By R. RAJ RAO
The Week, Nov 9, 2003
There is a school of Indian literary criticism called Nativism. Nativists ordain that Indian writers must write in Indian languages only, for these alone are authentic. English, according to them, is the language of our colonial masters and must be banished from the literary firmament. If an Indian writer claims that he cannot write in a language other than English, he must be told to STOP writing. Never mind if this amounts to censorship. Some bilingual Indian writers, taking their cue from the Nativists, have begun to compare themselves to bisexuals: writing in the mother tongue is their heterosexuality; writing in the other tongue (English), their homosexuality. The Nativists' advice to the Salman Rushdies and Arundhati Roys of Planet Earth, who write only in English, is simply this: stop writing.
I am reminded of the Indo-English poet Nissim Ezekiel (whose biography I happened to write) who broke his head trying to convince the Nativists that as a Bene Israel Jew, he did not have enough access to Indian languages like Marathi, and so wrote in English. We must practise the rowdyism that Salman Rushdie advocates. (R. Raj Rao is the author of The Boyfriend. He is associate professor in the department of English, University of Pune.)