Comments on: Does Indian literature owe its global success to the Raj? Perspectives on South Asian politics Thu, 02 Jun 2016 08:03:22 +0000 hourly 1 By: 0BOTP0 Fri, 21 Jan 2011 17:17:01 +0000 My initial impression of Bal’s first piece was that Hartosh Singh Bal has a major chip on his shoulder and/or is a publicity-seeker.

My opinion, after his rebuttal, did not change.

As has been pointed pointed out by numerous commenters and Dalrymple himself, the nature of audiences, sessions and speakers at JLF destroys Bal’s claims. Pre-JLF, Indians complained that no-one was taking notice. Now, Bal has found a new grouse.

In terms of approval, I think there is a larger phenomenon at work here. When it comes to politics and diplomacy, successive Indian Governments always sought the approval of the US in the post-Cold War 1990s period. Registering complaints against what they perceived as ‘transgressions’ by Pakistan occurred regularly. This probably happened because the US was seen as the world superpower at the time.

Similarly, Indians have traditionally grown up on a diet of British literature, reading about well-established British literary awards. It is natural to think of Britain as a leading literary power.

Apropos ‘celebrity’ writers getting more attention than ‘great writers [from Europe]’, doesn’t the celebrity culture pervade all aspects of public life? Who does Bal think would get more media attention during red carpet movie award/music events?

As for any ongoing need for British approval, more and more Indians in the middle-class see the US as their choice for higher education, etc. American television and cultural influences, American slang, trends are all more prevalent in India today. Gone are the days of domination of English public-school and Oxbridge-educated grandees in the Indian political and diplomatic circles. It therefore baffles me how Bal finds this particular kind of cultural cringe to be very strong in India….. And his tone in his first piece is shockingly offensive (as with most such offensive pieces, a result of his ignorance).

To me, Bal’s pieces suggest his refusal/inability to accept Dalrymple as an Indian writer. And refusal to accept that a British-born writer could head a major Indian literary festival without it having imperial-colonial implications.

By: rezaketwaru Tue, 18 Jan 2011 21:10:28 +0000 Bai’s comments are not only fed by an obvious inferiority complex, but also demonstrate a lack of understanding of the wider reach of the English language. That certainly applies to them in the Indian Diaspora for whom English is not even their native language (neither that Hindi or any other Indian dialect is) but still can connect with the homeland via its literature written in English. Isn’t Indian literature best celebrated through its reach beyond the borders of India?

So isn’t the Raj being used to promote Indian literature for the greater goal?