Monday, 1 March 2004

"[Naipaul] and Nadira, Lady Naipaul, want me to go with them as a silent observer, for a reason. Neither of them know what form the interchange with the cultural cell is to take. They’ve been assured that the press will be kept out of it.
On a previous occasion, two years ago now, Vidia spoke to some members of the BJP high command and soon after Salman Rushdie wrote in the New York Times that this was a disgrace, that Naipaul had supported if not advocated the killing of Muslims and that the Nobel should be withdrawn from said writer.
Rushdie, an honourable man, must have been grievously misinformed. When the record was put straight, I am sure he wrote to the New York Times to recant, but alas the conniving Americans, with their divide and rule imperial policies towards the brotherhood of non-white writers, never published it.
There was to be no such misunderstanding this time. I was to tag along and be a fly on the whitewashed wall."
That's Farrokh Dhondy writing about Sir Vidia's recent tea party with the BJP.
We disagree with a some of what Naipaul is quoted as saying, but we wonder what you think of this snippet: "If the British hadn’t colonised this country we would have ground each other into dust." We have long held the view that India was a British creation - or rather, that the only thing that brought together such disparate communities and cultures was a desire to get rid of a common enemy. And a lot of of the country's current problems come from the fact that once we did get rid of them, we didn't quite know what to do with each other.
Disclosure: A significant part of our ancestry came from the sceptred isles, so the version of Indian history we heard from our grandparents had a different slant from the chapters we studied in our school history texts. For instance, "The Mutiny" as opposed to "The Uprising" of 1857.

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