Daniel memorial talk delivered

KOCHI, FEB. 26. The poet, Ayyappa Panicker, today delivered the Dr. Daniel Thottakara Memorial Lecture in connection with the seminar on "Writing and the Empire: Colonial Discourse and Postcolonial Theory," organised by the Department of English, Sacred Heart College.

Dr. Panicker said those like Dr. Daniel Thottakara and Raimundo Panikker have helped to correct the imbalance in understanding colonialism. They were in a better position to interpret the Eastern philosophy from within the East itself.

The original sin of colonialism was that it reduced a nation to a market place. It was suicidal to convert human cultures to museum pieces, as the British had done to India and Spanish and Portuguese to the South American nations, he said.

Each nation had its own experience of colonialism. Perpetual questioning was required to update the knowledge and revisionism was inherent in all philosophies. Resistance against the past was the main stay of any civilisation, without which we become fossilised citizens. Many of the civilisations in South America that were considered terminated during the colonial rule have resurfaced in works by those like Gabriel Garcia Marquez.

The contemporary Indian society should shed the `Pushpaka' complex, marked by the our-ancient-culture-had-all-the-modern-gadgets attitude and the `railway' complex, marked by the but-for-the-British-we-would-not-have-had-the-railway mindset. Colonisation also works, Dr. Panicker said, in many other forms, as there was internal colonisation where the subaltern voices were left unheard and domestic colonisation where women and children were discriminated against in public life. The current trend of Western philosophers turning towards the East could be treated as a reverse process of colonialism, where the coloniser become colonised. We should re-define postcolonial discourse by keeping our pre-colonial history in perspective, Dr. Panicker said.