Girish Karnad takes a swipe at V S Naipaul

Girish Karnad takes a swipe at V S Naipaul

Nobel Laureates bias ruined his analysis of India

Girish Karnad takes a swipe at V S Naipaul

Girish Karnad delivering the opening lecture at  D D Kosambi Festival of Ideas in Panaji on Monday.

Naipaul “mucked up his analysis of Indian culture” because he refused to recognise and acknowledge the contributions of the Muslim community to Indian music. Either Naipual is  being deliberately “tone deaf” or he had practically no understanding of Indian music, because he makes no mention of music in his books, said Karnad who is known for his strong anti right-wing views.

Karnad, who received the Jnanpith award for Kannada literature delivered the opening lecture at Goa’s D D Kosambi Festival of Ideas on Monday, holding the audience rooted with his erudite and extempore take on “colonialism and culture.”

The British, said Karnad, brought the professional form of theatre to India changing for good the notion of entertainment. The first to copy the British traditions were the Parsis who were not encumbered by a caste system. “Their first plays were based on Hindu mythology written by Muslim writers.” 

Art forms moved from the domain of the lower castes to the upper castes with urbanisation.

While the British rule had a profound influence on painting and sculpting, it destroyed Indian architectural traditions, Karnad says. “When Nehru asked Le Corbusier to design a city (Chandigarh) unfettered by the past, it was like dictating the final death sentence of Indian architecture.”

Music and dance were the only two art forms left untouched by the British, and these are in better shape than ever before, Girish Karnad says, pointing to the success of the Bollywood film industry.

The packed 1000-seat auditorium was testimony to the growing popularity of the festival now into its third year that few expected would catch on. Among intellectuals that have spoken at the festival in the past were historians Romila Thapar and Ramchandra Guha.

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