It is disturbing to note Girish Karnad’s criticism of Nobel laureate V.S. Naipaul. Some time ago, Karnad lambasted S.L. Bhyrappa for his Kannada novel Aavarana which he claimed was fundamentalist. Bhyrappa had called Tipu Sultan a religious fanatic who would not stand Hindus in his court.
This was criticised by Karnad, who glorified Tipu in his plays. Incidentally, the Kannada novel went on to create a record in the Indian literary world by witnessing 10 reprints within five months of its release.
It is difficult to appreciate Karnad’s opposition to the lifetime achievement award the Mumbai LitFest conferred on Naipaul. Karnad’s opposition is certainly heartfelt, and he has every right to express his disagreement in any forum. He may differ with Naipaul on the issue of Islamic influence but that does not disqualify the latter from getting an award. If British imperialism can be criticised, why not Muslim imperialism?
Naipaul is no stranger to literary spats. Last year, he was castigated by some writers for an interview in which he dubbed women’s writing “inferior” and “sentimental” with a “narrow view of the world” and dismissed Jane Austen for “her sentimental sense of the world.”
Anybody capable of viewing issues in an objective and dispassionate manner cannot help notice the anti-Muslim bias in Naipaul’s writings. I do not find anything wrong with what Karnad said. Those finding fault with the actor for airing his views are forgetting that just as Naipaul has the right to write anything, Karnad also has the right to criticise him.
The episode brings to my mind attempts of certain lynch mobs to silence the intellectuals who spoke critically about Kannada writer Bhyrappa’s controversial novel Aavarana. It appears the short-cut to fame is to write things criticising Islam.
Baikadi Suryanarayana Rao,
Mr. Karnad’s anger was justified because he felt the organisers of the Mumbai LitFest had selected a person who had maligned a particular community through his writing.
There are many who feel Naipaul became famous only because he wrote against a particular religion. It is a well known fact that the Nobel Prize is given to people based not so much on merit but their pro-western views.