Achievements - A significant post-colonial writer in the English language, Khushwant Singh is known for his clear-cut secularism, wit and a deep passion for poetry. A regular contributor to various national dailies, Singh is also famous for his novel ‘Train to Pakistan penned in the year 1956.
Khushwant Singh is a senior prominent Indian novelist cum journalist. He was born on 2 February 1915 at Hadali in British India that is now a part of Punjab in Pakistan. A significant post-colonial writer in the English language, Khushwant Singh is known for his clear-cut secularism, humor and a deep passion for poetry. His assessment and comparison of social and behavioral traits of people from India and the West is full of outstanding wit. Here’s more information on the biography of Khushwant Singh.
Infact, Khuswant Singh’s writing is so popular that his weekly newspaper column, “With Malice towards One and All”, published in many Indian national dailies is among the most widely-read commentaries in the country. Singh completed his bachelor’s from the Government College at Lahore and thereafter, pursued further studies in law at King’s College in London, UK. Sir Sobha Singh, Khushwant Singh’s father, then used to work at a reputed builder in Lutyens’ Delhi. Read on about life history of Khuswant Singh.
Once while still practicing as a lawyer in the High Court of Lahore, Khushwant Singh was on his way to his family’s summer residence at Kasauli at the foothills of the Himalayas. It was just days prior to the partition of India and Pakistan in August 1947. Singh was driving his car when he came across a jeep full of Sikhs on an unusually vacant road that day. The Sikh men pridefully narrated to him how they had just butchered away all residents of a Muslim village.
All these instances found vivid description in the book ‘Train to Pakistan’ Khushwant Singh later wrote in 1956. In the time to come, Singh was appointed to edit Yojana, a journal published by the Indian government. Other publications whose editing Singh was encharged with were the Illustrated Weekly of India, a newsweekly and two other major Indian dailies – The National Herald and the Hindustan Times. Under his leadership, The Illustrated Weekly came to be hailed as India’s pre-eminent newsweekly.
There’s many other kudos bagged by Khushwant Singh. For instance, Singh was a Rajya Sabha member of the Indian parliament from 1980 to 1986. He was also honored with the Padma Bhushan award in the year 1974 for service to his country, but he returned the award in protest against the siege of the Golden Temple by the Indian Army in 1984. Undeterred, the Indian government awarded Singh an even more prestigious honor, the Padma Vibhushan in the year 2007.
Resurrection of SVV
SVV ENUM RASAVADHI (Tamil): Vaasanthi; Vaanathi Padhippagam, 13 Deenadayalu Street, T.Nagar, Chennai-600017. Rs. 18.
IT WILL be difficult to think of a contemporary writer of Tamil fiction who had kept his very wide circle of readers lapping up his serials week after week and waiting breathlessly for the subsequent issues of the Ananda Vikatan as SVV had done half a century ago. The writings of S. V. Vijayaraghavachari – known to the large circle of his readers only as SVV – did offer a very rich fare to project him as a very keen, lively and warm-hearted observer of the people he knew very closely. However, even in his own time, along with the euphoric reception given to his short stories and novels, the response at least from perhaps a much smaller section of his readers was sufficiently discriminating. Vaasanthi, Editor of the Tamil edition of India Today, takes a close look at the writings of SVV in a readable book of less than a hundred pages.
It would seem that the focus of SVV’s fiction was entirely on the Brahmin middle and upper middle classes. This should explain the unwelcome attention which the leading Tamil periodicals of the SVV era, principally the Ananda Vikatan, provoked about their being the journals of the “Agraharam” from the emerging Dravidian movement of which Vaasanthi is fully aware. Though she does not seem to think so, SVV should, however, have been quite sensitive to the response his writing might have received from the larger sections of the society in his time. There were quite a few of his novels in which he very movingly acknowledges the graciousness of the non-Brahmin benefactors. A novel which comes readily to the mind is about a childless couple bringing up an orphaned Brahmin boy who tops in a competitive examination. The recollection of the story would leave one’s eyes misty.
Vaasanthi’s observation about SVV having been indifferent in his writings to the freedom movement of his time is also not fair if one could recall the scenes in yet another long serial. It has a freedom fighter who is on the run as a revolutionary and has gone underground. His devoted wife takes good care of him on the sly – to the risk of her becoming pregnant in her village which ostracises her until the truth reveals her as a very great woman. Yet another scene in the same serial presents a village crowd highly excited by the feud in a Dalit (though the word had not come into currency in SVV’s time) family over a young man’s right, sanctified by tradition to marry a close cousin and his being outraged by those trying to rob him of the same. An essay in which SVV writes about Mahatma Gandhi – and which was not perhaps among the collections which had come to Vaasanthi for her comments – heralding a new dawn in India should correct her notion about his not having been drawn towards Gandhiji. SVV saw Gandhiji as the man who came to liberate a debilitated India from its sickness and bondage to foreign rule.
Vaasanthi seems to believe that SVV credited the British rulers of his time with a far greater sense of fairness and integrity than the Indians by inviting attention to a serial in which an English officer had to come to the rescue of a young girl by knocking sense into her husband who was ill-treating her. The same serial should have given her the corrective to her perceptions about SVV having regarded the male of the species being the more mature and generous. The English officer in the story denies the young Indian the promotion he was looking forward to by pointing out to him that he would not be the right person for the job because of his insensitivity to his wife’s agony. This should leave no doubt about SVV’s heart having been in the right place. A recurring refrain in SVV’s stories about the ICS and the higher posts like the Assistant Traffic Superintendent in the Indian Railways could be a reflection of the levels of ambition of the middle class he knew about.
SVV might well have given the impression that the Brahmin way of life was the most enriching because of the serenity and wisdom it was holding out and such a perception did emerge from the long sermon in a serial by an orthodox Brahmin to a younger relative from the city. But SVV does mention that this made no impression upon the other man whose response was one of disdain to what he regarded as the ranting of a village obscurantist.
The serial which he had written with a perceptible pleasure ends with the main character, not more than 35 years old, changing over from a cropped to a tufted head and living up to his traditions as an orthodox Brahmin with SVV very clearly projecting it as the serene way of life. It is a story of the return of the native. But SVV was aware that the times were changing and he took note of it in his serial, Sampath, in which one of the characters is the seductive Charu decked out as the scheming Juliet fully alive to the ways of grabbing of wealth by alluring Sampath who is suddenly left with a rich legacy.
SVV’s Ullasa Velai is a lively world of a judge and his charming unlettered wife and has a few juicy bits about female undergarments while its pretty daughters emerge brightly as the modern, alluring Eve.
The dissection of SVV’s writings by Vaasanthi is quite thorough and it might well fill many of an earlier generation with a desire to read them again. The younger readers, who have not heard of SVV, would also be tempted to read his novels and stories.
Source; ‘The Hindu’
12EN303 INDIAN WRITING IN ENGLISH
• To provide the students a perception into the diverse aspects of Indian writings in English
down the ages
• To acquire knowledge of various genres and discourse of high order in Indian writings in English
POETRY (Detailed): Henry Louis Vivian Derozio:The Harp of India- Shiv K Kumar: Indian Women- Gieve Patel: On Killing a Tree (Non – Detailed) Kekin Daruwalla: Hawk- Jayanta Mahapatra: Thoughts of the Future
DRAMA(Detailed): Girish Karnad: The Fire and the Rain- (Non – Detailed) Mahesh Dattani: Tara
ESSAYS (Detailed)Balaram Gupta. C.N. Srinath: Emerald Treasury of Indian Humorous Essays in English- 1-4 Essays (Non-Detailed) Jawaharlal Nehru: The Discovery of India- The Quest- The Discovery of India
FICTION(Detailed) Chitra Divakaruni: The Mistress of Spices-(Non-Detailed) Short Stories- Jhumpa Lahiri: Interpreter of Maladies- Bharati Mukherjee: A Wife’s Story- Novel:Kiran Desai: The Inheritance of Loss
PROSE: Statements : Anthology of Indian Prose in English By Adil Jusswalla, Eunice De Souza- 1-4 Essays
1. K.R. Ramachandran Nair. ed. “Gathered Grass”, Sterling Publishers Private Limited, New Delhi, 1991.
2. Girish.Karnad, “The Fire and the Rain”, Oxford University Press, UK, 2004.
3. Duttani, Mahesh, “Collected Plays,” Penguin Books, New Delhi, 2000.
4. Balaram Gupta. C.N. Srinath, “Emerald Treasury of Indian Humorous Essays in English,” Emerald Publishers, New Delhi, 2007.
5. Jawaharlal Nehru, “The Discovery of India”. Penguin Books, New Delhi, 2004
6. Chitra. B Divakaruni, “ The Mistress of Spices,” Anchor Books, Oakland, 1998.
7. Adil Jusswalla, Eunice De Souza, “Statements :Anthology of Indian Prose in English” B
Orient Blackswan, Hydrabad,1989.
8. Kiran Desai, “The Inheritance of Loss”, Penguin Books: London, 2007.
9. Williams Walsh, “Readings in Commonwealth Literature” Clarendon Press, Oxford 1973.
10. Jhumpa Lahiri, “Interpreter of Maladies” Harper Collins Publishers, Australia,1999.
11. Bharathi Mukerjee, “The Middleman and Other Stories,” Grove Press, Australia, 1999.
1. Saleem Peeradina, ed. “Contemporary Indian Poetry in English”, Macmillan
India, Chennai, 1972.
2. Vasant Shahane.A, M. Sivaramakrishna, eds. “Indian Poetry in English: A Critical Assessment” Macmillan, Delhi, 1980.
3. William Walsh, “Indian Literature in English” Longman, London, 1990.
4. H.M .Williams, “Studies in Modern Indian Fiction in English” Writers