What more can we ask for? Anyone will ask naturally if I repeat what I just wrote in the title of this article. It is that kind of reaction anyone will fire almost instantly. ASAP. However, it is good for Hindi literature, Sanskrit literature, and literature in other languages of India. We should be happy with what our scholars are wanting. What better could it be for Indian literature and Indian academia if many people are working on what we read regularly. However, come to English literature and ask yourselves. What do we read? What do we study? What do we have in our content prescribed in the syllabuses? How much is covered by Indian literature in English? The answers might surprise many.
And average participation of Indian works in the syllabus of English literature, BA and MA, is almost less than 35% and the rest is covered by British, American, Australian and world literature in English. And when it comes to working on the most important project of any student’s life, that is research, academic authorities suddenly remember Indian literature. A student is forced to drag himself in the lanes he or she never walked before without shoes and glasses. Is that fair?
I am not advocating students should work on British and American literature. Well, why cannot the universities accommodate more works by Indian writers in the syllabuses? Why are we compelled to read Dickens and Austen? Those authors can be enjoyed in the leisure as well. They have become redundant. Believe it or not. Now is the time to study contemporary literature and various aspects of it… and that also by Indian writers so that a student can connect with the mood of the world better rather than wander in the 17th and 18th castles of the Otranto and get lost!
We need to prepare ourselves accordingly once we know what our targets are. Indian students are never sure of their research topics or even research ideas or domains. They keep studying British literature with a slight interest in the ‘commonwealth’ literature because this is what their syllabuses deliver. We prepare admirers of Keats and Shelley and we suddenly expect them to understand the nuances of Ezekiel and Mahapatra… they will never be able to do it!
Let’s keep the idea of English literature intact. However, no one can be forced and slapped with content that is outrightly British. We will need to end the mental and intellectual slavery of the British, at least now. Let our boys and girls study Sri Aurobindo and Tagore, Vivekananda and Yogananda, Mahapatra and P Lal, Kamala Das and Saorijini Naidu, Anand and Raja Rao, Narayan and Bhattacharya… there is much English literature in India, by Indians and for Indians… let them have the pie now, come on!
Written by Sandesh for Indian Book Lovers