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Casteist. Communalist. Racist.

And Now, A Nobel Laureate.

Meena Kandasamy

You spit on your people,
Your peopleapplaud,
Your former oppressorslaurel you.
Thethornsbiting your forehead
Disguised asconcern.

- At Last, Sea Grapes, 1976. From a poem on Naipaul
by Nobel laureate Derek Walcott

ir Vidiadhar Surajprasad Naipaul (b. 1932) has spat on us.
Spat too much on India that we are actually stinking from
his spitting expeditions. Only last month the Indian
Council for Cultural Relations invited him to a writers conference
in Neemrana to spit more at us. And he did. He has always got our
applause we Indians give it for free to onetime Indians living
abroad no matter how much they heap scorn on us. Even if we are
not intellectually competent to applaud. Naipaul has even won the
western worlds highest laurel the Nobel.

Derek Walcotts poem now serves as a solemn prophecy. The
thorns on Naipauls forehead are the ones stinging us now.
Naipaul might be portrayed as a great writer who wrote about the
greater things caste, community, race, and the third world. But
his disgust for the deprived is clear. With all his works and
interviews, there is one thing Naipaul has established. He is a
casteist, a communalist and a racist. Like someone said of him: A
Colonial among the Colonials.

A Casteists Friendly Society
veryone knows of hindu Indias wretched caste system. A
classification based on descent and occupation, the caste
system has been Indias own variety of racism. At the helm
of this caste system come the brahmins (priestly caste) who
consider the lowest castes to be untouchables. His brahmin origin,
Naipaul wrote in 1984 (Finding the Center), gave him a caste
certainty, a high sense of the self. Having grown up aware of his
high ancestry, how does Naipaul view the survival of the caste
system? The caste system, that friendly society which provides
people with every kind of cushion in bad times, will be around for
most people in India (India through V.S.Naipauls eyes 9
September 2001, Radio National, Australia).
How did Indias caste system become that friendly society to
Naipaul?What has been friendly about caste?It may sound awful,
but in this world more crimes have been committed in the name of
caste than in the name of anything else. And worse, these atrocities
will continue for long because caste has never been banned. It has
been protected and propagated for more than three thousand years.
It has gained legitimacy because of its antiquity. Naipaul must put
himself in the position of the dalit-untouchables. Let him look at
history through the victims wounded eyes. He will learn a lot of
lessons. Imagine being part of an advanced society which was a
casualty of the genocide caused by the Aryan invasion. Imagine
losing your lands and lives to a group of nomadic tribes who term
you untouchable your shadow untouchable. Imagine being part
of an Unimaginable Holocaust. And finally imagine that three
thousand years and countless sorrows later, you still survive on this
earth, and are called the lowest creation. Caste will cease to be that
friendly society. It wouldnt appear to be a pillow-provider. You
will realize its horrors; its exterminating structure. Or forget
history because none of it survives. And whatever has survived has
been twisted beyond our recognition.
Think of what has happened after we in India won our
independence. Let me repeat a decade-old government survey.
On an average day, two dalits are killed, three dalit women are
raped, two dalit houses are burned and 50 dalits are assaulted by
caste hindus. What cushion has caste provided to these deprived
classes in bad times?Nothing can be more unfriendly to society
than the caste system. But Naipaul not only calls it a friendly
society, he justifies its existence in an interview. I think differently
about caste now. I understand the clan feeling, the necessity of that
in a big country (Literary Review, August 2001).
Even Naipauls latest book is an amalgamation of all his
casteist and racist feelings. The book called Half a Lifedeals with
the story of a south Indian brahmin, who in his zeal to follow
Mohandas Karamchand Gandhi marries a backward caste
classmate and regrets his decision till the end of his life. His half-
caste son goes to England to study, and marries an african girl. The
story which stretches across three continents has only a single
completing factor to it the sexual adventures of the half-caste
brahmin married to an african. After eighteen years of living with
the african woman he leaves her because he is troubled by the idea
of marrying an untouchable. The brahmin who has broken all
traditions of self-denial however turns conscious about his
marriage with an untouchable and blames his bad qualities on his
backward caste mother. To help us understand this near-
impossible work of fiction and the concepts of Brahmanic fatalism,
Naipaul recommends us to perceive historically Indian austerity.
He argues that in ancient days the brahmin priestly caste was
supported by the hindu temples. Because of the Islamic and British
invasions the temples became poorer and the brahmin priests were
caught in a web of poverty. So they began to fast often and this
concept was respected. This is Naipauls version of self-denial.
But the Manusmriti, an ancient Brahmanic code, suggests
fasting as a penance for brahmins when they commit sins. And this
law-book was probably composed sometime around the beginning
of the Common Era or slightly roughly earlier (Wendy Doniger,
in her translation of Manusmriti, 1991). Jesus was not born at that
time, neither was Prophet Mohammed. There were no British
conquests, no Islamic imperialism. There was neither Britain, nor
islam. To blame the brahmin custom of fasting on Islamic and
British invasions is a highly crooked way of interpreting and
representing history. Naipaul has ignored facts and figures. And
the end product of his ignorance and indifference can change the
way the world looks at us. Painting the Mughal and the British
periods in India as the dark ages where the brahmins and hindus
suffered is more in tune with hindutva propaganda than an
intellectuals justified probe into aspects of hindu asceticism. We
can recognize a common agenda, an urge to produce a saffron
history with a sacred thread. A hindutva history that decries the
muslims, the Christians. A history that blows away the concepts of
Aryan invasions. A history without a timeline, but full of hatelines.
Heres first revelation then: Naipaul is not only casteist, but a
highly prejudiced hindutva torchbearer too.
The Waver of the Hindutva Flag
n another interview Naipaul comments on hindu militancy
and Indias secularity: To say that India has a secular
character is being historically unsound. Dangerous or not,
Hindu militancy is a corrective to the history I have been talking
about. It is a creative force and will be so. Islam cant reconcile
with it (15 November 1999, Outlook).
Yes, Sir Vidia, only now do we know that India is not
secular. Not even historically. India is saffron. Saffron is India.
India should not be India. It should be Hindustan. This sounds
nice and saffron. Even the word resonates, unlike India. And it
suits very, very historically too. Hindustan, just like Pakistan,
Afghanistan, Tajikistan, Kazakhstan, Turkmenistan. The way you
climb northwest over India on an atlas. Very apt. We will advertise
a Change of Name. We are late to realize, but better late than
never. Thanks for reminding us.
Now, there is nothing like a secular India. Discard that
preamble which mouths all this secular stuff. Weve got to change.
To keep up with what is historically sound. Let the government
nominate the Vishwa Hindu Parishad to try their hands at a Flag
Review. We may get an all-new trident shaped, fully saffron flag.
Chuck that white band, we are not peace-lovers. Erase that Ashok
Chakra, that fellow was Buddhist and hence anti-brahmin. What
happens to the pathetic green?Ban it, that is an Islamic colour.
Nothing should be green. Forget the plants, the trees, and the dirty
moss that grows in old temple tanks. This will be Naipauls India
Tomorrow, a tomorrow which belongs to the hindu militants. Our
future is one fast-forward to the historic past. We will live in
saffron and die in it. Sacred ash can replace talc. A lot of other
changes too must take place. We shall revive the Manusmriti. Then
the Kamasutra. Our own laws, our own lovemaking. We will
resurrect a dead language. We will go to our old silverfish leftover
books, and search for twice-born teachers. We are history-
correctors. (The latest job in town it pays a lot.) We may kill the
muslims, the Christians, and the followers of all other religions.
We will rape their nuns, burn their missionaries, and demolish the
mosques, the churches, and the synagogues (those that remain).
We are already successful with the Babri. We shall close down the
convents, the madarsas. Be brutal, be terrorist, be hindu.
Remember this is corrective history. Remedial. Reformative. A
creative force. Licensed by a Nobel Laureate.
Mushirul Hasan wrote in the Indian Express (A Million
Mutilations, 27 November 1999) that for his anti-islam bias
perhaps Naipaul could be appointed chairman of the review
committee of the Constitution. Or that he could be an advisor to
the chairman of the Indian Council of Historical Research. Hasan
is right. Naipauls myopic views have made him the darling of the
hindu militants. (S.Gurumurthy, chief rabble-rouser of the
Swadeshi Jagran Manch, a hindutva outfit, buttresses his anti-
Islamic points with chunky Naipaul quotes.)
There is more of the unceasing saffron flow. In an interview
Naipaul says about the Shiv Sena, a political party which thrives on
its anti-islam prejudices, Because of my background I have the
most sympathy with these movements coming from below. Let us
accept his sympathy for the Sena. Even most of us feel like crying
for all the things they are doing for our country. We offer our
condolences. We must ask, however, why does Naipaul not accept
the other famous movements that are coming from below?Why
does he never condescend to know the grim sufferings that cause a
larger momentum than the Shiv Sena?
Let us take, for example, Indias own dalit movements
against the caste system. Has Naipaul expressed himself on this?
He, however, loudly criticizes the caste movements that have
brought about the policy of positive discrimination for the dalits.
He wont care about caste in India, precisely because it is not his
background. His background is great. He is a brahmin. Higher
than the highest castes. A twice-born man. Owner of this earth.
Popped straight out of Lord Brahmas mouth.
Now, let us consider the muslims in the Indian
subcontinent. They have not materialized out of thin air. Most of
them were former untouchables and shudras who converted to
escape the tyranny of the caste system. (That friendly society.)
They turned to islam, not forcibly, but because they wanted to
realize their humanity. Naipaul hides behind theories of Islamic
conquests and forced conversions. Let us suppose that the
conversions were forced. But what really forces these conversions?
The caste system or islam?A second-grader will know the answer;
she must have suffered it.
Lets not look so very back in history like Naipaul prefers to
do. What forced one whole village of Meenakshipuram in Tamil
Nadu to convert to islam and call itself Rahmat Nagar?No, there
were no Islamic conquests. No Akbar. No Babar. No cruel
Mohammed bin Qasim. Not even Indias lovely enemy Pakistan
and its ISI were involved. This happened just recently, two decades
ago. What forced this mass conversion? Oppression under
hinduism. Untouchability. A search for respectability. Just like
what must have happened during the Mughal period. Only, we
werent there at that time. Now, do we expect the Nobel laureate
to see such muslims and dalits as coming from below?
Or let us take another internationally well-known
movement. He has always hated the blacks and spewed enough
venom on the Black Movement. Everyone knows Naipaul is anti-
black. But why does he have to hate these genuine movements
from below?In case you didnt know, these movements came from
below. Rock-bottom. But Sir Vidias heart will go out only for the
Shiv Sena.
We can never expect more than this from Sir Vidia and his
saffron-hued tunnel vision. He is not all that unbiased as
portrayed. The world was shocked when the Babri Masjid at
Ayodhya was demolished by a group of hardline hindu fanatics
who claimed that it was the birthplace of the mythic hindu god
Ram, an epic character in the Ramayana. But Naipaul reacted by
supporting the demolition. Q: How did you react to the Ayodhya
incident?Naipaul: Not as badly as the others did, I am afraid. The
people who say that there was no temple there are missing the
point. Babar, you must understand, had contempt for the country
he had conquered. And his building of that mosque was an act of
contempt for the country It was meant as an insult to an ancient
idea, the idea of Ram which was two or three thousand years old
(TheTimesof India, 18 July 1993). Naipaul is a true-blue Ram-
sevak. The sentences cancel each other out. We need no
arguments to disprove what he is saying. If Babar had contempt for
this country, is he really nuts to build a mosque here?Why should
he try to put a holy mosque in Ayodhya, if he disdains that place?
To people like Naipaul what really matters is the idea of Ram, a
bigoted character from a bigoted story. All famous fiction authors
out there should be wary about the characters they write about and
the settings for their novels. Two thousand years from now, we
dont need some fan-following to pick up that idea and demolish
constructions at the site where a famous authors epic hero was
born. If this sounds funny, there is more nonsense ahead.
In the same interview: Q: The people who climbed on top
of these domes and broke them were not bearded people wearing
saffron robes and with ash on their foreheads. They were young
people clad in jeans and tee shirts. Naipaul: One needs to
understand the passion that took them on top of the domes. The
jeans and the tee shirts are superficial. The passion alone is real.
You cant dismiss it. You have to try to harness it. First, the
question. No one wears saffron robes when they demolish
mosques. It is simply not the recommended wear. We must
recollect the Crocodile ad. Tough Guys, Dress Easy. You cant
identify hindu fundamentalists by what they wear. It doesnt show
in long beards (even Osama bin Laden has one). Nathuram Godse,
a hindu militant, was not in saffron robes or a plastered beard
when he shot Gandhi. After all, criminals dont possess colour
schemes and they dont publicize their chosen costumes. Thank
god, Naipaul says that the tee shirts and jeans are superficial. What
is intimate has been hidden.
Now, we come to the passion. What does Sir Vidia suggest?
That college boys in their enthusiasm climbed the Babri Masjid
and demolished it?This passion is not something from the heart,
like most passions are; this one is the product of a motivated
brainwashing scheme. Years of fanatic hindu propaganda that
caused the demolition in the most cold-blooded calculated well-
orchestrated way. You cant dismiss it (the passion). You have to
try to harness it. The way you harness energy to run bulldozers.
The hindu militants have been doing just what Naipaul
suggests. They are still utilizing manufactured (made-in-hindustan)
passions. Putting it to too much use, to cause too much damage. A
decade after the Babri Masjid demolition, the hindu zealots have
not changed (as you can see in Ayodhya now). They have grown
bolder, dangerous, and more absurd. Representatives of Indias
ruling party the Bharatiya Janata Party stormed the Taj Mahal,
and ruined the monument. Their propaganda machinery
maintains that the Taj Mahal is a Hindu Shiva temple. Formerly
called Tejo Mahalaya. To keep up with such nonsense, a by-
product of heavily funded research, we have to lose what little is
left of our sanity. For a change we must stop the blood circulation
to our brains. It might really help. And they can continue their
teachings and systemized publicity and quote intellectuals like Sir
Vidia. This is what he has to say about Taj Mahal. The Taj is so
wasteful, so decadent and in the end so cruel that it is painful to be
there for very long (15 November 1999, Outlook). Stop any
tourist who comes to the Taj and quote Naipaul to her. She is
bound to boo at you. She may tell you to grow up and be more
sensitive. She will swear to you that she wishes to spend her
lifetime there, celebrating love and beauty. Those enchanting
things which biased eyes can never admire.
Why Islam is Beyond Naipaul
aipaul and the hindu extremists are in sync. Look at
what they have to say about Islamic conversions in
India. Naipaul blames Islamic fundamentalism on Arab
money. The Vishwa Hindu Parishad prefers to see Islamic
conversions as a result of petro-dollars. They think alike. Over a
period of time, you will never be able to identify who wrote what.
Naipauls views on islam are stark enough to show his hindu
prejudice and his limited knowledge. His first book on islam
Among the Believers (1981), written at the time of the Islamic
Revolution in Iran, betrays his violent hatred and utter ignorance
of the religion. The first chapter is called Death Pact. Isnt that a
little scary? When the book begins with such a degrading,
foreboding title for its very first chapter, we know what kind of
outpourings to expect. Naipaul admits in the beginning, I had
known Muslims all my life. But I knew little of their religion. The
doctrine, or what I thought was its doctrine, didnt attract me. It
didnt seem worth inquiring into; and over the years, in spite of
travel, I had added little to the knowledge gathered in my Trinidad
childhood. The glories of this religion were in the remote past; it
has generated nothing like a Renaissance. Muslim countries, were
not colonies, were despotisms; and nearly all, before oil, were
poor. In the name of Allah the almighty, the most merciful, the
all-knowing, why does such an ignorant person have to study the
worlds most advanced and recent religion?When Naipaul is not
even attracted by the doctrine of islam why does he really venture
to the Islamic countries of Iran, Pakistan, Malaysia and Indonesia?
Why does such a famous author and touted intellectual (more an
intellectual tout) go to Iran when he really didnt know what was
happening there?We will let Naipauls ignorance of world affairs
speak for itself. I hadnt followed Iranian affairs closely; but it
seems to me, going only by the graffiti of Iranians abroad, that
religion had come late to Iranian protest. It was only when the
revolution had started that I understood that it had a religious
leader. What can we prescribe for such travel writers who dont
even do a background study?A Dose of Knowledge. Assistance in
History and Procedure. Or a short-term course in Current Affairs
and Religion.
During Naipauls visit to Pakistan, he begins his attempt to
resurrect the correct history of the Sind. As a result, in a chapter
Killing History he talks about a book called Chachnama, which
he says is the correct version of events. It must be interesting to
know how Naipaul could dig out and find out which is correct.
And more surprising than Naipauls discovery is the story outlined
by him from this book. The story is more unbelievable than even a
devilish fairytale. Its the story of Chach a brahmin ascetic, and
his rapid climb to the pinnacle. From scribe to secretary to
chamberlain to Prime Minister in the Kings court. The later
Chach the usurper of the queens attention, then her love and
lastly kingship. Cunning Chach kills the kings brother, heir to the
throne. Now, over to the second generation. Dahar, the son of
Chach, who enjoys an incestuous marriage with his younger sister.
And in between these ancient saucy n spicy brahmin romances
comes the story of Islamic invasions. At least in Naipauls version.
And he is worried that these stories have not come in the school
syllabus of the children. What does he wish? To teach children
about illicit love and incest. To teach them about debauchery and
hypocrisy. Worse, he has plainly not mentioned the woes of the
oppressed caste majorities during these periods of brahmin
tyranny. Or the glaring truth that the Buddhist majority and
oppressed castes converted willingly to islam to escape their
sufferings. Or that Muhammad bin Qasim invaded Sind to release
the muslim women who were held hostage in a captured ship.
Even this has been chronicled in the Chachnama. Naipaul indulges
in the same selective history for which he decries Pakistani school
textbooks. Why these double standards?His book on islam reflects
more about Naipaul than about islam: his rampant hatred. His
inherent bias. An intolerant hindus vain crusade.
After 17 years he travels again to these four countries his
views remain the same. The first books refrain of Conquest first,
Islam later: it was the pattern of Arab expansion is the subject
matter for the second book, Beyond Belief (1998). This second
book is not anything really beyond his first book on islam. It is
more long, more repetitive, more boring and packs a lot more anti-
Islamic feelings. Same place. Same people. Only a different time.
He denigrates the positions of the converts in the non-Arab
countries saying that islam has a calamitous effect on the converted
peoples and that they are required to forget their histories and their
past. To him islam is the most uncompromising kind of
imperialism. Neither his arguments nor the stories substantiate his
claims; what really makes his work appear normal is Naipauls rage
a rage on anything that is Islamic. When Naipaul says that the
muslims in Pakistan (or Iran or Malaysia or Indonesia) are converts
to islam because they are not from Arabia, will he have the
gumption to call Christians in America and Asia converts because
they are not from Jerusalem?Will he write that Christian converts
have to stamp out their history and only look up to the history of
the Land of Jesus Christ? Can he make his wonderfully absurd
inventions and discoveries and play with this religion?Christians
and muslims all over the world have their local churches and
mosques, their indigenous places of sanctity, their rustic little
worlds of prayer and peace. That never makes them forget their
religion's holy places. If islam demands that the affordable must
make a pilgrimage to Mecca, that never subjugates their faith or
origin, that never makes them outsiders in Arabia.
Nothing can characterize Naipauls anti-Islamic bias better
than Edward Saids review of Beyond Belief. In his concluding
paragraphs Said writes: Somewhere along the way Naipaul, in my
opinion, himself suffered a serious intellectual accident. His
obsession with islam caused him somehow to stop thinking, to
become instead a kind of mental suicide compelled to repeat the
same formula over and over. This is what I would call an
intellectual catastrophe of the first order. And such a case of
intellectual catastrophe has been awarded the Nobel prize. Look at
the date, and the year of the award. In todays world the award to
Naipaul is purely a political tribute to his anti-Islamic interviews
and writings. As the LosAngelesTimesreported: Horace Engdahl,
head of the academy, acknowledged that the choice of Naipaul
might be regarded as political in the wake of the Sept. 11 attacks
on the United States and subsequent U.S.-British retaliation. I
dont think we will have violent protests from the Islamic
countries, Engdahl said in Stockholm, and if they take the care to
read his travel books from that part of the world, they will realize
that his view of Islam is a lot more nuanced.
The True Colors of Nightfall
here is no limit to the highborns high-handedness. His
Aryan pride makes him one of the greatest racists of this
century. His sneering contempt for the blacks had made
the 1992 literature Nobel laureate Derek Walcott call him VS
Nightfall in one of his poems. He has been known to criticize the
Africans openly and he had once famously remarked Africa has no
future. Will Naipaul realize that this world has more than just
black, brown, white and yellow? And the crazy melanin counts
never determine who you are. Or do we need to write posters and
take rallies and shout at the top of our husky voices, We belong to
one race: the human race?Or do we move to the UN and ask of
them, rather beg of them, to see that people dont create works
upholding apartheid and racism.
Naipauls anti-black sentiments stare out of his novels.
Sample his deductions about slavery: I asked for a cup of coffee...
It was a tiny old man who served me. And I thought, not for the
first time, that in colonial days the hotel boys had been chosen for
their small size, and the ease with which they could be
manhandled. That was no doubt why the region had provided so
many slaves in the old days: slave peoples are physically wretched,
half-men in everything except in their capacity to breed the next
generation (from A Bend in theRiver, 1979). What makes them
physically wretched?Their skin colour which has doomed them to
suffer. Their biology. The history of slavery. The Black Holocaust.
Years of starvation and poverty. Or is their wretchedness because of
the western wish to enslave and exploit?Naipaul has successfully
got himself nominated to the top ten racists of this century. At
least other modern racists said that slaves are an inferior race, no
one had the audacity to call them half-men. That too, half-men in
everything. Okay, we shall agree with anything the greatest living
writer of this century says. Why then were his grandparents taken
to Trinidad as indentured labourers? Would he come up with
more compassionate, appealing reasons to suit his arguments?Will
he accept his own logic and thought and say that his ancestors were
physically wretched and the only human thing about them was
breeding the next generation of which Naipaul himself is a
In the New York Times(1980) he had said: I dont count the
African readership and I dont think one should. Africa is a land of
bush, again, not a very literary land. What separates Naipaul and
most others writing on Africa is that everybody writes for the
Africans, but Naipaul digs out their weaknesses and writes his
pessimistic stuff for consumption in the western world. What
makes him stoically declare that one should not count the african
readership?Are they cannibals who dont know English, who cant
savor Naipauls ramifications and pontifications? What does he
expect the Africans to do with his books on them?Arrange it as
showcase stuff? Make paper plates with his paperbacks? Practice
Africanized origami?Use it for toilet paper?
He once called the Caribbean blacks as the Third Worlds
Third World. He jeered at their genuine protests and hated their
voices of dissent. The very first line in his travel book TheMiddle
Passagereads: There was such a crowd of immigrant type West
Indians on the boat-train platform at Waterloo that I was glad I
was traveling first class to the West Indies. In the same book, he
describes a west-Indian man in monstrously revolting way, a view
even a white racist would be ashamed of. His light gray jacket was
as long and loose as a short topcoat; his yellow shirt was dirty and
the frayed collar undone; his tie was slack and askew... His face was
grotesque. It seemed to have been smashed in from one cheek.
One eye had narrowed; the thick lips had bunched into a circular
swollen protuberance; the enormous nose was twisted. When,
slowly, he opened his mouth to spit, his face became even more
distorted. He spat in slow intermittent dribbles. Naipauls imagery
has the sole aim of bringing an instant subconscious hatred and
aversion in the minds of the readers towards the west-Indians,
whom he depicts in the most derogatory manner. He writes in the
same book that History is built around achievement and creation;
and nothing was created in the West Indies. His patriotism for his
place of birth is touchy. Heres Naipaul on Trinidad: I knew
Trinidad to be unimportant, uncreative, cynical.
His african novel A Bend in theRiver begins: The world is
what it is, men who are nothing, who allow themselves to become
nothing, have no place in it. Sir Vidia, can all of us out here lose
the anonymity of our existence, our innocent pleasure of being a
Nobody?The beauty and glamour of being a celebrity exists only
because there are men and women who are nothing. This world is
not a commercial enterprise, where everyone needs to be someone
with a tag. When Sir Vidia says that those who are nothing have
no place in this world, does he want to clear us out? Perhaps,
dispose us by means of a mass genocide. Or does he plan to give us
eviction orders, so that we can look for boarding and lodging
elsewhere. Naipaul must grow up to realize the importance of
faceless nameless common people. We count too.
Why Write At All? For Commissions
aipauls books are a product of?Book Commissions. In
an interview to Farrukh Dhondy in August 2001, he
says about his first book on India, An Area of Darkness,
Well, the truth was that I was shattered by India, by what I saw.
The things I saw just seemed to be repetitive, and I didnt think
there was a book there. I felt there wasnt a book in my travels.
And for three months afterwards I did nothing. I was faced with
the possibility of having to give the 500 advance back to Andr
Deutsch, so I wrote the book. Now isnt it clear that Naipaul
never had any genuine interest to come to India and write about
the land of his ancestors. He wrote because the only other
possibility was to give back the money and that was a pretty
tough job. His book India: A Wounded Civilization (1977) written
during the Emergency was the result of an american commission.
In the above interview he says about this book: Yes, the book is
different. The result of an American commission. The publisher
asked me to go and look at the Emergency that had been imposed
on the country by Indira Gandhis government.
There is a larger question that looms on us. Who
commissions Naipauls casteist and racist literature? Who could
have commissioned his anti-Islamic journalistic travel study in
Islamic countries? And these are the vital questions that always
remain unanswered.
There is a point where Naipauls canvasses started expanding.
His chauvinism which included caste, community and race had
started coursing civilizations. The bigger the better. He comments
on the third world countries that they are half-made societies
doomed to remain half-made. When hatred takes such gigantic
proportions as this we can never imagine what to expect. Heres
another Naipaulian view on the third world: They will forever
consume, they will never create.
And like Rudyard Kipling who said that civilization is the
white mans burden, we have our own Naipaul handing us a few
suggestions. Sir Vidia has argued that the universal civilization is
the western civilization because of its extraordinary attempt to
accommodate the rest of the world, and all the currents of the
worlds thought. This easily makes him the messiah of the western
civilization. When the west rules and we in the third worlds live
our merciless third-grade lives, our culture, our heritage and our
history become third-grade too. And when a self-styled sycophant
of the successful western world publishes his prejudices it is bound
to win acclamations. Even the prestigious Nobel.

(Meena Kandasamy isa writer based in Chennai, India. Shecan be
contacted at