The function of literature – The Hindu

It is via inclusive and diverse writings that we get a socio-cultural understanding of a country

Delhi University a short while ago dropped Mahasweta Devi’s renowned small story, Draupadi, and two Dalit writers — Bama and Sukirtharani — from the BA English (Hons) syllabus. Numerous writers, teachers and media shops have reacted adversely to this news. Devi’s shorter tale facts the plight of tribals and stays pertinent to this day. Bama’s Karukku will endlessly be remembered for its searing account of her lifetime of subjugation and perennial ostracism. Sukirtharani’s poems lay bare her Dalit feminist politics. These are essential voices that any scholar of literature or the Humanities should to engage with in modern India. And it is usually by means of university syllabi that youthful minds are introduced to these types of creating which may not attribute in the regular bestseller lists or other traps laid out by company publishing supposed to endear visitors to particular kinds of textbooks – way of living, self-aid and ‘how to do’ guides – which never stimulate essential questioning and wondering.

An introduction to who we are

At this point, we will have to inquire: what is the objective of literature in a classroom seriously? Literary studies have moved much beyond basically imparting resources of literary evaluation to learners in the classroom. Researching literature no for a longer period implies analysing plot, character and placing, and writing extensive prosaic responses in exams by yourself. These are vital components to realize a text in its entirety but literature is also an introduction to in which and how we stay and the problems that deal with our time and modern society. In many strategies, literature is an introduction to who we are, or ought to be, as people. All around the globe, literature syllabi are staying redrawn to be certain inclusion and diversity.


The writings of the authors who have been dropped from the study course could be subjected to traditional literary analysis. At the exact same time, they also detect and highlight worries that assist a socio-cultural understanding of the difficulties that plague Indian culture. These texts, on the other hand, are not to be study as sociology camouflaging as literature. We ought to focus on their creative and literary deserves far too. I have encountered a number of realities of this nation by means of these writings with tiny or no encounter of the terrain the writers have penned about or the caste atrocities they have faced. Their writing has been a wonderful training to say the minimum. At the identical time, background is archived in the existence story of the particular person and other people in their fiction. The selection-makers at Delhi College could argue that all syllabi should really be routinely up to date. Even though that simply cannot be contested, the texts that change the previously mentioned writers must invite more scrutiny. Also, it ought to be requested why only these texts were chosen to be axed whilst many others were being still left untouched.

This act of elimination will ideally motivate quite a few to read these writers and take a look at their do the job with increased fascination. The similar took place in the earlier when texts this kind of as A.K. Ramanujan’s A few Hundred Ramayanas and Rohinton Mistry’s A High-quality Equilibrium have been dropped from college syllabi underneath political force. Pointless to say, banned textbooks have usually aroused good curiosity amongst visitors.

Looking at Indian writing

It was a welcome transfer by Delhi University to train the writings of Mahasweta Devi and Bama as section of the English syllabus and wean this sort of classes away from their abnormal Eurocentrism. To read Indian literature in translation is 1 of the most effective introductions to the state and its massive literary wealth. Through such a observe, pupils are also taught to study and enjoy literature in the comfort and ease of a familiar context and come to be informed citizens. Although entire world literature has its have deserves, an introduction to Indian writing and specifically those that assistance us to be ‘critical insiders’ (a expression that the author U.R. Ananthamurthy utilised) will go a prolonged way in generating passionate learners. Isn’t that the purpose of instruction immediately after all?

Kunal Ray teaches literary and cultural reports at FLAME University, Pune