Something called ‘Indian’

Standard

This blogwriter has often been guilty of the inanity of using that ugly inexactitude ‘Indian’. He can hardly claim novelty even in his error as the indiscriminate use of the adjective Indian  is so common across the board that it is rarely reprimanded enough. Journalistic, political, developmental, academic… every form of expression tends to resort to the use of this adjective without warrant.

from: google images

from: google images

For example, one of my recent blog entry said ‘Indian feminism’, another said ‘Indian literature’. so on; what does this use of Indian mean? Can we with any accuracy refer to a phenomena which is ‘Indian’ in any essential manner? With all the differences that constitute the several social and cultural forms of living, how can we find something unchanging across the breadth of India? Feminism for example: is there a single, unchanging, strategy or experience feminists across India use?

Several people have been cautioning us against the indiscriminate use of this word. Not that if we use instead a phrase of regional identity the problem comes to an end. It will only be reduplicated. There was a time in literary discussions it was fashionable to talk of the Indianness in works. Criticism in India has largely come out of that habit.

India envelops too much for a functional common adjective – experiences are fractured on several planes. It is therefore necessary that we look for other kinds of adjective to obtain the idea of the shared perceptions and experiences.

After having said that, will this blog have less of the use of the word ‘India’? I doubt. Unless something could be done to thick skin.

A few of the ludicrous phrases: Indian sensibility, Indian experience, Indian thinking, Indian folklore, Indian seasons, Indian womanhood. In order to gauze the inanity of these, compare these with phrases whcih refer to something concrete like: Indian Parliament, Indian Constitution, Indian Penal Code etc. This second group has a concrete justification for the use of the adjective Indian, while in the former it cannot refer to anything concretely identifiably. If we set out find Indian season is about, we will discover it varies so much that even their time is so different. Khushwant Singh in his Train to Pakistan says something like ‘when rain begins in India in August’, those from Kerala might feel he is two months off the track. If one says the ‘bitter winter in January in India’ somebody from Bidar might say, ‘well, I am in India, but here there is no bitter winter!

That is what I mean. There are certain occassions where this adjective has a concrete referent. In others there is no conceivable referent to this adjective.

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