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Reaching Out


Welcome indeed is The Book Review's commitment ever since its inception in 1976 to positioning reviews of Bhasha-writings. Half of the January 2011 and the February issues have been devoted to reviews of several recent books published in Hindi. With the deepening of democracy, the colonial hangover has naturally subsided. With the passage of time English has actually ceased to be language of the ruling elite. The language that most of our reviewers 'employ' has a rainbow splendour and a definite ease about it, as is evident in the writings of eminent scholars like Harish Trivedi, Aditya Nigam, Udaya Narayan Singh, Abhaya Kumar Dubey, Hilal Ahmad and creative writers like Mridula Garg, Mrinal Pande, Deepak Sharma, Madan Kashyap, Ashutosh Bharadwaj, Anuradha Marwah, Uday Prakash, Arindam and Badrinarayan. Some of our finest scholars chose to write in their mother-tongue and we got their pieces translated. When we sat down to read the original along with the translations, we noticed with delight that the translators have beautifully illustrated how the whole patriarchal notion of being 'faithful' to the 'original' can be easily and sensibly replaced by the more accommodative notion of being 'friends' with the original. Keeping to the rhythm is enough. For most of the bilingual scholars like Tapan Basu, Akshaya Kumar, B. Mangalam, Anuradha, Preeti Dewan, or well-known public intellectuals and ideologues Hindi is the language of love. The reviews here bear evidence to their deep insight into both the text and the context. As review articles we have two reflective pieces, one on the mother tongue debate (in January) and the other on the changing shades of Hindi modernity. Hindi heartland is to India what India is to the larger world: a chaotic land of crumbling structures, a land of many promises and frustrations; a land culturally and linguistically varied, philosophically sound, profoundly corrupt, rich in resources, poor in disbursal, frail with feudal baggage, strong in protest modes, divided on caste lines, not so crude in gender-biases (perhaps because of the ambiguous Devi-Dasi paradigm), famous-infamous for its high-pitched, high-voltage politics of the grass-root, a land of diverse energies, with a teeming population aspiring for an ideal Republic which could promise a life of dignity even to the dispossessed. On the whole, the Hindi public sphere reminds us of the hearth in King Lear where the feudal and the modern, the old and the new have an intelligent interface. The banished king ...

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