Keeping Faith With The Mother Tongue

The Anxieties of a Local Culture
Navakarnataka, 2008

With a Foreword by Jeremy Seabrook

On the Deccan Herald  BESTSELLER list (4 May 2008):

Book Blurbs: 
In this stimulating book, Sugata Srinivasaraju explores the clash between local cultures on the one hand and the homogenizing impulses of globalisation on the other... his sweep is broad, his tone by turns empathetic and polemical. He acquaints us with the different dimensions of this conflict - economic, political, moral and aesthetic. Through his reports and analyses, Sugata makes a case for a rooted cosmopolitanism that I for one found deeply persuasive.
~ RAMACHANDRA GUHA, Historian and Columnist 

 Spanning across centuries from the earliest extant Kannada literary work of the 850 to today's Lankesh and Karnad and unblurred focus on the invisible and visible expressions of the cultural consciousness of the great Kannada community, the book is an exemplary discourse of an extremely well-informed, reflective, liberal and committed mind. Though the author's reference point is Kannada, his concerns are the concerns of all languages of India

The book contains some perceptive biographical pieces which are moving, original observations of those personalities. Sugata Srinivasaraju's scholarship and his natural restraint makes the book one of the most illuminating and stimulating commentaries on contemporary Indian society.

~  ASHOKAMITRAN, Tamil Writer 
Book launch invite

This book is grounded in a precise locality and a particular culture. This gives it great resonance for people all over the world, the bearers of ‘minor’ or ‘limited’ languages, who see the recuperation of their identity as bound up in the survival of the language and tradition, which formed them. It deserves to be read wherever cultures are threatened; and that means everywhere; and also in translation, not least in the Kannada of which Sugata is such a powerful and loving advocate... Sugata is indeed an exceptional ambassador between cultures.
JEREMY SEABROOK, British Writer and Columnist (from the Foreword)

Review Lines:
A book of profound insights.

~ CHIRANJIV SINGH, India's former Ambassador to UNESCO 

The book is rich and crisp in its details, in its evocation of persons and personalities of the past. It makes deft connections between seemingly unrelated aspects of politics, economy and culture.
~ M S PRABHAKARA in the Economic and Political Weekly
The author navigates swirling currents determined to find a gentle, liberal way to be conservative, a way to be rooted without being parochial or insular.
~ SUNIL MENON in the Outlook

Regional writers, Sugata reminds us, not only constitute an important segment of the intelligentsia but also have a foothold on the global literary scene.

There is a refined intellectual balance in Sugata’s writing... We have to be grateful to him for having written this book.
~ C N RAMACHANDRAN in the Prajavani

This is an eminently readable book.
~ Deccan Herald

Report of the book launch in The Hindu on 31.03.2008:
Saving Local Cultures in a Globalising World
Jeremy Seabrook launches Sugata Srinivasaraju’s book
Staff Reporter

Bangalore: “As irrational as it may be, I feel strangely disturbed by India turning to the value system of the United States. But then again, is one really in control of his or her identity?” asked Jeremy Seabrook, eminent author and columnist, at the launch of a book, “Keeping Faith with the Mother Tongue: The anxieties of a local culture”, by writer and journalist Sugata Srinivasaraju, here on Saturday.
Speaking of the inevitable impact of globalisation on local culture, Mr. Seabrook said that his sentiment was, perhaps, “absurd”, if not absolutely “untenable”.
“After all, we in Britain have also been partly refashioned by the U.S. — 70 per cent of expressions in our media and in customary usage now have an American origin,” he said. “Those who think that we are agents in our acculturation are wrong,” he added.
Introducing the book, which explores the clash between local cultures and the homogenising impulses of globalisation, Mr. Seabrook posed some questions, tongue firmly in cheek: “If Kannada is the mother-tongue, what is its relation with the national language? Does Hindi then become the step-mother tongue? And English the mother-in-law tongue?”
Mr. Srinivasaraju said he sometimes wondered if, through the book, he was avenging his father’s “humiliation at the altar of English.”
“The world did not open up to my father because of his limited access to English… English extracts regret from the most marvellously accomplished,” he said and added that Nobel prize-winning Colombian novelist Gabriel García Márquez is also known to have expressed regret over not being taught English.
The book came out of his personal need to “reconcile the best of the two worlds — the global and local, cosmopolitan and provincial, the inside and outside. I did not want to have to choose — I wanted to be a good bilingual,” said Mr. Srinivasaraju.


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