INDIAN ENGLISH LITERATURE
MEG 07 Free Solved Assignment
MEG 07 Free Solved Assignment Jan 2022
Q. 1. Write short note on:
(a) Form of Hind Swaraj
Ans. Hind Swaraj, the title of the first definitive writing of Mahatma Gandhi, and which continues to evoke critical interest the world over even now, literally means ‘self-rule in India’.
This small book of about 30,000 words was written in Gujarati in November 1909 on board the ship during Gandhi’s return trip from England to South Africa after an abortive mission, within 10 days, 40 of the 275 pages being written with left hand.
As stated by Gandhiji himself: “I wrote the entire Hind Swaraj for my dear friend Dr. Pranjivan Mehta.
All the argument in the book is reproduced almost as it took place with him.” It was published in the Indian Opinion in Natal and was soon banned by Government in India because it contained ‘matter declared to be seditious’.
On that, Gandhi published the English translation from Natal to show the innocuous nature of its contents. The ban was finally lifted on 21 December, 1938.
He wrote it in 1909 (at the age of 40) and it was published in 1910, at which point it was promptly banned in India by the British colonial administration. Gandhi could not understand why this work was banned. MEG 07 Free Solved Assignment
He thought it must be because the English could not read it (Gandhi wrote in Gujarati for the most part) so he translated Hind Swaraj into English himself – to no avail, Hind Swaraj remained banned political literature.
Hind Swaraj is the only work Gandhi ever translated into English and therefore particularly useful to English readers. Hind Swaraj is cast in the form of a dialogue between Gandhi, who is called “The Editor”, and his interlocutor, Know as “The Reader.”
Some readers might be reminded of the Socratic dialogues, where Socrates has by far the greater number of lines; his interlocutors appear as sophists.
Others will think, perhaps, of the Upanishadic dialogues, while yet others might think of Hind Swaraj as a Sunday school catechism, where matters of ‘truth’ and ‘doctrine are put in the form of questions and answers.
(b) Women in Kanthapura
Ans. The Women in Kanthapura: Though the central figure and the protagonists are novel is Moorthy, there are some strong women characters in the novel, who have an equal role to play.
While looking at the women characters of the novel it is to gain important for us to keep in mind that everything we see in the novel and every character we come across in the novel is through the mind of the narrator, Achakka. MEG 07 Free Solved Assignment
In all the religious gatherings and prayer meetings and also in the political events that happen in the novel, women characters take a prominent part.
Apart from these activities outside the home, they also indulge in the household activities and take care of the men.
More than the male characters in the novel, the female characters are concerned about maintaining and continuing the traditional practices.
After attending the special Harikatha, they are encouraged and influenced to such an extent by Gandhian idea and philosophy that they do not hesitate and think twice before actively participating in the satyagraha movement initiated by Moorthy in the village.
The women of the village gather every morning at their regular meeting place which is the River bank.
Apart from doing their usual everyday activities like parking and washing the also talk about things happening in the village.
Venkamma is one woman character who has not been portrayed in a positive light. She has a vicious tongue and despises Moorthy and his mother particularly.
The reason for her despise for Moorthy is because he mingles with pariahs and untouchables. But deep down in her heart, she is not as bad as she appears to be. We are told that if one day she fights with Moorthy’s mother the next day she befriends her.
“And when Narsamma saw her at the river the next day, Venkamma was as jolly as ever and she said she had a bad tongue and that one day she would ask Carpenter Kenchayya to saw it out, …, and they all talked together MEG 07 Free Solved Assignment
Among the other women characters are Rangamma and Ratna, both of them have been portrayed in positive and noble light.
They actively participate in the satyagraha movement and play in equal role along with Moorthy and Range Gowda in fighting against the British rule.
During the time of the formation of the Congress committee in the village, Moorthy puts forth a proposal that there should be a woman in the committee for the weak.
To this everybody in the village proposes the name of Rangamma, who on popular demand reluctantly takes the responsibility, After Moorthy is arrested and incarcerated by the police, it is Rangamma who fills in his position.
She also makes it possible for the village people to know about the political happenings, by arranging the newspapers.
(c) The Harikatha Element
Ans. Harikatha can be simply defined as a religious ritual which a devout Hindu is supposed to organise or attend every now and then. MEG 07 Free Solved Assignment
It can be organised at Temple or at home. Harikatha is actually a telling of stories about the incarnations of Lord Vishnu or any other god.
This telling of stories is usually accompanied by lots of dancing and singing. The popularity of Harikatha in Kanthapura makes it one of the most interesting elements of the novel.
The day when Harikatha is organised all the villagers gather at the temples to listen to it.
The famous Harikatha man, Jayaramachar is called to do the Harikatha. He has his own way of doing Harikatha which has gained popularity amongst the masses.
It is his habit to bring the Gandhian element into the stories he narrates, which he manages to some way or the other.
When he narrates the story of Shiva and Parvati, he says is that Shiva is a God with three eyes and Swaraj two has three eyes referring to the Gandhian ideas of self purification, Hindu Muslim unity and khaddar.
For the villagers of Kanthapura, it is an entirely new experience for they have never heard Harikatha like this before. MEG 07 Free Solved Assignment
Jayaramachar also narrates the story during this Harikatha about the birth of Gandhi – an example of political awakening through the religious platform.
In the Harikatha, Jayaramachar, tells about the past glory of India – in India which has produced great Kings like Asoka, Chandragupta and Akbar and great sages like Krishna, Buddha, Sankara and Ramanuja.
Then he says that this great land of Himalayas and Ganges has been enslaved by the British who have come from across the seas.
The sages to go to Brahma to plead to him for freeing this great nation from the foreign enslavement.
And with the blessings of God the son is born in the family in Gujarat. This boy is named as Mohan Das who grows up to become famous Gandhi and starts his national struggle against the foreign rule.
He is so powerful that certain defeat the British and bring Swaraj to India. Jayaramachar is taken away by the police once the Harikatha is finished, and people of Kanthapura never ever see him again.
By a subtle subversion the harikatha is turned into an allegory of India’s struggle for freedom wherein the Gandhian saga is inscribed.
The episode of Harikatha also introduces the political scene in the novel. Jayaramachar, being the true follower of Gandhian ideals, uses his art of narration during Harikatha to educate common public about the political happenings in the nation.
What he’s trying to do is to make people politically aware and conscious.
Paranjape while talking about the religious spirit of the novel says: “Kanthapura is … imbued with a religious spirit akin to that of the Puranas.
An important idea which runs through it is that of incarnation [which)… is central to the Puranas… The avatar in this novel is Gandhi, whose shadow looms over the whole book, although he is himself not a character.MEG 07 Free Solved Assignment
Incarnation … extends into Kanthapura itself, where Moorthy, who leads the revolt, is the local manifestation of Gandhi, and by implication of truth.”
(d) The Title of Midnight’s Children.
Ans. The Title of Midnight’s Children’s: The title of the novel comes from the hour of Indian independence on 15th August 1947.
All the children who were born during that hour of Indian history in the novel became the children of time, fathered by history itself and possessed the highest of talent of which men have ever dreamed”.
Saleem is the protagonist narrator of the novel, who was born when the arms of the clock came together to celebrate Indian independence and therefore possessed telepathic powers.
Through this power he learns that 1001 children were born during that glorious hour and is able to establish contact with them. But the purpose of establishing contact with all midnight’s children is defeated.
Saleem in his narration of the story tells us that the main reason for the declaration of state emergency in India was the destruction of Midnight’s Children. It is important to understand that the novel is not only the personal history.
Saleem but also the history of nation but not in the historical sense. In other words we can say that Saleem’s narration is the personal history of a nation.
During the state emergency all midnight’s children lose their powers as they are all ‘test-and-hysterectomies”, and the person responsible for this is the Widow – Mrs. Gandhi.
What Rushdie is trying to say here is that the State emergency emasculated and castrated the country. MEG 07 Free Solved Assignment
In an interview in 1985, Rushdie talked about the inception of the idea of midnight’s children. He says that at first he thought of one child, which later became two when thought of swapping them. He said:
“Then I thought that you can’t have just two children in a country like India.
It must be more and if it’s more than two, why these two? I did a mathematical calculation about the birthrate of India, with calculators, and worked out that in fact, a thousand and one children is accurate”
In the novel we also see the presence of Gandhi, but a very faint one. The memory of past is so faint that Saleem even makes mistake in recording the date of Gandhi’s assassination.
It is important to keep in mind that memory has an important function to play in the novel. When past is looked from the perspective of the present the past changes.
Rushdie’s intention is not to record the historical details accurately but to record historical details from the perspective of an individual.MEG 07 Free Solved Assignment
The number 1001 for midnight’s children might seem a bit odd. Rushdie could have chosen 1000 or 1100 or 1200 but why 1001.
One might recall the number of stories told in Arabian Nights is 1001, which Scheherazade tells to save her life. Such a connection is quite typical of Rushdie.
(e) Roopa’s role in Tara
Ans. Dattani uses the character of Roopa as a counterpoint to Tara and Chandan in the play Tara. Roppa, unlike Tara, is normal, offensive and comic.
It is important to keep in mind that Dattani does not portray normal in positive light. The reason Roopa is offensive and comic is because she is normal.
By making her comic, Dattani deliberately offers audience chance to laugh at her by making speaking both Kannada and English in a ridiculous manner.
Just like normal adolescent girl, Roopa too has her curiosities, confusion and fears. Her brief encounter with sexuality with Chandan is definitely intended for the laughs of audience. MEG 07 Free Solved Assignment
In her Dattani draws a picture of a mean and slightly corrupt girl who is to grow up to constitute in the ever interfering society.
Dattani also makes use of her character in order to highlight unhealthy obsession of Bharti with the life of Tara.
Roopa also represents the mentality of society with a general tendency of making people unwanted. This is reflected in her calling Tara a freak. Overall she can be seen as a comic figure in the play.
Q. 2. Discuss Raja Rao’s novel Kanthapura as a novel written in the Gandhian spirit.
Ans. Gandhian Ideology: Gandhi considered the urban life full of pretensions and maintained that without compassion and conscience, religion and culture are respectively worthless. MEG 07 Free Solved Assignment
He encouraged the writers of India to face the ugly fact of the present of a country which is starving and poor and leave the futile adulation of the past.
Gandhi’s influence on the Indian intellectual milieu was immense. He broadened their mental horizon and gave new dimensions to their thinking process.
He also influenced to a great extent in the shift from romanticism to the realism.
Gandhiji’s Speech on Untouchability in the Novel
The novel presents Gandhi in a very positive light. People in the novel hold him in very high respect.
We first encounter Gandhi when we see a large crowd, which has gathered to listen to him at golbagh, where he is greeted by the crowd with the words “Mahatma Gandhi ki Jai”.
The enthusiasm amongst the crowd for the name of Gandhi is mesmerizing. Bakha is enchanted by the name of Gandhi, of whom he knows nothing, but there is no doubt that he has heard the name and also the word ‘mahatma in this regard.
The crowd which has come to listen to Gandhi’s speech is comprised of different people from the various section of the society. MEG 07 Free Solved Assignment
There are Kashmiri Muslims, businessmen from the town, rustic Sikhs from the villages nearby, Pathans, black-faced Christian girls from the Salvation Army, and also various men and women from the outcaste colonies.
At once Bakha becomes aware of the fact that there is a caste barrier between the people of the crowd and himself. But still he feels that he does not need to go from there.
It seems that he has been lifted from the gutter to take part in the society. For the first time he feels himself in the midst of humanity.
Gandhi here works as the uniting force for the society because he is the only one who is in the mind of everyone there including Bakha. Bakha feels that Gandhi alone would be able to unite him with society in every other respect as well.
Bakha tries to remember everything that he has heard about this man, everything that people have said about him.
He has heard people saying that he is a saint and an incarnation of lord Vishnu. Some holds the view that “Sarkar is afraid of him”.
One Hindu says that the local magistrate withdrew his order regarding the prohibition of Gandhi’s entry into Bulandshahr. MEG 07 Free Solved Assignment
Some other Hindu says that Gandhi has been released from Jail unconditionally by the government. One of the rustic asks if Gandhi has the power to overthrow the government.
A babu replies to this that Gandhi certainly holds that power, and that he has power enough to change the entire world.
People of the crowd really seem to be impressed by Gandhi. For them Gandhi “was a legend, a tradition, and an oracle”.
Bakha has heard about Gandhi’s attempts to eradicate untouchability. He also had heard rumours that for the sake of Bhangi and Chamar, Gandhi had been fasting,
though fails to understand that how his fasting can help low caste Hindu, perhaps he aims to save some food for the poor by not eating for some days.
During this time a congressman announces that the government has allowed Gandhi to be public and to address them on the condition that he will address them on behalf of harijans, and about the issue of untouchability. MEG 07 Free Solved Assignment
Bakha is not aware of the meaning of term ‘Harijans’. He thinks of sharing is experience of the day with Gandhi and tell him that how he was slapped by a caste Hindu just for accidently touching him.
Writing about the appearance of Gandhi in the novel, Saros Cowasjee writes: “Perched on a tree, not quite unlike an ape, Bakha gets his first view of Gandhi. With superb skill, Anand fashions the image of Gandhi as all knew him: chin.
But more than the physical details is the magic of Gandhi that Anand has been able to capture.”
Gandhi arrives at the scene accompanied by his wife and an English woman Miss Slade. He is greeted by the crowd with the words “Mahatma Gandhi ki Jai”.
Someone starts singing a hymn and after that Gandhi starts his speech. Anand sums up the mass appeal of Gandhi in a single sentence.
He says: “This strange man seemed to have the genius that could, by a single dramatic act, rally multi-coloured, multi-tongued India to himself”.
The magic and power of Gandhi lies not with the content of the speech but with what he come to signify to the common people. MEG 07 Free Solved Assignment
And for this very reason Anand devotes almost two pages describing the legend around Gandhi – “no sword could cut his body, no bullet could pierce his skin, no fire could scorch him”.
Anand draws the speech of Gandhi from his Auto-biography, Young India and other writings. He starts the speech by telling that he will only talk about the issue of untouchability today.
He says that the government has been trying to alienate the untouchables by giving them politically and legally separate status.
He then says for centuries without feeling any sense of regrets Indians have trampled upon millions of human beings.
At Bakha does not understand the words uttered by Gandhi, but he is thrilled when hears him say that he considers untouchability as the greatest blot on Hinduism”.
Gandhi then goes on to narrate his childhood experience with an untouchable called Uka, who used to clean the latrines in Gandhi’s house.
Gandhi would often argue with his parents about what is wrong to touch Uka and the religion does not allow untouchability. MEG 07 Free Solved Assignment
He even told his mother that in considering physical contact with Uka s sinful she was completely wrong.
Gandhi says that he would wish to be reborn as an untouchable so that he can share the suffering and sorrows of untouchables.
Bakha feels a great respect and love for Gandhi at this. He then tells the people that there is nothing wrong with scavenging and that at his ashram an eighteen year old Brahmin teaches a lesson of cleanness to the sweepers by doing scavenging work himself.
Gandhi says that this eighteen years old Brahmin feels would be perfect at the art of scavenging his achievements would not be complete.
At this Bakha feels that he could do anything for Gandhi. He thinks that it would be nice if he be given a chance to work as a scavenger at the ashram of Gandhi.
Now Gandhi gives a turn to his speech and addresses the untouchables directly. He says that the untouchables should develop a sense of cleanliness in order to purify their lives first.
They must get rid of habits like gambling, eating meat and alcohol. If the upper-caste Hindus oppress the untouchables, the fault is not with religion but with the people, who profess this religion.MEG 07 Free Solved Assignment
Bakha, at this point feels that Gandhi is not being fair as he is trying to put the blame on the untouchables themselves by talking about their habits of eating meat and drinking alcohol. He thinks that Gandhi is leaving the main issue behind and getting carried away.
Gandhi then goes on to suggest that untouchables should not accept leftover food from the high caste Hindus but only wholesome and good grains.
Bakha’s troubled mind is calmed by these words of Gandhi. He wishes to tell his own experience of the day to Gandhi that he was forced to pick up a loaf of bread from near the gutter.
Gandhi continues his speech by saying that being an orthodox Hindu he is aware of the fact that by nature Hindus are not sinful but ignorant.
He says that all public wells, temples, schools, roads and hospitals must be opened for untouchables.
For Gandhi this is the only way to make things right for untouchable. He urges the crowd to be encouraged against untouchability. For him the only way to end this is the peaceful persuasion. MEG 07 Free Solved Assignment
He desires to emancipate the untouchable from this evil and save cow. According to him the fulfillment of these desires would mark the freedom of nation and also the freedom of his own soul.
He concludes his lecture by saying – “May god give you strength to work out your soul’s salvation to the end.”
Q. 3. What are the major issues in the poetry of Sri Aurobindo?
Ans. Issues in Sri Aurobindo’s Poetry: The poems of Sri Aurobindo are not easy to comprehend. Critically they are quite complex and can lead people to form extreme opinions.
Many poets and critics, especially modernists have criticized his work. P. Lal goes as far as to divide the readers into two groups – those who love Aurobindo’s poetry and those who hate his poetry. MEG 07 Free Solved Assignment
Arvind Krishna Mehrotra also goes too far to suggest that Aurobindo lived his life writing worthless epic of 24000 lines.
But on the positive side there are people who look at his writings as if they were some kind of sacred texts.
Therefore it is important for us not to go by what other people say, but by what we feel after reading his poetry and to form our own opinion it is important for us to engage with his poetry in a serious way.
So let us look at his four poems, which will certainly give us some perspective towards his works.
A Tree: This is one of Aurobindo’s earliest and seemingly simple poems. But still it contains the quintessence of his philosophy. It is a small poem with two stanza – first being a quatrain and second a couplet.
The poem is about a tree, beside a sandy bank, with its branch stretching upwards, towards heaven. Even though the roots of the tree are fixed to the ground, the branches reach toward the sky.MEG 07 Free Solved Assignment
In the couplet the poet compares the human soul with the tree. He says that just like tree our body and brain are earthly bound and therefore they are able to detain our heavenly flight.
It is interesting that while talking about the tree, the poet’s tone is positive and while talking about the humans his tone becomes negative.
The earthly bounded body and brain stops the human to reach the heavenly heights. The poet blames humans for the urge to be bound to the physical world.
Life and Death: This poem is also short and has a similar structure of a quatrain and a couplet like A Tree. The rhyme scheme that this poem follows is also similar to that of A Tree, which is ababcc. MEG 07 Free Solved Assignment
In this poem the poet tries to reconcile the opposite ideas of life and death.
According to the poet both of these ideas have been regarded as antinomies ever since but now he has been illuminated by a new knowledge, which seems to him like “long hidden pages/Are opened, liberating truths undreamed.”
The new knowledge which the poet talks about is: “Life only is, or death is life disguised, …”. The first part of this statement claims that there is nothing called death.
Everything is life But in the later part of the line, the poet says that even if there is something called death then it is but life in disguise.
This claim is very big as if it can potentially change one’s attitude towards one’s life. If we reject the idea of death then we have to believe that we are immortal which is not what we see in our everyday life.
But to see it from the perspective of the second part of poet’s new found knowledge it seems that what may appear as death is but a disguise for people do not die but they pass from one form of life into another.MEG 07 Free Solved Assignment
In the last line of the poem, the poet reverses the entire scheme of thought that we have till now developed.
Earlier he discarded the idea of death and now he says that life on earth, the life as we know it, is nothing when compared to the life after death.
Bride of Fire: Bride of Fire is also a short poem but slightly longer than the two poems we have looked at.
The poem has four quatrains and follows the rhyme scheme of abab. The rhythm of the poem is something which actually stands out and provides the real power to the poem.
In the poem the poet addresses to the bride of Fire. It is interesting to note that every stanza of the poem begins with a request to the bride; clasp me now close,” ‘surround my life”, “thrill and enlace”, and ‘sound in my heart”.
The poet is actually requesting the Bride to all this to him. The poet shows that what he has den to expect the grating of wishes in the third and fourth line of every stanza. These lines also express the dedication of the poet. MEG 07 Free Solved Assignment
The poem also presents a paradox. The poet desires the Bride of the Fire but at the same time he also claims that the desire to qualify for the embrace of the bride has been killed by himself.
The subtle suggestion runs through the poem that in order to attain higher pleasures, lower must be sacrificed.
The bride of fire is not some physical being for she is a bride made of fire and there is a danger of death which comes with her embrace. And the poet desires for her embrace which suggests that the poet desires for death.
But this death is also followed by an entry into a higher life, as Aurobindo believed in the life after death.
Only when one has given the earthly and lower desires, one can transcend the physical world and reach the metaphysical. So the bride of fire is that purifying force which will purify the poet to be worthy of the higher world/life.
The Golden Light: Sri Aurobindo wrote a unique series of sonnets during his poetic career. These sonnets are unique in the sense that they are spiritual for no other poet has attempted to write spiritual sonnets. MEG 07 Free Solved Assignment
This sonnet is suggestive of a spiritual mood or experience and contains three quatrains which are followed by a couplet.
The movement of the poem suggests a descent from the crown of the brain, the seventh chakra, towards the lower system. And throughout the process this descent purifies the entire system.
What we see here is that the idea of descent is quite important to the philosophy of Sri Aurobindo.
It is important that the descent of the Divine meets the upward movement of the aspiring devotee’s urge to reach the divine. This meeting is important in the Yoga of Sri Aurobindo.
The poem tells that the light descends from the top and goes downwards touching the mind, throat, heart and finally the feet.MEG 07 Free Solved Assignment
In these four levels, Sri Aurobindo also represents the four planes of consciousness, which are: the mental, the psychic, the vital, and the physical.
Q. 4. Discuss the personalities of Bim and Tara as depicted in Clear Light of Day.
Ans. Bim/Tara Relationship: In the novel Clear Light of Day, the relationship between Bim and Tara is of great significance as the novel, in a way, revolves around their relationship.
Every action in the novel has its reflection on the relationship between two sisters. Though they are sisters, so the bond between them goes without saying,
but at the same time one must keep in mind that they both have different personalities and this difference makes their relation very problematic. One can sense this in what Jaya says to Tara:
“Bim has her own mind,’ she said. ‘Bim always did. You were always so different, you two sisters.’…. But Tara would not accept that. We’re not really,’ she said. “We may seem to be – but we have everything in common. MEG 07 Free Solved Assignment
That makes us one. No one else knows all we share, Bim and I.”
Throughout the novel, we can feel the differences and the bonding between Bim and Tara. The events of the novel are set in motion by Tara’s visit to her sister Bim.
Between two das sisters, Tara is younger than Bim, short for Bimla. Bim is single and in a local college teaches history. Her physical appearance has been described by Desai as “grey and heavy now and not so unlike their mother in appearance.”
Bim is responsible and feels certain affection for her siblings. When Mira Masi fell ill, it was Bim who assumed the role of a surrogate mother to her siblings.
Tara is the younger sister of the two and has been depicted as a “languid little girl, listless, a dawdler.”
While Bim is single, Tara is married to an IFS officer and also has two daughters. The differences between the two sisters, Tara and Bim, have been subtly mentioned by Desai in the way they dresses: MEG 07 Free Solved Assignment
“Tara (was) in her elegant pale blue nylon nightgown and elegant silver slippers and Bim in curious shapeless handmade garment that Tara could see she had fashioned out of an old cotton sari by sewing it up on both sides, leaving enough room for her arms to come through and cutting out a wide scoop for her neck.”
The description of the dresses of the two sisters also gives us the two different notions of Indian womanhood.
The Das children take Bim for granted, perhaps because she is unmarried. During one of his visits to the Das household, Dr. Biswas comments on the situation:
“I see, I see it all,’ Dr. Biswas hurried on, staring hard at his shoes, making the most of this unusual burst of courage while it lasted.
“There are great problems. Your father-the house-the family-Raja’s illness-it is all too much for a young lady. Raja must recover, he must take his father’s place.”
In Tara, Desai has portrayed a typical Indian married woman. She is a woman, who is completely dependent on her husband and does not have any personal ambition.
Desai’s portrayal of wide gamut of Indian women is certainly appreciable among the post-independent Indian English authors. MEG 07 Free Solved Assignment
Apart from Tara and Bim there are few other women characters in Clear Light of Day. We have Mira Masi, who is widowed and live a helpless life.
Then there are Jaya and Sarla, the Misra sisters, who are abandoned by their respective husbands.
When Tara visits Bim and Baba in Delhi, both Tara and Bim are aware of the fact that they have changed a lot.
And because of these changes, one can notice the emergence of tension between these two sisters, quite early in the novel.
When Tara realizes that everything is same in the old Delhi house as it was, she is surprised. She says: it is all exactly the same. “To this Bim replies: “would you like to come back to find it changed?”
It is interesting to note that Tara, in relation to her responses to the house seems to asses her growth: “She stared sullenly, without lifting her head, at a water-colour above the plaster mantelpiece-red cannas painted with some watery fluid that had trickled weakly down the brown paper: who could have painted that? Why was it hung here?
How could Bim bear to look at it for all of her life? Had she developed no taste of her own, no linings: that made her wish to sweep the old house of all its rubbish and place in it things of her own choice? Tara thought with longing of the neat, china-white flat in Washington, its cleanliness, its floweriness.” MEG 07 Free Solved Assignment
But Bim’s perspective towards the past is different from that of Tara. She tell Tara: “After you married, and Raja went to Hyderabad, and Mira-masi died, I still had Baba.
And that summer I got my job at the college and felt so pleased to be earning my living”.
It is interesting to compare the childhood dreams of the two sisters with their present accomplishments.
As a child Bim wanted to become a heroine, a Joan of Arc or a Florence Nightingale, while as a child Tara aspired only to be a successful mother.
There is no doubt that Bim has heroic abilities to deal with situations, but in spite of that she never is able to achieve the aspired heights of her childhood,
whereas Tara being a mother of two daughters, has successfully achieved what she aspired as a child. In this context Santosh Gupta says: MEG 07 Free Solved Assignment
“The different goals of life of the two sisters are an outcome of their tendency to live either by reason or by emotion/imagination, reflected in their reading.
Tara’s craving for the warm, half-sleepy, non-challenging atmosphere of their home, and aunt Mira’s closeness is reflected to some extent in her enjoyment of the fairy-tales narrated by Aunt Mira.
Tara is an incurable romantic who believes firmly in the possibility of coming upon a treasure, or a: least a pearl in the snails she picks up in their garden.
As she grows up she reads ‘Lorna Doone and the well-known ‘Gone with the Wind’…. The elder sister’s sharp mind did not give in easily to romance or romantic readings, and she wonders “what does she want?” The answer is “facts, history, and chronology”.
During the conversation between the two sisters we also come to know that marriage is looked at as an escape route. One of the intentions behind Tara’s acceptance of Bakul’s proposal of marriage was that she was given an opportunity to go out of the Das household.
At the time of proposing Tara, Bakul says: “This place is bad for you-so much sickness, so many worries. You are too young for all this. I must take you away”.
This gives us further insight into the reluctance of Tara, when she comes to visit her old house in Delhi. MEG 07 Free Solved Assignment
Actually she is feeling guilty for leaving Bim alone to cope with all the problems. Tara’s desire to leave Das household can be seen in what she tells Bim at earlier point in the novel:
“The kind of atmosphere that used to fill it when father and mother were alive.
Always ill or playing cards or at the club, always away, always leaving us out, leaving us behind- and then MiraMasi becoming so-strange, and Raja so ill-till it seemed that the house was ill,
illness passing from one generationte the other so that anyone who lived in it was bound to become ill and the only thing to do was to get away from it, escape … ‘she stuttered to a halt, quite pale with the passion she had allowed into her words, and aghast at it: Bim’s eyes narrowed as she sat listening to her sister’s outburst. ‘Did you feel that way? She asked, coolly curious.
‘I didn’t know. I think I was so occupied with Raja and Mira-Masi that I didn’t notice what effect it had on you. Why didn’t I? She mused, swinging her leg casually. And that is why you married MEG 07 Free Solved Assignment
Bakul instead of going to college?: The childhood and youth of both Tara and Bim were unfulfilled. While talking about her youth Tara tells Bim: “I was glad when it was over.”
To which Bim responds, “Yes, I am glad, too, it is over-I never wish it back”. We get to know that the man reason that had an unhappy and unfulfilled childhood was because they were neglected by their parents:
“Parents had sat, day after day and year after year till their deaths, playing bridge with friends like themselves, mostly silent, heads bent so that the knobs in their necks protruded, soft stained hands shuffling the cards, now and then speaking those names and numbers that remained a mystery to the children who were not allowed within the room while a game was in progress, MEG 07 Free Solved Assignment
who had sometimes folded themselves into the dusty curtains and stood peeping out, wondering at this strange, all-absorbing occupation that kept their parents sucked down into the silent centre of a deep, shadowy vortex while they floated on the surface, staring down into the underworld, their eyes popping with incomprehension.”
Tara seems to be an outsider in the Das household: “Throughout her childhood, she had always stood on the outside of that enclosed world of love and admiration which Bim and Raja moved, watching them, sucking her finger, excluded.”
Bim, as a student at school, was also great and unsurpassed. Not only that she was an all-rounder but also a born leader.Teachers would usually admonish Tara saying: “Look at your sister Bimla.
You should try to be more like your sister Bimla. She plays games, she takes part in all activities, she is a monitor, the head girl. And you…” As a child, without a doubt, the confident manners of Bim overshadowed the diffident Tara.
There are two episodes in the novel which stress on this. The first episode to stress this is when Bim promises Tara hair curls by cutting her in spite of the fact that she knows that she will not be able to achieve it: MEG 07 Free Solved Assignment
“Come on, come on, “Bim hurried her roughly, snipping the air with the big heavy sewing scissors and, making Tara crouch down behind the cast-iron water-tank on the roof, she cut through her hair at the ears with great sure crunches of the steel blades.”
The second episode which stresses on this idea is when bot the sisters steal the cigarettes and hide behind a bougainvillea bush to smoke:
“Oh, Bim, no-o!cried Tara in fright. Her sister was driving her, forcing her through fear again, as usual. She tried to resist, hopelessly. This was why she distrusted Bim so: Bim never knew when to stop.”
While talking about the effect of Bim on her, Tara says that she felt: “Bim’s hold on her again-that rough, strong, sure grasp-dragging her own, down into a well of oppression, of lethargy, of ennui.
She felt the waters of her childhood closing over her head again-black and scummy as in the well at the back.” MEG 07 Free Solved Assignment
This also explains why Tara was so eager to leave the Das household. As she was weaker of the two sisters, she could not cope with the boredom and ugliness that engulfed her in Das household.
Even when they were children, Bim and Raja were able to express their anger against that stupidity of their parents’ card game, Tara being unable to express the anger would run to Mira Masi for protection.
Even in the Lodhi garden episode one can see the escapist tendency of Tara. When both Tara and Bim decide to go to look the tombs, while in Lodhi garden, a pebble thrown by a boy hits the bee hive, and the bees attack Bim and keep her prisoner, but Tara runs away in desperation.
Though Tara does not apologies to Bim for her behavior at that time, but later when she talks about that episode to Bim, we see Bim’s generous tendency when she says: “You couldn’t help it-if you’d stayed, you’d have been stung, like me you had to run”.
Of the two sisters Bim is much giving. When she was a student she would help refuges in a women clinic in Kingsway Camp. She is the one who takes care of Bab, their autistic brother. But Tara’s attitude towards life is different.
She does not think baba as her responsibility and is happy at Baba’s dependence on Bim. When Raja was suffering from T.B., it was Bim who took care of him along with Mira masi.
Tara on the hand detested any form of social work. While at school she had to do some but she resented deeply.MEG 07 Free Solved Assignment
What is interesting to note is that it is Tara, in spite of her self-centeredness, who helps to bring Bim and Raja close again after the misunderstanding that cropped up because of Raja’s letter to Bim.
Tara asks Bim to forgive Raja and tear the letter. Though, Bim tears the letter motivated by her own compulsions, Tara plays a significant role in making this happen. Tara also notices the strain in Bim’s life and that she is on the verge of neurosis.
She tells to her husband that there are times when Bim talks to herself. One sees her concern for Bim, when tells Jaya that she is worried about Bim:
“Oh,’ said Tara. ‘Bim is-is in a strange mood these days,’ she explained, trying to bring in her own anxieties for Jaya’s attention. I’m worried about her, Jaya. *About Bim?’ Jaya was scornful. Indignation still burnt in her. MEG 07 Free Solved Assignment
How burnt and blackened her skin was. Tara noted, staring at their feet in slippers, making their way through the heavy white dust of the driveway. Jaya’s feet were like the claws of an old crook, twisted and charred.
Her voice, too, sounded like a burnt twig breaking, brittle and dry. ‘No need to worry about Bim-she’s always looked after herself. She can take care of herself.
For how long?’ worried, Tara, holding her white cotton sari like a veil across her face against the blinding light. “Bim’s not young.
And Baba’s not young either. And here they are, just the two of them, while we are all away. There seemed no way of conveying her anxiety to Jaya.”
We know that the women characters of Desai do not remain static, and Bim and Tara are no exception. They also grow through the novel.
Q. 5. Discuss Amitav Ghosh as a writter of travelogues.
Ans. ‘Dancing in Cambodia, at Large in Burma’ is a pure travelogue. With an anthropologist’s eye for accuracy and authenticity, Amitav Ghosh’s studies life, art, social culture, and political institutions of the places he visits.
Thematically speaking, displacement has been a central concern of Ghosh’s work. Coming and going, departures and arrivals have always been relevant symbols of his narrative structure. Ghosh’e book is divided into three parts:
(i) Dancing in Cambodia, MEG 07 Free Solved Assignment
(ii) Stories in Stone and
(iii) At Large in Burma.
It is a small book where the first and third chapters are of about fifty pages each and the middle one is literally sandwiched into eleven pages.
The first chapter begins with an anthropological description of the sea journey of King Sisobath, the last king of Cambodia before Pol Pot took over. Cambodia as we all know had been colonized by the French.
It was King Sisobath’s lifelong dream to visit the land of the colonizers i.e., France. We can see Ghosh’s reconstruction of the mind set of the colonized. His journey started on 10th May, 1906 in the afternoon. MEG 07 Free Solved Assignment
He was abroad a French Liner, Amiral Kersaint. We can only smile at the child like joy of the king and his group, The king, who had been crowned two years before, had often spoken of his desire to visit France, and for him the voyage was the fulfillment of a lifelong dream’.
For other members also it was a cherished opportunity to step out of their cloistered existence. They were going to perform for the colonizers. They were going out of their country for the first time.
As Ghosh touchingly writes about the royal dancers, ‘It was said that the dancers entered the palace as children and spent their lives in seclusion ever afterwards; that their lives revolved entirely around the royal family; that several were the king’s mistresses and had even borne him children; that some of them had never stepped out of the palace grounds until this trip to France’.
The colonized situation of dancers is sensitively portrayed. Their excitement and joy at visiting the ‘superior land on one hand and their inferiority complex and anxiety on the other have been described in a very delicate fashion.
There is no doubt that Ghosh is a master in the craft in weaving words. It is almost impossible to change or replace his words. Precision is his supreme attribute. When he describes these dancers there is no sexual undertone as might be expected.
He describes them just as they are. We can almost pity the dancers, […] with their hard and close cropped hair, their fingers like those of striplings, their thin, muscular legs like those of young boys, their arms and hands like those of little girls, they seem to belong to no definite sex. MEG 07 Free Solved Assignment
They have something of the child about them, something of the young warrior of antiquity and something of the woman’.
Accompanying these excited dancers, as their guide and head is King Sisobath’s eldest daughter princess Soumphady. An elegant lady with an immense presence, royal manner and style, she has an electrifying effect on the audience at Marseille.
We shall see later that her impact on the art and culture of Cambodia has been of a permanent nature. She is her own woman. A woman of substance, we might call her in current terminology.
She admires the French women, their clothes and head dresses but nevertheless declines to dress up like them. She holds her ground, “No! The princess said after a moment’s reflection.
No! I am not used to them and perhaps would not know how to wear them. This can also be taken as an indirect hint at the Indians’ fascination for Western style of dressing.
Almost a century back these Cambodian women had a sense of pride about their distinctive attire suited for the variety of their dances.MEG 07 Free Solved Assignment
Conversation with the associates of Pol Pot is a major and effective research device adopted by Ghosh.
He learns about the remaining story of the journey to France and other aspects of the Pol Pot regime through CheaSamy, a sister-in-law of Pol Pot and a teacher at the school of fine arts in Phnom-Penh, in 1993.
Chea-Samy is the main agent who tells the author about the tearing apart of Cambodia by tyrannical Pol Pot years from 1975 to 1978 and the incessant turmoil thereafter. Ghosh meets the members of Pol Pot’s family.
He also visits the village where he was born to gain insight into his background. Ghosh tries to assess the impact of Pol Pot’s brutal regime on Cambodia.
What is striking is the power of dance and music and the vital force of these arts operating upon the Cambodian collective psyche.
Howsoever hard it may be for believing, but it is these art forms that hold Cambodia intact after the traumatic years. MEG 07 Free Solved Assignment
In this saga of cultural courage, the importance of dance in Cambodia has been paramount even when the country is on the brink of destitution. The tenacity of Cambodian people is touching.
The Khmer Rouge leader Pol Pot died of heart attack in April 1998 at the age of seventy-two. His real name was Saloth Sar. He grew up in a comparatively prosperous farming family at the hilly area of Kompong Thong province.
This area was the very centre of the then French protectorate. He got a scholarship in 1949 and studied Radio Electronics in Paris. His political career began in 1950 when he joined the underground communist party.
He became its general secretary in 1962. He finally came to power in 1975. As soon as he came to power, he started implementing his dream of turning Cambodia into an agrarian utopia where there would be no city, no money, no property and no religion.
He held all these things to be the corrupting forces. He started setting up rural collectives. He was completely ruthless in the implementation of his vision of a perfect society.
Whosoever was even remotely sensed as being ‘liberal’ or against his views was executed. He was the architect of Cambodia’s killing fields.MEG 07 Free Solved Assignment
He is held responsible for the deaths of two million Cambodians! It was only in his death in 1998 that international community shook in the commotion and tried to inquire about his motives and methods.
Since then, many people have tried to know the reasons and aftereffects of Pol Pot’s terrible graduation from electronic engineering to social engineering. He was held possessed by the idea of social cleansing.
Pol Pot’s activities amount to one of the worst genocides in the twentieth century. Dancing in Cambodia’ is an answer to all questions regarding Pol Pot’s regime of isolation.
Chea-Samy had entered the palace in Phnom Penh in 1925 as a child of six. She began her training in classical dance under princess Soumphady’s guidance. Ghosh also meets Molyka, a mid-level civil servant. MEG 07 Free Solved Assignment
Ten members of Molyka’s family had been murdered by Pol Pot, including her father! We can only imagine the depth of torture, sorrow and the mental damage caused by Pol Pot.
Pol Pot’s ideas of Social Utopia were shaped by his early life among the hill tribes in remote northeastern Cambodia. The tribe was called Khmers. These early Khmers were self-sufficient.
They lived a sort of ideal community life or so it must have looked to Pol Pot. Their raw culture was unaffected and untainted by Buddhism.
They had no concept of money. It was somehow Pol Pot’s umbilical attachment with his childhood that resulted in all that bloodshed and horror. Pol Pot went about his plan in a systematic manner. He targeted the middle class.
Chea-Samy’s personal connection with Pol Pot also has an interesting story. It is through her we get the famous lines of Pol Pot, “The Revolution does not recognize families.
During his regime he bestowed no favors on members of his family, not even Chea-Samy’s husband who was Pol Pot’s elder brother. MEG 07 Free Solved Assignment
When King Sisobath died in 1927, his son Monivong became the king. But his love for his favorite mistress Luk Khun Meak changed everything. The palace in Phnom Penh and its regime underwent complete change.
In place of princess Soumphady, Meak became the supervisor of all girl folk. Meak knew how to exercise her power. She brought many of her relatives to the palace and gave them important charges.
One of her young relatives later became Chea-Samy’s husband. Her husband’s youngest brother was a six-year-old boy called Saloth Sar.
He was later to become the terror god of Cambodia, Pol Pot. But what Chea-Samy says almost amounts to irony for us, ‘He was a very good boy, she said at last, emphatically. In all the years he lived with me, he never gave me any trouble at all’.
Ghosh also explains how terror was essential to the exercise of power by Khmer Rouge. All the old comrades were executed for betraying the Revolution. Pol Pot’s ally Khieu Samphon planned ‘the mass purges of the period, meaning thereby the killings.
They had ideas like purging the land of all sinners. They believed in a moral, religious tone of their activities, ‘Terror was essential to their exercise of power.
It was an integral part not merely of their coercive machinery, but of the moral order on which they built their regime’. As someone has said that human beings commit crimes so happily in the name of religion. MEG 07 Free Solved Assignment
Pol Pot’s hero was Robespierre. What he loved most about this terror icon from France was his line, “Terror is an emanation of virtue’.
The author systematically goes on to show how the Revolution began to devour itself. But it did not end before damaging Cambodia so badly.
When Vietnamese broke Cambodia in 1979, the country became like a shattered slate,’ before you could think of drawing lines on it, you had to find pieces and fit them together.
And what actually did the fitting in was nothing else but the traditional Cambodian art forms. We usually do not give much importance to music and dance in our day today prosaic lives. But music lies deep in human psyche.
Only reading this book is believing this truth. It is a wonder how Ghosh creates the impact of music on the mind of the reader through this book. I, for one, will always welcome Cambodian music. MEG 07 Free Solved Assignment
In the post-revolution period, the Cambodian ministry of culture launched a project to relocate and gather the trained classical dancers and teachers. The results of this search were shocking.
Almost ninety per cent of the artists had been killed in the Pol Pot regime. Anyone who survived found living to be a miracle. If one dancer found out another dancer they would shout, you are still alive! And then they would cry thinking of all those who had died.
One well-known surviving dancer described her condition during the Pol Pot time, I was like a smoker who gives up smoking […]’I would dream of dance when I was alone or at night.
You could get through the day because of the hard work. It was the nights that were really difficult; we would lie awake wondering who was going to be called out next. That was when I would dance, in my head’.
Ghosh describes the worth of art. Ghosh describes the response of a Catholic relief worker from Italy, Onesta Carpen. When first music concert was organized, there was electricity crisis,MEG 07 Free Solved Assignment
The city was in shambles; there was debris everywhere, spilling out of the houses, on to the pavements, the streets were jammed with pillaged cars, there was no money and very little food.
I could not believe that in a situation like that people would be thinking of music and dance. But still they came pouring in and theatre was filled far beyond its capacity. It was very hot inside.
gather the trained classical dancers and teachers. The results of this search were shocking. Almost ninety per cent of the artists had been killed in the Pol Pot regime. Anyone who survived found living to be a miracle.
If one dancer found out another dancer they would shout, you are still alive! And then they would cry thinking of all those who had died. One well-known surviving dancer described her condition during the Pol Pot time,
I was like a smoker who gives up smoking […]’I would dream of dance when I was alone or at night. You could get through the day because of the hard work.
It was the nights that were really difficult; we would lie awake wondering who was going to be called out next. That was when I would dance, in my head’.
Ghosh describes the worth of art. Ghosh describes the response of a Catholic relief worker from Italy, Onesta Carpen. When first music concert was organized, there was electricity crisis, MEG 07 Free Solved Assignment
“The city was in shambles; there was debris everywhere, spilling out of the houses, on to the pavements, the streets were jammed with pillaged cars, there was no money and very little food.
I could not believe that in a situation like that people would be thinking of music and dance. But still they came pouring in and theatre was filled far beyond its capacity. It was very hot inside’.
Another foreigner Eva Mysliviec, a Quaker relief missionary, who also witnessed the first performance, recalls it thus, ‘when the musicians came on the stage she heard sobs all around her.
Then, when the dancers appeared, in their shabby, hastily made costumes, suddenly everyone was crying: people wept through the entire length of the performance’.
Here music and dance stand for life itself. It is as though the collective Cambodian voice is saying, ‘to live is to sing and dance. The sudden and spontaneous bouts of joy only strengthen the belief that artistic heritage is the very life and soul of a nation.
The tears at the first performance are the tears of finding life again. It is as though. I’d thought I’d died but no, I’m alive I’m living.’ In fact Ghosh develops the passion for dance and music as symbols of politics of resurgence in Cambodia.
These art forms gave the beleaguered Cambodian people an identity and certitude, a badge of authenticity. The author sums up the mood as, a kind of rebirth: a moment when the grief of survival became indistinguishable from the joy of living.
Womanhood, as has been described by some philosophers, is a state of being while manhood is that of becoming.’ While manhood implies effort and achievement, womanhood means being what you are. MEG 07 Free Solved Assignment
It is only when complete osmosis has been achieved with the state of being that one gets a feel of life, ‘real life. Ladies like Chea-Samy are the real heroines.
Ghosh writes, ‘Like everyone around her, Chea-Samy too had started all over again-at the age of sixty, with her health shattered by the years of famine and hard labor.
Working with quiet, dogged persistence, she and a handful of other dancers and musicians slowly brought together a ragged, half starved bunch of orphans and castaways, and with the discipline of their long, rigorous years of training they began to resurrect the art that princess Soumphady and Luk Khun Meak had passed on to them in that long ago world, when King Sisobath reigned.
Out of the ruins around them they began to create the means of denying Pol Pot his victory’.
The second chapter of this book is devoted to the description of various aspects of the twelfth century Cambodian temple Angkor Wat. This temple is actually much more than a temple in the traditional sense to Cambodians.
Many stories are carved on these elegant structures. Cambodians call Angkor Wat, ‘A Monument to the Power of the story. This monument is sort of a gigantic abacus of story telling. It is a big, huge architectural device. MEG 07 Free Solved Assignment
It is said to be the largest single religious edifice in the world. It seems to be self-sufficient and complete in its setting and dimensions where each part is complementing the other. The setting is Mountain Meru. It is a mountain in Indian mythology.
The seven graded tiers of the mythological hill provide the blue print for Angkor Wat. The entire pantheon of gods, deities, sages and prophets is cast.
We are pleasantly surprised that Ghosh offers one of his own discoveries regarding the temple. Ghosh says that he noticed the paradoxical nature of the reputation this temple has among Cambodians and the people of the rest of the globe view Angkor Wat as a unique powerful symbol of the romance and glory of a lost civilization.
But for Cambodians, it is a symbol of modernity. Although Angkor Wat is undisputedly a temple, yet it does not figure in anything that has to do with religion or any thing old-fashioned. Many factory-produced commodities bear it as a logo.
It is stamped on uniforms. “[…] It figures on the logos of large corporations, like bank, indeed, the erstwhile Kampuchea Airlines even succeeded in transforming this most earth bound of structures into a symbol of flight, by lending it a pair of wings’.
Ghosh’s training as an anthropologist really helps him here. He comes to know about the legend of accidental finding of this temple by French explorer Henri Mohout.
It is one of those types of miracle stories where structures are supposed to have come up. The contradictory nature of this temple further gets a boost when Ghosh comes to know how this temple was restored with all latest available scientific and technical method were also called for help. MEG 07 Free Solved Assignment
Thus this central cultural symbol of Cambodia is also a symbol of change and modernity,Ghosh writes, ‘For an entire generation of Cambodians, including politicians as different in ideology as Prince Sihanouk, Son Sann and Pol Pot.
Angkor Wat became a symbol of modernizing nation-state. It became the opposite of itself: an icon that represented a break with the past-a token of the country’s belongings, not within the medieval, but rather the contemporary world.
Thus, the bear, banks, airlines and of course flags’.
The last part of the book At Large in Burma’ is mostly a linear narrative. As expected, its topic is struggle for democracy in Burma. But Ghosh has a personal link to Burma as well.
He says that writing about Burma is an attempt on his part to get to his roots. He wants to explore places his parents and relatives had lived in or visited before the birth of the Indian Republic in 1947.
He writes, To me, the most intriguing of these stories were those that my family carried out of Burma.MEG 07 Free Solved Assignment
In his family, memories of Burma were kept alive by an aunt and her husband nicknamed Prince who left Burma in 1942 and came to Calcutta just before the invasion of Rangoon by the Japanese army.
Basically, at the time of author’s visit to Burma and even prior to that, two forces were working in Burmaforces of orthodoxy and status quo represented by the army and democratic forces, seeking change that have been headed by Nobel Peace Prize winner Aung San Suu Kyi.
Suu Kyi’s father Aung San was Burma’s acknowledged leader during the freedom struggle. On 19th luly, 1947 he was assassinated. At the time of her father’s death. Suu Kyi was just two years old.
She rose to be an eminent human rights activist and spearheaded a peaceful nonresistance mass movement to restore democracy and civil liberties in her country. At the time of the author’s visit she was still under house arrest.
Ghosh analyses the political situation in today’s world. Politics goes by symbols. If you have strong symbols, you will remain in public memory, otherwise not.
He correctly writes, ‘In the post-modern world, politics is everywhere a matter of symbol and the truth is that Suu Kyi is her own greatest political asset.
It is only because Burma’s 1988 democracy movement had a symbol, personified in Suu Kyi, that the world remembers MEG 07 Free Solved Assignment
it and continues to exert pressure on the current regime. Otherwise, the world would almost certainly have forgotten Burma’s slain and dispersed democrats just as quickly as it has forgotten many others like them in the past.
Ghosh is conscious of the double standards adopted by erstwhile colonizers and developed nations. In theory they support democracy, freedom of speech and liberty for people of all races, but for political and economic gain support dictatorial and terrorism inclined regimes.
Burma has been fighting civil wars since its Independence in January 1948. There has been a communist uprising. Military coups have decided the order of the day.
Ghosh tries to analyze as to what went wrong in Burma and where did things go wrong? It used to be one of the richest countries in Asia and yet now it lists in UN’s ten least developed nations on earth.
Burma has become the byword for repression, xenophobia and civil abuse. About two third of the country’s population is Buddhist. But during the colonial rule, the British favored minorities over ethnic Burmans.
Even the army had units named after the minorities like ‘Karen Rifles, ‘Shan,’ Mon’ and so on. But things were to change and change for better, ‘It takes a military dictator to believe that symbols are inert and can be manipulated at will.
Forty years after his assassination, Aung San had his revenge. In a strange, secular reincarnation, his daughter Suu Kyi, came back to haunt those who had sought to make use of his death. MEG 07 Free Solved Assignment
In 1988, when Burma’s decades of discontent culminated in an anti-military uprising, Aung San Suu Kyi emerged from obscurity as one of country’s most powerful voices, the personification of Burma’s democratic resistance to military rule’.
Without undermining Suu Kyi’s greatness, we can also see the role of circumstances and the times in creating a great personality.
Suu Kyi is a product and a necessity of the age in which she is placed. We, Indians, very well know her tools non-violence, peaceful resistance. Ghosh realizes how popular this frail lady is. She held rallies at her residence.
She answered questions ranging from food and health to politics and literature. The only reason how the army succeeded in grabbing power for so long is its wide and deep surveillance system.
Suu Kyi is meek, conciliatory and patient. But she is not weak. Her firm belief that sooner or later, the army rule would go is amazing.
So, like so much of Ghosh’s work, this part of the essay presents a self-contained micro-history of a group, which can also be read as a metonym for a larger global debate.
It holds a mirror up to late-twentieth-century cultural theory on the nation state, which both reflects and reverses commonly held assumptions when it suggests that in the case of the Kanneni the historical borders are probably best left unaltered.
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