24 January, 2021

The Never Forgetters

Naipaul’s passe, our national secularism project needs new legs

Illustration by Sorit
The Never Forgetters

Last week, an eminent spokesperson of the Indian national project of secularism, Girish Karnad, berated a Nobel laureate and an organisation that had honoured him. Karnad, a progenitor of this 65-year-old republic’s theatre, allowed himself a few personal digs but the crux of his argument was cultural: Naipaul’s pro-Hindutva pronouncements spring from his inability to appreciate the Islamicate contribution to Indian culture. I agree completely. Nonetheless, as I read about Naipaul’s “insensitivity to the intricate interweaving of Hindu and Muslim creativities, through the Bhakti and Sufi movements, that gave us this extraordinary heritage, alive in the heart of every Indian home...,” I found myself sighing.

I am not an adversary of Karnad’s way of thinking. I didn’t have an option when it came to the Indian national secular project. It was injected into me at an early age along with various WHO-approved vaccines. It is—to use a horrible empty...



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