By David Crystal, Cambridge, pp 200,2003

A timely book for India,  for educators as well as  the general readers. English today is spoken by some 15 crore people world wide. English is a mother tongue in USA, Canada, Ireland, Australia and New Zealand and in South Africa and several Carribean countries. Spanish is spoken in some twenty countries in Latin America. French lost its status,in Algeria French was replaced by English in schools. English is an official language in several countries notably in India. Yet, English language as a global language faces resistance in several countries by language riots, hunger strikes. Language deaths, again India is an example.

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By O.P. Kejriwal, pages 293, 1999, OUP

O.P. Kejriwal

This  is a rare book. A history of the history books on India. A band of Englishmen who came to India as servants of the Empire, went on to make their names immortals, as discovers of the Sanskrit language, translators of Sakuntala, Bhagavad Gita, Rig Veda and other classics that wee till then lying in palm manucripts or in the possessions of brahmins who didn’t show them to any outsiders.

I want Indians to remember this; there was also already in existence in Caclutta itself for half a century the Asiatic Society of Bengal (founded on January 15, 1784). Under the leadership of Sir William Jones (1746 – 1794) had made the first discoveries of India’s past and established a scientific chronology of Indian rulers and their dynastie. Jones who assembled around him, in his lifetime (he died a premature death in his 48th year) and after him a succession of Englishmen all turned into remakable individuals and great scholars who mastered Sanskrit, skills in deciphering Asokan edicts and other obscure inscriptions that all turned out to be landmarks in Indian history and scholarship. Each name is worth writing about in details. Such was the pioneering work that later proved to a historic step and a revolution in knowing India’s past. This story of the half a century of a legacy of establishing and provding India as a world  civilization makes Macaulay now a pigmy.

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Aruna Roy

There are already reports in the newspapers that the Employment Guarantee Bill is watered down. There is also the letter of Aruna Roy and her colleagues in their letter to Sonia Gandhi on the Right to Information (RTI).

There is a sort of old-fashioned orthodoxy surrounding the PM’s coterie, if we can so use the term.  The PM/FM and the Planning Commission Deputy are giving clear signals (we haven’t seen anything contrary to this view) that strict fiscal deficit control is the very basis of ensuring a high economic growth rate!

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What British colonial histories said of India was not true!

Ethnology and travel in Renaissance Europe visitors to South India 1250 – 1625

This is a very important  publication for all  Indians who are interested to know the India as it evolved in the last 700 years. The development of knowledge in Europe as arose in the European (Italian) Renaissance  to  the  18th century European Enlightenment. How the European travellers to South India,Tamil Nadu, as missionaries encountered the Hindu religion, how the Christian belief system encountered the Hindu customs like sati,caste hierarchies, how the Indian languages. Sanskrit contained new wisdom,  how  the  missionaries Renaissance experiences led them to learn the local languages,write treatises on Christian faith and in the process wrote first the  Indian  languages grammar, then develop the prose writing. They printed Tamil books in Tamil character as early as 1576.

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Much of the modern Tamil poetry is written by middle class professions, mostly Tamil pundits or other lowly job holders. You don’t have a Tagore today. Or there are poets as revolutionaries either!  It is a laid-back, confused society! Our revolution talk seems to be mere bravado!  Either out of inferiority complex, or mere helplessness!

I have done a brief survey of the current poetry writers.  There are some energetic lines here and there.  On the whole, I feel a let down.  There is no serious poetry being written, lyrical or metaphysical.  This is a great disappointment for me, coming late into the field and fired with a great deal of enthusiasm and expectations.  In one or two literary meets I arranged in recent times, what I find is much superficiality.  The seriousness I seek is missing.  For me, writing is a serious pursuit and the climate in Tamil Nadu seems just nor right now!

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