Monday, November 5, 2012

Why attack V S Naipaul in that shrill fashion, Mr Girish Karnad?

 “My question is to organizers who keep giving him lifetime award as though what he has to say about a large section of the Indian population, about a whole rich period of Indian history which was our glory, does n’t matter."

I'm somewhat baffled by Girish Karnad lashing out at Naipaul in this way. He echoes what William Dalrymple accused Naipaul of, a few years ago. Nothing new or ingenious. I knew Karnad as a good playwright and  actor (despite his acting in some silly movies), but never imagined he was also capable of staging such a high drama on a platform not really meant for his histrionic talents.

One should understand that V S Naipul's strength, as a writer, lies not in his non-fiction, but in his fiction. Read his novels, and you would know why he's a great writer who deserves a lifetime award. He might be openly biased, even vociferous at times in his non-fiction - how many of us are rational? - but he's not really anti-Muslim as some of us conceive. Just consider, a trivial point though,  he has been living with Nadira, a Muslim lady from Pakistan, for quite a long time. 

Why attack a veteran writer, and an octogenarian at that, in that shrill and uncivilized manner, Mr Karnad?

( Updated on 10/11/12: Here is a well thought-out response of Anil Dharker, the festival director of Tata literature Live, to Girish Karnad's diatribe:

Your other assumption of Naipaul being anti-Muslim is debatable to say the least. He's married to a Muslim, and has been for the last 17 years. His wife's two children from her previous marriage are being brought up as Muslims, all of which would be unlikely if he he were against the religion as you claim to be. In spite of that it is quite possible that Naipaul's view of history may not be as rounded as it should be in that he ignores Hindu -Muslim collaborations of that era which resulted in great art, music and architecture. But many historians - or those who write about history - use a particular focus to their approach to history. Marxists historians are a case in point. Whether they should, or shouldn't, is a good subject for debate.

Source: Anil Dharker's post-ed "A matter of debate" in The Hindustan Times dated Nov 10, 2012) 

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