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A thesis submitted in partial fulfillment of the requirements for the degree of Master of

Arts in Translation Studies in the Translation and Interpreting Institute of the Hamad bin

Khalifa University, Qatar Foundation.


Amal Abdulla Al Sada

BA, Qatar University, 2002

Doha, Qatar


Total word count: 14,271

Translation (Target Text): 7,459

Critical analysis: 6,812



No portion of the work referred to in the thesis has been submitted in support of

an application for another degree or qualification of this or any other university or other

institute of learning.

I am aware and understand the Institutes policy on plagiarism and I certify that

the accompanying piece of work, which is being submitted as part of the assessment

process, is my own work, with due acknowledgment given to any material borrowed

from other authors.

Copyright Statement

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Supervisor: Dr. Tarek Shamma

Assistant Professor, TII Postgraduate Study&
Hamad bin Khalifa University

TII Faculty Members: Dr. Salah Basalamah

Associate Professor, TII Postgraduate Studies &
Hamad bin Khalifa University

Dr. Ovidi C. Cortes

Director of Postgraduate Studies and Research,
Hamad bin Khalifa University


April 28, 2016



This work is dedicated to my beloved parents Abdulla Al Sada and Sheikha Al

Tamimi, to sisters Hind and Dana, to friend and companion for over 20 years, Fatima al

Tamimi, to my friends, Fatma Al Hammadi and Alanoud Al Selaiteen, and all people who

love me. You all made me stronger than I could have ever been. I also dedicate this work

to little Amal with hope to see you one day, and finally to someone special who has

shared my life journey and taught me that in spite of all the pain, there is always Hope.


All praise is due to Allah, who has sent down upon His Servant to guide to the right

course. He has made it straight to give good tidings to the believers who do righteous

deeds that they will have a good reward. Peace and Allahs blessings be upon His honest

Prophet and clear right justice Messenger, his family, companions and following until the

Day of Judgment.

Having completed writing this thesis, I would first express my praise to Almighty

God whose blessings and favors are countless, then I am offering my sincerest thanks to

everyone who have offered me help whether closely to me or remotely.

I would namely send my greatest thanks to Dr. Tarek Shamma, Assistant

Professor in TII Postgraduate Study& Research, at Hamad Bin Khalifa University for

accepting to supervise this thesis. I pray for Allah to honor his standing, promote and

reward him.

I would also express my gratitude to the Founding Dean of HBKUs College of

Humanities and Social Sciences, Dr. Amal Al Malki, for her support and all TII professors,

staff, and colleagues who spared no effort to help. I would also like to thank Dr. Salah

Basalamah and Dr. Ovidi C. Cortes for accepting to be the readers of my thesis and

members in the examining committee. I appreciate your acceptance and may Allah

reward you.

I would also have pleasure thanking the Manager of Legal Affairs Department, Mr.

Hamad Al Sulaiti, and my colleagues at Qatar General Electricity and Water Corporation

Kahramaa who offered me all possible help and took over extra work to complete my

MA studies.

Finally, I would offer my sincerest thanks and appreciation to my colleagues and

friends namely Mr. Khalid Hantash for his ongoing support throughout the years of study.


My translation and commentary thesis of Khushwant Singhs articles primarily focuses

on the non-equivalence problem at and above word levels which a translator faces in

translating an English work from India. It addresses the difficulties in translating certain items

specific for the Indian culture into Arab culture, which requires exploring, evaluating and

justifying the most appropriate strategies chosen for translating social institutions, ideas and

customs (i.e. political, religious and social terms) and material culture (i.e. food and clothes),

as well as figurative language (i.e. idioms and common expressions) and intertextual figures

(i.e. intertexual reference and allusions). The thesis also shows the possibility of combining

Lawrence Venutis principles of Foreignization and Domestication in the same work

depending on the purposes for translating the text. This study also aims to show that

translation is not only about the acquired knowledge of the other, but it can also help to

criticize and comment on similar social and political issues raised in Arab society. Therefore,

I used different translation techniques that are appropriate for these particular purposes, such

as beginning my translation with a translators preface to provide the Arab reader with a

general background on some events and characters mentioned in Singhs articles. I also used

Transliteration, Explanation, additions, and footnotes for translating political, religious and

social terms, as well as paraphrasing for translating idioms, common expressions, intertextual

figures and allusions. This was done in order to facilitate the understanding of the translated

text for the Arab reader.

Keywords: Culture-Specific Items, Translation Strategies, Domestication, Foreignization,

Khushwant Singh, Journalism, Satire, Figurative Language, Idioms & Common Expressions,

Intertextuality, Allusions.

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Table of Contents

1. Chapter One: Introduction .................................................................................... 1

1.1 Background on the Author and the Source Text ................................................ 4
1.2 Translation Brief ................................................................................................. 6
1.3 Theoretical Framework (Venutis Domestication and Foreignization) ................ 7

2. Chapter Two: Journalistic Texts as A Genre in English and Arabic ............. 12

2.1 Journalism and Satire as Genres..................................................................... 12
2.2 English and Arabic Satircal Journalistic Texts .................................................. 13

3. Chapter Three: Literature Review of Approaches to Culture-Specific Items .. 15

3.1 The Concept of Culture and Its Relationship with Language ............................ 15
3.2 Terms of Culture-Specific Items........................................................................ 17
3.3 Division of Culture-Specific Items ..................................................................... 18
3.4 The Problem of Translating Culture-Specific Items........................................... 19

4. Chapter Four: Translation Analysis and Commentary ..................................... 21

4.1 General Cultural Features................................................................................ 22
4.1.1 Social Institutions, Ideas, and Customs (Political, Religious and Social ........ 22
Terms).................................................................................................................... 22
4.1.2 Material Culture (Food and Clothes) ............................................................ 27
4.2 Cultural- Linguistic Features ............................................................................ 29
4.2.1 Figuarative Language .................................................................................. 29
4.2.2 Intertextual Figures ...................................................................................... 35

5. Chapter Five: Conclusion .................................................................................... 44

6. Chapter Six: Source and Target Texts ............................................................... 46

6.1 Writing a Translators Preface.......................................................................... 46
6.2 Translators Preface ......................................................................................... 48
6.3 Source and Target Texts ................................................................................. 54

Works Cited ............................................................................................................... 128


1. Chapter One: Introduction

Indias close relationship with the Arab world has its roots in the past and present

times. As a subcontinent, India has had strong economic ties with Arab countries, which

were created due to the large volume of Indian trade through the Arab main points of

East and West trade centers, such as the Red Sea, the Suez Canal, and the Gulf of

Eden. According to recent estimates by the Ministry of External Affairs in India, Indias

trade volume with the Arab countries is more than $110 billion dollars (Ferabolli 73).

Politically, India has built long-standing relationships with Arab countries during

the pre- and post- eras of its independence from British rule. This culminated in a great

political event when Jawaharlal Nehru, the first Indian prime minister, and Gamal Abdel

Nasser, the then Egyptian President, established the Non-Aligned Movement with other

third-world countries. Indias support of Palestinian issues in the international arena has

also had a considerable echo throughout the Arab world. This might be attributed to the

similar experience that India had with the long-term British colonialism.

The rapid development in Arab countries in general and GCC countries, as well

as Qatar in particular, has resulted in the creation of hundreds of thousands of job

opportunities. It has also led to a high demand for oversees employees and workers,

particularly Indians, who comprise 24% of Qatars population (Snoj, 2013, Qatars

Population - by Nationality). It is not a surprise then to find that Indian culture has

penetrated through the Arab countries. They have grouped into small communities,

creating neighborhoods and bringing their culture to Arab countries including cuisine

and language. Indian spices, food like Biryani and Majboos, or drinks like Karak, are all

of Indian origin.

More interestingly, Hindi has become a widely spoken language in the Gulf

region due to the large number of Indians there. Hindi is a standardized version of

Hindustani spoken in India, originated from Sanskrit, while the other standard version of

Hindustani is Urdu which is spoken in Pakistan, with strong influences from Arabic,

Farsi and Turkish. These languages are very close in both grammar and words, Thus,

Hindi can be easily understood by many people in North and central India and other

countries that have been a homogeneous region because of the continuous geography.

On the other hand, Indian languages like Telugu, Kannada, Tamil and Malayalam are

Dravidian-based languages, mostly spoken in South India, that are considered native to

India. Thus, they have no direct relationship with Hindi. Also, Hindi has many dialects,

which makes it an easy verbal communication medium.

However, we know little about Indian culture in the Arab World, as most

knowledge about India comes from entertainment and popular culture like films.

Actually, there are not many works available in Arabic about or from India, as most of

works and studies have always been focused on Europe and have been taken an

interest to the culture of Europe. This might be attributed to colonialism and modern

economic power that make the West dominant. Contrariwise, there is a plethora of

English books and references which can give us an insight into Indias cultural, political

and social life. One of them is Khushwant Singhs book Notes on the Great Indian

Circus (2001). It is worth translating not only because it transfers political, social and

cultural knowledge of India and uncovers important elements of Indias life; it can also

serve a translational and practical purpose, as it contains many good examples of

culture-specific items that are considered among the most common problem in


My thesis is a translation and commentary of selected articles from Khushwant

Singhs Notes on the Great Indian Circus (2001). Singh is a well-known Indian writer

and journalist. He has published several books and novels, as well as a wide collection

of short stories, many articles on different political and social topics, and translations

from Urdu and Punjabi into English. Singh is best known for his free-thinking, political

and social criticism, as well as the humorous style in his writing that makes him closer to

the readers. He believes that the main responsibility of a writer is to inform his reader

while provoking and entertaining. It is worth indicating that Singhs book is a valuable

legacy and a window through which one can see the people of India from inside, as it is

critically and satirically discusses political and social issues in India.

This thesis is divided into six main chapters. The first chapter is an introduction

that provides background information on the author and the source text that I have

chosen for translation. It also defines my translation brief of the book and represents my

theoretical framework, which is Venutis principles of foreignization and domestication.

In the second chapter, journalistic texts as a genre in English and Arabic are discussed

by mainly focusing on journalism and satire, as well as the difference between English

and Arabic satirical journalistic texts. The third chapter explores the literature review by

defining the concept of culture and its relationship with language, setting forth the terms

of culture-specific terms and its divisions, and finally investigating the problem of

translating culture-specific-terms. Translation critical analysis and commentary are

described in chapter four. The main features on which my critical analysis is focusing

are divided into: (a) general cultural features including social institutions, ideas, and

customs (i.e. political, religious, and social terms), as well as material culture (i.e. food

and clothes); (b) cultural-linguistic features including figurative language (i.e. idioms and

common expressions), as well as intertextual figures (i.e. quotations and allusions). The

fifth chapter includes writing a translators preface, Arabic translators preface, as well

as the source and target texts. In the sixth chapter, my conclusion is briefly specified.

1.1 Background on the Author and the Source Text

Khushwant Singhs Notes on the Great Indian Circus reveals parts of Indias

history, covers different political and social issues of the pre- and post-independence

eras in India, and tracks its subsequent changes. It is a collection of articles written in

English and originally published in the 80s and 90s in Singhs weekly column series

"With Malice towards One and All", which appeared in the editorial page of the Saturday

edition in multiple publications, such as The Hindustan Times, Sunday, The Tribune

newspapers and The Illustrated Weekly of India newsmagazine. These articles were

collected and then republished in his book Notes on the Great Indian Circus by Penguin

Books (2001). The book has four chapters. The first three chapters The State of the

Nation, Events, and The Way We Are deal with political and social issues of the era

after Indias independence from the British rule, while the last chapter Profiles and

Personalities deals with Indian political figures.

Khushwant Singh is a well-known Indian writer, who was also a lawyer, a social

critic, a novelist, a politician, a journalist, and a columnist. He was born in 1915 in West

Punjab. He studied Law in St. Stephens college in Delhi and Kings college in London.

He then worked as a lawyer and joined the Indian Foreign Service in 1947. He was also

a Member of Parliament from 1980 to 1986. According to R.K. Dhawan:

Khushwant Singhs life is indeed colored by several factors, the most important of

these being his having been associated with the world of journalism. From the

first journalistic assignment to full time journalism as Editor of The Illustrated

Weekly of India was a long step... he has successfully pioneered the growth of at

least three major publications in India, namely Yojna, New Delhi and The

Hindustan Times (11-12).

It is well known that Khushwant Singh was a freethinking man who spoke his

mind. Singhs most popular and best-selling novels are Train to Pakistan, Delhi, and I

Shall not Hear the Nightingale. His translation of significant novels like Umrao Jan Ada

written by Mirza Ruswa was in Urdu language, which he had deep love for. Also, he did

not like literature to be written in Hindi, but in English. Dhawan states that Khushwant

Singh finds any Indian language a poor substitute for English (21), none can match the

vocabulary of the English language (21). Khushwant Singh was a great writer of Indian

English as he argued that it is a hybrid language, enriched by every language it came


into contact with (21). This is why we notice the usage of Hindi words and phrases in

his English texts.

1.2 Translation Brief

The source text is a collection of articles titled Notes on the Great Indian Circus

published by Penguin Books in New Delhi (2001). The full translation of the book is

intended to be translated and published in 2017 by HBKU Press.

In my translation and commentary thesis, I will provide a translation from English

into Arabic of selected articles of the two chapters The State of the Nation and The

way we are, which deal with political and social issues of the era after Indias

independence from the British rule.

Translating such a book from English into Arabic serves three purposes: (1) a

and practical purpose. It addresses the problem of translating an English work from

India, which requires exploring, evaluating and justifying the most appropriate strategies

chosen for translating social institutions, ideas and customs (i.e. political, religious and

social terms) and material culture (i.e. food and clothes), as well as figurative language

(i.e. idioms and common expressions) and intertextual figures (i.e. intertexual reference

and allusions) (2) Political and cultural knowledge of the other, especially that we have

a large community of Indian people in Qatar (3) Translation as a form of social

commentary on the target culture. The translation can help to comment on similar

social and political issues in Arab society.


Khushwant Singhs selected articles have an informative function as Singh

provides readers with information about several political and social issues that

happened after Indias independence from the British rule. Also, the articles have an

expressive function, as they express his personal opinions. This is highlighted by the

usage of figurative language like idioms and fixed expressions and allusions throughout

Singhs book. The content of the target text and the writers artistic dimension will be

transmitted to the target text in a way that function as a social critique of problems and

phenomena that might appear in the translators society.

The target text is intended for Arab readers who are generally interested in other

Eastern or Asian, cultures and particularly in Indias history, as well as its political

and social issues.

1.3 Theoretical Framework (Venutis Domestication and Foreignization)

According to Lawrence Venuti in The Translators Invisibility: A History of

Translation, foreignization and domestication are translation methods used in translation

practice, and especially in dealing with cultural elements. These methods are concerned

with the relationship between the source and target texts, original meaning preservation,

translators decisions, audience responses, and different cultures.

Foreignization is a source-culture oriented translation. It is faithful to the source

text and the local culture-specific concepts of foreign countries. Contrarily,

domestication is target-culture oriented translation. It makes the cultural factors of the


source text more familiar to readers. The two translation methods were described under

different terms by the German scholar Friedrich Schleiermacher, and then were

highlighted as concrete terms by the American scholar Lawrence Venuti in The

Translators Invisibility: A History of Translation. Friedrich Schleiermacher argues that

Either the translator leaves the author in peace, as much as possible, and moves the

reader towards him; or he leaves the reader in peace, as much as possible, and moves

the author towards him" (Schleiermacher qtd. in Venuti 101). In other words, a translator

should either preserve the foreignness of the original text, or lose information of the

original text and closely conform to the culture of the target readers. In this sense,

foreignization gives prominence to the difference between the original and the produced

texts in terms of culture and language, a concept heavily represented and advocated by

Venuti. On the other hand, domestication gives prominence to the target readers

through natural equivalence, which seeks the closest natural rendering of the SL

message in the TL. It is a practice that was heavily represented and advocated by Nida.

Foreignization and domestication have been long debated issues in translation

studies, under different terms like free translation and Literal translation in terms of the

preservation of the original meaning. The similarity between foreignization and literal

translation is that they mainly focus on the stylistic and linguistic features of the source

text as they closely follow both the content and the form of the SL. Thus, the language

will usually not be very smooth and the target readers will feel this foreignness while

reading the translated text because of the unfamiliar words and expressions (Wang 2).

On the contrary, domestication and free translation are similar in their emphasis on the

target readers in a way that readers feel they are reading an original text, not a

translated one. However, the four strategies differ, for while literal and free translation

are concerned with the linguistic features of the source text and try to keep and render

the original meaning to the target text, foreignization and domestication are more

complicated strategies than literal and free translation as they include cultural, political,

poetic and economic factors.

Translation as an activity requires a number of decisions. Translational action is

determined by its Skopos (Nord 29). It is the end justifies the means (Reiss and

Vermeer qtd. in Nord 29). My adaptation of Venutis principles of foreignization and

domestication, which are parallel to Ian Higgins and Sndor Herveys scale of cultural

transposition in their book Thinking Arabic Translation: A Course in Translation Method:

Arabic to English: Course Book, are goal-oriented.

Taking up Schleiermachers dichotomy as a central issue, Venuti concludes that

a translator can chose one of either translation principles foreignization or

domestication (Venuti 20), I think that a translator may apply both principles in the

same work, depending on the purposes for translating the text. In Venutis treatment,

the two principles seem to contradict each other. However, they have supplementary

function as by making a balance between both in one translation, a translator can

achieve particular translation aims. That can be done by transmitting the STs

information faithfully and conforming to the TT readers customs at the same time. This

combined strategy has not been practically studied in detail, at least in translating an

English- Indian work into Arabic. My translation has more than one purpose, and

consequently more than one strategy.

My first purpose is to introduce the Indian culture to Arab readers, especially that

we have a large community of Indian people in Qatar. However, we know little about

Indian culture in the Arab World, as most knowledge about India comes from

entertainment and popular culture like films. I tried to introduce the Indian culture

manifested in its different religious beliefs and social and political life to a much greater

extend by adopting Venutis principle of foreignization in translating Singhs articles,

which is equal to Ian Higgins and Sndor Herveys source-culture bias, using such

techniques as exoticism and calque (29-32). I also used some translation techniques

that may have foreignizing function, according to Venuti, such as transliteration, in

addition to explaining some terms inside the text and outside the text as footnotes and a

preface to my translation.

My second purpose is considering translation as a form of social commentary on

the target culture. Thus, I used Venutis principle of Domestication as it can help to

comment on similar social and political issues in Arab society. It correlates with Hervey

& Higgins target-culture bias like cultural transplantation (adaptations) (32).

The third purpose is a translational and practical purpose. My translation and

commentary thesis addresses the problem of translating an English work from India by

exploring, evaluating and justifying the most appropriate strategies chosen for

translating culture-specific items, such as social organizations, ideas and customs

(political, religious and social terms) and material culture (food and clothes), as well as

figurative language (i.e. idioms and common expressions) and intertextual figures (i.e.

quotations and allusions). I used Venutis foreignization and domestication, as well as a

combination of translation techniques like transliteration, footnotes, paraphrasing, and

direct translation depending on where I want to introduce the Indian culture to Arab

readers or comment on similar social and political issues in Arab society.

Generally, I tried to produce an understandable text to the target text readers that

depends on my understanding of Khushwant Singhs articles and my three purposes of

translating selected articles from Notes on the Great Indian Circus.


2. Chapter Two: Journalistic Texts as A Genre in English and Arabic

2.1 Journalism and Satire as Genres

Texts of various types in different mediums play an important role in representing

one culture to another. These texts can be of different genres. One of these is the

journalistic type, which is the genre of Khushwant Singhs book Notes on the Great

Indian Circus.

Journalism is an effective way for making people observe the external world.

Home or abroad news is widely spread to people through different media, like television,

radio, magazines and newspapers. Publications or periodicals not only transmit news or

information, but they also entertain, comment, criticize, and give opinion on some

particular issues. There are two types of opinion piece; one reflects the periodicals

opinion (the editorial), and another reflects one persons opinion (the column). In

terms of the column, a journalist should write his opinion in a column with a specific tone

that can be either serious or humorous in a way that is appropriate to the subject matter.

Also, accurate facts and supported sources, such as names, events, and dates, should

be presented in the columns. There are many basic kinds of columns. One of them is

satirical columns, in which sarcasm, irony, humor or the like are used to intently criticize

and expose problems and corruption of government and people in a society.

Satire is not a new genre. It has played an important role in societies and

cultures. According to the English novelist George Orwell, Every joke is a tiny

revolution (Dag, 2016). Satire is considered a powerful form of social commentary that

draws audiences attention to particular issues in politics, religion and society that can

make changes to economic, political, religious, and social status in a society.

2.2 English and Arabic Satircal Journalistic Texts

Satirical texts in Arabic and English seem to be similar. They use the same

satirical techniques by representing an opinion on a topic in a hyperbolic manner by the

use of figures of speech or rhetorical devices with the purpose of evoking the

audiences emotional response towards considering different issues from a different

perspective. The tone of satire that reflects the thoughts of a writer in Arabic and

English texts is the use of mixed of irony (conveying the opposite meaning of what is

being said), wit (saying or write things in an intelligent way through humor to criticize

others), sarcasm (using words that mean the opposite to intentionally insult and hurt

someone), and humor (using feelings that always results in amusement) in an effort to

give rise to a social change.

Like Khushwant Singh, there are many journalists in the Arab World who have

also collected their satirical articles in books. One well-known satirical journalist is the

Sudanese writer Jaafar Abbas, who released his books ( Obtuse Angles) in

1994 and ( Obtuse Angles and Other Acute Ones) in 2008. The two

books include topics on politics, persons standard of behavior and literature that are

written in satirical style. Other notable journalists include the Egyptians Mohamoud Al

Sadani who published ( Tamaam Ya Fandim) in 1997 and Jalal Amir who

published his satirical book ( Maser Ala Kaf Afreet) in 2009. There are

also satirical writers and journalists in the Gulf who have opinion columns published in

newspapers criticizing different topics in Arab society. One of them is the Saudi

journalist Khalaf Al Harbi who collected some of his articles published in Okaz

newspaper in a book titled ( Al Gharaq Fi Ber Jidah) (2015).

All these Arabic articles have similar topics to those examined in Khushwant

Singhs book, such as censorship, police, mamas darlings, morals, political history of

a country and communality like in Egypt, constitution, terrorism, religious extremism,

security threats, government corruption and other social, religious and political related


3. Chapter Three: Literature Review of Approaches to Culture Specific-Items

3.1 The Concept of Culture and Its Relationship with Language

Culture covers our everyday life. It represents our history, heritage, beliefs, social

life, customs, and religion. The concept of culture is used in many disciplines, such as

sociology, anthropology, literary studies etc. The term of culture has been defined in

many ways by different scholars. Edward Tylors definition of culture holds that Culture

[] is that complex whole which includes knowledge, belief, art, morals, law, custom,

and any other capability and habits acquired by man as a member of society (1873, 1).

Another definition of culture is provided by Eirlys Davies in his article A Goblin or a

Dirty Nose? The Treatment of Culture-Specific References in Translations of Harry

Potter Books as a set of values, attitudes and behaviors shared by a group and

passed on by learning (68). In his Meaning-Based Translation: A Guide to Cross-

Language Equivalence, Mildred Larson defines culture as "a complex of beliefs,

attitudes, values, and rules which a group of people share" (431).

From all the definitions mentioned above, we can conclude that culture, which is

the core of Venutis two translation principles of foreignization and domestication, is very

important in peoples life in terms of what they do, think, believe, know and feel.

Translators are interpreters of the culture in question and they try to represent the

other in their own language. This interpretation needs a deeper understanding of

cultures; both of the source language culture and target language culture.

Culture has an impact on peoples language. Language has always been viewed

as a window into culture. This relation between culture and language is discussed by

Peter Newmark in A Textbook of Translation, where he states that culture is the way of

life and environment peculiar to the native inhabitants of a particular geographical area

restricted by its language boundaries, as manifested through a single language (173).

This means that languages are always sensitive indicators of the cultures to

which they belong. According to Sapir-Whorf hypothesis, the way people think is greatly

affected by their native languages and there are certain thoughts of people who live in

one language that cannot be understood by those who live in another (Kay & Kempton

3). Thus, communication is always seen as the most serious obstacle when two

countries doing business speak different languages as each language embodies

cultural different views. Even the smallest error in interpreting one language to another

in business can lead to a disaster. Thus, language has always been seen as the tool or

expression of culture that plays an important role in making cross-cultural connections.

Moreover, each language has its own key words or concepts that reflect the basic

values of a given culture. Therefore, the definition of culture-specific items should be


3.2 Terms of Culture-Specific Items

Cultural items vary across languages and cultures. This difference is clearly

shown in translation. In his book A Textbook in Translation, Peter Newmark does not

give cultural items a particular definition. According to him, they are mainly tied to the

way of life and its manifestations that are peculiar to a community that uses a particular

language as its means of expression (94). However, Newmark refers to cultural items

as cultural words (94), which are viewed as separate units typically similar to words

of a particular language that are listed in a dictionary. He notes that these cultural words

can be identified and have meaning, although they are tied to specific contexts. In his

article Culture-Specific Items in Translation, Javier Franco Aixel describes these

cultural items as culture-specific items (CSIs) (57), a term which I use in this thesis. I

think the word item has more sense of specification, uniqueness and individuality that

distinguish one thing from others of the same kind, while the word element gives the

sense of being part of something. In contrast with Newmarks point of view that these

cultural items can be recognized regardless of any context, Aixel argues that CSIs can

only be identified in a particular context (57) because if one item has a meaning in one

culture, it can be meaningless in another. This poses a problem to translators and a

difficulty in finding a solution for this problem. On the other hand, Mona Baker, in her In

Other Words: A Coursebook on Translation, refers to cultural items as culture-specific

concepts (18). According to Baker, culture-specific concepts refer to any cultural entity

in language that is unknown to target text readers. Sharing Newmarks point of view,

Baker does not link these cultural items to a specific cultural context, as it is possible to

understand the meaning of words and expressions without the necessity of referring to

a specific context.

From all the presented definitions, it seems that the concept of culture-specific

items is complex and cannot be easily defined. This is due to the fact that in a

language everything is culturally produced, beginning with language itself (Aixel 57).

The term of culture-specific items can be broadly defined as any cultural entity that is

specific to the source language culture and generally unfamiliar to the readers of the

target culture.

3.3 Division of Culture-Specific Items

Aixel categorizes culture-specific items into proper nouns and common

expressions without giving further information on the category related to common

expressions due to the fact that it is difficult to identify them since they are restricted to

each culture (60). According to Aixel, these items cover all the culture-specific items

that are not capitalized and not listed in the category of proper nouns (59). In contrast,

Eugene A. Nida differentiates five foreign cultural categories: (1) ecological culture, (2)

material culture, (3) social culture, (4) religious culture, (5) linguistic culture. By adapting

Nidas, Newmarks categorization of foreign cultural words includes, but is not limited to,

material culture (i.e. food and drinks, clothes, and towns), and social organizations (i.e.

political, religious and social terms). Some of these subcategories have been

recognized by a number of scholars, such as Baker, who points out that culture-specific

terms may relate to a religious belief, a social custom, or even a type of food. (18)

3.4 The Problem of Translating Culture-Specific Items

Translating culture-specific items poses serious challenges to translators

because they are tied to the way of life and its manifestations that are peculiar to a

community that uses a particular language as its means of expression (Newmark 94).

In A Hand Book of Translation, Kumar Das, who is a contributor to the Encyclopedia of

World Literature in the 20th Century, points out that language is culture-oriented (40).

Yet, culture varies between countries and among groups. Thus, a translator always

encounters difficulties in rendering culture-specific items from one culture into another,

which requires attention to the cultural items when translating from one language into

another, instead of simply seeking one-to-one equivalents. Newmark emphasizes that

culture is a serious problem in translation owing to the cultural gap between the source

and target languages (94). As translation deals with two languages and two cultures,

an accurate translation has to bridge the gap between them to a certain extent. Baker

supports Newmarks claim and acknowledges the difficulties encountered in rendering

culture-specific items in a text from one culture into another by placing culture-specific

items in the section of her In Other Words dedicated to the most common translation


Journalistic translation plays an important role in the increase of cross-cultural

interactions, as it transmits cultural information from one language into another (Zhang

101). However, translating journalistic texts, especially of satirical type, is not an easy

task because it is socio-culture specific and can be direct or indirect. In addition, each

society has its own flaws, which are the targets of satire, and they differ from time to

time. Thus, a translator must first have knowledge of the historical facts of that society

and the period during which the satirical text is written. Then, he/she identifies,

understands, and analyzes the satire, as well as the authors writing: whether his ideas

are expressed directly or indirectly in order to be able to transmit the meaning to the TL.

Another difficulty facing a translator is that readers of the source and target texts have

different cultural backgrounds. Thus, culture-specific items cannot be avoided in the

process of journalistic translation as cultural meanings are always embodied in the

journalistic text. Therefore, lacking bicultural knowledge may lead to misunderstanding

of the cultural connotations because the message of one culture might be decoded

differently in another and consequently generating a cultural gap between the source

language and the target language.


4. Chapter Four: Translation Analysis and Commentary

My commentary focuses on the non-equivalence problem at and above the word

level in translating an English language work from India. This is done by exploring,

evaluating and justifying the strategies chosen for translating political, religious and

social terms, as well as idioms, common expressions, proverbs and allusions that are

specific for the Indian culture into the Arabic culture.

Based on Peter Newmark and Nidas classifications of cultural words, which are

comprehensive and focus on translation practice, the thesis areas of focus will be

divided into (a) general cultural features: social institutions, ideas and customs (i.e.

political, religious and social terms) and material culture (i.e. food and clothes) (b)

cultural-linguistic features: figurative language (i.e. idioms and common expressions)

and intertextual figures (i.e. intertextual reference and allusions). I primarily chose these

features because I find them challengeable in terms of de-coding words and

expressions that are specific to India and recoding them to the Arabic target text

although there are many features that can be discussed in the thesis, such as the use of

proper nouns.

Many general cultural and linguistic-cultural features can be noticed in Singhs

Notes on the Great Indian Circus, which include, but are not limited to, social institutions

(i.e. political, social and religious terms) and material culture (i.e. food and clothes, and

towns), as well as figurative language (i.e. idioms and common expressions) and

intertextual figures (i.e. quotations and allusions). This is due to the fact that Khushwant

Singh was very keen to observe and explore the political, religious, and social life in

India with openness and honesty to the extent that he is described as Not a Nice Man to

Know, title of the book written about him by Vikram Seth and Nandini Mehta. Also,

Khushwant Singh employs figurative language in his articles in order to indicate his

insight and emotion with the different political and social issues being discussed in his


4.1 General Cultural Features

4.1.1 Social Institutions, Ideas, and Customs (Political, Religious and Social


One can notice in Singhs articles frequent references to Indian historical events

and different political and social issues of the pre- and post-independence eras.

According to Peter Newmarks classification (1988, 95-03), these political, religious and

social terms are listed under the category of social institutions, ideas and customs.

Translating religious terms is difficult, as they are very sensitive in translation

and need much more accuracy and care than being translated word-for-word from the

source language into the target language. The main challenges I encountered lie in

dealing with terminology and finding the right lexical and cultural equivalent in the target

text in order to convey the same meaning of the source text.

Religious terms that are culturally bound to India are mostly considered

untranslatable items in Arabic, as most of them are derived from Sanskrit and Indian

philosophy, which are unfamiliar to Arab readers. Also, some religious words and

concepts have many meanings based on the different context, such as law, order, and

custom because of the different religious views among schools of Hinduism, Sikhism,

Buddhism, and Jainism in India.

Thus, a translator must not only be bilingual, but also bicultural with good

knowledge of the culture and religions of the source text in order to fully understand the

religious terms of the source text and accurately interpret them to the target texts

audience. A translator should bear in mind that he/ she should not modify or change the

meaning of the religious terms when translating them into another language. This is due

to the fact that some religious terms and concepts like Dharma, mentioned in Singhs

article Separating Religion and Politics, are not clear to be interpreted and translated

from Hindi to Arabic. For example, a German linguist, Karl Geldner, used 20 different

translations for the word Dharma when he translated the Rig Vida (The book of

knowledge) based on the context it appears in (Horsch 423-228). Dharma, which is a

concept with many meanings in the Indian philosophy and religions like Hinduism,

Sikhism, Buddhism, and Jainism cannot be expressed in Arabic or any other language.

However, I could not find a better Arabic word that suits better in the context than

religion since it comes with the term samabhava (literary means equal respect). Also,

the term is well-known to Indians owing to the frequent use of the Sanskrit phrase

Sarva-Dharma-Sambhava (All religions are united in feeling) by Mahatma Gandhi.

Thus, I translated the sentence it is not sarva dharma samabhav as (

) .

In translating other religious terms like Shiva, who is the Great God and one of the

three major deities of Hinduism together with Visnu and Brahma, I used Venutis

principle of foreignization to introduce the Indian religions to Arab readers. I also

adopted the translation strategy of transliteration to allow the audience to reconvert the

Hindi terms back into Arabic script and have knowledge of Indian religions through the

additional information in footnotes as follows:

" " " ":""

Politics is important in forming peoples life. Translating political terms can help

people keep up-to-date with what is happing in the world. The new political terms that

have been recently added to the language create challenges for the translator. If there

is a gap between the text and the reader, it is likely to be misunderstood by the readers

and consequently lose the intended meaning of the text.

Usually, different political systems give rise to the difficulty of translating political

terms as these usually have connection with historical and current events. Also, politics,

by its nature, is changing. There are always new words and expressions added in

politics of a country due to the ongoing changes and new events. Thus, it is important

for a translator to fully understand the political terms in the context, the political system

in a country, assure that his/her translation will be understood by the TT readership and

not to avoid confusion of ideas to any term. In this term, a translator can explain the

conceptual differences.

In translating political terms like Akali Dal, which is a Sikhism- centric political

party in India, I used Venutis principle of foreignization to introduce the Indian political

system to Arab readers. Also, I used the translation strategy of transliteration plus

footnotes, which allow the readers to know interesting information and give them credit

to the research or translation process. It might also change the wrong conceptions and

knowledge they are getting from entertainment and popular culture like Indian films and

comics. Also, footnotes play as function, so to speak, as an interpreter of what the local

people are thinking and provide enough commentary so that a reader outside this local

culture can understand the meaning of the words and expressions. Thus, footnotes

have been adopted to introduce a degree of cultural foreignness (i.e. accurate

knowledge) into the target text as follows:

( ) :""

. 1984

. .

The difficulty in translating terms of the Indian political system stems from the fact

that caste and religion play an important role in the Indian political system. The British

rulers previously used religion and caste for political division of the Indian nation. Even

after independence, the two factors could not stop influencing politics. For example, the

privileged upper caste always gets more opportunities to government benefits like

voting, employment and funding because it transfers wealth into politics. Caste also

affects marital relationships, as it allows intra-caste marriages only otherwise the child

will have not caste.

This social ranking and different castes in India, which almost reach 300

classifications, make the translation task for the translator difficult. Singhs article Time

for a Change is a good example, as it is loaded with many names of castes like

Rajputs, Jats, Gurkhas, Banias, and Harijans. The most difficult part was translating

Nizam of Hyderabad in Singhs article Princely Parasites. The difficulty was in determining

whether these are names, honorific titles or qualities. This is due to the fact that it is an

old monarch of the Hydrabad State in India. Thus, a term like Alikhan Bahadar (The

brave Ali Khan) can be translated as () . But, after searching and

reading about Nizam of Hyderabad, I transliterated it as a title () .

Arustu-e-Zaman Wal Mumalik (Aristotle of time and place( was another problem;

however, I also transliterated it as (( . For other surnames and caste

like Chaudhry in Singhs article The Chaudhry Obsession, I have also used

transliteration plus footnote to give the reader some information about this surname and

title, which is a caste as well:


If a translator has an eye on his readership, some information relating to the topic

is likely to be added while translating from one culture into another to make up for

differences between both SL and TL culture. Minor cultural details or additions can be

inserted inside or outside the text as footnotes. However, important historical and

political issues can be made available to readers as a translators preface. Therefore, I

provided Arab readers with background about some historical and political issues

mentioned in Khushwant Singhs articles, such as the partition of the Indian

subcontinent into India and Pakistan, Operation Blue Star to attack the Sikhs Golden

Temple, Nellie and Hashimpura massacres, Bhopal Gas disaster, and the demolition of

Babri Masjid. These additions can be considered like a thorough grounding for

understanding the source text (see Translators Preface 48-53).

4.1.2 Material Culture (Food and Clothes)

Material culture, like food and clothing, makes the task of a translator

complicated. Food and clothing are important parts of any national culture. Indian food

terms cannot be easily translated accurately into another language because of lexical

gaps. These terms should be explained for the TL readership.

In A Hand Book of Translation, Kumar Das discusses how difficult it is to

translate from Indian languages into other languages and how these cultural items can

lose their impact. Das rightly says that we cannot translate, for example, the Indian word

Puri (an unleavened deep fried Indian bread) as (bread) because it does not have

the same meaning in another country and has not equivalent in Arabic. According to

Das, this difficulty also appears in translating from one Indian language into another,

although sharing a similar culture. This is attributable to the Homonymns of Indian

languages (42) as the same form in one Indian language has a different meaning in


In translating such items of material culture as food and clothes, I adopted

Venutis principle of foreignization, as well as the strategy of transliteration plus

footnotes to introduce the Indian snacks, dishes and traditional clothes to Arab readers.

For example, I transliterated bhel puri - pao bhaji as ( - ) and kurta-

pajama as () . Then, I added footnotes as follows:


" "

. 2

4.2 Cultural- Linguistic Features

4.2.1 Figuarative Language

Nida gives importance to both linguistic and cultural differences between the SL

and the TL by acknowledging that differences between cultures may cause more

severe complications for the translator than do differences in language structure (130).

According to Peter Newmark, the chief difficulties in translating are lexical, not

grammatical, i.e. words, collocations and fixed phrases or idioms (32). These are

unfindable words. Thus, Newmark believes that difficulties are of two kinds: a) you

dont understand them; b) you find them hard to translate (33). Also, Newmark claims

that not being able to understand a word may be because all possible meanings are

not known to you or because its meaning is determined by its unusual collocation or are

reference elsewhere in the text'' (33).

Figurative language is a feature that can be noticed in Khushwant Singhs book.

It is the use of the effects of language in a non-literal sense to create the power of

language in the mind of people, which is more common and effective than stating

ordinary literal words. Simply, the sentence I have a million things to do may seem

stronger and more effective than I am so busy with a lot of things. Exaggeration is

employed in this sentence to create a stronger feeling. Generally speaking, this

language device invokes different feelings and creates more powerful meaning than just

simple, straightforward recount. In other words, it creates unforgettable images in the

minds of the readers. Linguists like George Lakoff and Mark Johnson argue that

understanding figurative language requires a conceptual mapping of one domain onto

another, allowing us to understand an abstract concept in terms of a simpler or more

common one (Lakoff & Johnson qtd. in Palmer 1).

This cultural-linguistic feature has many forms; however, I will mainly focus on

idioms, common expressions and allusions in my commentary. They have an important

role as their meanings are shared among people and appear in many discourses, such

as financial, political and journalistic discourses. Khushwant Singh employs the

figurative language in his articles in order to indicate his deep insight and emotion with

the different political and social issues being discussed in his book.

In understanding and translating figurative language, such as idioms and

common expressions from one language into another, translators usually encounter

difficulties that cannot be overcome easily, due to the differences in geographical

locations, religion, and societies. Idioms

An Idiom is an unchangeable part of each language. In Longman Idioms

Dictionary, an idiom is defined as a sequence of words which has a different meaning

as a group from the meaning it would have if you understand each word separately.

Jannifer McMordiew, in English Idioms and How to Use Them, defines an idiom as a

number of words which [when they are] taken together, mean something different from

the individual words of the idiom when they stand alone (4).

In understanding and translating cultural-linguistic items, like idioms, from one

language into another, translators usually encounter some difficulties that are hard to

overcome due to the differences in religion, geographical locations, and societies. Mona

Baker, in In Other Words, points out that the main problem is that culture-specific idioms

may refer to some specific item or event common to that particular culture. Therefore, it

is hard to translate such an idiom (68). Idioms are very difficult to translate as they are

frozen patterns of language which allow little or no variation in form and often carry

meanings which cannot be deduced from their individual components (Baker 63). She

also argues that it is not easy to change the order of the words in it, delete a word from

it, add a word to it, replace a word with another, or change its grammatical structure

(67). On the other hand, common expressions are much easier in translation than

idioms because their meanings can be deduced from the meaning of the whole

expression. The main problem of translating idioms is the difficulty of recognizing and

interpreting them correctly, as well as finding equivalents and rendering the meaning

from the SL into the TL (Baker 68).

Mona Baker proposes several strategies for translating idioms, such as

paraphrasing, borrowing the SL idiom, using an idiom with similar form and meaning in

the TL, and using an idiom of similar meaning but dissimilar form in the TL. However, I

used the paraphrasing strategy as a method for translating idioms as it is the most

common way of translating idioms when a match cannot be found in the target language

or when it seems inappropriate to use idiomatic language in the target text because of

differences in stylistic preferences of the source and target languages (Baker 74).

Therefore, in translating the idiom Lakeer Ke Faqeer (which literary means poverty

line) from Hindi into English mentioned in Singhs article titled Censored, I restated

the meaning of this Hindi idiom by using different words in the same language by

referring to its idiomatic meaning (to go about the same old beaten path). The

predictable meaning for this idiom is that censors are dogmatic, conservative and

unwilling to accept changes, especially in work place. According to them, rules are rules

and everyone has to follow them. Thus, I translated the idiom as (

) . Another idiom is Whetted my appetite (literary means something makes

mouth-watering, but actually means arousing ones interest), which I have paraphrased

as () . In both examples, more or less, domestication is used as their

meanings are explained in a new form to be familiar to Arab readers. Common Expressions

Common or popular expressions are standard forms of phrases that express

ideas or concepts in a particular culture. They are part of daily life discourse and include

cultural aspects and notions about politics, society and religion.

There are many words or expressions in the source text that represent the

source text culture and have no equivalents in the target language. Some connotative

meanings or codes may be lost during the translation process. Thus, a translator adapts

the way the people of the source text express themselves in their specific social lives

and situations respecting the sort of expression used in each situation.


The functions of common expressions in their surrounding contexts may have

bearing on the selection of translation strategies. Paraphrasing, listed under adaptation,

is one strategy that can be adopted for translating culture- specific expressions

whenever the ST context does not exist in the target culture. Paraphrasing may embody

domestication and can be considered a re-writing of a text. In addition, it is very

important for the translator to have a bi-cultural knowledge of both SL and TL in order to

fully understand the expression in question and then accurately transfer its meanings

into the TL.

Khushwant Singhs articles are loaded with common expressions that are

specific to Indian culture, such as Jee Huzoor (Huzoor literary means master and the

suffix Ji is used for respect), Boxwala (literary means container owner), Chamcha

(literally means Spoon). Such common expressions cannot be literary translated,

which will lead to ambiguity as words only have meaning in terms of the culture in

which they are used (Homeidi14). Therefore, no expressions can be easily understood

without referring to its cultural context and bi-cultural knowledge of SL.

Paraphrasing the expression is one strategy proposed by Mona Baker (ibid). By

adopting this strategy, I paraphrased the Hindi expressions in such a non-idiomatic form

with an attempt of domestication to emphasize Khushwant Singhs conveyed message

and ideas of sycophants, rich people, and people who have no say in any matter and

follow their leaders blindly. Paraphrasing or domesticating these common expressions

will enable Arab readers to perceive the coherence of Khushwant Singhs article. This

strategy can help to emphasize the role of translation as a social commentary, as it can

help to criticize special practices in Arab societies like sycophancy, people with

money and power, and fawners who always agree with and supports without

criticism any opinion of a superior or a political leader to gain a personal

advantage. Therefore, I paraphrased and translated Jee huzored by staff as (

) . As for the word chamchas (literally means spoons), I translated it

as () . It is a colloquial word used by common people in India. In the

translation process, I linked the word spoon, which has been used in India for a long

time to apply butter instead of butter knives, to the excessive indulging of buttering. It is

an idiomatic expression that refers to sycophants who are flattering or praising the most

powerful persons to get a favor. It is like the process of greasing a pan before frying

anything. For the expression Boxwala (he prefix Box literary means a container, but

refers to money and the suffix Wala means holder or owner), I translated it as (

)to refer to people of wealth and power.


4.2.2 Intertexual Figures

Intertextuality is a literary feature that is used by writers in novels, theatre, and

poetry. Based on the French Semiotician Julia Kristevas definition of in Word, dialogue

and novel, the term intertextuality refers to the position of any text as one that contains

other texts. Any intertextual figure is a writers borrowing of another text and a readers

reference to one text in reading another. In other words, Intertextuality is the

interconnection between texts. It shapes the meaning of one text by referring to another.

Thus, readers may find the meaning of a text in relationship to other texts, which

consequently leads to an in-depth and a clearer understanding of the TT.

Intertextual figures include, for example, quotations and allusions. They can be

direct, leaving no room for doubt or confusion, in quotations, or they can be indirectly

expressed, in allusions. These differences depend on the writers intention and his

purpose, as well as the importance of the intertextual reference and figure. Mostly,

these references rely on the knowledge of the source texts readers and their familiarity

with such references, due to their frequent use in the culture of the source text.

In Singhs articles, there are many borrowings from other writers and poets, such

as Shuja Khawar and Inayat Qadri, or writers, such as Muhammad Iqbal. In my

commentary on intertextual figures, I will discuss intertextual quotations and allusions.

36 Quotations

Texts do not occur in a vacuum or stand alone, but they rely on prior texts. The

poet and literary critic T.S. Eliot supports this claim in his famous quote in his essay

Tradition and the Individual Talent written in 1920 that no poet, no artist of any art,

has his complete meaning alone. As Eliot argues quote in his essay Tradition and the

Individual Talent, works and texts are basically influenced and derived from other

works in the past and no author can write unless he/ she reads, gets ideas, quotes

others works and then build his/ her work on them.

In his book The Dialogue Imagination, the Russian Semiotician Mikhail Bakhtin

states that the word in language is half someone elses. It becomes ones own only

when the speaker populates it with his own intention, his own accent, when he

appropriates the word, adapting it to his own semantic and expressive intention (303).

His claim is true especially in the case of intertextual quotation, which is a direct and

straight form that responses to the utterances preceding it.

In his articles, Singh includes many quotes in Hindi and Urdu from other writers

and poets, such as Shuja Khawar, Inayat Qadri and Muhammad Iqbal. He even

provides a translation of these literary quotes in English. However, under-translation

is clearly noticed when comparing the original source and the translation as Singh

omits some parts of this Urdu couplet. This might be attributed to the semantic

difficulties of transferring intertextual elements in poetry from one language into


A texts meaning is shaped by another and translation is a decontextualizing

process. Intertextual references are important for text construction and deconstruction.

When the foreign intertext includes a translation into the foreign language, the problem

of de-contextualization gives translators a headache because of the linguistic and

cultural differences.

In Chapter 5 of his book A Handbook of Translation Studies, Kumar Das

demonstrates how it is almost impossible to translate some poems or verses of earlier

poets of the Indian subcontinent as they their language has the power of magic and

devotion (45). Some poems are full of intertextual figures that are clearly expressed

and others have mysteriousness. The translators task is not to say what the author

means, but to produce a new version of the given text.

Thus, the translated quotation of the Urdu couplet mentioned in Singhs article

Problems of Old Age from Hindi into English is likely undermined by omitting the

intertextual relations of the original source, so it did not capture the beauty of the Urdu

couplet. Singh has briefly translated the following contemporary Urdu couplet of Nazm

(free verse) written by anonymous poet with a spelling mistake as (You faded away

and we did not as much as notice it going):

Javaani jaatee rahee (Youth faded away)

Aur hamein pataa bhee na laga; (and we did not as much as notice it going)

Isee ko dhoond rahey hain (we are searching for it)

Kamar jhukaae hooey (bending back forward)


The words, images and symbols of this Urdu couplet are beautifully written about

how youth is suddenly faded away and how a person becomes weak because of aging.

It is very important for a translator to get a feel for the poem in order to capture the

poets images and idea, as well as the artistic expressions in order to transfer the effect

through rhetorical devices from one language into another and evoke the target readers

emotional response on youth that passes us by at lightning speed and aging associated

problems. It is an image that is missed in Singhs translation and described by the

Perisian poet Saadi Shirazi in his quote: That thy bent back will never be straight (qtd.

in Singh. K Delhi 178).

UNESCOs recommendation on the legal protection of translations and the

practical means to improve the Status of Translators" made at its 19 th Session in Nairobi

on November 22, 1976 shows that [...] as a general rule, a translation should be made

from the original work, recourse being had to retranslation [i.e. ITr] only where

absolutely necessary (Branchadell and West 68). Thus, my translation was not a

second-hand translation from Urdu into Arabic through English. Rather, it was a direct

translation from Urdu to Arabic based on my knowledge of the Urdu language of the

original source because indirect translation is not always trusted. It does not sometimes

give a similar effect as the original due to unfamiliarity with the ST or opting omission

strategy where equivalence is not achieved and this results in mistranslation or under-


I tried to achieve the complete interpretation of the couplet by comparing the

original quotation with the translation of the author. Also, my translation strategy is more

of domestication, yet without losing the identity of the original text. I believe that a good

translation of Urdu poetry into English seems impossible, as Urdu is a standardized

version of the Hindustani language that is influenced by Arabic, Farsi, and Turkish.

Therefore, it has a significant amount of vocabulary and seems like it is made for

literature because of the languages elegance and charm like Arabic. For that reason, I

translated the couplet by referring to the original text and adding the missed part (

) as: Allusions

Unlike an intertextual quotation, which is explicit and clearly expressed, allusion

is implicit and indirectly expressed. It always relies on the readers knowledge and

familiarity with the cultural reference in the original source as allusions are frequently

and commonly used words and expressions in one culture than another.

Allusion is another cultural-linguistic translation challenge encountered by

translators in conveying the same concept, connotation, meaning and effect when

translating from one language into another.


In Chris Baldicks The Concise Oxford Dictionary of Literary Terms, allusion is

defined as an implicit reference (4). This indirect reference can be a word, a phrase or

more and related to something that is more well-known to one culture than to another,

such as events, places, people, concepts, and books.

In his book Translating Literature: Practice and Theory in a Comparative

Literature Context, Andre' Lefevere distinguishes four different types of allusions: (a)

Biblical allusions refer to the Bible without stating it clearly, (b) Historical allusions refer

to history, (c) literary allusions refer to other well-known literary works, and (d) cultural

allusions that are connected with people, events and places within a specific culture

(22). These allusions aim at convincing readers to accept the truth of the information

provided, agree on the writers point of view, and enable them to connect the

information or topic to a widely known knowledge in a culture.

The problem of translating allusions occurs when the translator tries to transfer

the connotation and cultural thoughts behind these allusions from one culture into

another. Failing to find equivalents and transfer the intended connotative meaning in the

target language may create a culture bump (Leppihalme 4) because the TT readers

find it difficult to understand the ST cultural allusion as it is not part of the TL culture (4)

due to cultural differences.

In her PhD Thesis titled Cultural and Textual Properties in the Translation and

Interpretation of Allusions: An Analysis of Allusions in Dorothy L. Sayers Detective

Novels Translated into Finnish in the 1940s and the 1980s, Minna Ruokonen points out

that allusion belongs to assumed shared knowledge, which is presumably familiar to


the author and at least some of his/her readers (33). Thus, allusions can be easily

identified and understood by the author and the ST readers, but not by the TT readers

unless they are biculturalized (Leppihalme 4). Thus, allusions mostly rely on familiarity

of ST culture to best convey the meaning.

Many allusions can be found in Singhs articles. One of the allusions repeated in

his articles is Char-Sau-Bees (literally means the number 420 in Hindi(. It explicitly

refers to Section 420 of the Indian Penal Code ( ) on cheating and

dishonestly, which stipulates that:

Whoever cheats and thereby dishonestly induces the person deceived to deliver

any property to any person, or to make, alter or destroy the whole or any part of a

valuable security, or anything which is signed or sealed, and which is capable of

being converted into a valuable security, shall be punished with imprisonment of

either description for a term which may extend to seven years, and shall also be

liable to fine (182-87).

Allusion can be easily understood by Indians as a reference to any cheater or

dishonest person. However, being a skilled reader of biculturalized in both SL and TL is

very important for any translator to fully understand the allusion and accurately transfer

the connotative meanings into the TT. In translating allusions, I used Ritva Leppihalmes

strategy of paraphrasing plus footnotes, which is a combination of domestication and


foreignization strategies to make the text accessible to Arab readers, while providing

interested readers with more information about the allusion.

In translating the allusion Char-Sau-Bees, I first analyzed the function this ST

allusion in the article Murder of Mount Abu based on its surrounding context There are

also half-a-dozen three-star hotels with names cleverly misspelt to trap the unwary:

Sherratone for Sheraton, Hilltone for Hilton. Not quite chaar sau bees but close


It is clear that Singh sheds the light on the fraudulent actions by intentionally

changing the names of the three-star hotels in order to trap easily fooled people.

Contextual clues like trap the unwary and names cleverly misspelt surrounding the

allusion can provide hints about the meaning. Thus, I translated the allusion as

( )and preferred to provide explanatory details in the form of footnotes for such a

culture-specific item in order to clarify the allusion to the target readers. This was done

as a below line of the text (extra-textual):

)420( :Char-Sau-Bees " " 1

.) 420(

Also, there are some references mentioned by Khushwant Singh that have

connotative meanings and function as allusions to events and towns. One example is

the frequent mentioning of key references like the town Amethi. It is presumably familiar

to Khushwant Singh and his Indian readers of being a district of elections for Nehru-

Ghandi Family since 1980, being a Congress stronghold since its formation in 1966.

However, The TT readers will not understand what Singh is indirectly referring to unless

some explanations are given. Adding some details inserted inside the text or outside the

text as a translators preface or footnotes can help readers to better understand the

well-known importance of the town for elections and Indian politics. Thus, I provided an

additional information as a footnote:




5. Chapter Five: Conclusion

The aim of my thesis was to address the problem of translating an English work

from India. Kushwant Singhs Notes on the Great Indian Circus worth translating not

only because it transfers the political, social and cultural knowledge of India and

uncovers important elements of Indias life. Rather, it can serve a practical purpose, as

it contains many good examples of culture-specific items that are considered among

the most common problems in translation, which requires exploring, evaluating and

justifying the most appropriate strategies chosen for translating social institutions, ideas

and customs (i.e. political, religious and social terms) and material culture (i.e. food and

clothes), as well as figurative language (i.e. idioms and common expressions) and

intertextual figures (i.e. intertexual reference and allusions). My thesis also aimed to

introduce the Indian culture to Arab readers and achieve the goal of cultural encounter.

The most important aim of my thesis was to show that translation is not only about the

acquired knowledge of the other, but it can also be considered a form of social

commentary on the target culture.

My thesis was divided into the following: Chapter one provided a background

information on the author and the source text. It also defined my translation brief of the

book and represented my theoretical framework, which is Venutis principles of

foreignization and domestication. Chapter two discussed journalistic texts as a genre in

English and Arabic focusing on journalism and satire, as well as the difference between

English and Arabic satirical journalistic texts. Chapter three explored the literature

review by defining the concept of culture and its relationship with language, setting

forth the terms of culture-specific terms and its divisions, and finally investigating the

problem of translating culture-specific-terms. Chapter four highlighted the main

features on which my critical analysis was focused, which were divided into (a) general

cultural features (i.e. political, religious, and social terms), as well as food and clothes

terms); (b) cultural-linguistic features including figurative language (i.e. idioms and

common expressions), as well as intertextual figures (i.e. quotations and allusions)

including many examples from my translation. Chapter five included a brief about

writing a translators preface, Arabic translators preface, as well as the source and

target texts.

It was challengeable to render the culture-specific items in Khushwant Singhs

articles into Arab culture. This required me to pay special attention to the specific

cultural information of the source text. My decision to retain information from the ST

(Venutis principle of Foreignization) or make the TT closely conform to the target

culture (Venutis principle of Domestication) largely depended on my above-mentioned

purposes of translation.

It is worth mentioning that in my next stages, it will be very interesting to study

Khushwant Singhs book under post-colonialism and power-relations theories and as

an anthropological text by examining the use of footnotes as an anthropological tool

that gives thickness to the anthological translation and show how culture is closely

related to language through the scope of anthropology.


6. Chapter Six: Source and Target Texts

6.1 Writing a Translators Preface:

If a translator has an eye on his readership, some information relating to the topic

is likely to be added while translating from one culture into another to make up for

differences between both SL and TL culture.

Minor cultural details or additions can be inserted inside or outside the text as

footnotes and that what I did in translating general cultural features, such as social

institutions, ideas, and customs (i.e. political, religious and social terms, as well as

material culture i.e. (food and clothes). However, important historical and political

issues can be made available to readers as a translators preface.

A preface is an introduction to a text stating its subject or scope. It is like

speaking to the readers directly about the reason for choosing this particular subject

and the motivation, as well as the inspiration behind it. It also describes the process of

writing and the way of dealing with the difficulties that came up during the writing

process. Usually, a preface helps to draw the readers attention to what follows,

provides them with the subject details, and enrich readers knowledge.

In a translators preface, I tried to briefly reveal what I want the readers to know

or learn leaving no room for mystery or ambiguity. My purpose of writing a translators

preface is to provide Arab readers with background about some historical and political

issues mentioned in Khushwant Singhs articles, such as the partition of the Indian

subcontinent into India and Pakistan, Operation Blue Star to attack the Sikhs Golden

Temple, Nellie and Hashimpura massacres, Bhopal Gas disaster, and the demolition of

Babri Masjid. These additions can be considered like a thorough grounding for

understanding the source text (see Translators Preface 43-48).


6.2 Translators Preface

( )

( Notes on the Great Indian Circus

) .

. ""

" " " " " "

( Notes on the Great Indian Circus ) .


/ 1947

1948 1965

. 1948

. 1950




" "


. " " .


" " " "

. " " 1989

( )





. 1987



" 1992

( )


1 Kulke, Hermann, and Dietmar Rothermund. A History of India. 5 Ed. London: Routledge, 2010. Print.

2 Singh, Sangat. The Sikhs in History. Amritsar: Singh Brothers, 2002. Print.

3 Sofri, Gianni. Gandhi and India. New York: Interlink Pub Group Inc, 1998. Print.

6.3 Source and Target Texts


Analyzing Terrorism

Since terrorism has reared its ugly

head in the Punjab again, it is time we
took a second look, an academic and
objective look at the phenomenon, and .
see if we can devise methods to combat
it. The chance encounter with a retired . .
director general of police, N.S. Saksena, : ":
at Bangalore airport further whetted my
appetite. He gave me his book ."
Terrorism: History and Facts in the
World and in India. In the two-and-a-half
hour flight to Delhi I read through .
portions dealing with India.

First, we must be clear on what
exactly terrorism is. The facile .
assumption that it is organized violence
against the state is disproved by the fact
that far too often it is the state itself that .
rules by spreading terror. We are familiar
with fascist and communist and other
dictatorial regimes which mention
themselves in power by instilling fear
among people. Even democratic

societies often keep minorities under

subjugation by indiscriminate use of

terror turning a blind eye towards
organizations which persecute them,
e.g., the Klu Klux Klan violence against "
blacks and Jews. In India the police is
more often than not used by the " 1 .
administration to get rid of elements
unsympathetic to it by encouraging it to
organize fake encounters and kill in cold

blood. Or by instructing it to remain
passive spectators to violence being
committed by a favored community .
against another. That this has become a
pattern in Hindu-Muslim riots is proved
by the fact that in almost every one of
these confrontations since .
Independence, Muslim loss of life and
property has been almost ten times that
of the Hindus. The worst example of

1866 1


the Hindus. The worst example of police

connivance with terrorism was witnessed
" : .
in the two days following the
assassination of Mrs Gandhi. Saksena
writes: 'the police in Delhi, Kanpur, ."

Gaziabad, etc., was under the
impression that anti-Sikh riots had the
approval of the government.' The
impression was justified because the
police not only remained passive .
witnesses to lynchings, looting, gang 2400
rapes and arson but refused to entertain
complaints field against killers, looters ) (
and rapists. The home minister admitted 359
in Parliament that over 2400 persons
were killed in Delhi alone. (The real 99 .
figure is much higher). The Delhi police
registered only 359 cases. The
magistracy proved equally complaint: 99
per cent of accused charged with theses " .
unbailable offences were in fact released
on bail and are busy terrorizing relatives ."
of the very people they killed and
molested from giving evidence against
them. Saksena is right in saying
'terrorism has largely been a public
sector enterprise.'

Another of Saksena's observations

explains the Bhindranwale brand of
1 "
terrorism. 'When the general population
is not in sympathy with the victims of
terrorism they enjoy terrorist activities in
the press and on television. The
Kidnappings of multimillionaires and .
industrial magnates often fall into this " .
category. An American psychiatrist went
to the extent of calling terrorism a form of
mass entertainment.' Sikh peasantry did
not have the measure of sympathy with
Bhindranwale's victims to feel nauseated .
with him. That sympathy is being (
gradually roused. First with the killing of
the aged and scholarly Gyani Pratap )
Singh, then with the assassination of
Sant Longwal and even more with the
attempted murder

1 .
" " .

in the Harmandir of the high priest Gyani .) (

Sahib Singh on Guru Nanak's birth day. I

am pretty certain that he final chapter of
Bhindranwale terrorism has been written.
I am not so sure that the police .
patronage of violent elements is also
about to end.

Sunday, 28 December 1985 1985 / 28


Time For a Change

A day before the last for filing

nominations for the Lok Sabha seats,
( )
Vijay Kumar Malhotra of the BJP, himself
a candidate, rang me up and asked me if ( ) 1
I would be willing to propose the name of

his party president, L.K. Advani, for the
New Delhi seat. Without pausing to 2 . "
think, I replied, I will be honored to do

The heart searching began as soon

as I had put down the telephone
( )
receiver. I did not share the BJPs point
of view, particularly over the Babri " -
Masjid- Ram Janam Bhoomi issue and " 3
its opposition to the recognition of Urdu
as the second language. It openly
flaunted its Hindu identity and its leaders
had participated in the worship of bricks
to be carried to Ayodhya to lay the .
foundations of the new temple over
disputed ground. However, I also knew

1980 . 1

( ) 2

1998 2004 . 2016 1992.

.53-48 3

Advani, as well as Malhotra, to be men .

of impeccable character. I had seen
( ) 1
Advani's performance in the Rajya
Sabha. He was one of the most clear-
headed thinker and a powerful orator. I .
knew him to be a clean and honest man.
Not a breath of scandal either financial ( )
or moral had ever touched him. And from
my recollection of his performance as a
minister in the Janata government as .
well as several talks I had with him in the
lobbies, I had not detected any
communal bias in him.

. "" "" 1

. 250 6 .

What probably made me agree to

propose his name with the alacrity of
Knee-jerk reaction was my memory of
the November 1984 massacre of Sikhs .1
following the assassination of Mrs
Gandhi. I had good reason to believe
that the message, ' teach the Sikhs a .
lesson', had emanated from the highest .
echelons of the Congress Party. The
criminal inactivity of the police and
paramilitary forces during those three
tragic days clearly showed the complicity
of the administration. Armed policemen .
idly watched, and at times instigated . 72
gangs of thugs to set fire to gurdwaras,
murder Sikhs, rape their women and loot
their property. What could have been put
down by a firm hand in a few hours was
deliberately allowed to go on for 72

.53-48 1

hours. Far from condemning it, in his first

public oration as prime minister, Rajiv
" :
Gandhi explained its way: 'when a big
tree falls, the earth about it shakes.' The " .
conduct of the Congress in the elections
that followed was equally reprehensible.
Its posters had a distinctly anti-Sikh bias. .
For example, the ad: ' do you feel safe in " :
a taxi driven by a member of another
community?' in his own constituency, "
Amethi, where he had his Sikh sister-in- 1
law, Maneka, opposing him, one of the
slogans chanted was: Beti hai Sardar " :
kee, quam hai ghaddar kee. (She is the ".
daughter of a Sikh, she belongs to a
community of traitors).

. 1


The congress Party won its Landslide 1

victory in a wave of anti-Sikh sentiment
generated by it. Three non-official
commissions of inquiry, headed by men
like the retired chief justice of the . .
Supreme Court, S.M. Sikri, justice
Takunde and Kothari (not one member ( )
of these omissions was a Sikh) squarely
held the congress party guilty of
instigating anti-Sikh violence. In the .
publication Who Are The Guilty? several
congress members of Parliament were
named as involved. Two of them, H.K.L. . . .
Bhagat and Jagdish Tytler were .
included in the central Cabinet. Rajiv
Gandhi showed tell-tale reluctance in .
instituting an official inquiry. Finally he
agreed to do so only after six months
and as part of a deal with the Akali ( ) .2
party. The commission headed by
Justice Ranganathan Mishra

1885. 1

2 ( : )

1984 . .

took its own sweet time and .

recommended two other commissions
to name the guilty. We were. Then the
Delhi high court struck down that
commission as well. So, back to (
square one, without a single person
being punished for what was . ) 10000
undoubtedly the most horrendous killing
of innocent people (the figure of 10,000
would not be an exaggeration), in the
history of independent India.

The record of Congress governments

in the states ruled by it has also been
abysmal. The cold-blooded shooting 70 .

down of over 70 Muslim peasants in 1

Hashimpura, anti- Muslim riots in
Ahmedabad, in towns of Madhya
Pradesh, and recently in Bhagalpur, give (
the lie to its secular credentials. All

.53-48 1

these made me decide that I would

vote for any party except the Congress.
My attitude is aptly summed up in
couplet by a Delhi poet, Shuja Khawar: " :
Kya rakkha hai is halqa ahbaad mein ."
lekin, ham tum se na milney ki qasam
khaye hooey hain. (There is not much
left in my circle of friends, but I have
sworn to have nothing to do with you.

It was more in the tradition of the " :

Persian adage Hubbey Ali Nahin, Bugha

-e- Muawiya- not for the love of Ali but
the hatred of the murdered Muawiya- .) (
that I chose to support the BJP.

One should not judge political parties

by the labels they wear on their lapels

nor by the high-sounding manifestos
issued by them, but by their actions. .
Once again I hark back to the
November 1984 killings. While
Congress- Iiled goons were busy 1984 .
murdering and looting Sikhs, the only

people who came to their rescue were
members of the BJP and the RSS. Atal ( )
Bihari Vajpayee got up from his sick- ( ) .1
bed to fight off goondas burning taxis
belonging to the Sikhs. Sikh terrorists
who hoped to set off a Hindu backlash
against Sikhs by gunning down
members of RSS at Ludhiana and Moga .
failed in their nefarious designs because
the RSS refused to walk into their trap.
Now which party can one honestly ( )
designate as secular and which
( )

1 .

While members of my family and many

friends mock me, greeting me with, 'Jai
" "1
Ram Ji Ki' every morning in New Delhi,
the option is limited to either from . .
voting. My conscience is clear. Our first
priority is to rid the country of Congress
party rule. So I proposed Advani's .
name and hope he will win with a
thumping majority.

We are all well aware that if

communal hatred continues to spread

the way it is spreading today, it will
spell disaster for our country. There is .
still time for us to dispassionately

examine its roots, study the dimensions
it has acquired since we became
independent, analyze the virus in its
present form and work out antidotes
that will prevent the virus from
spreading further.

: () . 1

First, we must somehow overcome

our stereotype notions of communities
other than our own. Till independence
the communal problem meant only the
Muslim problem. The non-Muslim had .
it deeply embedded in his mind that
Muslims were bigots, fanatics and 1 2
treacherous. We were brought up on 3 .4
tales of heroism of Prithviraj Chauhan,
Maharana Pratap, Guru Gobind Singh .
and Chattrapati Shivaji. All our heroes
were non-Muslims who had fought
Muslims. Not one in our pantheon was .
Muslim. We were exposed to evidence
of what Muslim conquerors had done:
desecrated our temples, massacred our

citizenry and imposed humiliating taxes
on them. Although all this ended with
British rule, we continued to harbour .
distrust against Muslims. The more .

12 .

() 2


27 .

liberal kept up a facade of friendship 1

with some, but rarely did we learn to

relax in their company and speak our
minds. They were not a part of the
Indian mainstream. Jinnah did not have 4
2 3
to invent the two-nation theory; it was
there for anyone who had the eyes to 5 6
see. Muslims not only had a totally .
different religion, they could also be
identified by their names. You could not .
differentiate a Hindu from a Sikh
because Rajputs, Jats, Sikhs, Gurkhas,
banias and others share common
names; Muslims do not. They could also
be identified by their distinct dress, their
head gear, their diet and pattern of
living. The British were quick to notice
the distance between the communities,

. 2

. 3

. 4

. 5

. 6

and as any other liberal kept up a ":1 .

facade of friendship with some, but

rarely did we learn to relax in their
company and speak our minds. They ."
were not a part of the Indian
mainstream. Jinnah did not have to
invent the two-nation theory; it was
there for anyone who had the eyes to
see. Muslims not only had a totally
different religion, they could also be
identified by their names. You could not
differentiate a Hindu from a Sikh
because Rajputs, Jats, Sikhs, Gurkhas,
banias and others share common
names; Muslims do not. They could also
be identified by their distinct dress, their
head gear, their diet and pattern of
living. The British were quick to notice
the distance between the communities,
and as any other foreign power would
have done, exploited it to its own
advantage. As Maulana Mohammed Ali
said, the British did not divide us and
rule, we divided ourselves and they

" ". 1924 1919


The communal massacres of 1946- 1946 1947

47 and Partition created two illusions in

our minds. We felt that the Muslims
having got their Pakistan, those that
remained-11-12 per cent of the 11 12
population-would be easily integrated
in the Indian mainstream. And .
somehow the experience of Gandhism .
in action would prevent communal riots
from erupting. Unfortunately, both .
hopes proved illusory. It did not take

very long for the communal virus to re-
erupt in an even more virulent form and
afflict most of the country-the entire .
Gangetric plain down to Maharashtra,
Gujarat, Karnataka, Tamil Nadu were

A new post-Independence
phenomenon was inter-caste riots.
Violence against harijans had taken
place earlier but on a very small scale
which went unnoticed. On
Independence, harijans had new .

1 () .

hopes and aspirations and started

clamouring for their rights. These were
resisted by the caste Hindus. Riots
broke out. They were entirely one-sided
as harijans were unable to put up any .
resistance. Then we had Hindu factions
fighting each other such as the 1 .2
Lingayats versus the Vokkaligas. In ( ) 3
Tamil Nadu, inter-Brahmin rivalries
erupted, Iyers versus Iyengars. In 4 .5 (
Gujarat there were the Patidars versus ) 6 .7
the Darbars; i n the remote riverine
trails where Phoolan Devi ruled, she 8
being a Mallah, shot almost two .
dozen Yadavas. The most gruesome
example of what India had come down
to was the massacre at Nellie

1 .

2 .

( )

( ) .

( ) 5

. 6

. 7

( ) . 8

22 .
. "" (). 9

in Assam. There, over 3,000 men, 3000 1

women and children were slain in one

long orgy of killing. Bangladesh
refugees killed Bengalis and Assamese,
Assamese and Bengalis killed each .
other, tribals killed non-tribals, Muslims
killed Hindus and Christians, and .
Christians killed Hindus. In short, it was
just about everyone killing everyone
else. Everyone's hand was raised
against his neighbour.

It will be evident that the basic

reason for communal tension in our
habitat is the suicidal rate at which our
population has increased making us
woefully short of land, housing, and .
means of livelihood. The terrible
congestion in our cities-the
jhopadpattis and the thousands who

sleep cheek-by-jowl on pavements-in

.53-48 1

such conditions, tensions build up at .

the slightest provocation, temples are

frayed and explode into violence.
Instead of going for the person against
whom you have a grievance, it is easier .
to gang up with members of your own
community, form language groups and
go for those who are not.
Added to these are economic motives
which have assumed sinister
proportions. The Moradabad riots were
triggered by Punjabi immigrants wanting
to break the Muslim monopoly over the ( )
brassware industry. It was the same in

Jalgaon and Bhiwandi (Maharashtra)
where outsiders, largely Sindhi and .
Punjabi Hindus, destroyed Muslim

weavers in order to grab their
business. In Haryana the Hindu .
backlash against Sikh terrorism in

Punjab was directed against the Sikh
shopkeepers of Panipat, Karnal and
Yamunanagar. In riot-prone
Hyderabad, Hindu mobs went for
Muslim property including a Khadi
Bhandar because the owner of the
building was a Muslim.

A factor which may add to our

problems is the rapidly increasing
numbers of the educated unemployed.
They are the single largest group .
behind terrorism in Punjab. At times it is .
directed against Hindus; more often it is
against the well-to-do. Looting banks, .
robbing the rich, are their real 1
motives, raising Khalistani and anti-
Hindu slogans are only a faade .

The scenario is grim and getting .

grimmer day by day. What can be done

?about it

First, we have to learn to live with it. .

The experience of the last 42 years
should have taught us that we cannot
wish communalism away; the best
we can do is to contain it within .
manageable limits. We have tried many
methods of defusing communal .
tensions. The most popular remains

1 : .

the traditional approach derisively " " "

described as the Ram Raheem or the
. " -
Allah-Ishwar teyrey nam approach,
preaching that all religions emphasize
love between humans. It worked when .
we had people like Mahatma Gandhi
around because he symbolized in his
own person the spirit of Allah and .
Ishwar. It works no more. C.
Rajagopalachari used to say that God
was our best policeman. It is true that
a truly religious man has no hatred in
him. But such men have become a .
rarity; while those who display their
religiosity by emphasizing differences
between religions have become a
common phenomenon.

It is most important that men and

women in vital State positions such as

Presidents, prime ministers, chief
ministers, governors and the like must .
not make public exhibitions of their
religiosity. it should be remembered that
Mahatma Gandhi who conducted daily
prayers where he was, did not go into
temples-and the last time he went to a
place of worship was at the tomb of .
Qutubuddin Bakhtiyar Kaki to pray for .
forgiveness for damage done to the
shrine by Hindu goondas. Jawaharlal
Nehru never went to temples, mosques .
or gurudwaras. Thereafter Mrs Gandhi
and most of her appointees started " " "" "" 1
exploiting religious sentiment for political .
purposes. Bhoomi Poojans, ardas and
keettans are performed at public
functions. Balram Jakhar was himself
kicked on the forehead by a sadhu sitting
on top of a tree. All kinds of godmen,

astrologers, swamis and charlatans in .
saffron robes give advice to our

" 1 " : ( ) ( ) .
( ). ""
" ."
2 .

The misuse of official media, All India "

Radio and Doordarshan for propagating
" ""
religion has done immense harm by
putting the clock of scientific progress .
backwards. I attribute much of the 1 2
blame for the resurgence of Hindu
fundamentalism to serials on the .
Ramayana and the Mahabharata.

The practice of religion must be

restricted to places of worship and not

imposed on others through use of
loudspeakers, processions and
( ) .
holding samagams in public parks.

When we are face to face with

communal passions, what are the
preventive and punitive methods we
should adopt? The most important
preventive method is to strengthen our .
intelligence. This has become a clich

: . 1

2 : ( )

but it is very important. Our Intelligence

has been so poor that we hardly get a

warning ahead of time that communal
passions are building up and that
steps should be taken to defuse them. .
It is only after somebody has been
stabbed or some houses burnt down
that the police, as the newspaper
clichs go, swing into action.

We must also restructure our police .

force. We should adopt the simple
principle that the minority commumt1es
should be over- represented. If it is a
Muslim area the police should be
largely Hindu. If it is a Hindu area the
police should be largely Muslim. This is .
necessary because it restores
confidence in the minorities as it is the
fear of the minority that you have to try
to assuage. Care should be taken to

see that sub-inspectors certainly
belong to minority communities .
because they are the most important
police officers who deal with the actual
situation in any particular area.

When a riot really breaks out what :

should we do? I have the following
suggestions to make:

First, wherever a riot breaks out, the

police officer-in-charge should

automatically be suspended, because
the break-down of the law enforcing .
machinery is clear evidence of
dereliction of duty; it is the police
officer's duty to know that tension was
building up and he should have taken
steps to defuse it. After a new police
officer is put in charge, the entire
administration of that particular locality

should be placed in his hands. We must
learn to trust the police much more than .
we do now. It is for them, along with the
district magistrate or whoever it is, to
impose curfew in the area and take
whatever steps they want, to contain

We must also provide for summary .

trials of mischief-makers. Perpetrators

of communal riots are seldom brought
to court. Rarely are communal killers .

punished, because nobody is willing to
give evidence against them. Provisions
should be made for summary trials on
the spot, where the incidents have
taken place and the magistrate should
be empowered to impose collective .
fines on the area and to order public
flogging of the people he feels were

The Illustrated Weekly of India, 26 1989 / 26

November 1989

Princely Parasites

The more I read about our princely

families, the more I am convinced that
the world has not seen a more
debauched and useless class of
parasites. The oil-rich Arab Sheikhs

are following their examples in wasteful
spending. So are some of our newly-
rich and politicians who regard public
money as their private property to be
squandered at their whims.

Instances of wilful, wasteful, criminal

spending of State treasuries by our 1
princes have passed into legend. Start
with the last Nizam of Hyderabad. 2
Though he wore plain kurta-pajama and "
a tattered fez cap on his head, he had a
" .
paperweight, the Jacob diamond, 'a
stone the size of a lime, 280 sparkling

precious carats. In the overgrown
garden was a convoy of a dozen trucks .
mired in mud upto their axles from the

1 : .

2 .

weight of their load-solid gold ingots. 1

The Nizam's jewels, a collection so

enormous it was said the pearls alone
would cover all the pavements of .
Piccadilly Circus, were spilled like coals
in a scuttle on the floors of his cellars;
sapphires, emeralds, rubies, diamonds,
mingled in indiscriminate heaps. He had
well over two million pounds in cash-
sterling, rupees- wrapped in old .) " (
newspapers, stuck in dusty corners of
the palace's basement and attic. There
they earned a kind of negative interest
from the jaws of the rats who annually
gnawed their way through thousands of
pounds of the Nizam's fortune' (The
Indus Saga).


The Maharajah of Mysore had a

palace with 600 rooms. He was also

worried over his potency. Under advice
of a quack he went on a diet of crushed .
diamonds. Ladies who were the objects .
of his lust were often paraded on
elephants loaded with gold and diamond
jewelry. The Maharajah of Baroda .
caparisoned his favourite elephant with
gold chains estimated to be worth .
25,000. He also boasted of owning the
seventh biggest diamond, Star of the
South. The Maharajah of Patiala had 27 .

Rolls Royces; Bharatpur had his Rolls 2 .
custom-built and silver-plated. The
Nawab of Junagadh had an elaborate
wedding ritual for his favourite bitch.

" :" "" . 1

( ) .

: . 2

The Maharajah of Kapurthala (one ( )

of the smaller states), wore the largest
topaz in the world in his turban with
strings of pearls and diamonds round .
his neck. Jaipur b uried much of his
hoard of precious stones under walls of
his forts. These fellows could do all this
under the benign patronage of the British .

who treated them like spoilt children with
too many toys. In return, the princes .
vied with each other to protest their
undying loyalty to the British Royal
family. His Exalted Highness the Nizam .
of Hyderabad sported the grandiose
titles that matched their pretensions of
greatness. The Seventh Nizam of "
Hyderabad, for instance, was 'Rustam-
e-Dauran, Arustu-e-Zaman Wal
Mumalik, Asifjah, jawab Mir Usman, 1
Alikhan Bahadar, Musafrul Mulk ".
Nizam-al-Mad Sipah Salar Fateh jang,
His Exalted Highness, Most Faithful Ally
of the British.

1 " " . .

There is evidently a nexus between

unaccountable wealth, its ostentatious
. 1
display and stupidity. Some years ago
a Sindhi NRI flew plane loads of
baraatees from London to Bombay.
They included the bridegroom's
personal hairdresser. The banquet 2
arranged at the Taj Mahal Hotel had .
bottles of French champagne and
vintage wines to go with caviar and other
delicacies. It was their money; they had .
every right to blow it up as they liked. It
never occurred to them _that the same
money would have fed a 100 million
impoverished families for a decade or

1 : () .

2 .

What appalled more was that (

Jayalalitha, a nice, educated woman,
could have been so reckless in
squandering crores of rupees at the
nuptials of her foster son. The moral is .
that money which can keep you in
modest comfort is digestable; surfeit 'of it .
acts like a purgative.

The Tribune, 21 September 1996 21 / 1996


Neither Heaven Nor Hell

Mankind continues to cherish the

illusion of divine justice; if not in life on
earth, then in life hereafter. I who do not
believe in life hereafter, continue to be .
obsessed with the prevalence of
: 1
injustice in the world. I would like to ask
believers in afterlife: Where is
Bhindranwale now? Roasting in the fires

of hell as his detractors hope, or seated
beside the throne of the Lord as his 2

followers believe? Where are the

thousands of innocents who were
massacred in the anti-Sikh riots in .
northern India or perished in the

?embrace of poison gas in Bhopal
What about the living who perpetrated .
these crimes? It is evident that none of
them will be punished on earth; on the
contrary, all of them are free, many still
in possession of loot and some holding
positions of importance. Will they meet
?their just deserts only after demise

1 "" .
1984 " "

2 .53-48

Even the Hindu family of religions ( )

(Jainism, Buddhism and Sikhism) which
do not subscribe to notions of heaven
or hell as places of reward and (
punishment but in samskara, the
unending cycle of birth, death and
rebirth, have succumbed to the ) () () .
notions of swaraga and narak. Although
theologically they stick to the idea of
moksha as release from the process of
being born, dying and being reborn, in
fact that bera paar (life's boat reaching
the opposite shore) is regarded as
attaining vaikunth- paradise where
their souls mingle with God.

To get out of the dilemma of injustice
perpetrated by a God assumed to be
just, men of religion indulge in " " .
convoluted logic. Mother Teresa
explains the famine in Ethiopia as an
opportunity to give in charity 'till it
hurts'. If she is right, God makes
Ethiopian children die of hunger so that . !
the living feel the hurt caused, by
parting with money for charity. This
makes no sense to me.

1 : ( )samsra ( )samskara


Christians are bothered by the idea .

of everlasting damnation. Surely even

the vilest sinner should be given a
chance to atone for his misdeeds and ."! ! "
gain forgiveness! 'Yes indeed!' they (
answer. 'For the small-time sinner
there is the purgatory where he is )
purged of his evil deeds and made ."
wholesome enough to enter paradise.'
One of the joys that the righteous are .
promised in afterlife is a free seat to
watch sinners tormented. That,
apparently, is the justification for public : .
floggings, tortures and executions .
which are regarded by many as good
entertainment. Christians divide sins " " (:
into two categories: those that can earn .)
forgiveness, and those that entail
endless punishment. The Bible says: ." "
'When the wicked man dieth, his
expectations shall perish and the hope
of the unjust man perisheth (Book of
Proverbs).' To this statement the
venerable bade added when the
righteous man dies, his hopes do

So there is a place in afterlife which

is neither heaven nor hell. You are in

limbo as if in a railway station waiting
room awaiting the arrival of the right
train. The pure board the air- .
conditioned Rajdhani for paradise; the
unpardonable are herded in the cattle- .) (
truck train bound for eternal damnation.
A third train, a slow passenger train,
stops at every station where minor .
sinners are purged of their minor sins
and ultimately also arrive at paradise.

Islam also has the notion of a middle (

place, the pulsarat. It is a kind of bridge
of doubt over which you have to pass
before you reach your ultimate .
destination. I have always regarded this
bridge as a period of uncertainty
between declaration of love and :
response from the beloved. To wit the
famous Punjabi Sufi poet, Inayat Qadri:

Pahlee pauri Prem dee .(

Pulsaratey dera; .
Haaji makkay haj
karan .)
Main Mukh dekhaan tera.
Ai Inayat Qadri,
Hath Pakreen mera.

(The first step of love I make my home

on Pulsaraat. Men of faith make
pilgrimage to Mecca, I keep looking at
your face. O Inayat Qadri, hold my
hand and help me across!)

As far as I am concerned, I believe that

a clear conscience makes life on earth a
paradise and a guilty one makes it hell.
My authority for saying so is my :
philosopher-guide, Allama Iqbal:

Amal se Zindagi bantee hai, (

Jannat bhee Jahannum bhee;

Yeh khaaki hai, apnee fitrat mein
Na nooree hai na naari hai .)

('Tis how we act that makes our lives;/

We can make it heaven, we can make it
hell,/ In the clay of which we are
made/Neither light nor the darkness of
evil dwell.)

The Chaudhry Obsession 1

It starts by being a complex and then .

turns into an obsession. As a complex it

manifests itself in the form of a
compulsive desire to be a Mr .
Somebody in every situation- a

member of every committee- if already
a member, then its treasurer, secretary,
vice-president or president. To be
the center of attention at every party,
the bridegroom at every wedding, the .
corpse at every funeral. If the desire is

not firmly curbed when it raises its head,
it soon turns into an obsession. You ()
can see it in epidemic form in India.

Every villager wants to become a
sarpanch, every social worker a
politician, every politician an MLA or

MP, and every MP a Cabinet minister or
the prime minister. There is no other
explanation of the phenomenon of
300 .
thousands of aspirants at every
election-over 300 in one constituency.

. 1

The Chaudhry Complex manifests

itself fairly early in life and assumes

menacing proportions by campus-age.
You must have known boys who were .
forever wanting to be elected to

something or the other: member of the
canteen committee, carom club

executive university union or whatever. .
Thereafter the' same kind of fellows want
to be somebodies in their beopar
mandals. FICCis, Rotary Clubs, Lions
Clubs, or whatever. They append
catalogues or what they succeeded in .
becoming on their visiting cards and
letterheads of their stationery. I knew a
buffoon whose writing pads had his .
entire biodata printed in the margin. .
He was the greatest clown in college
because he wanted to be captain of
every team. Later he became a minister, .

Governor and an ambassador. Then
there are fellows who append
honorary doctorates conferred on them

as if they were men of medicine or

learning. The same applies to
government honors. There are
regulations to the effect that they must .
not be used as honorifics. They are. See (
the number of chaps who describe
themselves as Padma Shri or Padma ) ( ) 1 .
Bhushan so and so.

The most ludicrous examples of the

Chaudhry obsession can be seen at dub
elections: the more elite the institution, .
the more blatant the exercise in one-
upmanship. In the recent elections of the
Delhi Gymkhana Club, members were ( )
bombarded with letters soliciting votes. .
Without exception all of them extolled the
status of the aspirant: IFS, lAS, IPS,
whose membership comprises

1 26 .

businessmen, chartered accountants,

lawyers with taxation problems, were

arm-twisting appendages like Indian
Revenue Service or Commissioner of " "
income tax. Believe it or not, these .
descriptions were even printed on the
ballot paper. .

What do these jokers get by

becoming Chaudhrys? Not money (
(though some wouldn't mind making a
little on the side) but patronage. And for a ) .
time, being jee huzoored by the staff. .
Little things affect little minds as small
pants fit small behinds.

Sunday , 6 April 1985 6 / 1985


Separating Religion and Politics

The first thing that Cabinet ministers 1

of the new Akali government of the

Punjab did after being sworn in at
Chandigarh was to drive to Amritsar to .2
offer prayers at the Golden Temple.
For good measure, thereafter, Amrinder
Singh proceeded to Patiala along with ) /
his maharani sahiba and two MLAs, a

Hindu and a Sikh elected on the Akali
ticket, to make obeisance to Maha Kali.
We do not know if any of them also
( ) .
paid homage to some Muslim pir's
grave in a dargah or received blessings 3
of a padre in a church.

'What's wrong in their doing so?' my " :

friends demand very angrily. 'Why the "
hell do you get so exercised whenever a
President, prime minister, a chief
minister or any state dignitary visits a ".
place of worship? Religion is a person's
'private affair.

1 ( : )
2 : ( : .53-48
3 .

'precisely! Because religion is a " ! :

private affair, men m public life should
" .
refrain from making public
demonstrations of religiosity, I reply: 'If
these gentlemen had sought ;he

blessings of their respective deities in
their own homes or temples without .
taking a horde of press photographers .
and journalists with them I would have
nothing to say. But the object of these
demonstrations is publicity: to advertise
that because they are religious- minded
they are God- fearing and honest.

If they also visit other religious places of

worship, it is not sarva dharma

samabhav (respect for all religions) but

simply to demonstrate that they are no
narrow-minded and hope that it will
ensure them more votes in the next
elections. In any event this goes against
the spirit of secularism as I understand ."
it.' A visit to a place of worship does not


make a man a better person than he is, 1

any more than a dip in the Ganga or

pilgrimage to Mecca washes off his past
-sins. Nor does going to church on
Sabbath act like a sponge to wipe out : .
evil deeds done in the preceding six
days. It has been well said:

A Christian is a man who feels

Repentance on a Sunday For what he
did on Saturday And is going to do on

What do people who clamour about

separating religion from politics have to
say when political notables indulge in
this form of pre-planned publicity?

Sunday, 19 October 1985 1985 / 19

. 1

Murder of Mount Abu

I discovered Mount Abu 50 years 1 50

ago while living in an English village in
( ) .
Hertfordshire. Every morning I came to
the station to catch my train to college, I

passed under a large, coloured poster

with the picture of a marble temple
embedded in brown granite rock. It read: " :

'Visit India: Dilwara Temples, Mount
Abu'. Every other day someone or
the other of my fellow- travelers would " "
ask me: 'Singh, you know this place?' I

had to admit I hadn't the foggiest notion
where it was on the map of India, but
the first thing I would do after I
returned home was to see it. So I did. I
chose Mount Abu to consummate an 1939.
ongoing love affair. That was in
November 1939.

1 ( ) 1220

It was three weeks of bliss, living in a

villa overlooking Nakki Lake. Spent our
mornings chasing a pair of otters on our
rowing boat. Our afternoons were
devoted to exploring densely afforested
hillsides, watching langurs frolic amongst
ancient banyans growing out of massive
boulders which they held between their .
We visited the Dilwara Temples .many
times: nothing more exquisite in
marble craftsmanship exists anywhere
in the world. We went to the edge of the
hill range to see the desert of
Rajasthan spread below our feet from a
point named after a Parsi lad who, being

crossed in love, had plunged to his
death at Jehangir Falls. From another 4

point we had a view of the setting sun
all to ourselves. We returned to our villa
to see Nakki shining in the moonlight
and gave our own names to two
bulbous mountain peaks which looked
like the bosom of a giant ogress from
Bhil mythology.

1 .

2 ( )
3 .

4 : .

There was also a n abundance of .

wildlife: many varieties of deer, bear
and wild hog. Panthers stole into
bungalows to pick up does. One was
shot in the twilight, a b a r e 100 100
y a r d s from u s , b y a 14-year-old
Anglo-Indian boy on vacation from
school. Abu was then a sylvan hill- .
top haven of peace with less than a
thousand residents. It had no .
cinemas, no hotels and hardly any .
motor cars.
I was back in Mount Abu last
week. In exchange for peace and
quiet, the years had brought Abu
prosperity, crowds and vulgarity. Its
population had multiplied 15 times: it
draws five lakh visitors every summer.
Princes who had their mansions on
vantage points had long abandoned
them. Some like Jaipur House
overlooking the city have been

converted into a four-room hotel

furnished with broken tables, tattered 1
curtains, carpets and settees. Nirvair of
the Brahmakumari fraternity showed me 2
a tiny cave beneath where there is a " 1867
Shiva shrine with a marble plaque
saying that it was donated by 'Moti Lal " . 3
Vakeel in 1867 AD'. Was it Moti Lal .
Nehru? No one has hitherto bothered to
find out. Mount Abu's aristocratic wog " " " " 4
atmosphere has given way to Gujarati
bhel puri-pao bhaji culture. Rows of
food stalls, junk shops passing for arts
and handicraft emporia are littered all
over the place. There are over 70 mini-
'hotels, most of them boasting of 'pure " ( " ").
'vegetarian food. (What is 'impure
)?vegetarian food

1 ( ) ( )

"" " " . 2

3 .

" 4 " : " "


There are also half-a-dozen three-

star hotels with names cleverly misspelt

to trap the unwary: Sherratone for
Sheraton, Hilltone for Hilton. Not quite .
chaar sau bees2 but close enough. Loud . 1
film music blares from every paan-
cigarette stall. Buses and cars clog its .
narrow roads Every evening large
crowds armed with transistor radios
assemble at sunset point. What should .
be observed in a hush of silence is .
greeted with discordant cacophony of
yelling and shouting.

1 : .
" 2 " :Char-Sau-Bees ( )420 ( )420

About the only place that some of the

old peacefulness remains is in the
ancient Jain temples at Dilwara and the
new ashram of the Brahmakumaris. In 1 2
one pervades the spirit of Mahavira, in ( ) .
the other, of Dada Lekh Raj and his
intoned prayer Om Shanti. With our own .
eyes we are witnessing the murder of
one of our most beautiful hill resorts.

Sunday, 1 March 1986 1 / 1986

() . 1

2 ( ).

Mama's Darlings

Some days ago I received a letter

from a Dutch girl. It was unusually candid
about Personal life. She had been in
love with an Indian boy. They had lived
together for two years and planned to
get married. Without warning, the Indian .

walked out and tamely married one of

his own relatives chosen for him by his
." "
mother. I have known innumerable
young Indian men in love who, when it
comes to marriage, let down their

girlfriends on the plea 'Mummy nahin
maantee.' In this matter, our girls show
more guts: if their parents don't agree,
) 1 (
they simply run off with men they have
given their hearts to. And still stranger,
though we are often told that an
Indian male is Papa-dominated
and cannot make his own decisions rill
his father is dead (Koestler described
Indian society as a 'Bapucracy'),
when it comes to choosing a wife, it is
the mother more than the father who
imposes her wishes on her son.

. : 1

How this Mama-domination has

come about in a male-dominated
society has been lucidly explained by
the eminent psychiatrist Sudhir Kakar
in a psycho-analytic study of childhood .

and society in India in his eminently

readable book, The Inner World. .

Kakar is of the opinion that although .
an Indian girl is regarded as

someone's daughter, wife or mother,
her lower status builds strong ties
between her and her son which the son
finds hard to break .In her parents'
home she is only a sojourner marking
time to depart when she is given away
in marriage. In her husband's house she
is like a newly-acquired slave carrying
out the Wishes of her mother-in-law,
husband's sisters and his elder

brother`s wives-in short, she is less a

wife and more a daughter-in-law. A " : .

spectacular change in her status takes

place when she becomes pregnant.
Writes Kakar: 'It is only with motherhood
that she comes into her own as a
woman, and can make a place for herself
m the family, in the community and in the
life cycle. This accounts for her unique
sense of maternal obligation and her
readiness for practically unlimited
emotional investment in her children.'

Indian mothers fuss over their sons

much more than women of other .
countries fuss over theirs. Some
." " :
continue to breast-feed them till they are
five, caress and cuddle them as women
caress and cuddle their lovers. This
generates the notion in the male child:

'I am lovable, for I am loved.' Kakar "

infers: 'Many character traits ascribed

to Indians are a part of the legacy of
this particular pattern of infancy:
trusting friendliness with a quick
readiness to form attachments, and
intense, if short- lived, disappointment,
if friendly overtures are not "."
reciprocated, willingness to reveal
the most intimate aspects about one's "
life at the slightest acquaintance and
" "
the expectation of a reciprocal
familiarity in others.' It is this .
'emotional capital built up during
infancy', as Kakar describes it, that
makes the Indian male his Mamas
boy for the rest of his life and incapable
of giving his girlfriend or wife the love
they expect from him.

Kakar cites many instances of the

close mother-son relationship. Of his
" :
mother Nehru wrote: 'I had no fear of
her, for I knew that she would condone
everything I did and because of her
" . 1
excessive and undiscriminating love for
'me, I tried to dominate over her a little. " :
More forthright was Swami Yoganand:
'Father was kind, grave, at times stern.
Loving him dearly, we children yet
observed a certain reverential distance.
But mother was Queen of hearts, and
'taught us only through love.

Question: 'Why do Indian men make

'?such lousy lovers

Answer: 'They get all the love they want
from their mothers and by the time they
attain puberty they become emotionally

Sunday, 30 August 1986

30 / 1986


Yuppies, The Future of India

Until a few months ago, I wasn't .

aware of the existence of yuppies. .
They have been around for almost 30

years and are said to be almost
extinct. Now I see references to them
in many journals. I could not find them
in any of my dictionaries.

'Yuppy' is an elongation of YUP, an "" """ "

acronym for 'young urban "" ."
professional'. Another variation was
'yumpy', for 'upwardly mobile

professional. They are to be

distinguished from yippies, a group
of brash iconoclasts who nominated

Pegasus as President of the United

States in 1968, as also from Flower
Children, the progeny of affluent
parents who advocated freedom to
do anything anyone wanted.

Yuppies, of whose existence I learnt .

after their demise, consisted of young
) 50 (
(under 50) people coming from
wealthy backgrounds with degrees
from well-known universities and . 35000
making a lot of money on their own:
the minimum earning for qualifying as
a yuppy was 35,000 dollars per year.
At one time they were also known as
baby boomers because lots of them .
were born after World War II. The .
elite amongst the yuppies were dinks
(double income no kids) where both .
husband and wife had handsome
incomes and had decided not to have
children. At one time they had
become a dominant political and
cultural force in American society.

Although yuppies did not form a

distinctly identifiable group, this

freemasonry of the young-rich
evolved a recognizable lifestyle: a
BMW sports car, penthouse with a
3 .4
large pedigreed dog like a Saint

Bernard or an Afghan hound and the
best of clothes-shirts from Brooks

Brothers and ties from Van .

Heusen. They cultivated

sophistication in apprehension of art,
music and literature Ignored
politicians and upstarts, ate frugal
salad-based meals and rarely went to

: . 1

2 . .

. 3

. 4

As often happens, what was

fashionable in America becomes the

rage in India some years later: the .
Indian yuppy is coming into his own

acquaintance with the Bharati young-
rich is limited to breeds spawned in
northern India, mainly with Punjabi or
Marwari pedigrees. Let me point to .

some features which may help you to

identify him. Like the American, the

Indian yuppy is the son of a wealthy
father and is not a nouveau riche.
But unlike his American

counterpart of yesteryear, he is not

the product of a renowned public

1 .

school or institute of higher learning .

like the Jawaharlal Nehru

University or one of the IITs: their .
products end up as civil servants or

boxwalas. Our Yuppy has a degree

in commerce from a second-rate
college, is familiar with American
business terminology which he

pronounces with an imitated nasal

twang and mispronounces most

other English words. He often lives
With his parents but maintains a
separate kitchen. He owns an air-
conditioned Mercedes, Toyota or
Datsun. He wears gold or platinum
rings with lucky stones, and
occasionally, a charm round his

He has the most expensive Swiss-

made gold watch-Cartier, Omega,

Rolex or a custom-made Patek

Phillipe bearing his initials- and wears
it facing inwards. He buys Hindi

comics and film magazines like

Stardust, Filmfare or Cine Blitz at
airports and travels executive class. .

Once a fortnight he takes his wife and

children to a Hindi movie. He drinks
premium brand Scotch in five-star
hotels. He calls on his guru at some
ashram once a month, and when out
of his hometown, has bandobast with
a call-girl. He is the future hope of

1987 / 6
Sunday, 6 June 1987


In my long career in journalism

and writing books I have never had
anything cut out by the censor. I have
been dragged to law courts and
before the Press Council, but never

censored. I did not even know that in
our country committed to freedom of
expression, an animal known as
censor existed, except that all films
require clearance by the Censor
Board before they can be publicity

screened. There is a grey area
between the print media and films .
where different rules apply: you can

get away with derogatory references
to a person in writing but you cant .
say the same thing in film. There is
no logic to it, but rules are rules say
the censor boys who are lakeer ke
faqeer worshippers of the printed

What is there that has not been 1

written about Chandraswamy which, if

untrue, would entitle him to sue papers
which published them, for heavy .

damage? He has been accused of
forgery, blackmail, breach of foreign
exchange regulations and pimping for 2
Pamela Bordes. Nevertheless, when I "" :
said this in an interview with indiaview
of the Indian Television, the censors
deleted the following words: He is also
mixed up with several shady deals
like Bofors and St. Kitts scandals. In ".
addition he goes about with hidden
tape recorders and is involved in
forgery. I was shown mouthing these .
words like a fish in a fish bowl " : " .
gasping for breath without emitting
any sound. Then suddenly my voice .
was allowed to come alive with the
summary: In short he is a thoroughly
unsavoury character. This the
censors did not find objectionable.
?Does it make any sense

13 / 1991
The Hindustan Times, 13 April 1991

: . 1

2 1961 1982
1988 1989.
3 .53-48

A Nation of sycophants

Are we Indians more prone to

sycophancy than other people? I think

we are but I have never been able to
fathom why it is so pervasive. .
Everyone of any consequence has his

or her coterie of chamchas. The
chamchas explain their attachment to . .

their heroes as devotion or loyalty. So
in any organization we have a pecking

The top person is treated like a
devta (deity) or ann-data (provider).
He has a small circle of chamchas
who will do anything at his bidding,
suffer being treated like doormats,
snubbed and humiliated in public, but
never waiver in their single-minded
devotion to their boss: they will serve
him, his family, cultivate his friends .
hate his enemies and do their utmost
to identify themselves with the person
they adore.

Though sycophancy flourishes in all

societies, it has deeper, emotional and
spiritual roots in India. Dr Bhimrao
Ambedkar, the chief drafter of our
Constitution, made a perceptive analysis
of sycophancy in Indian life in a speech
m the Constituent Assembly. He said: " :
'For in India, Bhakti or what may be

called the path of devotion or hero-
worship, plays a part in its politics .
unequalled in magnitude by the part it .
plays in the politics of any other
country in the world. Bhakti in religion
may be a road to the salvation of the .
soul. But in politics, Bhakti or hero-
worship is a sure road to degradation ."
and to eventual dictatorship. Bhakti has
certainly led to unjust attitudes towards
a leader other than the current hero.'

I think Dr Ambedkar was right. It .

was the general acceptance of Bhakti as

the best path to salvation throughout
India with corresponding acceptance of
Islamic Sufism which Likewise
emphasized the need of total surrender
to the spiritual guide which turned into .
sycophancy in secular life. The Guru or
the Murshid who required dedication of
tan, man, dhan- body, mind and
wordly wealth-the chelas gave it to .
them in pursuit of spiritual salvation.
Today they give it to their bosses with
the same spirit of dedication to attain
wordly success.

1996 / 8
The Tribune, 8 June 1996

Problems of Old Age

You have to be old to know what

the real problems of ageing are. As an
" .
old English proverb goes: 'Only the
toad beneath the harrow knows ."
where each point of the harrow goes.'

I am not talking of physical or

mental infirmities which come with the

years and need special medical
treatment. Nor of the indifference of
sons, daughters and grandchildren

who find their grandparents' growing
senility and anecdotage a nuisance and .

would like them to depart from the
world to make life easier for them.

I am not even talking of the

shortage of old people's homes where
the aged could spend their last days
in reasonable comfort and die in
peace. What I am talking about is the
callous indifference and lack of
consideration of the common people .
towards those who can no longer
keep pace with them. Let me give you
a few examples from personal life.

For as long as I can remember

we have been spending at least
one evening of the week with our
friend of over 60 years, Prem Kirpal. .
He lives less than 50 yards from us
across the road. Till five years ago we
used to simply walk over taking the
road divider in our strides. Then
the divider became a hurdle:
stepping on it became as hard a .
feat as scaling the Everest; stepping
down from it on the other side
became even more hazardous.
We circumvented the hurdle and
found a break in the road divider.
The next problem was to wait for a .
suitable gap in the speeding traffic .
to get to the middle of the road
and wait for a similar break in :
the stream of cars, buses and
scooters coming from the other
direction and hobble across as fast
as our legs could carry us. Now,
Prem Kirpal sends us his car to take
us across the 50-yard divide. I am
reminded of the Urdu couplet:

Javaani jaatee rahee

Aur hamein pataa bhee na laga;
Isee ko dhoond rahey hain
Kamar jhukaae hooey

(You faded away And we did not as
much as notice it going.) We are up .
against another problem, more serious
than dining with a friend. In the
summer months we go to Kasauli two or
three times. I used to drive all the
way. Then the traffic on the Grand Trunk

Road and the 22 miles from Kalka to

Kasauli became too heavy for comfort.

We took to going by train: the
Himalayan Queen to Chandigarh, then
by car to Kasauli. Then we had to give

up the Himalayan Queen for the simple
reason that this train left from and
came to different platforms of New Delhi
Railway station which entailed going up
and down steps of overbridges.

We could not negotiate coming

down because of the danger of being
knocked down by people running down
in a hurry. Now, even though as an ex-
MP we could travel free, we go by the (
Shatabdi Express and pay Rs 1,300
each way for the simple reason that the 1300 )
train leaves and arrives on Platform
Number One and there are no
overbridges to cross. Even so, boarding .
and getting off trains has become a
nightmarish experience. Stations and
platforms are crowded. Everyone

seems to be in desperate hurry to get in
or get off the train. The dhakkam dhakka .
(shoving and pushing) can knock down .
old people and fracture their brittle
bones. Travelling by air is only .
marginally easier. I have to request the
staff or some able-bodied fellow-
passengers to help me with hand .
baggage. I realize my days of travel are .
fast coming to a close.

What are old people to do? ()

Vaanprastha-retirement to the jungles-is
the prescription suggested by our
sacred texts. I am beginning to come to .
the conclusion that they had the right

The Tribune, 19 July 1997 1997 / 19


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