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Caste System and recent Indian writing

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  • Kranthikeshvara K
    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
    Message 1 of 1 , Nov 1, 2008
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      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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