Organization: Penn State University
Date: Wed, 5 Jan 1994 16:58:28 EST
From: Dinesh Agrawal <DXA4@psuvm.psu.edu>
Subject: VS Naipaul Asserts His Views Again, Part 1/4
The last interview of VS Naipaul given to the Chief Editor of Times of India
Mr Dilip Padgaonkar, has created quite a stir in the pseudo-secualr elite. TOI
was still not sure that VS Naipaul's views were real. So to check out they
assigned Mr LK Sharma (TOI's London reporter) to find out what Naipaul had
commented in the aftermath of Dec. 6 incident, still holds or not. Well, to
their chagrin, Mr Naipaul came out this time even more strongly in asserting
his earlier views expressed to Padgaonkar (TOI, July 18, 1993).
Here I reproduce some excerpts:
INDIANS HAVE NEVER TALKED ABOUT INDIA IN THIS WAY BEFORE: VS NAIPAUL
Times of India, Dec. 5, 1993
Mr L.K. Sharma (LKS)'s remarks:...Naipaul's remarks about Hindu resurgence were
all the more shocking because they came in the aftermath of the demolition of
the Ayodhya mosque, when India was emotionally surcharged. The context can
change the message. Now after months have gone by, I met Naipaul to let him
eleborate on his comments:
LKS: If the present assertion by a section of Hindus is to be seen as a
reaction to repression by past rulers belonging to a different faith, why
did it take so long? Why now and not 25 years earlier?
VSN: Things take an immense amount of time. Things do not occur in a month.
Essentially the awakening to history and getting to understand your place in
the world depends on the nature of your society, and societies change over
generations. From what I notice, everyone in India is feeling these stirrings.
This is what development over the past decades has led to. Development is not
simply something that you talk about. It does not occur in isolation. It
affects everything. When people begin to have more food and more security,
they begin to have a greater sense of themselves.
And you have to go back to recent history. When Iqbal began to do his
thinking in the 30's, he laid the foundation of some of the problems we have
today (by providing a theoretical underpinning to the idea of partition on the
basis of religion). Iqbal said that the Islamic religion is not a matter of
private conscience like some other religions. Islam required a society on
its own because of the nature of its beliefs. What is happening in India now is
a delayed response to Iqbal. Why not 10 years earlier? Because things were
wretched. Things have got better. People were not ready earlier. The better
things get, the more these feelings of self become accentuated...
LKS: Some may say that time is a great healer and if one goes on talking
about the historical burden and about a history that is not kind, one will
only be licking one's wounds. It will interrupt the process of reconciliation,
progress and modernisation and set the stage for perpetual conflict of a
somewhat tribal nature.
VSN: No, I don't see it like that. The absence of a sense of history and of
a feeling of responsibility for your people has led to the enslavement of the
country. History is not a matter of licking your wounds. It is matter of self
Many groups in India now have a very rudimentary idea of their past. Many of
them believe in a golden age. That actually is the opposite of the historical
sense. But when there is a movement which starts from below like this, and is
so profound and is affecting millions of people - am I right? - You can't deal
with these deep emotions by abusing the people. This particular argument in
India - between secularists and their opponents - is becoming a rough shouting
match. There is a kind of village, hatred that is coming out. I can't get
involved in a thing like this.
LKS: Then what is the real battle? What is your vision of India or of Indian
VSN: If you have spent decades, perhaps even a century moving economically,
educationally and politically - very important in a country like India, with
all its wounds - once it starts moving, there is a convulsion. You do not get
people behaving nicely. There is a movement forward now. It is wrong to
abuse it. It has immense creative capacity and it has to be understood by
every one, especially by the people trying to manipulate it.
LKS: Is there a link between violence, upheaval and creativity?
VSN: There can be no rules about these things. To me the creative side is that
in India they are talking about India. Indians have never talked about India
in this way before.
The actual creativity occurs when people apply their minds to the state of
India and do not speak mantras alone. Probably you are worried about something
else. May be you are worried that elements in Hindu movement are pushing
people backward intelelctually?
....to be continued....