Caste System and recent Indian writing
- Today's supplement of 'The Hindu' carries an interview of Canadian-born Padma Viswanathan (http://www.hindu.com/lr/2008/11/02/stories/2008110250070200.htm) for whom "writing her debut novel led her back to a culture and milieu that went back over a 100 years". The novel"is based on stories told by Viswanathan’s grandmother about her own grandmother" and according to Padma "the book is the product of a lifetime of observing and
thinking about this culture and of my stumbling efforts to show respect
by conforming to the rules while staying with relatives, even while
loudly voicing my objections!"According to the interviewer, R. Krithika, "without being a diatribe, the focus on the daily
minutiae of Brahmin rituals does drive home the injustice of the caste
system without the author’s voice intruding or telling the reader so".
Padma concurs with her interviewer: "My intention was to implicate the reader, to make them feel how
seductive the caste system is… and so give a sense of why it persists,
even today, if in mutated forms".
In an interview (http://entertainment.timesonline.co.uk/tol/arts_and_entertainment/books/article4967568.ece), Booker winner Aravind Adiga recalls that "the greatest revelation of those years [studying English at Columbia] was not oppression but equality: he
discovered in Australia and America what it is like to be free of the caste
system". His return to India was a shock: "I had forgotten what it is to be
well-off. Not to be embarrassed to do things for myself." In India, people
of his background assumed they were born to be served and that others were
born to serve them: Adiga no longer could.
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