Who reads Hindi literature these days? And who writes it?
For a language rightly claiming to be spoken by more than 400 million people, such questions seem astonishing. But they aren’t, for one precise reason. In last two decades, almost entire Indian middle class has shifted towards English. Private schools and universities and all premier institutions teach in English. All corporate firms and private companies prefer and promote English as their medium. English is gradually developing as a household language for the upper middle classes. On the other hand, Hindi is spoken and used as the medium of study only in the families of first-generation school students. The class character of Hindi has shifted. It is no more the language of the Brahminical order or the ‘upper’ caste sensibility; it is thriving as a language of Dalits, Adivasis and marginalised people.
The impact of these changing sensibilities can easily be seen in the literary works written in 2016. A number of novels have traced and addressed the issues of communities that are gradually being pushed towards the margins. Akaal Men Utsava by Pankaj Subeer is one such novel. As the name suggests, a festival is being arranged despite the ongoing drought because otherwise designated funds will lapse. It’s more than a simple satirical piece; Subeer is able to juxtapose the irony of the festival and the tragedy of a farmer. Bhagwandass Morwal’s novel Halala raises the burning issue of Halala – a practice prevalent in sections of the Muslim community and being discussed these days as a part of the debate on triple talaq. But this novel is not written for the political debate. The book is about the brutal suppression of woman under the garb of a social practice sanctioned by religion. It also answered the general complaint that the space for Muslim characters has been reducing continuously in Hindi writing. Read more
Source: The Wire