The Role of English Department- A Contrarian Viewpoint

The English department plays a vital role in 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 English Department work in the favor of Indian literature? At the first glance the whole idea itself seems to be self-contradictory. A closer look at the situation however, may lead 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 language. The writings of Indian English writers also fall in 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 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 for translation goes to the English departments of various universities. This way, one can understand more about the Indian culture. One cannot sit and learn all regional languages and dialects. But if the translations of different cultural texts, regional literature and vernacular prints are available in English language, then, it becomes a feasible task to know all categories of Indian literature. Today the power structure of English language is at perfect play at various levels.

Blog by – Prof. Jayesh Mehta
Assistant Professor of English
SKIPS, Ahmedabad.

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