"Silence is golden": Hindi fictions speaking out about the emergency
(University of Lausanne)
Paper short abstract:
The Emergency of 1975-1977 without doubt constitutes one of the most tragic episodes in postcolonial India. In this contribution and through an analysis of Hindi fictions addressing this issue, I will look at the way these narratives have depicted the authoritarian rule and its repressive policy.
Paper long abstract:
The Emergency of 1975-1977 without doubt constitutes one of the most tragic episodes in the history of postcolonial India. Although it radically influenced the course of contemporary Indian politics, this event remains relatively little studied in the field of social sciences, let alone in the humanities and literary studies. If a few studies have been done on fictional works written in English, almost nothing (outside short chapters in monographs) has been published so far on the Hindi fictions addressing this issue. A critical inquiry into these works therefore seems both necessary and innovative. After a brief reminder of the key steps and measures taken during the Emergency, my contribution will examine how Hindi fictions have dealt, explicitly or not, with crucial topics such as the "family planning" and the "slum clearances" programmes, and how their narrators have represented urban poverty (resettled people, beggars, marginalized people) as well as middle-class citizens and intellectuals in that context. Novels like Rāt kā reporter by Nirmal Verma, Kaṭrā bī ārzū by Rahi Masoom Raza, or Basantī by Bhisham Sahni will be analysed to see which picture of the nation and the society emerges from the fictions written in Hindi, and what does it tell us about the way these narratives have depicted the authoritarian rule and its repressive policy.
Arts of the political in contemporary South Asian literature and film