The English department plays a vital role in the development of the multi-cultural advancements of Indian literature. This statement appears to be a paradox. A layman might question the integrity of the assertion itself—how can the English department work in the favour of Indian literature? At first glance, the whole idea itself seems to be self-contradictory. A closer look at the situation, however, may lead us to shred our prejudice in this regard. The obvious question a layman should attempt to answer is: what constitutes Indian literature? Indian literature is the sum total of all texts written in Indian vernacular languages, including the texts about India written by Indian authors in English. The writings of Indian English writers also fall into this category. When R.K Narayan, MulkRaj Anand, and Amitav Ghosh write about Indian sensibilities in an Indian setting, it is surely not English literature. It should be defined as Indian writing in English and should fall majorly under the Indian Literature genre.
Aijaz Ahmed mentioned in his famous Indian Literature-Notes towards the definition of a category that all existing vernacular literature should be translated into the English language so that English becomes a pivotal language-a lingua franca to understand the various literary texts written in different vernacular languages. The role of translation goes to the English departments of various universities. This way, one can understand more about Indian culture. One cannot sit and learn all the regional languages and dialects. But if the translations of different cultural texts, regional literature, and vernacular prints are available in English, then it becomes a feasible task to know all categories of Indian literature. Today, the power structure of the English language is in perfect play at various levels.
Prof. Jayesh Mehta’s Blog
Assistant Professor of English