"We have to promote dialogue of cultures, instead of clashes"

In 1980, Rajvinder Singh, then aged 24 and armed with a postgraduate degree in literature, left for Germany for higher studies.

The journey marked a new phase in his career as he gradually became part of 'Deutschland.'

He learnt German and flowered into a poet. So far, he has brought out eight poetry collections in German.

Mr. Singh was recently in Chennai to interact with Tamil writers as part of his project to promote Indian languages in Germany.

He took time off for a conversation with T. Ramakrishnan.

It is Indian languages that reflect more effectively the ethos of the country. These languages will make India real to those who do not know the country.

It is for this reason that Rajvinder Singhsays that he has planned to establish a fellowship programme under which Germans can translate Indian works directly.

At present, the translation of Indian works into German is done through English.

At times, it is felt that it is not adequate.

Besides, he is not satisfied with the level of awareness of India in Germany.

This is how the idea of translating Indian works directly into German struck him.

Now a German citizen, Mr. Singh, who was given the Literary Fellowship Award of the State of Berlin five years ago, argues that translation is one way of encouraging dialogue between nations and languages.

"We have to promote dialogue of cultures, instead of clashes," says Mr. Singh, who was made Writer in Residence at the International Artists' Colony, Worpswede, in 1998, as also in Remscheid, Northrhine Westphalia, two years ago.

According to him, 10 scholarships can be initially awarded for translating works from Indian languages into German.

Those (Germans) who are chosen under the programme can visit India and interact directly with Indian writers.

He hopes that once the initiative proves successful, it would be easier to reach the Scandinavian countries.

Mr. Singh, who has also authored two Punjabi works, deals with elements that affect day-to-day life in his German poems.

"I write about human being." With his knowledge of German, English, Punjabi, Urdu and Hindi, he has a much wider canvas to paint on than others.

He says that Germans should no longer carry a sense of guilt about the genocide as this hampers free thought.

"Let history books alone deal with the horrendous events," Mr. Singh says.