Saturday, 30 June 2012

Neeray aa- Farhad Humayun nearing Freddy Mercury

A young Pakistani friend has sent me a link to this fabulous rock-video by Overload.



The sound has been optimized for mid-range 5 or 7.1 systems in a manner that makes this addictive. Queen spent a lot of money and were very innovative in their time.  The  sound Coke Studio is delivering, that too through Youtube!,  feels  amazing to ordinary blokes with Value systems- I have an Onkyo 507 with Canton speakers for my bed room big screen and this sounds better than anything on my wannabe audiophile Home Cinema set up. Thus, this is something I can relish without constantly being reminded of the budgetary and other compromises- peculiar to the bedroom- incumbent on incipient middle age.

Farhad Humayan has some of the Mercurial quality of Firdaus Bulsara- aka, Freddy Mecury. Good luck to him and Coke Studio Pakistan. And please shoot Rachel Viccaji in the head.  You know you want to. I mean, if it happened at a polo match or tent pegging or pig sticking gymkhana, every Officer and Gentleman present would have had their revolver out of their Sam Browne belt quicker than you could say 'Neeray Aaa'.

Wednesday, 27 June 2012

'Go know thyself!'- Gandhi & the Bible.

In the Bible, Lot offers his daughters to the men of his City so they might sate their lust upon them rather than sodomize the two strangers to whom he had given shelter.

Gandhi, however, said  that true Non-Violence involves killing your daughter if you think she might be about to be raped, but then to cheerfully offer yourself to the rapist so he may do with you as he wishes.
To quote Ronald Terchek's book on Gandhi-
In a

How are we to reconcile the example of Lot with this teachings of Gandhi?

Lot protected strangers, not knowing they were angels, by offering up his daughters to be raped. Gandhi would kill the daughters before they could be raped and then offer himself up as a substitute
Taking the most difficult part of each we get the rule- offer your near and dear ones up for rape before killing them and then offering yourself up to the unslaked lust of the potential rapist.
However- in accordance with the maxim Vasudhaiva kutumbakam- since you must treat everybody as your own family, what you have to do is kill everybody. regardless of age and gender,  before offering yourself up as a substitute to potential rapists.

But...what if you yourself are a potential rapist? Clearly, it would be very wrong not to suspect yourself of being a potential rapist while constantly jumping to that sort of conclusion regarding your fellow human beings.

It therefore indubitably follows that you must cheerfully offer yourself to yourself to be raped after killing every potential rape victim- that is all sentient beings- with the singe exception of yourself.
This is becasue you can't compensate yourself, as rapist, for depriving yourself  of a victim if you actually slit your own throat.

To summarize, the glorious synthesis of Gandhian and Christian thought consists of admitting that true non-violence, true Religion, means killing everybody while continually raping yourself.  

So no change there then.

Tuesday, 26 June 2012

Christopher Lee's Jinnah- Dracula's dotage

What was Christopher Lee thinking? All he needed was a bit of walnut dye and some kohl round the eyes to put his stamp on the role of Jinnah. Lee was in his eighties when he played Sauron and Count Dooku- but he didn't look old, he didn't look feeble. This film manages to do that to him in keeping with its sedate pace and deeply suburban feel. There's a scene where Lady Mountbatten says 'The one thing Indians can't do is bake cakes. I must show the cook. Lady Wavell spoiled him.' The Viceroy's Palace had a staff of thousands. They had a dozen pastry chefs- Europeans, not Indians. But in this film this great heiress and aristocrat is depicted as some provincial Naval officer's wife who spends her time quarreling with the cook.
The considerable talents of James Fox and Shammi Kapoor too are wasted. 


Still, it is Christopher Lee to whom one's heart goes out. Had he been given a little more to work with he would have, not perhaps blown Ben Kingsley's Gandhi out of the water, but certainly given him a run for his money.

The director of the film- Jamil Dehlavi, auteur of the haunting and enigmatic Blood of Hussain- was the ideal choice to bring out the best in these great actors. It is noteworthy that Christopher Lee himself went out of his way to pronounce his belief in the film. But Dehlavi was saddled, by the Govt. of Pakistan, with the ex-bureaucrat and comic book author, Akbar Ahmed. This is what Dehlavi has to say about the great man


Q: Could you shed some light on the Jinnah controversy.
A: The first problem with the Jinnah project was that Akbar Ahmed‘s agenda was to promote himself. He should have behaved like the godfather of the project, surrounded himself with creative people and given them the credit they deserved instead of trying to steal the limelight.
The second problem was the controversy generated in the press, which resulted in the Pakistan government withdrawing their funding. Because of the shortfall in the budget, my company which was producing the film was obliged to complete the shoot to avoid the collapse of the film.
When we returned to England, Akbar refused to acknowledge the debts I had incurred on behalf of the production and wanted to offload me. This financial dispute was resolved when a group of American Pakistanis, spearheaded by Naseem Ashraf, agreed to finance the completion of the film and guaranteed to pay the money owed to me in instalments.
I then took the film to New York where I completed the editing. My last payment of 50,000 pounds was due on delivery of the film. This instalment was not paid by Akbar Ahmed and I began legal proceedings against his company in the High Court in England which cost me at least 60,000 pounds. I won the case, but Akbar Ahmed’s company went into liquidation and I was unable to recover any money.
Akbar Ahmed was appointed High Commissioner to London and began issuing statements through his press section that I was part of an Indian conspiracy. My reaction was to expose his fraudulent activities in the British press. A battle of words began between us, resulting in his being sacked as High Commissioner.
I then approached Naseem Ashraf who had guaranteed payment of the monies owed to me. Many promises were made by him and his colleagues, but to date I have not been paid. I was not only exploited by Akbar Ahmed, but also by the American Pakistanis.
Unfortunately, all those who controlled the film at various stages thought that they had become film producers overnight. As a result Jinnah never secured a proper international release and is sitting on a shelf somewhere collecting dust.

Keeping this background in mind, this film becomes more not less enigmatic.

There is an odd scene where Jinnah watches the destruction of the Babri Masjid along with Nehru and Gandhi. Jinnah says- 'I always thought British Raj would turn into Ram Raj.' The amphiboly here is either very crude and obvious or very very subtle because it is so crude and obvious. 


Or, should we view this film a foray into the theater of the absurd? Shammi Kapoor suddenly tells Jinnah that Mountbatten was suspected of being a Soviet spy and assassinated by the I.R.A. If there is some logical connection between these statements- it is a peculiarly Pakistani logic which ought to be funny but really isn't because it comes from a place of spreading paunched cynical complacency. 'Kiya sharam to foota karam'- For shame if you blush/ the miracle turns to mush.


Then there is a moment where Jinnah says he was guilty of the mess in Kashmir (by giving the Maharaja of Kashmir the option to join India) but that his guilt consisted in trusting Mountbatten and the British Army. This is mad. If he trusted the Brits so much why did he want them to leave?


If Dehlavi had been left alone to do the film, no doubt he'd have made a masterpiece.
The truth is Pakistan was born in blood, but blood drawn by a Dracula in his dotage. His dentures fell out and he himself got bit.
Those same dentures supplied General Zia's grin. Who knows? Perhaps, they are also the secret of Zardari's longevity.











Steve Landsburg getting it wrong about Ramsey's rule.

Frank Ramsey, a brilliant mathematician, supplied an answer to this question in 1927-

'The problem I propose to tackle is this: a given revenue is to be raised by proportionate taxes on some of or all uses of income, the taxes on different uses being possibly at different rates; how should these rates be adjusted in order that the decrement of utility may be a minimum?”

The Generalised Ramsey rule is about optimal taxation policy and  concerned with promoting efficiency- that is, minimizing distortion to the economy.  If you tax goods which are inelastic in demand (i.e. if people still buy them when their price goes up) then, provided people spend only a minute portion of their income on them, then it hardly makes a difference- ergo no distortion, no new inefficiency.
However the necessities of the poor as well as the status symbols of the mega-rich have inelastic demand. But the poor spend a lot of their income on staples like bread. So if you tax bread they will have very little money left over to buy other things. There will be a big distortion to the Economy.  Not so if you tax Caviar. The super-rich won't notice.
Equity- the question of the fairness of the tax burden different classes bear- can conflict with Efficiency and this gives rise to the notion that, since  there is a trade off between them, there must be an optimal trade-off point.


Keeping this background in mind, let us look at what Steve Landsburg  has  to say-
The correct statement of the Ramsey rule places heavier taxes not on the goods that are inelastically demanded, = this is true. Ramsey's rule says don't tax inelastic things like Salt in India in the 1930's because there is a big income effect (if its price goes up very poor people feel a lot worse off) and small substitution effect (there is no substitute for Salt)-  but on those goods whose prices lead to the fewest distortions (in a sense that can be made precise) not just in their own markets but in others as well. What's a distortion? It's when people do something quite different after the tax. But, that happens if their standard of living is affected by the tax- this is called the 'income effect'- or if there is a close substitute whose price is not affected. Suppose there is a perfect un-taxed substitute to a taxed good. People would buy that and feel no worse off. If the price of root beer affects your peanut consumption, that goes into the calculation. If the price of butter affects your bread consumption, so does that.
If you’ll forgive a little jargon, then, the correct statement is that the optimal mix of taxes depends on a very complicated formula involving not just own-price elasticities but cross-price elasticities. Only in very special circumstances does this reduce to the cartoon version that says “inelastically demanded goods should be taxed more heavily”.
Second, once you write down the correct (quite complicated) version of the Ramsey rule, you discover that as long as all goods can be taxed, the Ramsey rule does tell you to tax them all equally. This is not true. What Landsburg has shown is that assuming you have no say in the matter and have no choice but to pay a given amount in  tax (as though it were a lump-sum tax) you'd prefer to do it under the pre-tax relative price ratios. BUT THIS IS BLINDINGLY OBVIOUS! Think about it. Any price change affects us in two ways- it changes our Real Income (how well off we are) and it changes Relative prices causing us to prefer a substitute- e.g. margarine instead of butter. Landsburg 'proves' that if we have to suffer the Income effect we wouldn't also want to suffer the Substitution effect. In other words, if I say I will  either punch you or both punch and kick you, then you would prefer me to punch you rather than that I should both punch and kick you. What a great discovery! But is it relevant to Ramsay's rule? No. Why? Ramsay's rule is about who Society should punch and slap. You yourself don't want to be both punched and slapped.  If the Income effect has already made you cry,  you don't want to also be hit by the Substitution effect. So you want the post tax price ratios to remain the same- i.e. you want a flat rate proportional tax.   But this is not  to say you want to be punched or slapped. It does not make it right for Society to punch or kick you. If the income effect is exogenously determined- i.e. the power of the punch has already been decided- you don't want to suffer the substitution effect as well- i.e. you don't want to be kicked on top of being punched. But this preference of yours tells us nothing about Allocative Efficiency. Thus, this great discovery of Landsburg is not the same thing as proving that  Society should maintain the pre-tax price ratio by taxing everything at the same rate.  Society has to decide who should be clobbered with the tax.  Society can say- 'poor working people shouldn't be taxed on the sorts of things they need to survive, while wealthy people should pay more tax on items of ostentatious consumption'. Why? If I punch Mike Tyson- he would hardly notice whereas if I deliver that same punch to a starving old woman- she may die.
Third, if only some goods can be taxed, then it’s not in general optimal to tax them all equally. The Ramsey rule (correctly stated) tells you how to tax them. It does no such thing because the thing simply can't be done. There is a complicated way of looking at 'shadow prices' and so on but its Garbage In Garbage Out.
Fourth, leisure counts as a good. If you can’t tax leisure (or equivalently subsidize labor) then it’s not in general optimal to tax everything else equally. However, if labor is supplied inelastically (as the labor economists tell us is more or less the case) then the tax-everything-equally result is restored, even when leisure can’t be taxed.  Nonsense. Landsburg assumed that the elasticity of supply of everything was infinite. Suddenly he's changed the rules and he expects his equation to still hold up. Why? Do Equations  watch Fox News?

And fifth: A great number of elementary textbooks either get this wrong or present it so misleadingly that it might as well be wrong. Students beware.
Compare this from an actual textbook

What is Landsburg rebuttal of my criticism of him?

Vik: You seem to have missed the following points:
1) This is a question about efficiency, not redistribution.
2) We are talking, in any event, about an economy with identical consumers.
3) Lump sum redistribution together with efficient taxation beats inefficient taxation every time BY THE DEFINITION of efficiency.
Putting 2) and 3) aside, 1) is the key to where you went off the rails.
Actually Steve, 
1) a question about optimal taxation is a question about the Social Welfare Function. Society isn't indifferent between an extra dollar earned by a rich man as opposed to a poor man. In the formula quoted above, the rule for optimality states that, at the margin, the distortionary effect should be equated to the redistributive impact. In other words both income and substitution effects are important. Your great discovery- 'once you've been punched by the 'Income effect' you don't want to be kicked by the 'Substitution effect' as well'-  adds nothing to the debate. 
2) An economy with identical consumers either has
a) Income homogeneity. Everybody has the same Income.  In this case just divide the Tax bill by the number of people in the country and impose a lump sum tax. Why fiddle around with Expenditure taxes? What's the point? 
b) Income heterogeneity. Some are richer than others. In this case there is a redistributive impact of a flat rate proportional tax unless the Income elasticity of all goods is the same. Here the Socially optimal tax (assuming Society ranks a poor man's dollar higher than a rich man's, in accordance with the principle of diminishing marginal utility) taxes luxuries more heavily than necessities.
3) If you can do lump sum redistribution, why can't you do lump sum taxes? By the definition of Efficiency, it is inefficient to futz around with expenditure taxes in the manner you have done. 
Conclusion- Landsburg great discovery re. tax - 'if you've been punched you don't also want to be slapped'- if the income effect has clobbered you, you ask to be spared the substitution effect-  isn't really a great discovery at all- no one, not even an Economist has ever said anything to the contrary. True, they haven't affirmed Landsburg's discovery but only because it isn't relevant to anything in any possible world. 

Monday, 25 June 2012

Ere the Saqi taste this Wine.


For I'm the Cellar in which I hunt
A bottle deeper than its punt
Bacchus, Lord, grant me a Sign
Ere the Saqi taste this wine.


To drink in Summer is a losing game
Now, Mansur, your dragon is tame
Only Pain has wings & in the Saqi's eyes
Still storms Heaven & scorches Skies


Saqi, thy husband's kiss were a bitter reward
Thou battered wife of one drunk on God
I'll have another, having no other recourse
You and him will never divorce.

Envoi-
Prince! We too, like Judas, have tasted Wine
Wretched Subjects of your Right Divine.

Why Jews hate Hindus.

Rabbi Goldberg was a tolerant man. When his wife came to him and said 'Have you heard? Hindus are moving in next door. There goes the neighborhood!', he admonished her citing Exodus 22.21 and Leviticus 19.34 and Deuteronomy 10.19.
However he began to change his mind when he went over the next day to complain about the noise.
'Yo! Rabbi dude' his new Hindu neighbor said, 'You want hash? No. I can see you're Hasid- so you want Acid. OMG! Did my cow just shit on you? Thank you, iphone for recording it. I'll just put this on Youtube.'
'Sir,' Rabbi Goldberg said sternly, 'To answer your question- yes, your cow did just shit on me. Why do you have a cow suspended above your front door?'
'It's like a Hindu mezuzah, Holy Rabbi dude' the Hindu replied, 'We worship the cow as our God, don't you know. Moreover, we've got millions of Gods. I've just moved in but I've already got three in the drawing room and another ten distributed around the house. Did their mooing wake you?'

Anyway, that's why Rabbi Goldberg is now endorsing Netanyahu's deporting us niggers. Shame Golders Green still has to suffer.
Personally, I blame David Cameron. That boy aint right.

Friday, 22 June 2012

Virginia Woolf and Victoria, Lady Welby

Oscar Wilde might well have been thinking of Virginia Woolf's paternal Aunt, Caroline Stephen- referred to in 'A Room of One's Own' under the name Mary Beton, who 'died from a fall while out riding in Bombay'-when he observed that the most unwelcome surprise a gently nurtured English maiden receives on her wedding-night is the unctuous ostler's bon ton hint that she should sleep with the groom not the horse.

Speaking of unctuous ostlers, Literary scholars- deceived by Leslie Stephen's ascription of his younger sister's nuerasthenia to, not the incessant nursing duties her family imposed on her, but unrequited love for some nameless swain who soon sailed off to die in distant Ind- have tended to dismiss Caroline Stephen as a nun-like Quaker whose principle significance in Virginia Woolf's life was to secure her financial independence with a modest bequest. However, as this new study by Dr. V.D. Chothopadhyay points out, Caroline's  influence on her niece was something altogether more robust and intellectually and aesthetically formative. In particular, it enabled Woolf's own creative misprision of John Henry Shorthouse- author of the best-selling  John Inglesant- who, starting from a culturally subaltern Quaker position- a position similar to Victorian ladies, like Virginia's Aunt and Victoria, Lady Welby, who were denied higher education- ended up simulating an amor fati infatuation with the ignis fatuus of the Oxford Movement which, by a contemporary cliche, hallowed the parlors of Victorian patriarchs with a 'dim religious light'.
On this reading, Woolf-  though intertwined in the Bloomsbury Set's daisy-chain of graded molestation as  Second Childhood a la Sage-  provides texts that powerfully deconstruct G.E. Moore's philosophical warrant for a senescent Relationism parsable only as endless neotenous prattle. 
My own interest in Victoria, Lady Welby- who influenced the Pragmatism of Charles Sanders Pierce and the Intuitionism of L.E.J. Brouwer and, at a more popular level, the views of C.K Ogden whom Virginia knew from the Heretics Club - is what drew my attention to Dr. Choothopahdyay's new book.
Not that Caroline Stephen and Victoria, Lady Welby, despite being respected authors passionate about their reconstructed Christian faith, ever actually met or corresponded. Nor, truth be told, does Dr. Vagina Dentata Choothopadhyay- outside the pages of my novel 'Samlee's daughter'- genuinely exist. Still, if you begin a blog post with a made-up, totally unfunny, quotation from Oscar Wilde- surely the least funny man who ever existed-  it's like you just have to carry on inventing belletristic, pseudo intellectual, Eng Lit tripe of a stripe so fucking boring it's probably all true.
And that scares me a little.
 As it should you too.
Think I'll keep the light on when I go to bed tonight.

Who knows who might be reading this?





Thursday, 21 June 2012

Zulfikar Ghose & Sir Wilson Harris


I recall, as a teenager, coming across the name of Zulfikar Ghose in a textbook on English literature. Apparently he was a rising star and I wondered why I'd never heard of him. I continued wondering, on an active basis, such, at that time, being my zeal for literary culture, till,  at some point during the 80's, I read his books- or rather didn't read his books but paid the over-due fine and forlornly returned them to the library.

Later, in the 90's, Ghose featured as a figure of fun for me. I firmly believed him to be a precursor of Rushdie who, with plodding Punjabi logic, sought to become the Magic Realist Marquez of the sub-continent by siting his novels in Brazil. 
More recently Zulfikar Ghose's stock has shot up- not because his books have suddenly become more readable or because he actually has anything to say- but because of the universal obloquy attaching to the credentialist 'Post Colonial' Academic Availability Cascade from which he'd had the good taste to stay fastidiously aloof.
Though committed to an elitist, Flaubertian, Art-for-Art's sake banality, Ghose is a shrewd and surprisingly funny guy- funny in quite a robust, almost Punjabi, sort of way- and that's what makes this is a must watch video-

There have been some attempts to rescue Ghose's old comrade-in-arms B.S. Johnson- also unreadable but quite mad and thus of possible interest- from oblivion but it is Sir Wilson Harris (he was knighted in 2010), the great Guyanese novelist, whose work commands most respect.

Sir Wilson had worked in Guyana as a land surveyor. He had met the sort of people, he had traversed the sorts of terrain, Evelyn Waugh found so fascinating and depicted as the polar opposite of his own pre-War London, centered on White's gentleman's club.

Sir Wilson- settling in a post-War London which, though disfigured by hooliganism and color prejudice, still had a gemutlich 'We're all in this together, Blitz-type, spirit'- became the Chief Surveyor of a Jungian Amazonia of the Unconscious which, to my mind, justified the Catholic, that is the optimistic, aspect of Waugh. Though he himself considered the fate of a member of White's forced to read Dickens aloud in a clearing in the Guyanese Jungle to be an intimation of the horrors of Hell, Sir Wilson proved Waugh was wrong. What Waugh had described were not the two opposite poles of English's Lebenswelt but centers of the same circle- whose circumference is nowhere.
As far as I know, Sir Wilson wasn't much read by the colored people of my generation- or those who came after us. We could only see racism and narratives about the exploitation of indigenous people and in any case wasn't Jung some sort of Nazi?
Who reads books anyway? If Sir Wilson wants to catch our attention he should go into Television. That's what the British Black Panthers did- think Dacus Howe & Farrukh Dhondy.
Basically writing books is elitist or Uncle Tom behavior- unless you're real cute like Zadie Smith- and so Sir Wilson is probably just another, Sir V.S Naipaul type, sneering patrician.

Prof. Ghose pays eloquent tribute to his old friend, Sir Wilson, and hopefully this will encourage young people of South Asian backgrounds to explore the marvels his works uncover. A word of caution- in Jungian thought, the Anima can lead you to Wisdom but can't be forced to take you by a short-cut.
 Rushdie forced his Anima to give him a shortcut to Wealth and Fame but the price he paid was prancing ninnydom.

I notice Prof. Ghose is welcomed and honored by young Pakistanis and that his novels are being issued as textbooks. This confirms my suspicion that young people nowadays are all bum-boys and transvestites and useless completely. Back in the Fifties, Shantiniketan students beat up and chased away, the great Indo-Anglian novelist, Prof Ghose- Sudhin Ghose not Zulfiqar Ghose- thus setting a high standard to which we must all aspire. I'm not saying beat up Prof. Zulfiqar Ghose- those elderly Sialkotis are bloody strong. Still at least you can taunt him a little and run away. Tagore set up Shantiniketan to show how genuine students (not those motivated by the desire for a Diploma and a cushy job) should treat professors and novelists and other such rascals. If you can't imitate them, at least honor them in your heart.
Mind it kindly.

Tuesday, 19 June 2012

Saussure injured Song

Question- Who am I translating here?
When Right and Wrong were conceived
Such Injury Song received
Love became Complete
 As its Existence's Defeat.

Choose
a) Qoheleth (Ecclesiastes, in the Bible) by means of an ironic textual reference to the Psalms highlighted by the Baal Shem Tov.
b) Shantideva (translating 'Samsara' as Existence)
c) Bedil (taking 'Sukhan' in the sense of Logos (vide Gibb's translation of Sheikh Galip)
d) Chuang Tzu- (translating 'Tao' as 'Song')
e) Nobody. because, my dear Vivek, you're a crap poet and too ignorant to translate anything.

Answer.

I guess you all went for (e). You are all wrong because this was a trick question. Being ignorant & a crap poet is no longer a bar to translating stuff. Wake up and smell the coffee!

The correct answer is (d).
Here is the original-
'Because Right and Wrong appeared, the Way was injured. Because the Way was injured, Love became complete. But do such things as injury and completion exist or do they not?'

To be clear, I'm not making the point that there's no Scriptural Tradition to which, mutatis mutandis, this poem could not be attributed & thus Structural Linguistics is wrong, but rather, all mathos such pathos, my plaint is that I Loveless remain though Saussure injured Song.

Not in the Academy can Poetry be taught

Not in the Academy can Poetry be taught
Nor, in the Brothel, Love properly sought
Though it might be fun to try
Pass for a hermaphrodite Thai.

 Though Beauty's Bazaar choirs the kotha
 & Democracy's Sarkar sires the quota.
Both befit the Philosopher King
So work yo booty, shake yo thang.

Saturday, 16 June 2012

Aung San and H.N. Goshal

Nobel Laureate Aung San Suu Kyi has said that if her father hadn't been assassinated, Burma might well have flourished as a democracy. In other words, if some disgruntled British Imperialists and their Burmese client hadn't bumped off her father, he would have been kept too busy killing off or being killed off by his fellow Communist fuckwits to run the country- run it into the ground, that is- which would certainly have been a good thing for Democracy or Plutocracy or Kakocracy or whatever.
This is shown by the career of,  her daddy's old colleague, the Buddhist nut-job and hypocrite (praised by Schumacher) U Nu who won elections and was popular- probably because he single-handedly raised up the consciousness of Burma's highly literate population to a point where they acquiesced in the utter destruction of their Economy.
First, of course, there had to be Land Reform- land was redistributed with a 10 acre ceiling, a recipe for involution and miserabilism especially as the State purchased rice at well below world prices. Teak was nationalized and badly run Public Sector enterprises supported out of the profits. High tariffs increased cronyism and rent-seeking. Burmese entrepreneurs were doing well  but the Army was being increasingly radicalized simply because the collapse of traditional sources of authority in the countryside meant that there was no conservative counterweight to the increasingly frothy political and business climate.
Though a Leftie, U Nu hoped perhaps to reverse this trend by indulging his soft spot for Buddhism. He declared it the State Religion and banned beef and took to talking shite about 'Buddhist Economics' and so on till finally these measures, which infuriated the Christian and other minorities, were reversed by General Ne Win, an old Communist pal of Aung San with bizarre mystic beliefs, who grabbed power and pushed through a hard-Left agenda under military rule.
Under a new Agricultural Tenancy Act, in 1963, Agrarian Committees were given the power to transfer land to the poorest irrespective of their resources or farming ability. This directly tackled the concerns of raw recruits from the countryside. The departure of Indian and other foreign businessmen and professionals further solidified support for General Ne Win among the soldiers. He had taken highly visible steps to defeat the propaganda claims of the Reds. Why speak of 'Capitalists' when the Commander keeps demonetizing high denomination bank-notes? By periodically wiping out people's savings and shooting students- no soldier likes a student- the General showed he was clearly a good bloke. At the same time, by continually worsening the condition of the peasants- now forced to grow whatever the Govt. demanded and sell at whatever price the Govt. set- General Ne Win gave soldiers an incentive to stick with the army rather than run away.

 Meanwhile, the Communists- who celebrated their own stupid 'Cultural Revolution' under Aung San's brother-in-law- just kept getting madder and madder, rabid dogs pointlessly biting each other, till finally even the Chinese lost patience with them.
To sum up, Burma, though a prosperous former British colony, experienced a 'perfect storm' of
1) Fuckwitted Communists obsessed with finding and killing class enemies and claiming that their forgotten corner of the globe was actually  still secretly being ruled by the Imperialists.
2) Buddhist chauvinism and stupidity. Back in the late Fifties and Sixties some Buddhist monks decided that since their Religion is atheistic and because Monks (supposedly) don't own property- so Buddhism is actually a type of Communism. On top of that, they believe in 'karma'- so all non-Buddhists are evil scum who did horrible things in their previous lives and thus ought to be pitilessly slaughtered. True some monks, visiting the West, did point out, from time to time, that Lord Buddha wasn't actually an evil little turd and that he upheld rights to property and free enterprise and so on but somehow that message tended to get drowned out.
3) Intense and paranoid ethnic chauvinism like the Khmer or Sinhala Buddhists and so on.
4) A too well educated and polite elite- including people like U Thant and Prof. Myint, who was Emeritus Prof. at the LSE while I was there- who couldn't bring themselves to acknowledge that old fashioned things, like Land Lords and property rights, or un-cool Institutions like the Buddhist Association, or old fashioned and un-cool things like God and Morality, as opposed to Incendiary Communism or Humanistic 'Buddhist Socialism'- are an essential counterweight to a frothy Economy, a febrile Officer corps, and wide-eyed Westerners who want to write some tosh about the superior spirituality of them cute Oriental people with their Pagodas and sarongs. I don't recall Prof. Myint denouncing Schumacher ('Small is Beautiful) as a lying little toe-rag for heaping praises on the nutters who wrecked the Burmese economy. His big shtick was export led growth is good and International Aid is bad- rather than 'Buddhist shite is the party drug which gets you hooked on Hard Left shite!' Similarly, Aung San Suu Kyi (unlike her brother) is all like- Gandhi and Peace and Non Violence and Human Rights and shit- rather than 'lift sanctions now! Get your asses in here with fistfuls of money! It's the economy stupid! Fuck Buddhism. Let's have some old time Religion about how you go to Hell if you shoot people. That's Hell dude. You don't get to be reborn as whatever. No. You go to Hell for all eternity.  Suck on that.'
(update- apparently she's now for ending sanctions and playing nice with the Junta seeing as they are doing such a good job ethnic cleansing)
The upshot of this perfect storm was that Burma did away with every aspect of the Rule of Law, Enlightenment discourse and the Institutional foundations of Civil Society. If Ne Win shoots students for being too Red and they go running to the Reds, the Reds shoot them for not being Red enough and then, thanks to Buddhism, everybody gets reborn as each other so the same shit can go down again.
Similarly, if the Government is harassing the peasants in the name of anti-insurgency, the insurgents too only want to kill 'kulaks' and 'class traitors' and so on. Every side believes Agriculture is a sector from which surpluses are to be extracted. Every side considers any Trade or source of Employment only as a base of recruitment for canon fodder or source of extorted funds.

However, there was nothing in the Burmese 'psyche' or DNA- or even in the nature of Communism, the nature of Buddhism- which made this sort of outcome inevitable. There's an old time Religion, conservative, Buddhism- one in which Monks are kept in their place by their Uncles who are the Land-lords- and there's a nice, polite, type of Communism which respects the rule pas devant les domestiques.

What fucked Burma up is that Communism played a lead role in shaping the consciousness of the National Bourgeoisie at a crucial period in its development. There was a Concurrency problem and, because Aung San neither killed nor was killed by his own people- the wrong ingredient in the mix gained priority and shaped the minds of the stupid soldiers who finally took charge.

By 1988, the year of economic collapse and a popular uprising, the Communists had been sufficiently chastened to start asking for Democracy- which I suppose is why Aung San Suu Kyi gained importance, but U Nu's political skills (he'd once translated Dale Carnegie) were enfeebled- he was a standing reminder of why Democracy can't work in a country determined to crush its minorities- and the Junta were able to reassert control.

I am reminded of the great Communist theoretician- H.N Ghosal- whose historical importance is that he denounced 'Browderism'- viz. the American notion that Communists didn't actually need to kill all and sundry (though, no doubt, it was a healthful recreation) simply so as to snatch power. Instead, they could just stand for elections and lie and steal and cheat their way into Government same as everybody else. The Ghoshal thesis is an irrefutable Scientific document showing why such a notion is totally evil and genocidal but not in a good way.
To be clear, if Commie nutjobs take power without violence then some non-Commie idiots might kill them which is wrong because that is the job of the real Commie nutjobs who will only accept power through violence but are frightened of doing so because the fraudulent Commie nutjobs are getting power without resorting to violence but will use violence against real Communists which is TOTALLY unfair.

Tragically, Ghoshal- despite being an ethnic Bengali- somehow failed to keep up with his studies and so he was executed in 1967 for being the Liu Shoaqi of Burma- i.e. not grasping why killing 'intellectuals' and lots of people in villages is de rigueur because...urm...well it worked for Stalin and Mao and actually come to think of it you look a bit like you might be from a village yourself. Either that, or you're an intellectual.Why take chances? A bullet to your head will make everything better.

Thanks to the Communist penchant for slaughtering each other and dealing in drugs and stealing everything they can lay their hands on, the Burmese Junta, being committed to 'Buddhist Socialism', and thus marginally less evil, was able to prevail by slaughtering everyone, dealing in drugs and stealing everything they could lay their hands on, which, I suppose, was the least bad of the options available.

Since Nobel Prizes can't be awarded posthumously, it was only right that Aung San's daughter should get one (WHY NOT TWO?) because...urm...well, she was ThanTun's niece but passed up on the chance to prance around in the Jungle as  the Pol Pot of Myanmar.

Wednesday, 13 June 2012

Saussure, Savarkar & the invention of Hindutva

   Rajiv Malhotra has recently drawn our attention to the contribution of Ferdinand de Saussure to Savarkar's formulation of the concept of Hindutva.
  What happened was this. The year was 1906. Saussure, entering the Hotel Cecil, bumped into Savarkar and said 'Pardonnez moi'. '
   Pas du tout', Savarkar replied politely. 'Parsi chooth!' shouted Dadhabhai Naoroji, who was a bit deaf, 'How dare you call me a Parsi chooth you fucking Hindu twat!'
   ''Hindu twat! Hindu twat!' the impish Zulu barrister, Mohandas Gandhi, chanted in childish delight, 'That Parsi chooth just called you a Hindu twat!'
   Savarkar, dismayed by the attention being attracted by the mischievous Mahatma, hastened to put an end to the contretemps by appealing to Patriotism.
 'The Hindu twat, Sir,' he said solemnly, ' is verily that Vagina nationum most noble, that officina gentium most gentle, and so I say it with pride, I proclaim it far and wide- Yea! I'm a Hindu twat Sir! Jai Hindu-twat-va!'
   'Hindu-tattva,' Dadhabhai said, correcting young Savarkar's pronunciation, 'Barkhurdar, your accent becoming too damn British, innit? Aji, angrezi goli se zyada khatarnak hai angrezi boli- haaaan Ji haaan! Bach ke rahiyo, chashme buddoor!''

  I mention this episode here not because I want to publicize Rajiv Malhotra's unreadable new book but because there is a certain Universality to the charge he makes against Western Indology- vide
'The methods peculiar to Orientalist research, no matter how fond or indefatigable the researcher, tend to leave its subject with a diminished scope for enlargement though, like Sir Richard Burton measuring the penises of black men, the reverse may initially appear to be the case.'





Structural Linguistics and its Safety Word.

Perhaps the most significant contribution to Gandhian Structural Linguisitics, made by the late Prof. Punit Aggarwal, was his tragic discovery that no safety word exists to express the concept 'stop choking me' , during sex with a Vegetarian, whereas the precise opposite is the case with respect to 'stop artichoking me' if your morbidly obese wife is using both hands to stuff herself with KFC.

Monday, 11 June 2012

Sublime Insights of Imran Shahid Bhinder as attested by Prof C.M. Naim

Prof. Naim, an eminent, that is very old, Professor of Urdu, has been generous enough to draw our attention to a rising star in the field of post-modern literary theory.
Endorsing a charge of plagiarism against another eminent, that is completely senile, Urdu savant, Gopichand Narang, Prof. Naim writes-
.'.a young scholar Imran Shahid Bhinder, a doctoral candidate in the Department of English at the University of Birmingham, U.K., has made a much more serious charge. Bhinder published in 2006 in the annual issue of Nairang-i-Khayal, a Pakistani journal, an essay entitled “Gopi Chand Narang is a Translator, not an Author.”
Leaving aside the obvious point, that Post Modernism admits no author, what is salient here is that Narang's book was published in 1993- back when every fuckwit under the Sun- like Prof. Akbar Ahmed- published books titled 'Post Modernism & Something or Other' on the basis of an impartial ignorance of both subjects.
'...In summary, Bhinder has most convincingly established that Dr Narang’s achievement in that award-winning book is not that of an author but only of a translator, and that too of a reprehensible kind. (why reprehensible? The fuckwit is a Professor. Not a Professor of Physics or Biology or something worthwhile but a Professor of Urdu. The job of this sort of Professor is to pretend to be smart. In this case, Narang had managed to get away with the imposture while mouthing whatever modish Leftie nonsense that was required of him without crossing the line into being a rabid out-and-out paranoid nutjob.)
But, before going any further let us hear from this great scholar, this Doctoral Candidate in the English Dept. of Birmingham City University, I.S Bhinder, to whom Prof. Naim is so deeply indebted.
''... A group of Narang’s well-wishers has come forward so quickly to criticise Dr Khan, (presumably A.Q. Khan, father of the Pakistani Atom bomb) It seems to me an act of extreme disappointment. Did Khan plagiarise the words? He had an in-depth comprehension of the formula. If you do not believe, ask Mr. Bush or Mr. Mush (presumably Gen. Musharraf) about the importance of the man. First, he conceived and then logically utilised the theoretical material and emerged as one of the most important scientist in the history of Pakistan. It is not a right attitude to criticise Dr Khan and ignore all subsequent Christianised scientists. Should we spare Jewish hardliner Einstein who has been a sole ruthless mind behind the terrorizing invention? If the Christian terrorists or Jewish terrorists sell the product to Christian nations or their fellow of the book then these hooligans have no objections. In order to defend a third rate plagiarist how could they go to such an extent? '
Wow! Birmingham Uni sure does a swell job teaching English! But is it really that shit?
I.S. Bhinder proudly confirms, indeed, it is. This is his resume-
Imran Shahid Bhinder 
Birthplace: Gujranwala Pakistan 
(Advocate High Court, Lahore Pakistan) 
MA in International Broadcast Journalism, Birmingham City University England 
MA in English Literature, Birmingham City University, England 
Certificate in Teaching, Solihull College, Birmingham, England 
Certificate in Information Technology, City College Birmingham England 
(References are available on request) 
This is the man Naim quotes as an authority-
'According to Bhinder, Dr Narang did not read the original authors—Ferdinand de Saussure, Claude LeviStrauss, Roland Barthes, Jacques Derrida, Jacques Lacan, Michel Foucault, and others. Naim knows this is untrue. Narang did read that shite because the fuckwit was a fuckwit with a great regard for himself and self-regarding fuckwits back then read that sort of shite coz it chimed so well with their  fuckwitted intuition of their own sublimity. He read only their well-known interpreters- no, Narang paraphrased those careerists who were most plausible in making the case that that pile of worthless shite had some sort of sense to it, and, to his credit, was reasonably judicious in his selections. - and then transferred the latter’s analyses and interpretations into Urdu, doing so verbatim and without giving the reader any indication of what he was doing.' Yes, but these 'readers' were fuckwit careerists who, quite properly, didn't give a shit for that worthless pile of shite.

Of course, it may really be true that some mischievous librarian gave Dr. Narang nice volumes of Enid Blyton under the pretense that these books were actually by Ferdinand de Soo-soo and Levi Strauss 501, and Roland-kindly-take-more-regular-Baths, and La-con and Derider and Fuckall- but, if this is the case, then Dr.Narang is to be congratulated because all them smelly dead French dudes are actually brain eating zombies spawned by the Umbrella Corp. in the Resident Evil films.
Bhinder, on the other hand, has read all these great intellectuals and, in consequence, can say brilliant and insightful things like this-
'My main concern has always been to unearth the facts about Narang’s plagiarism. No, your main concern has been to be shit higher than your asshole (Wittgenstein). I undertook a difficult task of comparing several books by the Western interpreters of structuralist theory with Narang’s award-winning (as an author not translator) Sakhtiyat Pas e Sakhtiyat aur Mashriqi Sheriyat. It was not such an easy task that anybody can undertake by ordering a book today and exactly after few hours pronounce an ‘objectivist’ fatwa Here's an objectivist fatwa for you- you were swindled by the University of Birmingham. Ask for your money back. Better yet, take them to Court. They must be made to pay exemplary damages  for playing this dirty trick on you of pretending to teach you English to a Post Graduate level. . It is not even a matter of following the principles of any subjective idealist philosophy. It never is. 'Subjective idealist philosophy' is Marxist jargon for some fuckwittery which died out a long time ago.  We could not even take advantage of some transcendental principle that could only be revealed to an Indian mystic who has been following Nagarjuna, Sankara or Aurobin do,There can't be a transcendental principle in either Nagarjuna or Sankara. That type of fuckwittery wasn't invented till much later. No In addition, if the pursuer of some ‘Reality’ says, after some meditation, that he has viewed the Ultimate Reality he is not required to produce some evidence to prove his experience. Actually, a guy who says he's seen Ultimate Reality has to  evidence some siddhi, karamat or ilm-e-ghaybi- i.e. he must possess supernatural or oracular powers. That's the acid test. Everybody should believe that what he says is correct. Neither is it related to some sort of twentieth century Saussurean abstract objectivism that means to believe what the proponents of Narang attempt to construct. 'That means to believe what the proponents of Nararang attempt to construct?' Is that Birmingham M.A. English? Fuck is wrong with those brummies? Why are they swindling this nice Pakistani lawyer under the pretense of teaching him M.A. level English? Unfortunately, I am not a great admirer of Derrida, Saussure, Nagarjuna or Aurobindo (?!). I still need to examine the actual nature of the subject based rationalism, logocentrism or ‘metaphysical’ reference, which is gravely rejected by these so-called postmodernists and their interpreters. This is garbled nonsense. There is no ideological school in which this cacophony isn't simply a string of non sequiturs.That led the human subject to construct meaning while referring to the signified or concept.
'Certainly, we do not live in language, we live in a real world where billions of people are exploited and brutally murdered by the champions of Western capitalism, or I would say to these Urdu jokers who indirectly support Zionist’s terrorism and the acts of terrorism by the Western terrorists indirectly. However, the point I need to bring forward is to challenge Narang’s and his exponents to produce references to negate my claim, not a plethora of articles by some mentally incapable people in Narang’s favour is required, who needs promotion or award by an academy or ten rupee pay rise as a lecturer. Have they something rational to say so far about Narang’s plagiarism as they have been repeating themselves since the very beginning of this plagiarist controversy three years back?'

Clearly, Bhinder is the only person from the Sub continent who has fully engaged with and digested all that Post Modern stuff. See how easily he is able to connect Prof. Narang's cribbing from standard textbooks- dealing with that septic pile of shite- with the evil plot to defame the Daddy of the Pakistani, and North Korean, and anybody else who had money-to-pay, A-bomb. 


We owe Prof. Naim, Emeritus Professor at Chicago University, a heartfelt vote of thanks for his endorsement of the scholarship and ratocinative powers of  'Doctoral Candidate Imran Shahid Bhinder', because he and he alone, having mastered Post Modern Literary theory, has been able to discern the occult manner in which 'billions of people are being murdered'- i.e at least two billion people have been murdered- by terrorist Western Capitalists and SHAME ON US, we haven't noticed!
Furthermore, we we were blissfully unaware that these Urdu Professors are tacitly supporting Western Zionist terrorism which is butchering at least  20 to 30 percent of the World population! Furthermore these old fogeys are critical of Dr. A.Q. Khan for stealing and selling Nuclear secrets to all and sundry. This is very bad because Einstein was a Jewish hardliner.

The odd thing about Prof. C.M Naim is that he must have read these comments of Bhinder's on his Outlook essay 'Plagiarize & Prosper' before he published his next essay- in which, quite bizarrely, he continues to quote Bhinder in respectful terms- 


The only substantive point Naim is able to make- the mere repetition of or an otherwise unsupported charge of suggestio falsi being conjecture merely- is as follows
'Rereading Bhinder’s first article in the special issue of ‘Akkas Intrnational and checking its accuracy, I stumbled upon something else. On pages 29 and 30 of the journal, Bhinder states that Dr. Narang had extensively translated passages from Catherine Belsey’s introductory textbook, Critical Practice. One of the examples he cites is this passage in Belsey’s book: 
    Saussure’s argument depends on the different division of the chain of meaning in different languages. ‘If words stood for pre-existing concepts they would all have exact equivalents in meaning from one language to the next; but this is not true’ (Saussure, 1974: 116). The truth is that different languages divide or articulate the world in different [ways]. Saussure gives a number of examples. For instance, where French has the single word mouton, English differentiates between mutton, which we eat, and sheep, which roams the hills. (pp. 36–37.) 
I compared it with the passage he mentions in the Urdu book (p. 68). The Urdu is a meticulous translation of the English—it even includes the page number in Saussure’s book, which, as Bhinder points out, creates the false impression that Dr. Narang was quoting directly from Saussure. As I compared Dr. Narang’s page 68 with Catherine Belsey’s page 39 (a different edition from what Bhinder used), I realized that Dr. Narang had twice done the same injustice earlier. In support of Saussure’s argument Belsey had quoted more examples as given by Jonathan Culler and Louis Hjelmslev in their separate books—properly acknowledged by Belsey. Dr. Narang has translated those examples, without mentioning Belsey, and then cited the page numbers given by her as if he were quoting directly from Culler and Hjelmslev.  
But what really surprised me was on the opposite page (p. 69), where Dr. Narang, leaving the safety of translation, offers his own examples for Saussure’s contention. “If we wish to see,” Dr. Narang begins, “there is no lack of such examples even in Urdu where words are similar but meanings are different. Just take [the terms for] kinship. Baba is used in Urdu for ‘father,’ the same as Abba, while in Hindi it is used for ‘grandfather.’” He then goes on in that vein for the next 13 lines, citing how some words mean one thing in Urdu but quite another in Arabic, from which Urdu borrowed them. Apparently, Dr. Narang totally failed to comprehend (afham) Saussure’s radical notion that different languages divide the world differently—even after Belsey further explained it by citing examples given by Culler and Hjelmslev. (A correct example for Urdu readers would have been how Urdu divides the world of “parents’ siblings” into chacha,phuphi, mamun, and khala, while English divides the same world into “Uncle” and “Aunt.”) 


Does English divide the world of 'parent's siblings' into just 'Uncle' and 'Aunt'? Old English didn't. Some local dialects don't. Under primogeniture, there was a sharp distinction between paternal and maternal siblings. Uncle, with its additional meaning of a kindly and disinterested benefactor, derived from maternal Uncle. One did not address the head of one's paternal family as 'Uncle'. It was too familiar and intimate. The cadet branch referred to the head of the family by his territorial Title or other honorific. The word Aunt was originally for the father's sister and has a suggestion of authority rather than intimate friendliness. Aunts, in P.G. Woodhouse or Saki, are figures of barely disguised terror and arbitrary authority. These sorts of distinction tended to get erased only when more and more people either postponed marriage or remained celibate- thus both inheritance and affectionate intimacy from either paternal or the maternal side became increasingly likely. Interestingly, in urbanized India many people of my generation and, certainly, our grown up children, never learned all the vernacular kinship terms. Everybody is just Uncleji or Auntyji. This does not mean that the concept underlying older kinship terms has faded. If someone you know is influential and  you mention 'he is my Uncle' you will be quick to add the exact blood relationship and even take care to translate into Hindi or Bengali or whatever so that the other person gets the point. Unless, of course, you are already very successful in which case you just smile and leave it at that.
Similarly, both French and English had a way of distinguishing  between the animal and its meat. There were different words for the two different concepts. The shepherd never uses the same word for the animal he looks after and its meat. In England, at a certain point, the sheep was reared for its wool and so the distinction had economic importance whereas this was not the case in France.

My point here is that Ferdinand de Soo-Soo did not have 'a radical notion that different languages divide the world differently'. Soo-Soo had a stupid notion. Well, to be fair, a lot of smart people say stupid things from time to time. Nevertheless, Structuralism is stupid. Post Structuralism is stupidity piled on stupidity.
Narang, as a Professor, was obliged to touch base with that shite because it was fashionable shite twenty or thirty years ago. He invokes 'faux amis' in the wrong context but every word, every sentence in Post Modern lit crit shite is a sort of false friend of something which does have meaning and even a sort of rigour and intellectual integrity in another context. Bhinder has truly fed on that shite. Naim refuses to admit that he is championing an illiterate, IslamoTrotskyite, nutjob with a bizarre world-view, simply so as to get in a dig at a fellow academic as over-rated and intellectually vacuous as himself.


Prof. Naim- having, in an utterly cynical and self-serving manner, drawn so extensively on the ravings of the egregious Bhinder- concludes by saying- 'Dr. Gopi Chand Narang is presently a “Member, Advisory Committee on Culture, government of India,” which is symptomatic of the bigger, truly serious issue: the utterly cynical and self-serving attitude of a great many people who walk the corridors of power in New Delhi, wearing cloaks labelled “Culture” and “Education” and bartering favours among themselves. The big issue is not the individual, who did what he considered was necessary in order to prosper in Indian academia and win patronage from politicians. Let us also not forget that it was the literati of India who chose Dr. Narang (who is not the sort of Leftie nutjob who might suddenly endorse Narendra Modi) to preside at the Sahitya Akademi, over Mahashweta Devi, one of India’s most honest and courageous writers (who is the sort of Leftie nutjob who might suddenly endorse Narendra Modi). The rot has settled deep and at many places, and unless more people begin to protest, challenge, and condemn publicly what they shake their heads over privately, nothing much is going to change in Education and Culture.' But from whence stems this rot? Is it not from the ludicrous notion that Urdu is an Academic subject like Physics? Urdu Credentialism leads to Urdu Academic Careerism. Naturally, this leads to a corrupt nexus with the Govt. 

I have said this before and, because I too am a senile old coot, no doubt I will say this again
 Literature should not be taught in the Academy any more than Love should be sought in the Brothel.


Bhinder concludes his comment on Naim's article thus-  'I believe that not a single book of an international caliber has been written in Urdu for more than last eighty years (800 years surely? Why is this worthless language being taught at Uni?). If we have authentic writers to quote, why do we (what's with this we stuff? Not everybody is a Credentializing cretin. Some of us got real jobs, mate) still need to give a reference of Edward Said, Michel Foucault, Frantz Fanon, Terry Eagleton, Fredric Jameson, and Louis Althusser and so on when a question of imperialism, criticism, culture and other social sciences is being answered? Because from the core of our heart we are certain there is no original writer in Urdu who could independently reflect upon the real situation (real? As in billions of people being killed and nobody noticing or real as in Dr. A.Q. Khan, not people like Abdus Salam, being the greatest Pakistani Scientist?) . As a representative and part of posterity I must resist these kinds of harmful tendencies to prosper any longer, literature serves the people not a single individual. Condemning such acts candidly, at present, it seems to me utterly rationale to eradicate all the unethical and unliterary approaches inherent in Urdu literature and criticism. I understand that the corruption in the Urdu literary world is just the super-structural expression of the underlying contradictions rooted deep in the ideological as well as corrupt capitalist structure that has besieged the literary world, where notorious desire are free to flourish. However, it is a time to explicitly condemn these kinds of absurdities showing some decency, rather than be a part of immoralities. Certainly, the future of Urdu language and literature cannot be left on the mercy of a hostile plagiarist or his dishonest supporters.'


The truth, Bhinder Sahib, is that Credentialism- the business of getting degrees and then higher degrees- not Capitalism, destroyed the Academy. Urdu is alive and well and continues to be nourished by Islamic thought as well as Spiritual, Humanitarian and Progressive Movements which have derived support and inspiration from Ethical and Empathic Religion. 

Naim and Narang have produced good quality- or at least widely available- textual work and if they make it available for free through the Internet then good luck to them. It is a shame that some Professors felt obliged to 'engage' with worthless witless Eurocentric drivel but the blame for that belongs to the prestige that once accrued to a Nineteenth Century philology which, however foolish its hermeneutics, did have a certain dogged quality which, in a narrow sense, amounted to a sort of diligence and integrity. Those days are long gone. Edward Said pointed out, in the late Sixties, that the steep fall in the caliber of Professors of Literature was both a product as well as the cause of the idiocy of the students. He  tells us that he felt increasingly obliged to point out to his Post Graduate Students that Jonathan Swift's 'Gulliver's travels' was a work of satire. Thus they should not eat shit. They would not get higher marks if they stirred a turd into their Coco Pops. They must not go complaining to Daddy and Mummy that the Professor made us read this, like, book? And the book said we should eat shit and then I did and it upset my tummy and now the Professor wont even give me an A minus even though I really did eat a whole heap of shit like what that author dude said. And like that author dude was a Doctor, yeah? That's his name Dr. Jonathan Swift and like he wrote in his book about how we should eat shit and  and and could we just sue the University already? I mean the Jury is bound to give me a real big settlement and like I'll open a for profit University with the money and call it something catchy like Apollo...'

Update-
This is a You Tube video of Bhinder. I guess I gave Birmingham Uni a bum rap. The guy is crazier in Urdu than English. Prof. Naim must be so proud.

Thursday, 7 June 2012

Why Indians write novels in English


As an Anglophone novelist myself, I was somewhat chagrined by a recent editorial in this Journal which speculated 'on why Anglophone Indians wish to produce ‘literature’, especially when they are indifferent to what literature has traditionally been and done. The attraction to become a novelist in the English language is a difficult thing to understand because the financial stakes are paltry.'
  Speaking for myself, I write novels set in India for two reasons-
1) there are some types of plots which will only work in India. For example, I wanted to write a '1984' novel in which the State uses non-violence to rewrite History. This could only happen in India and in fact it did happen to the extent that vernacular language newspapers adopted a sort of self-censorship after the assassination of Mrs. Gandhi. In another novel, titled Samlee's daughter, a baby girl is taken by her ayah to a Sufi shrine. When they return, the baby has changed gender- the ayah claims that this is a miracle of the Pir. This plot could only work in a specific part of India and at a specific time in history. Whether I succeeded in writing a good novel is a separate issue. Still, I think a plot, an idea for a story, which will only work in India says something about India. However, if you don't have a good plot and are just using India as a backdrop then what you are doing probably isn't literature.
To take an example, the fact that some Indians and English people were close enough in complexion to pass for each other, created a piquant situation, whereby a member of the ruling race, brought up in India, might believe himself to be purely Indian. Both Kipling and Tagore, masters of their respective languages, tackle this theme around the same time but in a manner very different from how such a tale would have been told if set in another country. There is a story by Albert Camus in which a Frenchman who has had his tongue cut out assimilates to the 'savage' Algerian tribesman fighting the Foreign Legion. Similarly Borges has a story where a white girl brought up by Guarani Indians takes pleasure in throwing herself upon the ground to lap up the blood of a slaughtered beast. In other words, loss of the European tongue or culture or religion is equated with a regression to cruel and bestial barbarism. In Kipling and Tagore, however, the White person's discovery of their true identity enables them to rise above their narrow class or caste origin and embrace a higher mission or spirituality without there occurring any fundamental break in their 'life-project'. One thing this shows is that the Indian novel- at that time- was not reducible to 'the narcissism of small differences' nor was it a wish-fulfilling 'family romance' in Freud's terminology.
Kipling's Kim becomes a critique of the narrowness of the Established Church, the callousness of officialdom and the cynicism of 'the Great Game'. Tagore's Gora is a devastating indictment of ritualistic Casteism as well as the wedge he saw developing between Hindus and Muslims. Kipling's book, it could be said, is the antithesis of Meadows Taylor's 'Confessions of a Thug', which the young Queen Victoria had found so gripping, she ordered the Printer to send the proofs of succeeding chapters to her as they came off the blocks. Kipling, uncannily prophetic, shows that, if the Grand Trunk Road is free of Thuggee, it is now the competing Imperialism of the Tzar and the Kaiser-e-Hind which throws a noose around innocence. Tagore's Gora shows how far the Bengalis had fallen away from the syncretic culture of Michael Madhusudhan Dutt's boyhood and that of Raja Ramohan Roy and, his grandfather, Dwarkanath Tagore- whom Queen Victoria and King Louis Phillipe had lionized.

As the editorial I quoted earlier says ' It is, paradoxically, the indifference to the past of literature that makes new fiction ‘literary’. It is perhaps the same indifference which erases the distinction between writers and readers. Most listeners - at book readings - appear to have one consideration foremost in their minds and that is how or when they themselves might be writers. Since their novels are ‘personal’, most first-time ‘literary’ writers apparently feel that their ‘persons’ will be of interest to the general reader.'
2) The 'past of Literature' is important to the Indian novel because Indians have very rich and diverse oral and literary traditions and quote poetry in conversation much more than people in the West. This means, in recording meeting with diverse people, one can also include quotations and translations which are full of meaning and which adorn the text and give it a more layered and richer texture. This 'presence of the Past' is especially important in Cities like New Delhi which are re-inventing themselves at an astonishing pace. I am reminded of an aphorism of Elias Canetti- 'in these New Towns the old buildings are the people'. Canetti was writing about England, whose language he didn't know well; had he done so, no doubt, it would have been old idioms and turns of phrase that he'd have remarked upon.

The author of the editorial concludes thus- 'A final factor to be considered is that while English is the language of privilege in India there was already an elite language – Sanskrit – in the exclusive custody of an upper caste when the English arrived. It has been suggested that the British were accommodated at the top of caste hierarchy (7) with the priestly caste as their first servants. If English also replaced Sanskrit as the language of ritual authority there would be one more reason why a novel in English would be an attractive proposition. Producing a ‘literary novel’ - i.e. formally registering one’s person as a user of English - would be a way of staking a claim to authority, somewhat as recitation of mantras in public might once have been for a Brahmin priest. Getting a novel published in English has all these connotations and it may not be a simple instance of being creative.'

My comment is that literary production in 'artificial' languages like Sanskrit and sabak-e-hindi Persian seldom had anything to do with 'creativity'. Indeed, their very artificiality meant that anyone from any part of the country could appropriate them for Credentialist purposes.  Far from being the preserve of Brahmins, Paninian Sanskrit was non-sectarian and free of hieratic associations which is why, contra Prof Pollock, its sudden epigraphic proliferation marks no particular historical watershed. In Tamil Nadu, where I'm from, some Brahmins knew Paninian Sanskrit but so did the Valluvar priests who minister to the Paraiah community. Indeed, Pandit Iyothee Dasan, who first proclaimed the Buddhist origin of Dalits- a theory Dr. Ambedkar popularized- belonged to this community and had the authority of history behind him, at a time when it was important to combat extreme 'Aryanist' Brahminical arrogance. 
The fact is, Jains and Buddhists adopted Paninian Sanskrit independently, precisely because it was not a hieratic language- there was no danger that Secular works would be mistaken for Scripture if written in Sanskrit.  Moreover, for purposes of public debate, the artificiality of Sanskrit meant that people would not be judged on the basis of their geographical origin, or accent or lack of familiarity with elite manners and customs. Thus, Pandita Ramabhai was able to win plaudits from the Bengali elite because she spoke Sanskrit. Shyamji Krishnavarma, though not a Brahmin, gained the title of Pundit from the Priests of Benares because of his Sanskrit oratory. Indeed, Monier Williams invited him to Oxford on the basis of his Sanskrit attainment. Interestingly, Aurobindo, on his return to India, found no difficulty in mastering Sanskrit but had to keep a tutor for Bengali and never considered himself to have mastered that mellifluous tongue. To be frank, Aurobindo has not been accepted as a poet by the Indians precisely because, unlike Michael Madhusudhan Dutt, he did not switch back to Bengali. The suspicion is, whatever his spiritual attainments, he lacked the true poetic afflatus. Who on earth would write poetry in 'lean, unlovely English' when Bengali was his birth-right? 

Though the British produced many best-selling novelists during the Raj, Indians found that publishing in vernacular languages was more prestigious and lucrative. There were some exceptions- Cornelia Sorabjee, wrote sub-Kiplingesque stories, but she was chased out of India for her friendship with Katherine Mayo- of 'Mother India' infamy. Sarojini Naidu's poetry was commercially very successful in the West- she, however, set no great stock by it and endeared herself to her own people by her oratory and Patriotic spirit. True, Nehru wrote in English, but after the death of his father he had to earn money for his family- the alternative was to accept handouts from corrupt plutocrats like Dalmia- and, in any case, his books had a propaganda value for the National cause. 
Interestingly, it was the Gandhian novel which made the Indian novel in English respectable. But Gandhian philosophy placed no value on poetic creativity or 'art for art's sake' euphuism. The English of the English Gandhian novel- like khaddar- was of moral not artistic worth.  In fact, since an Indian writing in an Indian language was bound to wax poetic, English was a properly penitential hair-shirt for the fellow to express his noble sentiments! 
However, even with the Gandhian or Marxist novel, in every case, poets and novelists in the vernacular were given pride of place both by the British as well as the Indians. I recall reading that Guru Dutt- who was caught between vernaculars- originally published the short-story on which his film, Pyaasa, was based in the English language Illustrated Weekly magazine.  Perhaps, if his genius had not been recognized in the film industry, the poor fellow would have had no option but to turn it into an English novel! The theme was certainly good enough- the idea of a Messiah, resurrected from the dead, but repudiated by the Caiaphas custodians of his own Cultus, had great relevance to a country which, if not complicit in the assassination of the Mahatma, lost little time in turning its back on him. However, had Guru Dutt written in English, his book would had little impact. The feeling back then was that people who wrote in English did not have 'genius', they were light-weights. Niradh Chaudhri summed it up when he said that to publish in English was 'a genteel form of clerkship'. Vernacular authors, however, acquired semi-divine status. In Tamil Nadu, though people had affection for R.K. Narayan- whom they believed to be some sort of pet or mascot of Graham Greene- but it was the likes of Kalki, and later Karunanidhi, who ruled the roost.
 However,  these vernacular writers, no matter how successful or 'progressive', were not really models to be emulated because, by the '70's, they had all more or less sold out to some thuggish political party or the other. I recall reading Jan Myrdal's obituary on the 'Mahakavi Sri Sri', S.S. Rao. I was astonished to find that Myrdal considered this gentleman a Leftist even though he supported the Emergency and later on N.T.R's rise to power! If that is Naxalite, then what am I?
The vernacular languages were gold coins which became sullied by their disreputable political usage. Young people of my generation would not accept such coins even as small change because they stank of that brothel.
We were faced with the question- how are we to go forward without going backward? For some time, we could delude ourselves that some other community had the answer- the Tamil Hindu would read Faiz and the Ashraf Muslim would read Zen Haiku- but even that sort of childishness could not go on for ever. God forgive us, we ended up as Market Fundamentalists because the language of that crude type of Voodoo is facilely Mathematical.  

Like Sanskrit, sabak-e-hindi Persian too had this facile Mathematical quality and enjoyed great social prestige, precisely because it was an 'International' language written in a highly artificial style .In Urdu, for example, Iqbal- who was descended from Hindu converts- was criticized for 'Punjabisms' and so took greater pride in his Persian. But, the shameful truth is, it was only his English that was perfect, at least in terms of being logical and not self contradictory! Indeed, his Persianisms, unlike those of Faiz, who was from an elite Persian speaking family, have a somewhat barbarous sound. Nevertheless, he is greatly esteemed by the present Supreme Leader of Iran for his Pan-Islamic views. The fact that Iqbal was knighted by the Brits and that he praises the Babi heroine, Qurratulayn, seems to have escaped that gentleman's attention! 
The great Abdullah Hussain (winner of the Adamji prize for his novel- Udas Naslain) has given up Urdu and writes in English- in his case because Urdu wasn't his mother tongue and the status of Punjabi, Seraiki and other such lyrical languages of the soil has been severely downgraded in Pakistan. What this means is that if Abdullah Hussain is going to fulfill his artistic purpose of forcing the elite to confront the realities of their society and culture, he has to do it in English- or through a film made for the BBC or Channel 4l!- because otherwise a doubt is planted in the mind of the reader that this fellow isn't really 'one of us' but some dehati from the boondocks!

  Persianized Urdu in Pakistan and Sanskritized Hindi in India were able to gain support as National languages precisely because of their greater artificiality and their claim to incarnate the pure spirit of a pre-Colonial golden age. However, complicated, atemporal, impersonal poetic forms like kavya & nazm  remained the prestigious literary vehicles. True, there were exceptions. Faiz and Habib Tanvir (of Charandas Chor fame) loved the nazms of Nazeer Akbarabadi, but that was regarded as their personal eccentricity. What was prized was amphiboly and artificiality and, of course, the masala of sex and alcohol and some orgasmic Revolution which was equally imaginary or insanitary.
  Since, Sanskrit and sabak-e-hindi Persian were artificial languages, anyone could use them without being castigated as being of Provincial or lower class background. To counterbalance the artificiality and baroque quality of poetry in learned languages, previous generations of Indian writers also wrote in a bucolic dialect chosen for its lyrical, female, quality. Sikh savants wrote in Braj, Tamil devotees wrote in Telugu, in fact Maharaja Svati Tirunal even composed some songs in 'Hindi'!

The rise of vernacular literatures, which was encouraged by the Government, opened a lot of doors for talented people and saw a tremendous literary efflorescence but, over time, it also created 'losers' and 'winners'- with people speaking 'dialects'- or coming from more rural areas- being disadvantaged with respect to the elite language which had been chosen by the Govt. to represent the 'standard' version of the language. There was also a 'class' element- those who became Professors were either well-connected or good at academic politics and acquiring political patronage. Others, with more real talent, earned early graves as alcoholics. Through this process, though ancient classical languages like Sanskrit and Tamil and Persian retained their prestige, actual living languages were sidelined. One consequence was that there was a new emphasis on the education of women. It was no longer acceptable for the future mother of one's grandchildren to speak the jargon of the zenana- she must speak with correct diction and use a logical type of language.
The result of all this was that suddenly Indians became doubly self-conscious. Speaking correct English was bad enough, now you had to worry even about your own mother tongue! An American Professor, visiting an Urdu poet in Lucknow, was astonished when her guide suddenly became tongue-tied. He even started blurting out English phrases. It turned out that, though from an Ashraf family, he was ashamed of his Urdu accent! One can multiply such instances with respect to every single language of India. 
In the past, the aridity of the sabak-e-hindi or kavya style was counterbalanced by the cultural legitimacy of appropriating the bucolic language of the people for poetic purposes. Suddenly, this was seen as declasse. Everybody had to pretend that Mum and Grand--mum spoke like Judges and Headmasters! 
This new type of linguistic status anxiety- which was particularly acute amongst those belonging to traditional 'writer' castes- created a demand for Prose literature- Ghalib's letters outsold his Divan because his Urdu was properly aristocratic, you could not go wrong if you formed your Prose style, your conversational style, upon him- and the same was true for novels. The importance of novels is that they depict how, ideally, men and women should converse and what sentiments they should hold for each other. The ladies in these novels of the Raj era Bildungsburgertum are able to use polite, grammatically correct, language to express noble sentiments in a rational manner. They provided a template for the women of the house. As the women began to express themselves in a rational and logical way, using the elite form of the language- though many of them actually went mad under this novel psychological pressure!- the children got a head-start at School. Traditional families, however, remained suspicious of education in English, for girls, till the Gandhian revolution.
I have mentioned how the pressure on women to conform to a new linguistic ideal greatly increased their stress levels. Previously, women were allowed to express themselves in a 'natural' manner- they had their own culture of songs and dances and ceremonies and bereavement rituals and so forth. However, it was precisely this 'prakrit' quality that became an object of suspicion and distaste. Aurobindo's father was a Doctor, but his Mother still goes mad. Dom Moraes's mother was a Doctor- that didn't save her. Niradh Chaudhri's father was a very kind hearted man- his mother appears to have afflicted with some mild form of mental illness nevertheless. One motivation for seeking refuge in literature is to be able to recover the mother, free from the hysteria that afflicted her, as a nurturant factor for the psyche. The Pakistani Psycoanalyst, Masud Khan, who unfortunately succumbed to alcoholism, made his mark in Britain by the excellence of his English. Perhaps the safer course for him would have been to write 'magic realist' novels like Zulfhiqar Ghose or, later, Salman Rushdie! 
Interestingly, Rushdie started off writing a sort of Jungian Science Fiction on the Simurgh theme. But, unlike S.P.Somtow, the Thai aristocrat whose educational background is similar to Rushdie, he couldn't cut it as a pulp novelist. Rushdie's determination to write a Simurgh novel- i.e. one based on the Parliament of the Birds of Sheikh Attar- based in a magical realist version of India caused the status of literary fiction in Britain to shoot up.  An English author who unblushingly appropriated elements from Marquez and Grass would have been considered either illiterate or a show-off. However the sheer verve of the writing, its noisy delight in itself, overbore all protest. In any case, Rushdie clearly was a gentleman. Unfortunately, in letting his anima dictate a best seller to him, Rushdie became alienated from the Sufi purpose of the parable he was expounding. In fact, he simply turned into a prancing ninny. But, prancing ninnies are excellent self-publicists. 
Indians, who supported Rushdie, were puzzled when he chose not to play the Kashmir card against Syed Shahabuddin after the latter demanded the ban of the Satanic Verses. All Rushdie had to do was to say that this former diplomat and Janta Dal Rajya Sabha M.P was an 'Uncle Tom' running dog of the Hindu Imperialists. Thus Shahabuddin was only questioning Rushdie's Religion because the latter had begun to speak out on the atrocities in his native Kashmir valley. Previously the Iranians had given him a prize for 'Shame'- because it attacked Pakistan- this time they would have poured money into popularizing the view that Rushdie's book was a sort of Edward Saidian satire upon 'Orientalism' and Islamophobia. Pakistan would have had to pat Rushdie on the back- because of the Kashmir issue. 
Why didn't Rushdie play the Kashmir card? After all, like Nehru, Indira, Bandarnaike, Bhutto etc he went to Cambridge. People who go to Cambridge write nonsense because they know ordinary people are stupid. However, they become very shrewd when defending their own interests. Yet Rushdie behaved like an innocent baby. Why? Perhaps the simplest answer is that he liked India. His father didn't consult him when he relocated the family to Pakistan. Rushdie playing the Kashmir card as an Indian is one thing. Indian authors are supposed to speak out on matters relating to their caste, creed or native place. Dom Moraes was welcomed back to India though he spoke against the annexation of his native Goa. But, Rushdie mentioning Kashmir as a Pakistani is a different kettle of fish. Actually, the ISI would have quietly bumped him off if he had spoken up on Kashmir because they want to be pulling all the strings on that issue. Thus, though sedulous in writing nonsense, Rushdie, at some deep unconscious level, 'shows more than he knows' and that is the job of the novelist. In this sense, as the editorial I am commenting on pointed out- he was English not Indian and it was after his fading from the scene that Indian 'hysterical realism' took off in earnest.
In this context, we might note that whereas Rushdie's conflict was with his father- an Oedipal, a Western thing- the Indian English novel, more typically, arises out of a narcissistic injury deriving from the child's dependence on the mother.

It may be that one motivation for seeking mastery of a 'foreign language' is because one feels that the mother tongue has become 'foreign' because the mother has become alienated from herself- she no longer has pyschic integrity. In Arundhati's Roy 'God of small things'- which appears to be based on Aeschylus's 'the return of Orestes'- the brother and sister are saved from having to deal with their mother because the mother goes mad by herself!  Interestingly, a Japanese Psychoanalyst, Heisaku Kosawa, claimed that Oedipus is not really relevant for Asian cultures. Instead, we should speak of an Ajase (Japanese for Emperor Ajatashatru) complex- it is that King's cruel punishment of his mother which sheds light on the primal trauma for people from Asian cultures where 'amae' (dependence elicitation as normative for all social relationships) predominates, rather than the will to power through individuation and autonomy.
The involution, obsession with extended family ties, and note of incipient hysteria which distinguishes the Indian English novel arises out of some failure of 'amae'- i.e. of (primarily) maternal care. In Vikram Seth's case, it appears he may have felt vulnerable at boarding school by reason of his small size; also the issue of his sexuality may have been difficult for his father to deal with, and the result is a very very long book which initially appears to be taken from life until we reach a point where, in half a sentence, we suddenly learn that a Hindu is having a homosexual love affair with a Muslim whom, nevertheless, he will later attempt to murder! The Muslim, of course, is trying to have an affair with his own half-sister, the daughter of the courtesan the Hindu is having an affair with! All this is presented to us as quite routine and undeserving of any special comment or authorial elucidation. This abrupt departure from psychological plausibility and historical versimilitude damns the whole book and reveals it to be an exercise in suppressed hysteria, lacking any grounding in reality and  hopelessly dependent on trashy melodramatic tropes from the worst sort of Hindi films.
Still, this sort of 'hysterical realism' does express something, it is 'creative', but the important point to note is that if such authors wrote in their mother-tongue they couldn't get away with such childish plot twists and self-aggrandizing posturing. Roy's incestuous Elektra and Seth's bisexual sari-shop owner would have been met with gales of laughter. Seth and Roy can get away with presenting such unusual events because they come from exotic places- maybe their part of India really is like that. Kipling, on the other hand, wrote for his own people. What he published in the morning, he was judged on at the Club the very same evening. That was the discipline which permitted the flowering of his genius. More importantly, in the case of our 'hysterical realists', the mothers of these geniuses would have smacked them on their behinds and sent them to bed without their supper if they had written such absurd nonsense in the vernacular language. 

Sir V.S, Naipaul, however, had the opposite experience. His mother was a strong-minded woman of excellent psychological health who took a business course after her kids left home and did well for herself. Not even her son could turn her into literature in a manner which didn't make nonsense of his self-pitying posturings.
His father, on the other hand, had a nervous breakdown after being forced to perform an animal sacrifice ritual as a way of repenting of his Arya Samajist critique of the Trinidad Hindu society of his day. Naipaul resolved to forget his ancestral Hindi- he says it happened while watching a Hindi film where a blind beggar sings a doleful dirge- and even his sister, who came to Benares Hindu University on a scholarship, resolved to have nothing more to do with a language in which buffaloes and lathis featured so prominently. The Naipauls were ahead of the curve. Their father had been humiliated by a type of thuggish noveau riche Casteist Hinduism which had no interest in Social Reform, no interest in Spiritual Religion, no interest in ameliorating the condition of women, but every intention to grab money and political power by every and any means. Back in the Sixties no one would have suspected that self-pity prone, Naipaul clones, like Pankaj Mishra, were gestating in his ancestral Uttar Pradesh or Bihar. But, the truth is, we should have predicted it. The imposition of shuddh Hindi by a bureaucratic State is a sort of linguistic genocide. People who don't speak shuddh Hindi, but who are classed as Hindi speakers, internalize a sort of violence against themselves, their culture, their poetry, their art, their Religion. These are not illegal immigrants or two legged cattle. I have heard of linguistic majorities trying to destroy the mother tongue of minorities. But a majority which destroys its own mother tongue is beyond my comprehension.
It is no wonder that Indians are gravitating towards English to gain a voice which will not automatically be dismissed as either 'uneducated' or meaningless bureaucratese. Vikram Seth was not pleased when a publisher proposed to bring out his 'A suitable boy' under the title 'Ek suyogya var'. Gopal Gandhi stepped in and translated the book as 'koi accha sa ladka'. The odd thing is, 'Suitable boy' is a phrase that has entered Indian languages. 'Koi accha sa ladka' means something different- 'any nice boy will do'- people may say that to show their humility, but when negotiations begin in earnest, the word 'suitable' will be emphasized. Why? It has a multiple meanings- 'suit' as in compatibility having regard to family status, standard of living, type of employment, qualifications, astrological sign and so on and so forth. 
To my mind, an interesting aspect of Indian prosody- at least in the hands of master-poets- is its delight in 'false friends', words which sound the same but which originate from different languages. The oral tradition tends to assimilate the two but learned people are aware of the aesthetic possibilities arising from their juxtaposition of incompossible universes of discourse. One step up from 'false friends' are terms which have a special meaning in a particular discipline or specialized context. To use them in this sense in one's own prose is to derive a particular pleasure of 'tadmin' allusion, it is to create a special sort of 'dhvani' suggestiveness, and in this sense could be said to be 'creative' rather than credentializing merely.
My own feeling is, to some extent, English had this property for Indians. Words have a secret doubleness precisely because, till recently, Indglish had more words than things and the ongoing project of translating everything into English enriched the semantic scope of the foreign tongue. Thus, Roosevelt spoke of a 'rendezvous with destiny' because, by the 1930's, sophisticated people thought it terribly smart to use the French term. Nehru however prefers to say 'tryst with destiny'- which the older generation of Whites thought 'Babu'.
Yet today, most people would acknowledge that Nehru was right. Suhuni did not make a rendezvous with Mahiwal. The viyogini is not pining away because her beloved stood her up for a date. If the English and the Americans used the word 'tryst' and 'swain' to jokingly refer to the courtship rituals of their butlers and maid-servants, so what? Rendezvous is just ugly Maitre d' French. Tryst is elemental and universal.

Some people, like Chief Justice Katju, may want to revive Sanskrit- but the task is hopeless. People firmly believe that it was a monopoly of the Brahmins who destroyed India by imposing an obscene caste-system. Sabak-e-hindi too is a non-starter because the younger generation of Mullahs reject Persian in favor of Arabic- this trend is changing pronunciation and syntax in a manner the older generation finds bizarre.

But, if the vernacular languages can't be 'standardized' or 'elevated' by recourse to Classical models, how can novel writing be a vehicle to upward social mobility? To use out of date slang or a provincial idiom is to brand yourself as some sort of 'hero from zero'. 
Furthermore, from the late Sixties onwards, there have been two parallel developments in Vernacular literature-
1) the proliferation of advanced literary theory together with the attainment of a sort of scholarly 'critical mass' is such that the ordinary reader feels alienated and even the middle level knowledge worker feels at a disadvantage to express him/herself, especially because of the politicization of the Academy and the cliqueishness of the literary magazines.
At one time we might have tolerated this situation by saying to ourselves- ah! if only we all had Doctorates from the Sorbonne we too would be able to appreciate what is being written by these great luminaries. Recently, Prof. Gopichand Narang was accused of plagiarism. Far from really having engaged with and digested Structuralist and Post Structuralist thought, the eminent Professor had simply translated relevant passages from standard textbooks to make a grand display of a spurious erudition. Prof. C.M. Naim, whose suave intellectual nullity saved him from writing nonsense of that particular stripe, lent his prestige to the attack on Narang. However, the truth is the Indian reception of European Literary Theory- even if based on genuine scholarship- was always entirely fatuous. But so was the British or American or Patagonian or French reception of that tripe. The subject was inherently foolish. Ceaseless mention of Bhratrhari or al Jurjani is equally foolish. They tell us about the idiotic doxology of their times- just as post-modern monkeyshines tells us about the sorts of paranoid ideation characteristic of different drugs-of-choice.
 Nowadays, thanks to the internet, we can easily find out for ourselves that all these Emperors or Commissars were completely naked. Since most Indian knowledge workers, nowadays, are from applied maths backgrounds, we can easily see that their pseudo-mathematical language and pretense of philosophical rigor was all simply eye-wash. But, what is the alternative? C.M. Naim's smugness? No. The truth is, Literature oughtn't to be taught at Universities any more than Love should be sought in the Brothel. 
However, high-end, supposedly Left Wing, Eurocentric 'Lit Crit' still rules the roost- in fact it has got stronger- by claiming to be 'Secular'. Thus, people can write about Ghalib and Mir without mentioning the Quran Sharif. They can pretend that Bhagwan Valmiki did not understand that Lord Rama loved his wife. In fact Professor Sidney Pollock has written ''Rama's 'true feelings' will remain secret, properly so, for they are quite irrelevant to the poem's purposes.'  
I am certainly not endorsing the thugs who claim to speak for Religion, but this sort of Secularism is a bad joke. It tells young people that the lyrical poetry of their own country does not deal with real emotions. It was all some sort of heartless game or mindless pastime for the elite.  Love may exist, but it has no place in Literature. The proof is that all the great poetry and stories of India were written by people we revere as Saints- that is they have Religious standing. But, Religion is just a cheap trick played upon the toiling masses by evil misogynists

2) The  rise of protest movements like the 'Dalit Panthers' who wished to shock the  middle classes out of their Puritanical complacency ended up dis-empowering vernacular literature as a vehicle for Social Upliftment. Nowadays, English has been declared a Goddess for Dalits and Lord Macaulay an idol! Why? The Dalit Panthers failed their own people. The use of foul language and the depiction of nihilistic hedonism and transgressive sexuality, meant that reading such literature did not permit one to rise up in terms of cultivated speech, good manners, ability to express noble sentiments and so forth. English, on the other hand, is seen as a great leveler.  Not only is it a route to advancement it also acts like a ratchet preventing a steep fall in status consequent upon a political change. A further contributing factor to the rise of English has been the shocking fall in the quality of English teaching in Government Schools and Vernacular Medium Colleges. This means that your only chance of learning English to an employable level is if you start in childhood and increasingly crowd out the mother tongue from your consciousness!  When I was young, we used to make fun of families who tried to make their children speak English at home in the belief that this would give them a leg up academically. We thought this was funny because the toppers in the Civil Service, in Medicine, in Law and so on, came, more often than not, from Vernacular Medium Schools in small towns. But, in those days, an English teacher could really teach English- maybe not the posh accent of Doon School but correct written English. It is tragic that very bright young people, supposedly being taught English, are actually receiving no such instruction. One can't blame them if they force their children to make English their main language. 
Amongst the middle class, as the vernacular languages embraced sexually transgressive and politically nihilistic concepts and ideas, the elders started to discourage kids from reading vernacular literature- they were happier if the children read Enid Blyton or Alastair Mclean, because the West was a less dangerous source of 'spiritual pollution' than what was happening on their own door-steps. The revival of English amongst third or fourth generation Anglophone Indians, many from traditional families, has to do with a retreat from Politics as 'the Gandhian novel' ceased to be relevant. I am tempted to use the word 'neoteny'- the evolutionary strategy of prolonging childhood- to describe the way the Middle Class turned against the vernacular languages, which had been their own vehicle to class power, once those vernacular languages became more revolutionary and 'post modern' than good old Agatha Christie, P.G. Woodhouse, English.
Classical Music and Dance were still safe for young people- the excellent character and spirituality of the great Artistes ensured that this was so- however, it is noteworthy that when you look at PhD thesis written on Musicological topics, the same type of Politically Correct nonsense appears.
One final point, in my own personal experience, the urge to write novels about India has to do with trying to rise above one's class or caste background and build up a picture of how India, or a small piece of it, coheres as a whole.
But this begs the question- does India still cohere?
In the past, the Indian novelist would have done some little bit of research, or engaged with a traditional art-form or genre of literature and sought to make that relevant to the lives of his or her characters.
Is that still happening? 

Unfortunately, as the author of the editorial previously mentioned points out, there is a strong factor militating against this hoped for outcome- the fact is the Media is now hooked on advertising money, paid-for news, hyped up controversies- 'as the English language media in India gradually transforms itself into an agent of publicity, the distinction between ‘publicity’ and ‘opinion’ has also been made wafer thin. Celebrities (often created by the media) are asked to pronounce on matters in which they have little expertise'- in other words the infantile narcissism of the wannabe authors matches up with the Media's need for 'idoru' - idols of the moment- ready and willing to parade their puerile opinions under the pretense that this contributes to 'Public Discourse' or 'Civil Society' or other such faddish nonsense. 
Though I'm an English speaker myself, the English of the 'talking heads' on TV sets my teeth on edge and, if only for a moment, I find myself agreeing with Ram Manohar Lohia- truly agrezi boli worked a worse mischief upon India than the angrezi goli!