12 May, 2021

Indian Family Resemblances

The Kakars go over what you'd consider old ground, but it helps clear many a cobweb in the mind

Jitender Gupta
Indian Family Resemblances
The best compliment I can pay this book is that I recognise myself in many of its pages. Sudhir and Katharina Kakar have written a compelling work on the cultural character of the Indian people. Even before this came along, I’ve found Sudhir Kakar’s writings on Indian society, culture and sexuality lucid, articulate and thankfully free of jargon.

I felt a leap of recognition when I read: "A man’s identity is...what makes him recognise himself and be recognised by the people who constitute his world. It is not something he has chosen, but something that has seized him. It can hurt, be cursed or bemoaned but cannot be discarded...."

Or this: "(India) has not so much absorbed as translated foreign cultural forces into its own idiom, unmindful or even oddly proud of all that is lost in translation." One look at popular Indian films would be enough to convince anyone of this statement .

There are many telling observations. For instance, "In a contentious Indian polity, where various groups clamour for recognition of their differences, the awareness of a common...

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