(From The Hindu. Link to the complete article given below)
If you are reading, teaching or preparing a translation of an Indian work into English, this article is for you and calls for your support. Two weeks ago, Shahnaz Habib’s translation of Jasmine Days won ₹25 lakh for its author, Benyamin. The JCB Prize for Literature for the first time saw a translation overtaking original writing in English, but it fetched Habib only ₹5 lakh. How about a more equitable breakup of this golden purse? Can’t the keepers of the coffers spare a coin for Habib’s publisher as well who stopped the juggernauts of publishing?
Let me share two stories.
Last month, when a distinguished Tamil writer visited a college to watch a play translated from Bengali, he was recognised only by the three people who had invited him. Nor, when it was whispered across the hall, did his name evoke any response.
For the English reading population, a genius like our visitor exists in an occult literary ecosystem. It isn’t that they are insensitive to this writer’s work but that they have very little access to it. We know why. Every year millions of Indians clear their final school exams equipped to function only in English. Educated about many things, they are nevertheless mother-tongue illiterates.