Archive for March, 2006

New book on sociolinguistic aspects of Indian Writing in English, by JAYDEEP SARANGI

Recently published is the following interesting volume:


Jaydeep Sarangi, INDIAN NOVELS IN ENGLISH – A SOCIOLINGUISTIC STUDY, Bareilly (India): Prakash Book Depot, 2005 – 154 pp. – ISBN 81-7977-129-16; author’s email:


The author of this study is Senior Lecturer in English at Seva Bharati Mahavidyalaya (Vidyasagar University), Kapgari, Midnapore district, West Bengal, India. It originally appeared as his doctoral thesis (awarded by Vidyasagar University).


The reader is offered a sociolinguistic analysis of recent and contemporary Indian English, via representative texts drawn from Indian Writing in English. The key sociolinguistic concepts deployed include code-switching (moving from one language to another), code-mixing (including elements of more than one language in the same utterance), role-relationships (the structuring of dialogue according to the speakers’ different roles in society), and turn-taking (the social conventions governing who speaks when). These concepts are applied to works by Mulk Raj Anand, Raja Rao, R.K. Narayan, Bhabani Bhattacharya, Khushwant Singh, Rama Mehta, Anita Desai, Amitav Ghosh and Arundhati Roy. The case is made for the vitality and vibrancy of Indian English as a specific variant of International English. A full bibliography is appended.

Photo of Jaydeep Sarangi: below in entry for 18 March 2006, ‘Ten Days at JNU University Delhi’.


On-line resources for the study of RAJA RAO: work of LETIZIA ALTERNO


Those interested in the work of Raja Rao (1908-), one of the most important practitioners of Indian Writing in English, noted especially for his philosophical depth, and author of such major novels as ‘Kanthapura’ (1938), ‘The Serpent and the Rope’ (1960) and ‘The Cat and Shakespeare’ (1965), may wish to visit the following two very useful sites.




This site, ‘A TRIBUTE TO RAJA RAO’, is conceived by Letizia Alterno and designed by Yann Bezin. Letizia Alterno (M. Phil., Kakatiya University, Warangal, India; thesis on Raja Rao; photo above) is currently working on a book on the novelist, to be published in India by Foundation Books. She is also a member of the editorial team of The Atlantic Literary Review, Delhi – see entry in this blog for 4 October 2005. The site includes a very full primary and secondary bibliography and the complete text of a fascinating study of ‘The Cat and Shakespeare’ by Letizia Alterno (previously published in Kakatiya Journal of English Studies), as well as a useful selection of links.




This is the official Raja Rao website, also maintained by Letizia Alterno and with major input from David Iglehart, R. Parthasarathy and other important Rao scholars. It is sponsored in part by The Raja Rao Publication Project (University of Texas at Austin): ‘The Raja Rao Publication Project at The University of Texas is working to make all of Raja Rao’s writings, especially those still unpublished, available to readers around the world who are interested in his fiction and thought. The task of the project is to organize, edit, and secure publication for Raja Rao’s unpublished novels, short stories, poetry, essays, and correspondence.’ The site includes a biography and chronology, a bibliography, comments on Raja Rao’s philosophy and art, a preliminary inventory of the author’s still-unpublished manuscripts, and a panoply of links.


‘I write to you, at the hour of dusk, the auspicious hour, because it is non-dual, and therefore transcendent: the moment when the day and night do not meet, but leave a depth of silence, and so the edge of sound, lingering towards its origins. It’s a noble hour because it affirms the unnameable.’  – Raja Rao, 1988




The Qutab Minar site (Delhi): history as syncretism

In March 2006, during the days I spent as Visiting Professor at the Jawaharlal Nehru University (JNU) (Delhi), I had the privilege of paying a visit to the Qutab Minar complex in south Delhi, a UNESCO World Heritage site that movingly embodies the richness and depth of India’s cultural heritage. The site is a short rickshaw ride away from the university, and its minaret is even visible from some of the faculty windows. ** Surrounded by a flowery park that plays home to parakeets and squirrels, the Qutab Minar is dominated by the highest tower in all India, the minaret (‘minar’ in Urdu) that gives the site its name (Qutab refers to Qutab-ad-Din, the Turkic conqueror who was Delhi’s Muslim ruler from 1206 to 1210 CE). The minaret, 73 metres high, consists of five tapering stories. It was commenced under Qutab-ud-Din and completed under Feroz Shah Tughlaq in 1368. The site includes the remains of India’s oldest surviving mosque, the tomb of a Sufi saint, the ruins of a madrasa, the remnant of a never-finished second minaret and much more. Large parts of the complex are the result of the Muslim appropriation of motifs and materials from the earlier Hindu temples on the site, and apsara-like figures thus coexist with abstract decorations and geometrically shaped pillars. ** The oldest element on the site is an iron pillar dating from the very early Hindu epoch, seven metres high and with inscriptions in Sanskrit and Pali stating that it was erected to Vishnu in honour of the conquests of King Chandragupta II (4th century BCE). Tradition has it that those who stand with their back to the pillar (or, today, to its railings) and meditate will have their deepest wish granted. The story further has it that the pillar was put where it is by Bhima, the strong-armed hero from the Mahabharata. Today, the Qutab Minar site as a whole stands as a reminder of the depth contribution of both Hindu and Muslim traditions to Indian civilisation – a symbol of syncretism and intercultural dialogue, for these our troubled times. ** Here too are 6  photos from the site – taken variously by myself or Antonia Navarro Tejero or our guide, Murad.

Ten days at Jawaharlal Nehru University (JNU) (Delhi)

From 2 to 11 March 2006 I had the pleasure of staying at Jawaharlal Nehru University (New Delhi;, as a Visiting Professor by the kind invitation of the School of Language, Literature and Culture Studies. The more academic side of my stay is charted elsewhere on this blog (entry: 15 March). Here I talk about some aspects of my day-to-day life there. ** JNU was founded in 1969 and takes as its founding ideal Pandit Nehru’s vision of a university. The great man’s statue is there at the entrance to the faculties, flanked by a plaque quoting his words: ‘A University stands for humanism, for tolerance, for reason, for the adventure of ideas and for the search of truth’. JNU is a mostly postgraduate institution which also offers courses in the language, literature and culture field for 17 language areas, European and Asian. Both staff and students come from all over India (those looking Chinese are in fact from the north-eastern states): there are also some 100 foreign students at any given time. JNU’s intensive activity in the conference field was evident from the endless numbers of posters on display while I was there. The campus was also plastered with anti-American propaganda coinciding with George W. Bush’s visit to India: among the slogans were the historically resonant ‘Bush Quit India’ and the wittily creative ‘When Bush comes to shove resist!’. ** The JNU campus is beautifully landscaped, with exotic trees and, at this time of year, a riot of bougainvilleas and other flowers, red, pink and purple. Its abundant wildlife includes green parakeets, peacocks, squirrels and – though I never saw one – elusive antelopes. I stayed in the Aravali Guest House, where I took most of my meals. The quality of the food was generally high and I was able to relish puri sabzi (bread fritters with chickpeas) at breakfast-time, fish curry, and varied vegetable thalis. The campus has its own bank, post office, dry cleaners, bookshop and mini-shopping centre. Many of the staff live in purpose-built, on-site accommodation. It is also a relative haven of peace in bustling Delhi, even though I was kept awake some nights by the peacocks’ call-and-response (their cry sounds like a loud cat’s meow) or by the noise of planes from the nearby Indira Gandhi International Airport (one night a convoy of six aircraft in quick succession announced Bush’s departure). ** Located in south Delhi, the campus is about half-an-hour’s rickshaw ride from the centre. The main road opposite the principal gate leads to a modern hotel and shopping centre (the latter complete with McDonald’s and other emblems of globalisation). I sent emails from the Hilltop Cybercafé, perched on a height just opposite the gate and looking down on the vehicles, and donkeys, stray dogs and sacred cows that pass on the highway below. The campus buzzes in its intellectual ferment, yet something in the cows’ unruffled eyes declares that in her heart Mother India never changes. I enormously enjoyed my stay at JNU – not just the academic activity but the day-to-day feel of the place – and it is my hope that before too long Mother India will call me back there, back to the bougainvilleas and the peacocks’ cry! ** Added are photos of: the Nehru plaque and statue; the School of Languages; Aravali Guest House; the park; my friend Dr Jaydeep Sarangi outside the Guest House; and the Hilltop Cybercafé.

Jawaharlal Nehru University (JNU) (Delhi): Seminar + Writers’ Meet, March 2006

The School of Language, Literature and Culture Studies (SLLCS) of Jawaharlal Nehru University (JNU) (New Delhi) held, between 9 and 11 March 2006, a major seminar/workshop of national and international scope, centred on the proposed creation of a programme in Cultural Studies, of an interdisciplinary nature, in the School. The SLLCS already teaches courses in 17 different language areas (European and Asian); the new programme is intended to complement and not in any way replace the existing programmes. The subjects discussed included: Theoretical issues; Translation studies; Comparative literature; Classical cultural forms;  Theatre and performance studies; Folklore; Film Studies; New media and popular culture studies; Photography, video and visual culture Studies; and the curriculum and modalities of the new programme. The seminar was attended by prominent academics and researchers from all over India.


The participants included two who had come for the purpose from outside India. My friend Dr Antonia Navarro Tejero, of the University of Córdoba – who has taught in the past at JNU – offered, under the heading ‘Culture Studies Today – Theoretical Issues’, a paper on ‘Education and Globalisation: Reflections on Intercultural Studies’. I spoke myself, under the rubric ‘Translation Studies as Contributive to Intercultural Studies’, on ‘Beyond the Domestic and the Foreign: Translation as Dialogue’.


Antonia and I also took part in the event ‘Writers’ Meet’, organised by Professor Shyama Prasad Ganguly (Chair, Centre of Spanish, Portuguese, Italian and Latin American Studies) and Professor Makarand Paranjape (Chair, Centre of English Studies), held at the SLLCS on 7 and 8 March. On the 7th, I gave a lecture on ‘Problems of translating Indian Writing in English into Spanish, with reference to "A Married Woman" by Manju Kapur’, referring to the Spanish translation, ‘Una mujer casada’, by Dora Sales Salvador (details are elsewhere here on my blog). The round table of which my paper was a part included the participation of Antonia and – this was an honour indeed! – Manju Kapur herself. The next day, I delivered a talk on ‘Indian Writing in English: Some Language Issues and Translation Problems’. Both days also included the participation of the writer Kiran Nagarkar.


Both the big seminar and the ‘Writers’ Meet’ were extremely successful: Antonia and myself were more than satisfied, as were our JNU hosts. Certainly, these events have made their contribution to a closer approximation between the intellectual milieux of India and Europe, at this crucial moment of economic and cultural expansion of the host country.


I should add that over those days I had the great pleasure of meeting, in person and at length, Manju Kapur, as well as Githa Hariharan and Kiran Nagarkar, and I extend my deepest thanks to these three writers for opening a window on their daily reality and creative process. I also most profoundly thank Professor Shyama Prasad Ganguly and Antonia Navarro Tejero for having made this unforgettable trip possible.


Note added 3 September 2009:

My paper from "Writers’ Meet", ‘Indian Writing in English: Some Language Issues and Translation Problems’, has been published in No 9 (second series), Spring 2008, of JSL,
the Journal of the School of Language, Literature and
Cultural Studies of Jawaharlal Nehru University, pp 29-40 (see blog entry for 14 July 2008).

It is available on-line at:

The Manju Kapur paper has also been published:

HISPANIC HORIZON (JNU), No 27, 2009, pp. 80-107. For more details, see this blog, entry for 3 September 2009. It is available on-line at:



** PHOTOS FROM WRITERS’ MEET, 7 March 2006: Manju Kapur; Audience; Antonia, Manju and Chris. The AUDIENCE photo includes (last 4 on right): Eva González (Instituto Cervantes), Kiran Nagarkar, Prof. Paranjape and Prof. Ganguly.

Jawaharlal Nehru University (JNU) (Delhi): congreso + encuentro de escritores, marzo de 2006

En la School of Language, Literature and Culture Studies (SLLCS) de la Jawaharlal Nehru University (JNU) (New Delhi), se realizó entre el 9 y el 11 de marzo de 2006 un gran seminario/taller de envergadura nacional e internacional, centrado en la futura creación de un programa de Cultural Studies, de cariz interdisciplinar, en dicha escuela. Precisamos que en la SLLCS se imparten ya cursos referentes a 17 idiomas, europeos y asiáticos, y que, por otro lado, el nuevo programa complementará los programas existentes, sin intenciones de remplazar alguno de ellos. Los temas abordados comprendieron: Aspectos teóricos; Estudios de la traducción; Literatura comparada; Géneros clásicos; Teatro y espectáculos; Estudios folklóricos; Estudios de cine; Nuevos medios de comunicación y cultura popular; Fotografía y medios audiovisuales; y currículum y modalidades del futuro programa. El seminario contó con la presencia de docentes e investigadores de toda la India, de los más eminentes.


Entre los participantes en este seminario se hallaron dos intervenientes que vinieron de propósito desde fuera de la India. Mi amiga la Dra Antonia Navarro Tejero, de la Universidad de Córdoba, quien ya ejerció como docente en la JNU, participó bajo la rúbrica ‘Culture Studies Today – Theoretical Issues’, con una ponencia dedicada al tema ‘Education and Globalisation: Reflections on Intercultural Studies’. El Dr Christopher Rollason (yo mismo), dentro del tema general ‘Translation Studies as

Contributive to Intercultural Studies’, habló sobre ‘Beyond the Domestic and the Foreign: Translation as Dialogue’.


Participamos Antonia y yo igualmente en el encuentro ‘Writers’ Meet’, organizado por los profesores Shyama Prasad Ganguly (Director del Centro de Estudios Hispánicos, Portugueses, Italianos y Latinoamericanos) y Makarand Paranjape (Director del Centro de Estudios Ingleses), el cual se celebró en la misma Escuela los días 7 y 8 de marzo. El día 7, di una conferencia sobre ‘Problems of translating Indian Writing in English into Spanish with reference to "A Married Woman" by Manju Kapur’, refiriéndome a la versión española traducida bajo el título ‘Una mujer casada’ por Dora Sales Salvador (asunto ya comentado en esta bitácora). En la mesa redonda que rodeaba dicha ponencia intervinieron Antonia y  – gran privilegio para nosotros – la propia Manju Kapur en persona. El día siguiente, di una segunda charla, sobre ‘Indian Writing in English: Some Language Issues and Translation Problems’. Participó igualmente durante los dos días el escritor Kiran Nagarkar.


Tanto el gran seminario como el ‘Writers’ Meet’ tuvieron un gran éxito, a raíz del cual Antonia y yo nos quedamos más que satisfechos, como también nuestros huéspedes de la JNU. Estas jornadas habrán contribuido, sin duda alguna, a un mayor acercamiento entre los universos intelectuales de India y Europa, en esta época tan significativa de auge económico y cultural del país anfitrión.


Añado que en estos días tuve el gran privilegio de conocer, en persona y extensamente, a Manju Kapur, así como también a Githa Hariharan y Kiran Nagarkar, y transmito mis más profundos agradecimientos a estos tres escritores indios por haberme abierto una ventana sobre su realidad diaria y su proceso creador. También y de todo corazón, mis agradecimientos más sentidos al profesor Shyama Prasad Ganguly y a la propia Antonia por haberme posibilitado tan inolvidable viaje.

Nota añadida 3-IX-2009:

El texto ‘Indian Writing in English: Some Language Issues and Translation Problems’, así como él sobre la traducción de Manju Kapur, han sido publicados en revistas de la JNU y también se ueden consultar en línea. Detalles: en la versión inglesa de esta entrada (también del 15-III-06).