The greatest event of world history in the 20th century has been the event of decolonization. The process of decolonization began after the Second World War. This new type of literature by Indian, African and Latin American writers came to be known as “commonwealth Literature” or “New Literature” or “Post colonial Literature” or the latest name “Third World Literature”. If we look at this new literature, it is nothing but neo “Orientalism” of the post colonial age. The creative energy of the Indian/Asian writers, Namvar feels, is in need of some distinct identity. It may be the identity of tradition or modernity, regional or national identity or the aesthetic (artistic) one of experimental ism. Before independence, the writers of the Latin American countries, had developed an attitude of militant decolonization. But after independence, they have shifted their focus to nationalist sentiments. We may or may not agree with Namvar singh when he says that the Indian literature lags behind the literature’s of Africa and Latin America, especially in the genres (writing style) of the novel, the short story and drama. He feels that it is due to lack of nationalist sentiments or sheer indifference to the spirit of nationalism.
Namvar Singh is of the view that the Indian writers in English should seek ‘identity’ in India’s past. For him, this past is something not to be contemplated, but to be felt, not only in their thinking, but should also reflect in their writings. The past should be dug up with all its roots and then felt in the blood stream. To justify his point, he cites the example of praneshacharya, the hero of ‘samskara’ by Annanthgmurthy who regarded past like the small sprout of Sarsaparilla which he pulled up by its roots in the novel in order to smell it., although he could pull up only half the length of the mother root. What he means to say is that Samskara has a deeper and clearer stamp of ‘Indianness’ as compared with Tagore’s novel ‘Gora’. It is only due to this uniqueness that western scholars and readers find more ‘Indianness’ in Samskara. The fact of matter is that it is not that Tagore did not wish to be an Indian, but he wished to be so in his own eyes and not in the eyes of the west. Look, how Gora proudly challenges the west :
‘we shall not let our country stand like an accused in an alien court to be tried under alien law. We shall not compare ourselves point by point with some western ideal, in order to feel either shame or pride……. We do not to wish to have to prove to any one whether we are good or bad, civilized or savage (wild)…….. that we are ourselves is all we wish to feel, and feel it for all we are worth’
It is not a perfect swadeshi tone in the utterance of Gora ? where do we find such noble sentiments among the present Indian writers who think it as matter of honour to be tried before some foreign court ? these are the writers who offer proofs of their Indianness before western critics.
There is no doubt that the ultimate responsibility for seeking identity rests on the Indian writers in English and not on regional writers who write in their native tongues, like Punjabi, Tamil, Bengali or Hindi. So Indian literature means literature written in English with its Indian ‘identity’. The tragedy with most of our Indian writers is that they think that it is by having a journey to the West that one can return to the East. The helplessness of the Indian writers is our colonial phase is understandable, as perhaps of these post colonial writers who have been travelling in the West. These so called westernized English writers wish to assure their western audiences that a journey to the west is essential for attaining an Indian identity. Unless this mentality is there in their minds, the Indian literature cannot hope to recognize its real identity.