The Swadesi Superbia-Shattered

Being a rookie writer myself, it was indeed, a pleasant surprise to hear of Arvind Adiga winning the “The Man Booker Prize” for his much acclaimed “The White Tiger”. It was gratifying because of the alchemy he has opted in his work and not just because he demonstrated his Indianness in a foreign field.

Going off the tunnel, there are glimpses of Hindustanis being honoured almost every year on a videsi platform. Whether it is about the status of a senator,(read Bobby Jindal) or Kalpana Chawla conquering the stars, the question that bemuses me is, why are these people celebrated? Just because their skins are of Indian hue or perhaps their names are of Hindu origin? The question is a typical one yet unanswerable.

Coming back to the “The White Tiger”, a book on the journey of Balaram, the son of a rickshaw puller., as he crushes coals and wipes tables, he nurses a dream of escape – of breaking away from the banks of Mother Ganga, into whose depths have seeped the remains of a hundred generation. A leading critic reviewed it as, “The White Tiger is a tale of two Indias. Balram’s journey from darkness of village life to the light of entrepreneurial success is utterly amoral, brilliantly irreverent, deeply endearing and altogether unforgettable.”

I have not yet got my hands on this piece of work but my intuition tells me that just in the couple of lines mentioned above, there lies the message, a secret more than just a message. The secret might be specific to the desi literary spirits and perhaps the Indian senators, astronauts, ambassadors and blah but that’s what, is responsible for what they are. The secret is that a talented Indian, whoever it may be, plans an escape, a hidden escape that might lead him to heavenly and high spirited success. By Jove, Indians know how to savour a dish but never discover its making. We know how to rejoice a success, but never learn the procedures of achievements.

Adiga, born in Chennai did his graduation from Oxford, a precious temple and later Colombia University. His basic grades were treated by the curriculum of Australia. Kiran Desai, another ‘Indian’ Booker recipient, studied creative writing at Hollins and Columbia University; although she spent 14 years of her life in Delhi. Rushdie was born in Mumbai. He was educated at Cathedral and John Connon School in Mumbai, Rugby School and King’s College, Cambridge. What difference did they all make? I say or what I feel is they all escaped. But why did they do so? That’s what I am honking about. When we have Indian education, flaunting IIT’s and IIM’s then why did they plan an escape? The answer is they had to, if they wished to become what they are today. We Indians make sure we taste a slice of celebration with the whole world without even knowing the grounds of celebration. The legendary Satyajit Ray too is said to have become a filmmaker on meeting Jean Renoir, a French filmmaker and watching Bicycle Thieves, the Italian masterpiece. So it’s quite predictable that there has to be a videsi contribution to an extraordinary Indian artist whatsoever.

Mayank Bhayana

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