In which English and India are yoked together…

First, this utterly tiresome piece in The New York Times by Manu Joseph, on English in India. Which gushingly equates English used in Bollywood and English used by Dalits.  Jaw-droppingly cavalier journalism and writing.

Second, this brilliant response to that drivel. 

And finally, this biting review of Anand Giridhardhas’ India Calling, indeed of all books in that genre, as the opening line says: 

It is a truth universally acknowledged that a young Indian-American in possession of some years’ experience of India must be in want of a book contract.

Seriously though, folks, who really is to blame if our English is all the world sees?

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4 Comments »

  1. gaddeswarup said

    Blamt it on Naipaul, V.S. that is. Recently I saw in adevelopment blog, Shiva Naipaul’s ‘North of south’ is one of the five non-technical books for people interested in development.

  2. @gaddeswarup:

    🙂 No, I wouldn’t blame Naipaul. Or any one writer for that matter. As I’ve said several times on this blog, the problem is not the use of English per se. English is an Indian language, even if a second language, and its use is no longer an issue. The ‘authenticity’ debate for me does not centre on the use of English, but on its projection as representing India. None of the Indian languages claims to represent ‘India’; instead they are rooted in specific socio-cultural spaces. Since English lacks such a space, it tends to assume a pan-Indian identity, an identity so amorphous as to be ridiculous. And there are obvious problems with the language of the elite minority claiming to represent anything other than that elite minority.

  3. gaddeswarup said

    Sorry; I was quoting (with a misprint) from the review of Anand Giridhardas book. And I mentioned Shiva Naipaul because I liked his Fireflies and am reading the other book now. Very much away from the thrust of your post. Just an old habit of mentioning my favourite things when I get a chance even if it is irrelevant.

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