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Published: 2nd Apr, 2021


  • Indeed, English in India has claimed a space alongside, even encompassing the vernacular Indian tongues, asserting its ability to articulate local moorings, angsts and desires.
  • Yes, literatures in different Indian languages draw as much from each other and their textures of location, myths and oral traditions, as they do from their interaction with the Anglophone West.
  • In fact, English writings in India draw from local textures of everyday life as much as the Bhasha literatures draw from the modernist agenda of colonial regimes, and their interaction with English under the spectre of the colonial education system and colonial modernity.
  • The genre of novel in India, for instance, was first tried in Bhashas — Malayalam, Odia, Marathi, Bengali — and only later in English. Considering that Bhashas were a "site of significant projects of reform and dissent" during the colonial times, to assume that literatures in English speak of global concerns whereas literatures in Indian languages is concentrated on local concerns, cultural roots and narrow social views is a fallacy.
  • In the post-liberalisation Indian economy, the diaspora is no longer a movement from east to west, from struggle to opportunity, from bondage to freedom in search of better opportunities as evidenced by the return movements of writers like Chetan Bhagat and Aravind Adiga.
  • Diaspora is also not a space singularly populated by Anglophone writers of Indian origins. The latest example is Hindi writer Praveen Kumar Jha settled in Norway whose Hindi novel Coolie Lines (2019) explores the lives of indentured.
  • Even in terms of book publishing, most international publishers are moving into Indian language publishing and opening their offices in India.
  • Once upon a time, Indian English writers travelled to England just to get their works published there. Now, Anglophone novelists such as Anuja Chauhan, Chetan Bhagat, and Amish Tripathi do not care about publishing their books outside of India.
  • Both English language translations and Anglophone writings have gained the confidence to dispense with elaborate glossaries explaining cultural markers to a western reader. In other words, the myth of cosmopolitanism of English as opposed to the parochialism of Indian languages has largely dissolved.
  • These new literary iterations fostered by changed social and cultural dynamics and prodded by the changing and complex relationship between English and the Bhashas in the twenty-first century India have transformed the scenario of Indian literature(s), which is now hoisted upon frames of globalisation, entrenched in every day and the banal and equipped with complex archives of memory.
  • Harnessing the varied and even ambivalent aspirational realms, looking outward but feeling inward, the Indian literatures are positioned at the intersection of regional, national and transnational networks.
  • In their polyphony and pluriversalism, they offer us a template for the de-colonial conceptualisation of world literature by inviting us to “unlearn our deeply ingrained Prejudices" (Bhatnagar and Kaur. n.p.) and herald new ways of thinking.

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