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English: Indian writers trashes unease of adopting the aggressor’s language

Syed Shoaib writes about the grown popularity of English language amongst the writers and the vast unexplored regional literature waiting to get translated and read by the Generation ‘Y’ of India. Excerpts from his article titled ‘English should power our writers’ in Post Noon, Hyderabad’s first afternoon newspaper:

They were hesitant steps, yet left their mark in the poems of Sarojini Naidu and writings of authors like RK Narayan.

It was only after Salman Rushdi’s Mid­night’s Children in 1981, which won the Man Booker prize, that Indian writers saw the potential of writing in English.

Indian writing being a very young literature, writers were not able to find the right idiom to express themselves effectively. Hence, a large part of Indian experience is now unrecorded and the tendency to present India as an exotic land is prevalent in these writings.

It is only after the huge success of English books written by Indians of late that the authors realised the vast Indian market for their works. A major part of the audience is in India while the western audience is limited to critical acclaim. Writings of Shobha De and Chethan Bhagat are very popular among the Gen Y, much as the earlier generation was familiar with Mills & Boon, James Hadley Chase and Westerns. Today, the young set has a blank look at the mention of these authors.

With English becoming the global language for communication and the ‘computer language’ the unease of adopting the aggressor’s language has been trashed. What has doubly helped is that memories of colonial rule are becoming faint and distant. English has also become the lingua franca in the country, so there is more acceptance of this young tradition of literature, kindling optimism about its future.

Aside the original writing in English, there is also the big unexplored potential of translating works of Indian languages into English. The limited English writers in India, mainly urban India, have captured only a miniscule slice of the great experience that is India.

It is from creative works in regional languages that an in-depth view of the totality of India can be had. This could be a window to India for the rest of the world and we would do well to foster this activity. 

Read the full column: English should power our writers