Bonsai Tree 118-125 Download
16 Prabhat Gaurav Mishra A Study of Flashback Technique in Aravind Adiga’s The White Tiger 126-131 Download
17 Pranjal Protim Barua Shifting Identities across Mutable Borders: Identity (re)imagined in the Novel Lajja 132-142 Download
18 Ranjeet Kaur Resisting Hierarchies: Foregrounding Caste Politics and Subalternity in A Fine Balance by Rohinton Mistry 143-157 Download
19 Pritam Bhaumik Queer “Becomings”: Desire in the Autobiographies of Hoshang Merchant and Suniti Namjoshi 158-169 Download
20 Reshma R Discourse of the Oppressed: An Ecofeministic Reading of Arundhati Roy’s The God of Small Things, Sarah Joseph’s Gift in Green and Manjula Padmanabhan’s Escape 170-180 Download
21 Kripashanker Arya The Burial and Revelation of Memories: A Psychological Study of Effects of Violence in Mahesh Dattani’s Where Did I Leave My Purdah? 181-187 Download
22 Anindita Sen Weaving a Tale of a Dalit Family: Y.B. Satyanarayana’s My Father Baliah as a Memoir 188-196 Download
23 Sufina. K & Dr. Bhuvaneswari R Eco- sensibility of Women Writers: A Study on Mahasweta Devi’s Chotti Munda and His Arrow 197-203 Download
24 Janesh Kapoor Rethinking Translation: A Hypothetical Exploration in the Indian Context 204-212 Download
25 Raujline Siraj Farjina Akhtar Landscape and Myths: Towards an Eco Critical Reading of the Selected Poems of Mamang Dai 213-220 Download
26 Jayeeta Nag

Negotiating Environmental Injustice, Caste Oppression and Dalit Politics in Daya Pawar's Baluta

221-228 Download
27 Vikram Singh Breaking the Grand Narratives: Re-reading Ramayana as Asura: Tale of the Vanquished 229-237 Download
28 Dipak Giri Vijay Tendulkar’s “Kamala” Throwing light on the Downward Trend of Modern Journalism: A Study 238-244 Download
29 Dr. Kuldeep Walia A Movement towards Individualism in Difficult Daughters and A Married Woman by Manju Kapur 245-252 Download
30 Basavaraj Naikar The Conflict between Criminality and Morality in Earthen Lamps 253-264 Download
31 Mamta Walia Unconscious Fantasy in Meena Alexander’s “Everything Strikes Loose”: A Psychoanalytical Perspective 639-644 Download
32 Kummara Naresh, Dr. Hampamma Gongadi & Dr.V.B.Chitra The Schema of Gender Roles: A Study of Select Poems from K.V. Raghupathi’s Orphan and Other Poems 645-653 Download
33 Sunita Kakkar Mother as a Matriarch: A Study of Shashi Deshpande’s The Dark Holds No Terrors 654-660 Download
34 Rupam Gogoi Representation of Discontentment and its Dynamics in English Writings from India’s North East 661-668 Download
35 Aparna Ajith Through the Cathartic lens: A Study of Fallen Woman in Munshi Premchand’s Sevasadan and Thakazhi Sivasankara Pillai’s Patita Pankajam 669-677 Download
36 Sanjit Sarkar Deep Eco Darshan in Aurobindo: Spiritual Renaissance for Evolutionary Crisis 678-688 Download
37 Arunima Sen A Literary History of the Detective Genre in Bengali Literature: From the Rig Veda to Byomkesh Bakshi 689-701 Download
38

S. Tamilarasi & Dr. SP. Shanthi

Stale News: A Struggle for Survival 702-709 Download
39 Priyanka Jadhav Ecofeminism and Women’s Writings in English: An Indian Overview 753-758 Download

American Literature

01 Dr. S. Chelliah “Myths” as Rich Records of Ancient Human Behaviour and “Texts” as Present Human Predicaments as Pictured by Gary Snyder in his Myths & Texts:  An Analysis 265-273 Download
02 Saritha. K Transcendence of Transnational Female hood in The Joy Luck Club by Amy Tan 274-280 Download
03 Mriganka Sekhar Sarma Masculinity, War and the Alternative Space: A Study of Khaled Hosseini’s A Thousand Splendid Suns 281-286 Download
04 Khola Waheed Marxist Reading of Daniyal Mueenuddin’s Short Stories of His Book “In Other Rooms Other Wonders” 287-297 Download
05 Dr. Asmita Bajaj Migration: ADiasporic Phenomenaas Witnessed in Alex Haley’s Roots 298-305 Download
06 Dr. Shreyashi Mukherjee Construction of Gender Identity in The Narrative of the Life of Frederick Douglass, An American Slave 306-314 Download
07 Dr. Iffat Maqbool Agha Shahid Ali and Transnational Poetry: An Overview 315-321 Download
08 Ayan Mondal Problematizing “Whiteness Studies”: A Re-reading of   O’ Neill’s Thirst 322-335 Download
09 Ankur Chakraborty The Notion of ‘Being-toward-Death’ in Emily Dickinson’s Poetry 336-342 Download
10 Smriti Thakur & Dr. Alpna Saini The Alienation and Manipulation of Geisha in Cultural Structures of Japan with Special Reference to Arthur Golden’s Memoirs of a Geisha 343-349 Download
11 Dr Ajay Kumar Sharma The Sense of Place in Henry James’s The Wings of the Dove 350-358 Download
12 Dr. Madhuri Goswami Singing the Forgotten Saga of Black Culture, Myth and Identity: A Study of Toni Morrison’s Song of Solomon 359-365 Download
13 Dr. Payel Pal Disrupted Childhood: A Critical Study of Toni Morrison’s Love 366-373 Download
14 Naved Mohammed Islam, Taliban and Women in Afghan Society: A Critical Study of Khalid Husseini’s A Thousand Splendid Suns 710-718 Download
15 Shruti Joshi Paulo Coelho’s The Fifth Mountain: A Journey towards Personal Legend 719-729 Download

Film & Literature

01 Mantha Padmabandhavi Prakasrao The Dying Voices in The Fault in our Stars 374-378 Download
02

Chandreie Mukherjee & Dr. Ujjwal Jana

Voicing the Unheard in the Indian Celluloid: A Comparative Study of “Sadgati” by Satyajit Ray and “Shunyo Anwko” by Goutam Ghosh 379-384 Download
03 Rahul Sandal On the Outskirts of the Middle Class Consciousness: A Žižekian Reading of Hazaar Chaurasi Ki Maa 385-395 Download
04 Kripa Vijayan An Exegesis on Cover Pages with Special Reference to Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone 396-405 Download
05 Dr. Vijay Kumar & Dr. Jyoti Jayal An Analysis of Figurative Language in the Song Lyric “Taar Bijli Se Patle Hamaare Piya 406-414 Download
06 Archana Srinivasan Legilimens: Understanding less Confrontational Conflict Management Styles in the Harry Potter Series 415-426 Download
07 Rose Mary Philip Em(body)(men)t of Women: A Feminist Cultural Reading of The Dirty Picture 427-435 Download

Language & Linguistics

01 Kamaldeep Kaur Languages and Cultures: A Wonderland through the Linguistic Binoculars 436-446 Download
02 Uma Maheswari. V & P.M. Usha Rani Decoding of English Idioms by Tamil ESL Learners 447-459 Download
03 Vijayalakshmi Sam & Dr. C.Chamundeshwari Effective and Ineffective Readers’ Relate some Strategies of Reading Skill in Classroom 460-468 Download
04 Nausheen Akbar Use of CLT Textbooks for Enhancing Grammatical Competence in Indian ESL Classrooms 469-478 Download
05 Tadiwos Hambamo Makebo Teacher’s Perception and Awareness of Oral and Written Feedback in an EFL Classroom: The Case of Three Selected Schools in Kambata Tambaro Zone, Southern Ethiopia 479-494 Download

British Literature

01 Bidisha Mukherjee Successful Ageing: Reconstructing Age-Identity in Shakespeare’s King Lear and The Tempest 495-500 Download
02 Dr. Shachi Negi Enactment of Dialectic of Enlightenment: Philosophical Fragments, in John Osborne’s Play, The Entertainer 501-510 Download
03 Halis Gözpınar

“There is a Power in a Union”: Protest Music as Part of Late 20th Century British Pop Culture

511-521 Download

Cultural Studies

01 Poornima G Present Day Situation of Women in the Historic Mauryan Land 522-531 Download
02 Susan Lobo Old Wine in New Bottles?: A Study of the Representation of Mythical Heroines from Hindu Mythology in Retellings for Children 532-541 Download
03 Hyma Santhosh Re-Conceptualizing Culture in Contemporary Paradigm: A Literary Reconnoitre of the Selected Myth and Folklore of Aranmula 542-548 Download
04 Anil Kumar Swadeshi Symbolism in Kangri Love Folksongs:  An Analysis of Two Songs 730-739 Download
05 Dr. Sumathi Shivakumar Eternalising Cultural Memory through Cultural Parallels in Literary Narratives 740-745 Download

Critical Theory

01 Rashmeet Kour Shakespeare and Indian Poetics: Macbeth in the Light of Rasa Theory 549-558 Download
02 Nitika Gulati One Text, Many Meanings: Reader-Response Theory Applied 559-566 Download

Comparative Literature

01 Dr. Sweety Bandopadhaya Hopes and Horizons: Revisiting the Issues of Human Rights in Elie Wiesel’s Night and Victor Frankl’s Man’s Search for Meaning 567-572 Download
02 Anup Kumar Rakshit A Voice for Emancipation in the Poetry of Kamala Das and Sylvia Plath 573-580 Download

Canadian Literature

01 Dr. I. R. Jarali Depiction of Spirit World in Charles-De-Lint’s The Onion Girl 581-587 Download
02 Anjum Tahir Strategy for Survival as Reflected in The Curse of the Shaman 588-595 Download

African Literature

01 S. Suganya Karpagam Uncovering the Abnegation of Women’s Space and Gender Inequity as Pictured in the Novels of Ngugi Wa Thiongo 596-602 Download

Australian Literature

01 Suneel Kumar The Voices of Protest in Select Aboriginal Women’s Autobiographies 603-613 Download
02 Shivnath Kumar Sharma Repositioning Bushranger as Human being in Peter Carey’s True History of the Kelly Gang 746-752 Download

Italian Literature

01 Jeyalakshmi Subramanian Italo Calvino’s If on a Winter’s Night a Traveler: a Conscious Textual Play 614-622 Download

Turkish Literature

01 Dr. Sonika Sethi Spiritualism attained through Love for Humanity: A Study of Elif Shafak’s Novels 623-628 Download

Pakistani Literature

01 Dr. Pallavi Thakur A Reflection of Islamic Feminism in Bapsi Sidhwa’s Novel: The Pakistani Bride 629-638 Download

 

Jul 062017
 

Identity, Assertion and Beyond: A Talk with Mamta Kalia

                                                                                                                                   Shweta Tiwari

                                   Research Scholar,

University School of Humanities and Social Sciences

                                                           Guru Gobind Singh Indraprastha University, New Delhi

 

 

 

Indian English women poetry chronicles the variegated experiences of women through time and space and across various discursive spectrums. While some women poets are forthright about being a feminist, others do not betray an overt commitment to the movement. Though affiliations may vary yet an unequivocal protest against patriarchal structures directly or indirectly constitutes the thematic ambit of every woman poet. Indian women poets criticize the binaries of shame-seduction, home-world, and personal-political that constrict a woman’s freedom. Contemporary Indian women poetry has undergone a paradigmatic shift from the time of independence. It is born out of a woman’s journey through various socio-historical junctures and political upsurges. There are a number of accomplished poets who have poignantly responded to gender discrimination and tedium of domestic life but Mamta Kalia stands out from the group. She records her indignation against conformist womanhood in a language which is simple yet effective. Though she has written only two anthologies of poems in English (Tribute to Papa and Other Poems and Poems’ 78) yet has left a permanent impression on the minds of the readers.

Born in Vrindavan in 1940, Mamta Kalia is an eminent bilingual poet who started writing at the age of eighteen. She is a multifaceted writer who has a number of novels, poems and more than two hundred short stories in Hindi to her credit. After completing her post-graduation in English from Delhi University, she worked as a lecturer of English literature in Delhi and Mumbai. She later served as the principal of Mahila Seva Sadan Degree College in Allahabad. She has been conferred with several accolades and awards like the Yashpal Samman (1985), the Mahadevi Verma Memorial Award (1998), the Sahitya Bhushan Samman (2004), Janvani Samman (2009) and Sita Smriti Award (2012). In the time when women were expected to be submissive and coy, Kalia in a poem “Tit for Tat” writes, “I’ll hit you/I’ll tear you up!/ I’ll stamp on you” (16). One of the salient features of Kalia’s poetry is that it captures the issue of gender inequality, the monotony of domestic life and social taboos with utmost precision but with a touch of comedy. It is her non-reliance on the stringent literary models that make her poetry both candid and popular. She is one of those few writers who write about the problems of a common man in the language of a common man i.e. a language stripped of intellectual jargons.

I was introduced to her generosity when she readily agreed to meet me on a very impromptu notice. The conversation enriched my understanding of the traits of Indian women poetry in English and the changing contours of feminism in India. She also touched upon other issues like women security in today’s times, the transition of society from humanist to consumerist, increasing fundamentalism and the need to reconfigure the writing style in order to connect with today’s readers. A brief excerpt of the same is presented here:

Q.  I am very thankful to you for agreeing to this interaction ma’am. What inspired you to write poetry in English?

A. I was already writing poems in Hindi. Being an English teacher, I got sensations in English too and decided to put them on paper. I have some direct influence of Kamla Das on me. I feel the way she expresses herself in her poems is her part of the truth. I simply wanted to convey my side of truth to the readers. It was the time in my life when nothing was going right and nearly all the circumstances were against me. The situation was so unfavorable that I wanted to bite everybody and you can see that sting in my poems. I wanted to target the egotism of people and I think I succeeded because there was a lot of intemperate outbursts after the poems got published (laughs). In Poems’ 78, I have raised questions that a common man grapples with but neither society nor politics has any answers to them. However, being stationed in Allahabad which is a big Hindi hub I was criticized by my seniors and friends for writing in English. Unlike today, there were not many Indians writing in English at that time. I accepted the challenge and that’s when I wrote Beghar.

Q. How do you respond to the appellation, ‘women poetry’?

A. I don’t like this bracketing of poetry as women’s poetry or men’s poetry. I have no objection if it is done for the purpose of categorization but to segregate it as something belonging to the other world is unfair. I feel an excellent poem shines against all odds. The gender of the poet has nothing to do with it.

Q. Poetry composed by women is often accused of being too personal, in other words, an articulation of patriarchal oppression. Is it so?

A. Well, I totally disagree with that. There has been a sharp increase in the cases of molestation, dowry and domestic violence. It all stems from the patriarchal attitude of the society. It is not possible for a poet or for that matter any sensitive human being to remain indifferent to the desperation around him or her. If the thematic concerns in the poetry of women revolve around patriarchy, it is not a matter of chance but a conscious decision on the part of the poet which should be respected. When one puts all the negatives together it comes out as a positive. Only when you show the inappropriateness of things in society, it stimulates the thirst for appropriateness. Like, when I talk about an inconsiderate and overpowering husband, it is actually my longing for a kinder and more sensitive partner. The utility comes because the futility has been shown.

Q.  How do you define feminism?

A. Feminism, according to me is an appeal to the people to be more empathetic towards women and the issues pertaining to them. Feminism tries to account for women’s subordination but I do not endorse misandry. The backbone of feminism is to retaliate against the oppression of women and not draw daggers against men. It is ironic that in Hindi literature, I am considered a very mild feminist while in English they call me a militant one (laughs).

Q. Do you think being bilingual makes your poetic corpus more inclusive than other poets writing only in English or Hindi?

A. To be equally exposed to two languages is certainly an advantage. I think being bilingual means you are attached to the wider world of another language also. Any language is not simply a medium of communication. It carries socio-political implications and literary baggage of that culture. I personally feel that the socio-historic domain of Hindi is much bigger than English. Being bilingual not only helps a poet to reach a broader audience but also address issues that are common to both the cultures. In English, I have majorly dealt with the issue of patriarchy while my poems and short stories in Hindi traverse a much broader horizon both thematically and stylistically.

Q. What are the major factors that impact your thematic concerns and narrative techniques?

A. It is the chaos of the times, the non-fulfillment of promises made to the younger world by the older world. The contradiction between promises and reality is one of the oft-repeated themes in my poems. Opportunities were available only to a handful of people who could use the independence card to move forward while our destinies were full of questions. So, it is the paradox, the frustration and the unanswered questions that become a part of my poetry. They are the boiling point for an expression. I have also written about romantic passion when love is in a nascent stage only to be disillusioned later (laughs). I talk about how the indoctrination of being an obedient daughter, a dutiful wife and a self-negating mother limit a woman’s world. As far the narrative strategy is concerned, I prefer stating the truth as it is. There is an ample use of irony and idiomatic language in all my poems.

Q. How does your poetry create an interface between tradition and modernity?

A. An Indian woman always faces the dilemma of whether to assert her independence or adhere to the traditional values. Like other poets, I am also confronted with the choice between tradition and modernity. Every culture has always restricted the freedom of women by promoting home-making and maternity as the essential roles of her life. However, in the twenty-first century, the position of women is rapidly changing. They can exercise all the fundamental human rights and live a more meaningful life. My poems were a response to the environment around me when I was young. I would say my poems in English do not have much of tradition though they lay their claims on modernity. I wanted to do everything my way and move away from tradition. I am more of an ‘Individual Talent’i person. I am also not very much in the favour of tradition because it is stale and has been despotic to women, particularly.

Q. Is your real life and poetic persona the same?

A. They are absolutely the same. I don’t have any separating valve between the two. I have never felt apologetic about being a feminist. Since my husband was a writer too, he understood me perfectly well. I have always rebelled against all sorts of conformism and gender partiality. It’s actually strange to see some people endorse a worldview that they might not secretly believe in. In my case, I have always written what I have felt.

Q. The poem “Tribute to Papa” has echoes of Sylvia Plath’s “Daddy”. Are you influenced by the Confessional school of poets?

A. I am aware of Plath’s poem but I don’t think there is any such similarity because “Tribute to Papa” is more about the stereotyped middle-class father who is always afraid of taking chances to step forward in life. The bitter resentment in the poem is against the father who represents patriarchy and gives a very limited worldview to his children. The poem is not at all autobiographical as many people assume it to be because my father never imposed anything on me. He was a liberated man who was much ahead of his times. It is rather about all the fathers who are full of abstentions and precast a mold for their children to fit in. The words of the daughter in the poem, “These days I am seriously thinking of/ Disowning you, Papa/ You and your sacredness” (7) shows her frustration. She derides her father’s anachronism but at the same time, she respects him too much to do anything which would embarrass him. This is the kind of quandary that most middle-class people are caught in.

Q. Your poetic credo revolves around the middle class. Is there any particular reason behind it?

A. Most of us belong to the middle class. I feel it is the middle class which suffers the most because they are in between the elites and the downtrodden. They have to face problems in getting basic facilities and quality education. However, I see a tremendous change in the middle class of the nineteenth century and what it is today. Back then, the middle class was deeply attached to the value system, fixed ideas, and relationships but today consumerist culture has taken the center stage. Literature, music, films are not relished but consumed these days. My novel Daud deals with this issue. At the same time, it is equally true that the middle class has a lot of potentials to emerge as winners. The problems of the middle class stimulate my thoughts the most, so I write about it.

Q. There is a sharp increase in cases of eve-teasing and honor killing in India. Can we say the inability to sensitize the males is actually a failure of feminism?

A. Well, that’s a very pertinent question. I agree that these incidents keep happening every day. The morning newspaper is full of horrific details about such crimes. We have been able to solve the issues of child marriage and widow remarriage but the huge stigma against rape is still intact in the society. The most important thing in these cases is the attitude of the society towards the victim. The family of the victim must not be ostracized. I also feel that there should be stricter punishment for the defaulters and they must be totally debarred from getting any position in the society. Sensitizing the people is not the sole responsibility of the writers. Families, teachers, and society must come together to educate everyone about the problem of gender imbalance and importance of mutual respect.

Q. What according to you is the reason behind the popularity of fiction over poetry?

A. Every literary genre has its own aesthetics. One cannot make a comparison between a poem and a novel or a novel and a short story. They are all different. Earlier, poetry and novel used to have the same appeal but today due to the paucity of time and increasing popularity of social media, only a few people engage in reading. This is also the reason why today’s readers prefer reading short stories in place of novels. There are very limited avenues for publication of poetry for the young and aspiring poets. I think it is more a matter of personal choice and we should not create bifurcations like more popular and less popular.

Q. According to you what is the future of Indian women poetry in English?

A. Well for a long period of time poetry was seen as a kind of fanciful or imaginative writing and people had their own apprehensions towards it but today the dynamics of poetry has changed. This is not the time when literature should essentially be universal. Poetry has become a medium to assert various discriminations faced by the people in society. I would say women’s poetry has bright prospects provided poets address a wider range of issues and not just focus on gender. There are so many questions that affect us equally, for example, men and women react in the same manner when prices of petrol go high, when there is no sugar in the open market or when the insecurities of the present-day life haunt us. Women share the same cultural and professional spaces as men now. So, I think we need to move towards broader issues like corporate culture, riots, religious fundamentalism, terrorism, global warming etc. Also, feminist poets must understand that being anti-male is again very unnatural. A balance should always be struck in the writings. A complaint that women do not write about the so-called significant issues should be taken seriously by the contemporary writers. Therefore, it is necessary to become more politically aware and become people of the world and not just treat ourselves as women all the time.

Notes

i “Tradition and the Individual Talent” (1919) is an essay written by T.S Eliot in which he professes the incorporation of a historical sense in the works of the poets. He avows that a poet cannot have a meaning in isolation hence it is imperative to recognize the continuity of literature. He does not recommend a slavish imitation of the classics but an integration of the past with the individual talent of the poet. 

Works Cited

Kalia, Mamta. “Tribute to Papa.” Tribute to Papa and Other Poems. Calcutta: Writers Workshop, 1970. Print.

Jul 062017
 

I  May Feel At Home Anywhere or Nowhere: Goutam Karmakar In Conversation With Adil Jussawalla

Goutam Karmakar

PhD Research Scholar

Department of Humanities and Social Sciences

National Institute of Technology Durgapur, India

 

Another Parsi voice and the missing person of Indian poetry written in English, Adil Jussawalla was born in Bombay in 1940. He has done his primary education from the Cathedral and John Connon School in 1956. Between 1957 and 1970 he has spent most of his years in London where he wrote plays, studied to become an architect, completed graduation and masters and taught English at a language school. From 1957-1958 he has attended the Architectural Association School of Architecture for this purpose. After that he has done his graduation and then masters from the University of Oxford in 1964. For the Greater London Council he has worked as a substitute teacher and after that till1969 he has worked as a language teacher at the EF International Language Centre. After returning to India in 1970, he has started to teach at various schools. Before turning to journalism in between 1972 and 1975 he has taught English language and literature at St. Xavier’s College. He has actively participated in many international festivals and conferences. He was not only an Honorary Fellow of the International Writing Program at the University of Lowa in 1976 but also a member of this program till 1977. From 1980-81 he has been worked as the book review editor at The Indian Express. He has been served as a literary editor at several magazines and newspapers and notable among those are The Express Magazine (from 1980-82) and Debonair (1987), a magazine which has been originally modeled after Playboy Magazine. In 1974 he has edited an anthology New Writing in India and in 1977 another one namely Statements with Eunice de Souza. Till now he has written four books on poetry namely Land’s End in 1962, Missing Person in 1976, Trying to Say Goodbye in 2012 and Gulestan (mainly chapbook) in 2017.For Trying to Say Goodbye he has won India’s Sahitya Academi Award in 2014. He has also written two collections, mainly of non-fiction namely Maps for a Mortal Moon: Essays and Entertainments, edited by Jerry Pinto in 2014 and I Dreamt a Horse Fell from the Sky in 2015. Apart from all these, he has actively engaged himself in translation and with Gieve Patel, Arun Kolatkar and Arbind Krishna Mehrotra he has translated several works of Gulam Mohammed Sheikh.                        

GOUTAM KARMAKAR: Thank you very much for your long-awaited consent for this series of conversation out of your busy schedule! Let’s start our conversation on Adil Jussawala as a poet in making. What is poetry to you? And how far do the life and surrounding influence your art of poesy?  

ADIL JUSSAWALLA: Poetry for me is a way of enhancing the vision and music of words in a way that enhances the vision and music of the world around me. The song I make a tree I see sing is returned to me as the tree's song. I give it voice and the voice now is the trees. That means quite obviously that life in general and my surroundings, in particular, do influence my poetry, as they do every poet I know.

GOUTAM KARMAKAR: Although, poetry muses in the heart of its true lover; yet, let us know about the X-factor in Jussawalla being a student of Architecture picks up his Graphos to express his bad heart of alienation. Kindly share your concept of ‘Home’ in your poems

ADIL JUSSAWALLA: I have a poor concept of home. I may feel at home anywhere or nowhere. The place itself doesn't seem to matter. But homes as individual buildings or rooms – other people – their windows, their balustrades, their roofs – fascinate me. I was a student of Architecture for just a year, but my interest in buildings continues.

GOUTAM KARMAKAR: You usually appear with your anthologies taking a long gap in between. Your first poetry volume Land’s End came out in 1962. You have given us Missing Person in 1976 and Trying to Say Goodbye in 2011. Can you tell us why you have taken such a long time to publish? In which among your four poetry volumes do you find your best creative offspring and why?

ADIL JUSSAWALLA: I don't think I'll ever really know why there's such a long gap between my books, particularly between Missing Person and Trying to Say Goodbye. And I have no favorites among them.

GOUTAM KARMAKAR: K.N.Kutty on Land’s End told that “the book captured the artificiality and vulgarity of this age, the paradoxical nature of our emotions and desires, the unbridgeable gulf between you and I, between dream and reality and the beauty and ugliness of love”. Do you agree with it? Kindly justify this comment.

ADIL JUSSAWALLA: Yes, I agree. K.N.Kutty said this in a review of the book. Kutty was a lecturer in English at a college in Bombay during the 60s. Getting a review like this, felt good. I thought he saw what the poems were about; he didn't look for the 'roots' stuff, the national, in them.

GOUTAM KARMAKAR: Your poems seem a lifelong quest for identity as you have felt apartheid both in abroad and in India. So how have you tried to place the missing person in the mainstream of life? And as a Parsi what are the difficulties you have faced while living in India?

ADIL JUSSAWALLA: I wouldn't describe what I've experienced in India and abroad as apartheid. That's too strong a word. Quite early in life I had to deal with a sense of isolation, learn to speak from the margins or be silent in them. It was part of my education, my personality. As for mainstream, I don’t know what that is, neither in India nor in any other part of the world. And if I knew I wouldn't want to be part of it. That's for sure.

GOUTAM KARMAKAR: While R. Parthasarathy tries to establish his identity by returning to his Tamil background, you make an attempt to involve yourself with the progressive forces of historical development. Do you agree with me and can you tell us in which way you differ from Parthasarathy?

ADIL JUSSAWALLA: Our two involvements – Parthasarathy’s and mine – aren't mutually exclusive. Parthasarathy may well be involved in the kind of activism that is aligned to what you call 'progressive forces'. I don't know. And the option he chose is open to most Indian poets who seek to return to what they regard as a suppressed linguistic identity. It's just that that option doesn't attract me. I read poetry in translation but am not drawn to translating it myself.

GOUTAM KARMAKAR: It seems that the missing person is neither an anti-hero nor a hero. He fails to assert his identity and accepts the suffering. So tell us what does your The Missing Person present? And what are the measures a writer can take in times of crisis?

ADIL JUSSAWALLA: The poem 'Missing Person', especially the first part, is mock-heroic, and its protagonist hardly a person. Social, political, historical forces, mostly internalized, have practically wiped him out. Knowing this, and the rage and frustration this leads to, could have turned him into an active terrorist; instead, he's a faux-monster, a clown, 'a footnote to an unknown history'. Neither he and certainly not I can confidently say what measures a writer can take in times of crisis. In an earlier interview which appeared shortly after the Emergency, I implied that we live in a state of perpetual emergency. So what fresh crisis are we talking about? I still believe that.

GOUTAM KARMAKAR: In The Missing Person there are many voices; and, the readers may not identify which one is the poet’s own? So can we call it an authorless volume? And tell your readers how these voices make an attempt to show both chaos and political consciousness?

ADIL JUSSAWALLA: The poem 'Missing Person' is not authorless. One author has given voice to many like he gives the tree in an earlier answer. These voices belong to real people but imagined to fit a context. I can't say more than that.

GOUTAM KARMAKAR: How far do you consider yourself as a confessional poet who writes about the spiritually sterile and dehumanized landscapes coupled with contradiction, non-linear and fragmented passages? And kindly confess whether you have taken India as your home now or still feel alienated?

ADIL JUSSAWALLA: I don't see myself as a confessional poet, even though, as some readers have pointed out, much of my work is intensely personal. Often, the 'confessions' in my poems aren't mine but are spoken by various personae.

As for considering India as 'home'… Of course and of course not – in equal measure; the reason being what I said about 'home' in an earlier answer.

GOUTAM KARMAKAR: Your poems center on the life-in-death impulses where the destruction of nature on one part paves the way for the recreation of nature on another part as title poem Lands End shows it. So how you have described nature and human-nature relation in your works? Apart from this, you have shown the disillusionment and wastefulness of modern life and then juxtaposed it with Christianity. Is it an attempt of you to place Christianity over the ongoing culture?

ADIL JUSSAWALLA:  I find these questions difficult to answer. What you call 'nature' is a force my poems often contend with. They have to, since this contention is linked to my own growth, my own destruction. Biblical images and metaphors perhaps appear more often in my poems than those from other religious books but that doesn't mean I place Christianity above any other religion. Christian thought, not only the Bible, has given me a lot, but so have thoughts from other religions.

GOUTAM KARMAKAR: Do you believe that colonialism still exists inside the natives and the natives should try to free themselves? And regarding colonialism and the problems faced by a poet writing in English mainly in India, how are you going to place the English language here- colonial language or another language exist in India?

ADIL JUSSAWALLA: Yes, I believe our colonial experience has to a large extent got internalized and can't be got rid of easily. The mind alone can't decolonize itself – there have to be external factors – broad cultural movements, legal and social actions – to help it do that. The English language in India, though it began as a colonizer's language, is well-equipped to move us far out of its original colonial territory into other areas. You don’t need to define English as an Indian language for it to do that. It's a country by itself, both inside and outside India. Indians who write in it can be its slaves or its masters (or its princes, as Derek Walcott prefers to call the language's poets)

GOUTAM KARMAKAR: How have you conducted the process of remembering and the subsequent discovery in Vacant Possession from Trying to Say Goodbye? And can you please share with your readers how you have tried to give meaning and shape to our everyday life through memory and perception in the second part The Web of Human Things from this same volume?

ADIL JUSSAWALLA: Quite frankly I don't know what I tried to do or how I did it. I find both your questions impossible to answer. Certain tricks of the trade, the process of writing itself…that's all I can say.

GOUTAM KARMAKAR: What does conflict mean for you now in its explosion worldwide? And how have you made a balance between your internal conflicts arising in you with the external conflicts you have faced?

ADIL JUSSAWALLA: We can't avoid the explosions of worldwide conflict and the pain of others, even the suffering of those far away. They come to us all the time through the media, both print and electronic. What this means to me, what I must do to not allow them to throw me off-balance is to give this pain, this conflict form. Naturally, doing so may raise my own internal conflicts to a dangerous level. But it's the process of finding a form for those conflicts, external and internal, that contains them – forming a poem, fixing it.

GOUTAM KARMAKAR: Can you tell a bit about your “I Dreamt a Horse Fell from the Sky”? In this connection, I want to know do you think differently about poetry now and has it shifted its place in your life?

ADIL JUSSAWALLA:  Many Indian poets have written a fair amount of prose, sometimes fiction, sometimes non-fiction, sometimes both. Our publishers have missed the opportunity of bringing out selections of their prose and poetry in one volume. The poet, Rohan Chhetri, an editor at Hachette India, gave me the chance to put together such a volume. Jerry Pinto selected and introduced some of my non-fiction earlier (Maps for a Mortal Moon, Aleph Book Company, 2011). “I Dreamt a Horse Fell from the Sky” was a follow-up that broadened the field.

The value I give poetry hasn't changed. In fact, I write little prose now, more poetry.

GOUTAM KARMAKAR: Before the conclusion can you discuss with your readers about your future projects? And what will be your advice to all the emerging poets and the humanity in general?

ADIL JUSSAWALLA: My future projects involve writing more poems – I have two incomplete manuscripts with me. A poem of mine, 'Gulestan', recently brought out as a chapbook by Poetrywala, will be part of one of the manuscripts.

As for advising emerging poets and humanity in general, I'm bad at that, can't think of anything to say. Yes, we/humanity, suffer, but what can I tell it/us? 'To thine own self-be true'? But for that, we have to know ourselves, a most difficult thing. And to emerging poets perhaps I can only say – borrowing and slightly altering James Baldwin's words – “Try to be an honest person and to be good at your work.”

Jul 062017
 

At Last We Have One Icon of Our Own:  Lakshmi Unbound

                                                                                               

Susri Bhattacharya

 

Name of the Book- Lakshmi Unbound

Author – Sanjukta Dasgupta

First Edition – March, 2017

Published By Chitrangi

Isbn-13:97893-85782-73-2

Price: Inr 200

 

Recently  Chitrangi , has  launched  their  new  anthology  of  poems   –  Lakshmi Unbound , written  by  the  famous  scholar  and  writer  Prof. Sanjukta Dasgupta  . This volume contains all together thirty-one poems and the chief criterion is of course to highlight the lost human sensitivity. This loss has many aspects and reflects its glimpses through gender violence, trauma and torture.  This book dedicates its signature poem to all ‘liberated Lakshmis’; to those who are the non-conformist soldiers of this battle within and without; to those who are strong enough to earn their alms by themselves and to those who can rise beyond such stereotypical identities of lakshmi or alakshmi. In the inaugural poem the narrator herself comes to the readers, almost by tearing apart the pages like 3D animation and voices all the wish and aspiration of a mind seeking pure pleasures of the world freely-fearlessly. The ending couplet is the most powerful statement –

                                           “I am Alakshmi

                                           Trap me if you can …”

 

In India people do write poems for expressing their own ideas, being a participant member of socio-cultural circumstances. But, in this book she is heading towards a nouveau theory by mingling Indian myth and culture to the present scenario. Mrinal’s First Letter, which is inspired by one of the short story of Rabindranath Tagore (Streer Patra), becomes at once radical and revolutionary as it declares Mrinal to be the ‘elder sister of Nora’ ( Ibsen’s A Doll’s House). Literary spaces connect and form a powerful sisterhood that can easily announce –

                            “… I shall not return to 27, Makhan Baral Lane

                                   ever again…”

The poems invite characters from other texts and the human characters like Chandalika, Lachmia, and Mrinal can strike a symphony with mythic superpower-holders like Lakshmi, Kali, or Chitrangada. Reality is full of ambiguity and ambivalence.  In the Festival Of Lights the energy of Kali and the grace of Lakshmi are celebrated while a young woman in her ‘dirty faded sari’ dances under the flyover, finding a momentary celebration of her virtual empowerment in Lakshmi puja or Kali puja.

The poem Eleventh Muse brings us for the very first time a new Asian Muse – Ardhanariswar. There was a classical tradition of the poets, invoking Muse for aiding them to create lyrical-aesthetics as they are the generative symbols; a creative signifier to air the individual talent. Automatically question strikes – if a woman decides to write poetry then what will be the gender identity of her muse? So to speak, what is the muse of Anna Akhmatova or Emily Bronte? Do they need any magnificent-male counterpart as their muse to create poetry? Or, are they bold enough to take the bruises or bravos directly upon themselves?  Ardhanariswar is the newfound symbol. It’s a spirit – animated version of dualism in energetic harmony – a fusion of two Indian gods Shiva (male) and Parvati (female), symbolizing gender equality. The concept of Alakshmi itself is a challenge to the notion of our religious scriptures. In Puranas, we can find that Lord Shiva has also a similar notorious counterpart named – Jalandhara. In that lore he is portrayed at the end as a part of Shiva and he is even worshipped in Madhya Pradesh while Alakshmi faced a total abandonment in our society and culture.

This book contains poems which are inspired by newspaper reports. The poems like Talaq or I Killed Him M’Lord take us to the psychological forum of those persons and thus bridge the gap.

To conclude I would like to fetch one stereotypical question “why poetry? Is it for the large audience who won’t be able to understand these coded lyrics?” History says when rhythm and words are mellifluous, the words live on and ideas flow on from person to person. This book is engrossing for its magic of simplicity and keen sense of word-art. Professor Dasgupta has made my task easier as through her words only we can answer to this question –

                 “Yet like a speck of sparkling diamond

                  The inviolate poem will linger somewhere

                As long as words survive.”

 

Jul 062017
 

East and West: Bridging the Gap

Reviewed by

Sujan Mondal

 

(Orientalism in English Literature: Perception of Islam and Muslims By Abdur Raheem Kidwai, New Delhi, Viva Books, 2016, Hardbound, P. 282. ISBN: 978-81-309-2692-6, Rs 1395.00)

This book having 45 chapters is divided into two sections; the first section contains 19 articles on the several aspects and facets of Orientalism and the remaining chapters comprise book reviews on the diverse aspects of Literary Orientalism across the world. The book under review aptly points out a number of socio-cultural-economic-political, and religious issues that have influenced the Western writers in the production of Literary Orientalism- missionary zeal, popularity of travel Literature, misconceptions surrounded by Arabian Nights beckoning the English imagination, Eastwards British colonial expansion, the wars between the West and the Orient and hostility towards Islam. This book, assaying a plethora of canonical English writings is a genuine effort to trace the genesis of the cross-cultural cleavage prevailing in the Western world for long time and also the matrix of the relationship between multicultural “progressive” Western World and “Oil-equipped” Muslim World in 21st century. Encompassing about eight hundred years from (12th century up to the present century), the book delves deep into the cross-cultural understanding, perception/misperception of almost all canonical Western men of letters; Dante, Chaucer, Marlowe, Shakespeare, Milton, Beckford, Dryden, Pope, Addison, Johnson, Donne, Wordsworth, Coleridge, Shelley, Keats, Byron, Southey, Lady Montagu, Moore, Carlyle, Kipling, Forster, Conrad, Joyce, Eliot, and Lessing. In the chequered projection of the Orientalism in English Literature, more often than not negative, Kidwai not only sheds light on the Western representation of the East marred by chasm, misperceptions, misprojection, hostility towards Islam/Muslims, and particularly repulsive image of the Prophet (PBUH), he also applauds many English writers, namely like Lady Wartley Montagu, William Jones, Lord Byron for their genuine understanding of the Orient, its social mores, and truthful representations of the East in their writings. Besides pointing towards the falsification, distortion, misperception and misrepresentation, the book highlights the positive and truthful account of Orientalism by some Western writers Byron, Lady Wartley Montagu, William Jones and Carlyle. 

The book is an extensive and intensive researched work as it encompasses a vast spectrum of readings. Three Chapters 13,16 and 17 are devoted to the Oriental readings of Robert Southey, Lord Byron and Thomas Moore. Kidwai identifies the Oriental contents in Leigh Hunt’s ‘Abraham and the Fire–Worshipper: A Possible Source’ and in Edgar Allen Poe’s ‘The Burning Heart in Poe’s Al Aaraaf’: Another Possible Source”. This tome does not restrict itself to the Oriental discourse within negative representation of Islam/Muslim, rather perception, reception and its representation of another prominent oriental faith Hinduism by the West has also been taken into board; particular reference to be made about the beleaguered custom of suttee and the representation of the river Ganges and its concomitant religious-cultural aspects. These manifest his scholarly approach towards understanding Literary Orientalism.

The book is not confined exclusively to British writings; it provides glimpses of the representation and image of the “Muslims women” and “Muslim Lives” in Indian as well as Pakistani Literature, and he thereby broadens the canvass of Literary Orientalism. The book not only records the outsiders’ perception/ mis-perception, projection/mis-projection, rather lends insiders/occidental views/ perception of the Islam and Muslims.

This critical book may provide scholars, teachers and students a treasure trove of Orientalism and thereby allows re-viewing “English Literature” beyond the traditional interpretation. Kidwai, looking through ethnographic research, revives a new area/ new perspective hitherto neglected in English Literature, and thereby seeks to renew serious dialogue between the West and the Islamic World in the 21st century. The book is equipped with well articulated thesis, anti-thesis and the coveted ends are the synthesis of the West and East in the globalized, multi-ethnic, multicultural society of the present century. Kidwai’s mastery over this subfield of English Literature is manifested and his vast scholarship as his position as a critic, commentator and observer of Literary Orientalism. This is a quintessential book for Cultural Studies (particularly the cross-cultural understanding of East and West), English Studies, Oriental Studies, as well as Religious Studies.

Jul 062017
 

Dr. Debamitra Mitra (2010), Indo- Bhutan Relations: Political process, Conflict and Crisis, New Delhi: Academic Excellence publishers, 360 pp, Price- 950/-

 

Roshna Devi

PhD Research scholar

Department of Political Science,

NEHU Shillong

 

 

The book Indo- Bhutan Relations: Political process, Conflict and Crisis, authored by Dr. Debamitra Mitra deals with the Indo Bhutan bilateral relations from history to the present time.  Bilateral relations by its very nature involve both the countries. It follows that it is not possible for just one country to promote positive bilateral relationship unless the other country responds adequately. Bilateralism entails a measure of reciprocity and mutuality of interests. By focusing on such attributes this book included twelve chapters where different issues such as political relations, friendship treaties, economic relations, security aspects etc have been discussed in the context of Indo-Bhutan relations.

The first chapter of the book is related with the some basic observations related to nature and scope of the work, where the writer mentioned that in the colonial period the relationship between Bhutan and British India had been drastically changed. During this time Bhutan had signed various treaties with the Britishers for security purposes. What is important to note that during the time of India’s freedom struggle movement the Bhutanese monarch adopted a pro British policy and supported the colonial rule in India. However, after the departure of Britishers from India, Bhutan slowly started to develop a close relationship with independent India. Since 1949 India and Bhutan develop their ties in different areas such as commerce, power, education, infrastructure etc. Here the writer gives an introduction of India -Bhutan bilateral relations.      

            The second chapter of the book deals with the geopolitical environment of Bhutan with its early history. Bhutan as a landlocked country lies within the great Himalayas. It has a rich natural resource and the higher mountains have fragmented the country into two subdivisions both administratively and ethnographically. The early history of Bhutan according to writer is covered by mystery. The visit of Padsambhaba the saint from India to Bhutan was related with introduction of Buddhism in Bhutan.  It also focuses on different stages of political relations of Bhutan with colonial India, related to the British annexation of large areas of Bhutan’s Dooars adjoining Assam and Bengal. The author also highlights the various stages of political development between India and Bhutan from colonial to independence period. 

Chapter 3 of the book is related with the India- Bhutan treaty of 1949, as a continuing the relationship between India with Bhutan since the colonial rule. As after the end of British rule in India, Bhutan became uncomfortable regarding its status as an independent nation. Even when cabinet mission came to India in 1946, the Bhutanese demanded the sovereign status of the country since it is not a part of a British colonial rule. The Indian leadership gave due consideration to the demand of Bhutan and accepts the status of Bhutan as a sovereign state and updated the earlier treaty of 1910 in the year 1949. This treaty has been regarded as the important event to shape the bilateral relationship between the two countries. Though India has criticized of being act like a big brother with the right to guide Bhutan in its external affairs under article 2 of the friendship treaty of 1949, but Bhutan did not opposed the clause of the treaty to be guided by India. Here, the Chinese influence is also discussed to criticize the treaty as an unfair way of India to exert control over Bhutan. However, such allegation did not create any hurdle in India- Bhutan bilateral relationship. The writer also throws light on the aspect that a section of people continuously demanded to update the treaty of 1949 for the freedom of Bhutan to take independent decision on its foreign policy matters.

Chapter 4 is related with the ethnic problem of Bhutan which has been started in 1980s. The Nepali ethnic group of Bhutan starts an ethnic movement against the king as argued by them due to suppression of their ethnic identity. The main demand of this ethnic group was to establish democracy in Bhutan; they strongly opposed the rule of monarch. Destruction of public property, attack on police persons, burning of government institution resulted a war like situation in the country. The king’s initiative to stop the influx of illegal Nepali migrants and thrown out the foreigners from the country creates hue and cry like situation. The internal ethnic problem also spread in country like India and Nepal, where there are also large number of Nepali people.    Many Nepali people left their places and take shelter in refugee camps of Nepal.  Though Nepal and its political elite throughout the conflict supported the Nepali people of its origin, India from its part maintained silence on this issue. For India the ethnic conflict is an internal problem of Bhutan, hence interference of this issue will violate the non- interference clause of the friendship treaty of 1949.  The involvement of Nepal and its effort to internationalize the refugee issue has worsened the relationship between Bhutan and Nepal. Bhutan from its part did not agree to return those Nepalese who were migrated illegally to the country after 1958. Later on various human rights organizations and third countries get involved in solving the problem of Nepali refugees.

Chapter 5 and 6 of the book deals with the trade relations between India and Bhutan. While the former chapter included the trade relations between the two countries from the period of 1949 to 1990, the latter discussed about the trade relations after the period of 1990.  Chapter 5 starts with the trade relations between British India and Bhutan, where it has been mentioned that before the Sinchula treaty there was no stable trade relations between the two. The treaty somehow normalizes trade relations. After independence, India Bhutan trade relation has been guided by the article no 5th of 1949s friendship treaty. According to which a free trade and commerce relation has been established between the countries. Later on various agreements and trade treaties has been signed between the two states which provided for cooperation in the various field such as commerce and industry, import and export of goods, providing various routes to Bhutan for trading, foreign exchange etc. The main argument of the writer is that unlike British rule where Bhutan was merely treated as a gateway to reach Tibet, after independence India gives due importance to Bhutan as an independent entity and builds such a strong trade relations that it become a main pillar of bilateral relations. From 1990 onwards the relations become stronger; Bhutan’s export to India had been marked as remarkably high in compare to other decades. It has also discussed in the book that from 1990 onwards due to the impact of globalization both the countries become beneficial in trade areas. 

Chapter 7 of this book is related with the infrastructural development of Bhutan; here main focus has been given on India’s role as a close ally to Bhutan. Here the author argues that modernization and development process in Bhutan was primarily started by India with the approval from the king of Bhutan. After the historic visit of Nehru to Bhutan in 1958 clears all clouds of suspension and a new era of bilateralism has started between the states. As both the country faced the same security threat from China, thus become a close ally to perceive the threat from the communist state. India throughout the years related with the development process of Bhutan in the form of construction of road and airport, bridges, hydel power projects, industries, animal husbandry, telecommunications, Bhutan’s five-year plans, etc.

The eighth chapter is related with hydel projects constructed in Bhutan which has serve as a link of bilateral relation between India and Bhutan. The writer also focuses on the aspect how Harness Rivers of any country can used as a mean of economic development with definite plan and programme. In case of Bhutan such harness rivers is a gift of nature, which leads to the economic progress of the country. Despite having the problem of manpower and technological knowledge by joining hands with India, Bhutan become successful to construct various hydel projects which ultimately resulted in the economic prosperity of the nation. From Indian side, construction of such hydel project in Bhutan is beneficial since it related with solving the issue of scarcity of electricity at various parts of the region with a minimum level of cost. So it can be described as a win-win situation for both the countries. However the writer specifically mentioned that since India is the only importer of Bhutan’s hydropower, hence Bhutan thinks that its bargaining power is very limited. Similarly Bhutan does not have the monetary, technology and manpower to single handedly generates hydropower. However such issue does not jeopardize India’s alliance with Bhutan, the success story of one hydropower plant leads to construction of another.

Chapter nine titled as India-Bhutan and ULFA-Bodo problem deals with the issue of terrorism. As discussed by the writer, ULFA and NDFB were two separatist groups of Assam, who were carrying out their anti- Indian activities in the name of freedom fight against the centre. While one hand the ULFA fought for independent status of Assam from the mainland India, on the other hand NDFB’s demand is to form separate Bodo state named as Bodoland for their people. When these terrorist groups engaged in mass killing and violent activities, a strong military action was undertaken by the government against the terrorist groups which compels them to take asylum in neighbouring countries. These terrorist groups of NE region of India due to the open boundary system between India and Bhutan easily reached to Bhutan and took shelter in the dark forests of the country. Though at first Bhutan did not pay due attention to the urge of India to thrown out the militants camps from the country but later on it feel that  presence of such militants groups in Bhutan, not only create a security threat for India but the former also have to face the  violent activities of these groups. For this reason, both the countries decided to launch an operation against the militants, which is named as Operation All Clear in 2003. With this, both the counties become successful to thrown out the bases of the militants from Bhutan.

The chapter 10 entitled India and Bhutan in international and regional organizations deals with Bhutan’s interest to develop relations with the various countries of the world. Whether it is SAARC, NAM, UN or Colombo plan Bhutan has joined such organizations with the help of India. To join in these organizations is considered as an important aspect for Bhutan since it somehow develop a outlook that Bhutan will get wider recognition as a landlocked country of the Himalayan region as well as it wants to work for regional cooperation and for world peace. Here the writer argues that though Bhutan enters in such organizations by holding the hand of India but it does not mean that Bhutan does not have any right to take its own decisions. Even in some matters Bhutan and India act in a different way whether it the case of signing the NPT or in the Albanian issue. India on its side does not pressurized Bhutan to act according to wish of the former; rather it respects the right of Bhutan to take any decision by its own. Perhaps that is the reason why in this complex world India and Bhutan has successful to maintain their cordial relations despite the Chinese efforts to ruin it.

Chapter 11 of the book is related with India Bhutan neighborliness, which reflects the fact that both the countries share a close proximity with each other despite having various problems. In this chapter, the writer briefly discusses about China as factor in India- Bhutan relationship. It has clearly mentioned by the author that unlike Nepal, Bhutan does not use China card policy to create problem for India. Rather Bhutan having a boundary problem with China still tries to manage normalized the relation with it.  Such distance between China and Bhutan, brings India and Bhutan more close to each other. Here, the writer argues that the great Himalaya is not a barrier in the context of India Bhutan relations. Rather it serves as a bridge to connect the two states in such a manner where mutual trust and cooperation exists between these two countries.

Chapter 12 is titled as Bhutan’s strive for democracy is related with Bhutan’s political reform from monarchy to democracy. As discussed by the writer in this chapter democracy is a gift from the king of Bhutan to its people, it is a deliberate act of the king to transfer the power from him to the people, where the king become the constitutional head and the representative form of government become the real head . Unlike the case of Nepal, one of the neighbouring state of Bhutan where there was a conflict between the king and people regarding the devolution of power, Bhutan shows a  example that a king always think for his people first by sidelining his personal gains. Hence, Bhutan has successful to portray itself as unique country of the world where bloodless transition of power from king to people becomes a reality. India from its part welcomes the democratic transformation of Bhutan with a hope that the new form of government will take the India- Bhutan relations into a higher level.

With this writing, there is no doubt that the writer has contributed one of the significant work in the literature of India- Bhutan relationship. The book is a well description of India Bhutan bilateral relation since ancient to present time. However, we cannot deny the fact that the book has written mainly to focus on the history of India- Bhutan relations. Since the book is written in the year 2010 so it could include a chapter on India- Bhutan friendship treaty of 2007 which is considered as a landmark event to guide the relations between the two countries in near future. . Overall it is a very well written as well as thoroughly researched book on India Bhutan relationship.

                       

Jul 062017
 

Mitchell, Lisa. Language, Emotion, and Politics in South India: The Making of a Mother Tongue. Indiana University Press: Bloomington and Indianapolis, 2009. pa281

 

Reviewed by:

Muhammed P

Ph D Scholar,

Department of Cultural Studies,

The English and Foreign Languages University, Hyderabad.

 

What makes someone willing to die for a language? This is the question Lisa Mitchell’s anthropological study, Language, Emotion, and Politics in South India: The Making of a Mother Tongue sets out to explore. Looking at the event of Potti Sriramulu's well-publicized fast-unto-death, which resulted in his death after 58 days of fast, and the subsequent protests, Lisa Mitchell tries to show how language has become a new foundational category.

How the nature of the relationship between the language, the land and the people have changed over time and how ‘mother tongues’ have become markers of one’s identity, is a parallel, yet closely-related theme that runs through the book. The book also looks at the multiple narratives on events that followed Sriramulu’s death, including the incident where four young people were shot dead at Nellore railway station during a protest march, to exemplify how various threads were collapsed into a single one – that of the collective passion of a people for a separate state for Telugu-speaking people.

Even though Sriramulu's death is the central event in the discussion apropos the formation of a separate Andhra state, Mitchell's narrative does not begin with his dramatic 1952 fast. According to her, not only can Sriramulu's passionate commitment to language not be explained by beginning our historical analysis from 1952, but it also cannot be explained by examining his relationship to the Telugu language in isolation.

The themes discussed in the book are reflected in the title of the book and on the cover picture. Eight chapters, including an introduction, a conclusion and six individual chapters on various dimensions of the issue the book deals with, are connected in a ‘linear’ narrative.

The “Introduction” lays out the major issues that the author addresses in this book, prime among them being the new emotional commitment to language. How language has become a legitimate basis, and perhaps the only one, for collective identity in post-independence India is a major question. She introduces issues that she would deal with in subsequent chapters – close attention to technological changes in transportation and communication, the restructuring of political power, and shifts in patronage, pedagogy, and the production of knowledge to trace the creation of a new role for language as a foundation for the reorganization of knowledge and practice in southern India.

In the first chapter, titled “From Language of the Land to Language of the People: Geography, Language and Community in Southern India”, Lisa Mitchell looks at the change in the relationship between language and territory. She does so by analyzing the subtle change in the prefaces of the first and second editions of Gurujada Sriramamurti’s Lives of Poets, which came out in 1893 and 1913 respectively.

In the preface to the first edition of Sriramamurti's book, there was an appeal to “those attached to the language of the Telugu country” whereas the preface to the second edition, which was published 14 years after Sriramamurti's death, appeals to “those attached to the Andhra language”. Mitchell looks at this shift from a language of the land to language of the people. She argues that “territory no longer formed the primary locus for identifying linguistic differences”. She adds that “by 1913, evidence suggests that languages were no longer primarily associated with places but were increasingly imagined as inalienable attributes of people”. Language was no more seen as a feature of the territory and it was around this time that the word matr bhasa (mother tongue) was introduced into the Telugu language.

In the second chapter, titled “Making a Subject of Language”,  Mitchell looks at how, by the twentieth century, Telugu language came to be personified elaborately and how it began to be imagined and described as having a life of its own. From then, acquiring a life history and family tree, Telugu language became personified as Telugu Talli or Mother Telugu. To substantiate her point that language had become an explicit marker of shared identity, Mitchell argues that in Gurujada Sriramamurti's book, Lives of Poets, the emphasis is not on the works of the poets but on their lives. What he does by this is to project those poets as ideal representatives of the Telugu language. She sees Sriramamurti's book as “one step in the larger cultural transformation that ultimately enabled the recognition of a biographic life of the Telugu language by the early twentieth century”. This transformation happened through various stages such as the shifts in patronage and technologies of circulation which facilitated the imagining of a wider audience of Telugu users; the adoption of new styles and literary techniques for narrating the lives of human beings; the introduction of chronological ordering; the conversion of histories of multiple poets to the history of the language; and the production of a full-fledged biography of a language as possessing a life of its own.
Mitchell looks at the event of the erection of a statue of the goddess Telugu Talli in August 2002 in front of the Andhra Pradesh Secretariat in Hyderabad as an attempt to understand the continuing emotional attachment to Telugu language among people who take pride in their linguistic identity. She says that this statue has come to stand for the personified Telugu language, its speakers and the territory that is defined by the use of Telugu language. She notes that the inscription on the goddess of Telugu Talli is in English and not in Telugu.  It is not the use of Telugu, but the idea of Telugu that matters, Mitchell argues. What this shows is that from a medium of communication, language has become a marker of cultural identity. Mitchell says, "Actual knowledge of a language is not essential for language to be seen as an attribute of someone's identity today." The assertion of a language as the natural basis for one's identity also requires the distancing from other languages. Language, as a foundational category, makes people of one language differentiate from people of other languages.

The third chapter titled 'Making the Local Foreign: Shared Language and History in Southern India' looks at what constitutes a shared language. Even when the speakers of the same language face unintelligibility because of dialect variations, they are all connected by a shared language.  The author argues that ''mutual intelligibility has been displaced as the criterion of what constitutes a shared language by invocation of history and common origin of a language."

Mitchell looks at how various scholars looked at the question of foreign words and the notion of pure Telugu. The notions of the local and the foreign have been very significant in the process of linguistic identification. Even now, many newspapers would not want to use even English words. Following the Sanskrit Vyakarana tradition, four categories of language analysis meant for identification and differentiation were framed by the scholars of Telugu in the nineteenth century. They were tatasma (the same as it), tadbhava (of the nature of it), desya (of the country or region) and gramya (of the village). The fourth category was an addition that Telugu scholars made to the Sanskrit vyakarana tradition. However the category of the foreign was absent in pre-colonial Telugu grammar. The kind of language analysis based on these four categories have been crucial in the construction of the notions of the local and the foreign. The idea of foreignness was emerged with the dominance of the ideology of historical origins and derivations.

Through three examples, the author shows how the notion of the foreign was inserted into language analysis. The first one is the rewriting of Telugu grammar by colonial administrators such as Alexander Duncan Campbell and Francis Whyte Ellis. The differentiation of words into desya (native/local) and anyadesya (foreign) was a shift that they brought into the language analysis. The second example Mitchell gives is that of the colonial administrator Charles Philip Brown's struggle to define the term anyadesyam. In 1840, he glossed the term anyadesya as local whereas in an 1857 publication the same word is defined as foreign. The third example is concerned with the notion of 'pure Telugu'. Pure Telugu was defined by the above mentioned colonial administrators as desyam-the words that belong to the land. It is this move of inventing a pure Telugu that makes the category of the foreign conspicuous. The author argues that the meta-linguistic movements in Telugu made new categories available which were responsible for the emergence of linguistic identities.

The next chapter, titled 'From Pandit to Primer: Pedagogy and Its Mediums' looks at the nineteenth century practice of educational intervention and the place of language as the most valuable object of study. The chapter focusses on the emergence of language as a new object of attention and intervention. The shift from learning language in use to learning languages as discrete and separate objects was evidenced by the replacing of pandits by printed primers and text books as ways of acquiring a language. Mitchell argues that learning language was not the explicit goal of learning and acquiring varied linguistic skills in formal or informal education. Linguistic competency meant being able to use language. However, soon there is a shift evident towards seeing languages themselves as objects of study.
In the shift from pandits to primers, the ability to memorize was relegated to an inferior position as printed texts became, to use Marshall McLuhan's term, extensions of man. The author argues that “printed textbooks did not simply replace the manuscripts which preceded them, but that they occasioned an entire restructuring of the meanings, practices, participants, goals and agendas related to the process of becoming educated.”

The book shows that in 19th century south India, the pandit's aim was to impart as much as he knows to his disciples. What the pandit expected from his students was an exact replica of himself. Whereas the teacher's role was to develop language skills in children and his agenda was not to replicate himself. The agenda of the school teacher was to teach something that was laid out in text books. 

The author says that the shift from pandit to primer as the organizing principle of educational content needs to be viewed in the backdrop of the larger historical conditions of the nineteenth century.  According to her, Christian missionary activity, administrative decisions made by colonial administrators, the new demands of colonial employment, the advent of printing in south India, and the establishment of educational and literary societies all had effects on educational practice in the Madras Presidency and on experiences of language. As a combined result of all these, textbooks began to replace pandits and textbooks were thought to be helping the quality of students' language usage.  She then goes on to give examples of two major Telugu primers and says that for most people education became synonymous with mastering the primer. She also shows that memory or the skill of remembering lost its importance in the aftermath of the introduction of print technology. Avadhanam, the skill of remembering many different matters, became no more a central value necessary to the preservation and transmission of knowledge-a shift from a practice to a mere performance. These changes meant a shift from mere literacy to cultural literacy which facilitated the making of language the foundation stone for language-cultures.

In the fifth chapter titled 'From the Art of Memory to the Practice of Translation: Making Languages Parallel', the author looks at how the objectives of education began to be defined along linguistic lines. It became necessary for students to acquire a more general basic knowledge of specific languages. Learning the grammar of a language became a prerequisite for doing things with language. By twentieth century the very meaning of being literate has undergone a radical change. Earlier, people used various languages for various purposes: Sanskrit for religious ablutions, Persian for official purposes, etc. However, by twentieth century different registers of the same language come to replace the various languages. There was also a change of perception that what one can do in a language can be done in any other language. This led to the idea of universal translatability.  By this time literacy began to mean the knowledge of the mother tongue. Mitchell traces three specific aspects of this shift towards the mother tongue. Instead of using languages to do things, language itself was made as discrete objects of study. The introduction of dictionaries which preoccupied with the notion of purity and origin resulted in the representation of languages as separate yet equivalent. The third aspect she points out is that the practice of translation has played a significant role in making languages appear to be parallel and equivalent to one another.

The author identifies three locations or domains in which the transition of language as separate, discrete and parallel objects takes place. They are the domains of study of language, lexicography and translation. The changes in these domains make Telugu no more a unique medium but a marker of socio-political identity and foundation for political and cultural authority.

The sixth chapter, titled 'Martyrs in the Name of Language? Death and the Making of Linguistic Passion' examines the events that took place around 1952, when Potti Sriramulu died and violence erupted in various parts of the present day Andhra Pradesh and the Centre's subsequent act of declaring a separate state for the Telugu-speaking people. She looks at how the violent events in the wake of Potti Sriramulu's death were read by Andhra movement leaders, historians and journalists. They saw it as an evidence of the coming together of the people's passion over the issue of linguistic statehood. However, Lisa Mitchell offers a reading against the grain to show that multiple narratives were collapsed into a single narrative of the formation of a separate state.

Lisa Mitchell offers various narratives about the nature of the movement and the events that took place in the wake of Sriramulu's death. According to many people, the Andhra movement became a mass movement only after the death of Sriramulu. Some people express the opinion that the movement became a mass movement with the eruption of violence. She finds problem with such a view that the participation of the masses was often seen as a law and order issue. The four boys who died at Nellore were not regarded as active participants or freedom fighters by many of the elites. Mitchell shows that the deaths of the four people at Nellore and similar deaths in other parts of the state got any mention only when they supported the larger narrative of the swelling passion of the masses for a separate state. She offers multiple versions of the stories about the four boys died at Nellore. Various newspapers had various narratives; the relatives had another narrative, etc. Finally, she shows how these four boys were appropriated as martyrs and the dead bodies of the three boys were not given to the relatives. What happens is there that they become part of the larger narrative of collective passion and all other narratives are sidelined.

The book's concluding remark is that it is the many shifts in the representation of and relationship to language that occurred in the 19th century that make the reading of the violence of 1952 as evidence of the unified passions of the masses for a separate Telugu-speaking state. The author shows how the emotional attachment to a language is something historically situated. Looking at the formation of three new states in 2000 and the similar demands for new states in contemporary India, she argues that it is development and governance, rather than language, the key word in the debates about the formation of new states. Even within the Telangana movement, the issue of language had become less significant and the issue of economic development had become more prominent.

As Mitchell pointed out in the introduction, the language movements in India were not separatist or secessionist as they were in the Europe. The nascent Indian state was not ready to entertain any secessionist demands and any demands for separate states needed to have popular support. It is here that language became the only legitimate foundation for political assertion. Her work is an attempt to understand the historical changes that made it possible for people to unite on the basis of a shared linguistic identity and also to show the devotion, pride, etc. people felt towards languages that went into the making of a mother tongue.

Unlike scholars like Bernard Cohn, Mitchell's analysis is not on colonial practices in relation to languages. In fact she starts from where Cohn has left off. An important feature of this book is that the author looks at the Nellore incident, which was subsumed under the larger narrative of 'collective passion' of the masses, more closely to offer against-the-grain readings. She asks how we can explain the presence of lower class and lower middle class people if the Andhra movement was a middle class movement. Why had those present during the agitations chosen to be there, and how could the discourse of attachment to language so easily come to be accepted as accounting for their presence? How has the idea of an emotional commitment to one’s mother tongue displaced other possible explanations for the large-scale events that occurred in the wake of Potti Sriramulu’s death in December 1952? The book is successful in answering these questions which the author stated as the aim of the book.

This book is the result of many years of research the methodology of which include detailed ethnographic studies, archival research, etc. For Lisa Mitchell, the research for this book also meant making Telugu one of her 'tongues' if not mother tongue.  Some of the tools the author used are personal interviews, discourse analysis, etc. An Anthropologist by training, Lisa Mitchell subjects a wide range of historical materials and literary materials as part of her analysis. Newspaper reports, official documents, personal records, pamphlets, etc. have been analyzed in this study. The sources that informed this study are mainly from Sanskrit, Telugu and English.

Language, Emotion, and Politics in South India: The Making of a Mother Tongue is a valuable asset to the corpus of studies about linguistic identities and state/nation formations, adding to the contributions made by scholars such as Sumathi Ramaswamy, Paul Brass, etc. This book, which has drawn heavily on Benedict Anderson's concept of 'imagined communities', also helps us to understand the limitations of Anderson's thesis in understanding the origins of nationalism in south India.

Jul 062017
 

Inquiry into the sinister underbelly of business and politics in India

 

Manzar Imam

Research Scholar

Academy of International Studies,

Jamia Millia Islamia

 

Abstract:

Josy Joseph’s book – A Feast of Vultures: The Hidden Business of Democracy in India – is a big hope, if not for changing, then at least for challenging the prevailing development discourse and pervasive corruption in the upper echelons of power, in India. A compelling multi-layered inquiry of deep corruption and rivalry at the highest level of business and politics, the book provides materials to activists, writers, teachers, students and public intellectuals to check the claims of transparency in governance and integrity in delivery of public promises, and find out the contradictions between those promises and their outcomes in the light of some daring serious investigations.

 

A Feast of Vultures: The Hidden Business of Democracy in India by Josy Joseph, HarperCollins Publishers India, 2016, ISBN 978-93-5029-751-3, pp 231, Rs 599

 

Key words: Democracy, Corruption, Middleman, Money, Murder, Economic Liberalization, Thakiyuddin, East West Airlines.

 

If you want to be lied to, all you have to do is believe everything that the government tells you. Nothing sums up the stories of A Feast of Vultures more than the above remark of author and leadership writing expert Steven Magee.

A Feast of Vultures: The Hidden Business of Democracy in India is the outcome of a daring investigative journalist’s hard-nosed reporting of India’s political underbelly and its murky relationship with the corporate houses. The book, as author Josy Joseph notes, is the outcome of the anguish at the staggering size and scale of the ‘deep immorality at the heart of our democracy’. The stories show lack of compassion of the government at people’s problems. The contradictions between what is claimed of the Indian democracy in public and how it exists in practice in crucial sectors like education, health, public transport and even judiciary are not hidden from keener observers like Joseph.

Mohammad Anwer Hussain’s restlessness at the cries of his sister Shahda, gone into labour, in an ordinary Indian village in Jehanabad (now in Arwal), Bihar which has neither road nor hospital still ring in his ears. A village with eighteen families has ‘not a single bathroom’. What Anwer learns later in Delhi is that democracy in India works in two ways: money and persistence whenever you want to get something done. But it works even better when you know the right middlemen.

Joseph calls Anwer’s quest for a road and hospital in his village and his frequent trips to government offices in New Delhi “a tutorial on the modern Indian state.” If you wish to get anything done, you must know the right middlemen who have the ears of their bosses. Money is the biggest shot that get India’s creaky government machinery moving. ‘If you fight persistently, you can get something you deserve with a lot of difficulty. If you have money, you can get it without a fight’, says Anwer, who through his persistence was able to get a road built and he become sort of an icon in his village Hridaychak. However, Anwer’s sufferings did not end there.

And, Anwer is not alone to have experienced this. There are hundreds of such sufferers across India’s 6,38,000 villages and thousands of medium and small towns most of whom lose the battle either for want of money or lack of access to the right facilitators. A Feast of Vultures is the story of such suppressed voices in the everyday functioning of a country claiming to be the largest democracy in the world.

On the question as to what has led to this situation, Joseph himself said during the book launch discussion that the biggest problem is that the economic liberalization was implemented without necessary ‘political reforms’. One biggest mistakes was the political parties’ allowing the black money. If that is corrected, change will happen. We have created two Indias: one India very much like the rich and famous: the India where we are sharing the booty of economic liberalization, and the other India where there is growing anger, frustration, militancy, insurgency, armed struggle, etc. It is frightening that people are killed on a daily basis in Bastar and the surroundings. The media need to expose this contradiction, Joseph urged stating that if we do not write, we will be the same.

Anwer and people like him are poor victims of a system which runs for the rich, of the rich and by the rich. These rich or neo riche can be found in the form of the facilitators, or those for whom they work and, the rich business class for whom the laws are bent and the rules twisted.

While the government and its go-between earn as much as their tenure allows, the businessmen can make the two toe their line by dint of their wealth, the modern day god before whom most seem to bow their heads. Most skyscrapers standing tall and making the poor commuter look bony stand either on some poor’s land or his labour. However, it is the poor who cannot even think of entering these highly guarded structures and the fortified government offices.

It is not that everyone is in an unfair business. What frightens, however, is the existence of high risks, unethical practices and cutthroat competition so much so that one of India’s richest persons like Ratan Tata once felt not dare challenge it. The competition and rivalry is so deep that it can take the life of the richest of the rich and yet the story may remain shrouded under layers of deep mystery.

One such major mystery which Joseph tries to reopen is the murder of a Malayali businessman Thakiyuddin Abdul Wahid, the managing director of the East West Airlines, India’s first private airline, whose last flight touched down in Mumbai ‘One morning in June 1977’, two years after Thakiyuddin was gunned down on 13 November, 1995 and, just five years after it began its domestic service in 1992, following the government’s ‘Open Skies Policy’. What could have been one of India’s most successful private airlines is now a ‘mere footnote to India’s frantic growth’.

Having covered some of the  most startling scam stories like the Adarsh Apartment scam, scandals such the conduct of the Commonwealth Games, the 2G Spectrum Allocation scam, A Feast of Vultures is perhaps Joseph’s most astounding and unprecedented finding of not just one murder but hundreds of big losses, scams, scoops, scandals and loopholes that go either unnoticed or are made to be forgotten in a democracy where ‘everything is on sale’ and where money is the real buyer and ruler and, those who have it, have everything else: the law, the land, the government and the mediators working for their own good and for the good of their masters.

A Feast of Vultures is lending voice to millions of Indians, simmering with anger over huge corruptions, who either do not have patience and courage to persist like Anwer or money to grease the itching hands of the intermediaries sneaking into government offices. The understanding between politicians and business tycoons is all the more sinister. If you attempt to unmask them, they will ‘deploy ingenious methods to silence you’, writes Joseph.

Joseph’s book is a big hope if not for changing, then at least for challenging the prevailing development discourse and pervasive corruption and rivalry in the upper echelons of power. A compelling multi-layered inquiry of deep corruption at the highest level of business and politics which must be read by activists, writers, teachers, students and public intellectuals to check the claims of transparency in governance and integrity in delivery of public promises.

Jul 062017
 

The Nuer: A Description of the Modes of Livelihood and Political Institutions of a Nilotic People by E. E. Evans-Pritchard, Clarendon Press, Oxford, 1940, pp.340

 

Reviewed by

Anakha Ajith

Ph.D. Research Scholar

Department of Anthropology

University of Hyderabad, Telangana

 

Published in 1940 and written against the backdrop of British colonial rule, “The Nuer: A description of the modes of livelihood and political institutions of a Nilotic people” is the first among the trilogy of books penned on this people by the renowned anthropologist Evans- Pritchard (the other two being “Kinship and marriage among the Nuer” and “Nuer religion”). The book can be looked at as a fruit of colonial administration since the author was hired by the British ruled government of Sudan to study the Nuer political structure. As the title suggests, the major themes of the book are the way of life of the people, their ecological conditions and modes of livelihood as well as the social organisation of the Nuer. It is the latter half of the book that deals with the description of the Nuer political, lineage and age-set systems which is the crux of this work.

In the introductory section, Pritchard conveys the hardships and tough times he had to go through in Nuerland, the limitations of his work and other methodological constraints. Nuerland is the abode of the Nuer, a Nilotic ethnic group that occupies the endless marshes and the wide Savannah plains of Sudan. The initial pages of the book are dedicated to the description of these pastoralists whose lives revolve around their cattle. Cattle being the mostly valued asset as well as a source of food supply find their significance in the spheres of marriage, rituals such as initiation ceremonies etc. and this love for cattle goes to the extent of men being addressed by the name of their favourite oxen. This is manifested in the author going to the extent of stating that the people’s social idiom is a bovine idiom.(p.19). Though they are fond of meat and sacrifice the oxen, the possession of cattle adds to one’s prestige as cattle wealth is one of those criteria which makes a person formidable among the other members. However, the author clarifies the idea that the people are not parasites of their cattle as the latter also depends on the men and both lead a symbiotic relationship.(p.36).He also traces that the unfavourable ecological conditions do not let them to depend on one source of food, thereby leading this community to engage in millet growing, fishing, hunting etc. in addition to cattle rearing.

 

Pritchard also remembers to make a note of the inter-tribal fights and adds that the Nuer consider it as their duty to raid the Dinka who are their immemorial enemies though the both are much physically and culturally akin. The Nuer who call themselves “Nath” are an oft-cited instance of segmentary political system and it is the tendencies of any political group towards fission and fusion which lies at the centre of Nuer political structure. The segmentation of Nuer tribes into primary, secondary and tertiary tribal sections is exemplified with the cases of different tribes in the chapter ‘The political system’, which is the main focus of the work. These fission and fusion tendencies are a fundamental principle of their social structure and this segmentation process would interest the readers. This Nilotic people whose state is an acephalous kinship state (having no leader/head)  lead more or less an egalitarian life (though women and children are subservient to men). Neither is any chief given more respect, nor is anyone granted with authority. This idea is exemplified in the case of the leopard-skin chief who acts as a mediator and ritual agent but lacks any kind of political authority.

Like the political system, the lineage system of the Nuer is also segmented and it is evident from the division of the lineage into maximal, major, minor and minimal lineages. Lineages are associated with territories and these people follow rules of clan exogamy. It is worth noting that the usage of the word “cieng” (which a person uses when referring to the group which he belongs to) often confused the author as its usage varies with the social context. These tobacco-loving men whom the author describes as courageous, generous and proud give significance to the group. Pritchard remarks- “By ‘group’ we mean persons who regard themselves as a distinct unit in relation to other units, and who all have reciprocal obligations in virtue of their membership of it” (p.263). The final chapter deals with an important characteristic feature of the community which is its system of age-sets, which place the adult male population into stratified groups based on age. The author makes the point that this system differs from that of the lineage and territorial systems as an age set group changes its position in relation to the whole system. People looking for the main themes of the book can have a glance at the section towards the end of the last chapter ‘The age-set system’ and the 11 points explained there would serve the purpose (p.262- p.266).

The book is composed in such a way that the author came up with a rich ethnographic account despite the constraints of conversing in the native language of the Nuer. Pritchard can be accused of being ethnocentric in his attitude towards the Nuer and the account teems with many such examples. To quote a few would be “…their derisive pride amazes a stranger” (p.90), “…..the Nuer social organisation is simple and their culture bare” (p.9) etc. The author does not deal with the role of women in the society and the only instance where one finds the mention of women is in relation to milking of the cattle. This neglect might be either due to the lack of access to studying the women or due to the ethnographer’s choice of treating the voice of the male as the dominant one which represents the whole of the society. One might also feel that the author should have included some details about the religion of the Nuer in this book since religious system demands significance as lineage system or political system. It must be to cover up this limitation that he came up with the last work in the trilogy which is entirely dedicated to their religion and is entitled “Nuer religion”. Though it might sound dry and lengthy at some instances, the way he put forth his ideas have often succeeded in dragging back the reader's’ attention and making them interested in the further description. However Evans-Pritchard has succeeded in taking his readers in the voyage to Nuerland and “The Nuer” being considered as a classic in social anthropology is an open testimony to this.

Jul 062017
 

Challenge Accepted

Monica Tanwar

Lecturer in English,

Department of Applied Sciences and Humanities

Atal Bihari Vapayee Government Institute of Engineering and Technology,

District Shimla, Himachal Pradesh.

 

Mukta closed her eyes and was ready to jump, but was startled by a phone call. It was Raksha, her younger sister. Raksha was excited about their cousins marriage, for about half an hour she went on about how she is going to dress up, which songs they are gonna dance on and what not. For obvious reasons she could not disclose her plan to her sibling but for a moment, Mukta forgot what she was doing and  got immersed in talking while looking at the pinnacle of woods. But just one word uttered by her sister brought her back to reality….her reality. The word marriage which brings smile, hope for better future, feeling of love and trust for everyone was just a mirage for Mukta. In a moment, she was transported ten years back when she was jubilant, courageous and gregarious girl.

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Everyone was congratulating Mukta’s parents on her wedding day eulogizing the perfect couple. Parents swelled up with pride. Watching her parents swelled up with pride, Mukta was ecstatic on finding the love of her life through an arranged marriage. Vilas, her soon-to-be husband was a gem of person and had promised her unconditional support at all odds. What made her fall in love with himinstantly was when he accepted her biggest concern with grace that even after marriage she can take care of her parents along with her in-laws.Rarely to find a man who is ready to give a free hand to his woman.

Mukta was completely mesmerized at the beautiful turn her life had taken. There were moments of panic, but the compassion flowing from every nook and corner made her feel at ease. Her opinion that no one can comprehend her notions and responsibilities, took a complete 360o turn.

With all the jubilation and perplexed feelings she got ready for the night. Stomach growling, limbs shaking, she sat waiting for him. Atlast the door opened, and her heart missed a beat. Like every other newly wed bride she was unable to decide, should she hide her confounded mind or should she display the coquettish feminine look. She had hardly decided but was startled as he sat next to her quietly. Mukta’s heart started thumping wildly. She was now experiencing everything what she had read in fiction and poems.It was so real that she could just feel the lines of the poems coming alive.

But wait why such silence has engulfed the air… say something to me… here I am waiting to hear about your immense love and to be immersed in your love…

Mukta thought Vilas is also in a similar situation. Two meetings, a few calls and now marriage bells, how are we supposed to react….but life is full of surprises and you are the best surprise of my life.

But before Mukta could pour out her feelings of love and respect, Vilas said something which still reverbrates in her ears “We will be husband and wife for the world but behind these closed doors there will not be any relation between us.”

Mukta was dumfounded, she could not believe what her ears just heard. But unmoved Vilas continued, “ I will give you freedom and will support in your endeavors as promised. We will be husband and wife but in this room whatever things you are expecting will never fructify”.

But what is the reason? Have I done something wrong? Is there any problem?

No, there is no problem. Its just I am not ready yet (Mukta took a sigh of relief). Its just I have so much of work pressure. Also I have pledged my life for the cause of society. To serve the society selflessly I need to be free from the family tensions.

Ohh….these are just marriage hiccups. Ours is an arranged marriage, thereis no need to push the things. Take your time, its better to know each other and then proceed.

Mukta smiled and retired to sleep dreaming of a better and lovely future……

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Mukta returned from reverie and rememberedthat next month it will be ten years since she had consented to be prisoned in The Doll’s House. With each passing day things turned from bad to worse.Vilas had moved to another apartment leaving her behind with his parents asking Mukta to fulfill her duties of Daughter-in-law. Once independent, bright and self-assured Mukta was now becoming a depressed, lonely and irritable Mukta.

Today, the last nail in the coffin was when Vilas’s relatives started blaming her for being barren. What pinched her was her own behavior rather than others perspective.From when she became so docile that she was now accepting the fault without any rationale. How much she has sacrificed and how long she has to? Is this her fate? We talk about digitalisation but when is the society going to change. Everyone is educated but the family norms and duties are still beyond logic. She tried persuading Vilas numerous times but in vain. Now his family is blaming her for believing Vilas and allowing him to withdraw himself from marital life. Each moment is drawing her close to suicidal thoughts. So, now …….She has decided to put a stop to all this, made preparations, but that last sentence on the phone call changed something in her. Mukta, I will be waiting for you… miss you a lot. Raksha has no idea what she did. This last sentence made her think… her role is not just of a wife or daughter-in-law. She is first a daughter then a sister and its only later that she had entered into other relations. She has to perform her role exemplarily. If Life is a Challenge, she has to FACE IT. It’s her choice either to be brave and independent Nora or to be delusional Blanche.

Night concedes to the dawn of new day and sun rays penetrated into the room. Mukta gets ready, and closes the door of her dark room FOREVER…

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